Daniel Rock teaches language arts at Design and Architecture Senior High School in Miami, Florida.
Julius Caesar 4.1
What's On for Today and Why
In this lesson, students will discuss areas of ambiguity in Julius Caesar. Who is the protagonist? Who is the antagonist? The exploration of different characters' understanding of honor is one of the most interesting aspects of the play. Brutus seeks to "do the right thing", but commits treason and rebellion. Or does he? Are we meant to feel sympathy for Brutus? Is he a pawn in Cassius' game or a villain who rationalizes his actions? This activity is designed to have students analyze language as a tool to communicate essential and complex desires.
This lesson will take one or two class periods.
What You Need
Folger edition of Julius Caesar
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Script for neutral scene
What To Do
1. Write on the board, "one man's occupier is another man's liberator." Give students 10-15 minutes to write a response either agreeing or disagreeing.
2. In groups of two or three, have students discuss their responses. Read some aloud to share with class as a whole.
3. Introduce the concept of subtext, or the real meaning behind the text. (See the lesson plan, "It's all in the way you say it" )
4. Distribute copies of the short modern scene to the class. This is a "neutral scene"- a scene in which all of the content is provided by the subtext.
5. Have two students volunteer to act out the scene with a subtext provided by other students. Examples include: B is late for a date, job interview, etc.
6. In groups of two, have students create their own subtexts and then perform the scene to the class. After each performance the audience has to guess the subtext.
7. Read Julius Caesar 4.1 with no inflection or meaning: students should ignore question or exclamation marks.
8. Divide students into groups of three. Ask each group to prepare a performance of the scene. Assign each group a character in the scene: they should try to act out the scene in a way that makes that character look the most admirable.
9. During rehearsal, students should highlight words to emphasize to make the subtext clear.
10. Have the students perform these scenes and after each performance discuss the subtext.
How Did It Go?
If the groups were able to accurately portray a point of view through a specific delivery techniques, the lesson was successful. It would be useful to review the words the students chose to highlight in the script to see the decisions they reached before performing.
If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.