Marion Levine teaches English, Literature and Film Production at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, Los Angeles, CA
Measure for Measure, Act 4 or 5
What's On for Today and Why
Students will choose a character from Measure for Measure and create a "back story" for that character. This will encourage students to read the text closely looking for clues regarding a specific character's history. Students will re-read a portion of the text and then write about what has happened to the character before the play begins. They will then create an artifact, such as a diary or journal entry, written by the charcacter they have selected. This will allow them the opportunity to think like the character and to view the events of the play from a specific point of view.
This lesson will take two 40 minute class periods.
What You Need
Measure for Measure, Folger Edition
What To Do
1. Explain the concept of a "back story" as the important events that occur to a character before the play begins. You may need to prompt students with questions such as:
What was the character like as a child?
In what situation did he/she grow up?
Students will need to show how the script supports their choices.
2. Have the students write a one or two page back story in either the first or third person.
3. Divide students into small groups of 4 or 5 and have them re-read Act 4 or Act 5, combing throught the text for character details.
4. Have students write a letter, diary or journal entry from their selected characters point of view (first person). This artifact should concern one or more characters in the play.
5. For increased authenticity, appropriate for an "Extra-Extended" book, students could write their letter, diary entry using calligraphy, a handwriting font or on a piece of yellowed paper.
6. Allow students time to read their pieces and share their artifacts with the class.
How Did It Go?
Were students able to justify their choices with reference to the text? Did their artifacts accurately portray character traits that can be interpreted from the text? Were students able to convey a sense of the character's perspective through this activity?
This lesson could be applied to any fictional text that the students read in class. Through close reading and attention to a specific character, students are able to identify with, and understand the concerns of a character on a deeper level. Possible choices could include Jay Gatsby, Hester Prynne,and Atticus Finch.
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.
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