Kristy Cabrera teaches English at Downtown College Prep Charter School in San Jose, California.
Julius Caesar 4.3.1-142
What's On for Today and Why
Students' familiarity with the importance of friendship will give them a lens with which to examine the argument between Cassius and Brutus. By Act 4, is Cassius still the same friend who convinced Brutus to go forward with Caesar's assassination? A close reading of two of Cassius' speeches- one from 1.2 and the other from 4.3.- will allow students to begin to formulate a response to this question. This lesson will also establish a framework for understanding what is to follow in the final act of the play.
This lesson will take approximately two class periods.
What You Need
Folger edition of Julius Caesar
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Cassius' speeches for close reading
What To Do
1. Have students write down a list of the qualities of a best friend. Discuss these qualities as a class and compile a list using an overhead projector or whiteboard.
2. Read 4.3.1-142 together as a class, switching readers every time the speaker changes. Ask students, after the first reading, which character seems more powerful throughout the argument. Have students spend a few minutes underlining or highlighting the lines from the text that support their position.
3. Have students pair up and read the same scene two more times. Each student should take a turn playing the role of Brutus and Cassius. Again, ask the students which character is more powerful in the argument and have them cite supportive evidence from the scene.
4. Ask students to consider Cassius' role in the play and his relationship to Brutus. Pass out a copy of the two speeches by Cassius and the comparison chart. (See Documents) Review the comparison chart and point out what students should be looking for in each passage. Have a student read each speech aloud while the rest of the class follows along.
5. Assign students to work with a partner and complete the close reading comparison chart. Discuss what students discover about the speeches.
6. Have students write a paragraph explaining how and why Cassius does/ does not embody the qualities of a best friend agreed upon at the beginning of class and use evidence from the text, class discussion, and/ or the comparison chart to argue their position.
How Did It Go?
Pay attention to class discussion, participation, and the students' ability to work together while reading aloud and engaged in close reading. During the next class period, collect their paragraphs to check for individual understanding. Also, as an entrance slip, have students write down one way that they are similar to Cassius as a friend and one way that they are not.
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.