Rebecca Hranj teaches English at Joppatowne High School, Joppa, MD
What's On for Today and Why
Students will edit and perform selected scenes from Twelfth Night in order to analyze Feste, the Fool. Students will give two performances: they will perform the scenes once in their entirety, after which the class will edit the scenes into monologues that illuminate Feste as a character.
This lesson should take two fifty minute periods to complete.
What You Need
Folger edition of Twelfth Night
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Handout #1 Quotable Feste
Handout: Quotable Feste
What To Do
1. Divide the students into groups and assign each group a scene. To adjust for class sizes, 1.5 and 2.3 can be divided, or 4.1 and 4.2 can be combined.
Give students the following instructions:
You will have 20 minutes to prepare the scene
Your performance should not exceed 4 minutes
Every student in your group must speak at least one line
You may stage the scene in any way you like
2. After the rehearsal period, have each group perform for the class.
3. Discuss all the performances as a class:
What did the performances have in common?
What specific choices were made regarding Feste?
How did Feste interact with other characters?
Was he always part of the action?
What kind of person is he?
Is he happy to be a Fool?
What do other characters think of him?
Remind students that their answers must be justified by the text.
4. Ask the students to return to their groups.
5. Distribute Handout #1-Quotable Feste.
6. Have students re-read their scenes, looking specifically at Feste and the lines that reveal his character and how/what he thinks about the world. Students should make notes on what we learn about his character
(e.g "Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun; it shines everywhere."-he is pointing out that everyone in the play is a fool, not just him, and he sees how ridiculous everyone is). Caution students against simply paraphrasing the action in the scene and encourage them to look for insights into character.
7. Have students select 5 lines which reveal the most about Feste's character, write these on paper and post around the classroom.
8. Have each group explain which lines they chose and why, and what they tell us about Feste.
9. Using the selections, have each group arrange the lines as coherently as possible into a monologue. They should use at least 20 of the lines posted round the room and only Shakespeare's words.
10. Have each group perform their monologue.
11. After the performances, have each group describe Feste based solely on their monologue. This can be done orally or as a summative assessment.
How Did It Go?
Were students able to articulate reponses to the discussion questions?
Did they choose pertinent quotations and explain what they showed about Feste and his world view?
Did their monologue reflect a coherent reading of Feste?
Did their oral or written explanantion show that they characterized Feste based on the chosen lines?
This activity could work well with any play that has multiple fool scenes, e.g King Lear and As You Like It. It could be also be modified for villains or vice characters, e.g Don John in Much Ado About Nothing, Iago in Othello, and Aaron in Titus Andronicus.
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.