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This is an excellent 5-day literary analysis of Shakespeare’sKing Learfor AP classes

Subject:

Language Arts  

Grades:

9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Reading Shakespeare’s King Lear
By – Megan Hodge
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – High School/AP

Unit Goals/Intended Outcomes

      1. The student will read and watch a Shakespearean play to build an understanding of the text, of themselves, and of the culture of Elizabeth England and for personal fulfillment -

      (VA SOL 12.3: Relate literary works and authors to major themes and issues of their eras).

      2. The student will compare and contrast the text of the play to a modern film adaptation -

      (VA SOL 12.2: Critique relationships among purpose, audience, and content of presentations; critique effectiveness of presentations).

      3. The student will be able to define and apply the literary terms associated with drama -

      (VA SOL 12.6: Describe the conflict, plot, climax, and setting; identify the most effective elements of selected plays).

      4. The student will analyze the use of imagery and symbol (blindness, madness, disguise, storms) in the play -

    (VA SOL 12.5: Explain how imagery and figures of speech [personification, simile, metaphor] appeal to the reader’s senses and experience).

Rationale

    Shakespeare is solidly enshrined in literary canon, not just for his sheer productiveness, but also for creating some of the best examples of Elizabethan drama. King Lear is often considered one of Shakespeare’s finest works, and is a suitable choice for continuing students’ introduction to Shakespeare. As the play explores several themes common to the playwright’s other works and at the same time is very complex, analyzing it will provide good preparation for the AP exam as well as hone students’ critical skills.

Lesson Sequence

      Day 1: discuss Act I scene i in the context of the previous night’s reading (on Shakespearean theatre) and focus on the theme, conflict, and structure as established through exposition.
      Day 2: watch Act I of a film version of the play, and discuss scenes two through five in terms of the parent-child conflicts between Lear and his daughters and Gloucester and his sons.
      Day 3: watch Act II of a film version of the play, and discuss character and theme.
      Day 4: watch Act III of a film version of the play; continue discussion, emphasizing plot development, foils, and the storm symbolism.
    Day 5: watch Act IV of a film version of the play, and discuss King Lear’s/Gloucester’s character development within the act.

Day 1

Performance Objectives:

      1. The student will be able to explain how they think the play will progress based on their previous knowledge -

      (VA SOL 12.3: Relate literary works [...] to major themes and issues of their eras).

      2. The student will be able to understand most of the play’s dialogue, which will be demonstrated by reading a portion of today’s scene aloud and then analyzing it -

      (VA SOL 12.6: Compare and contrast ways in which dialogue and staging contribute to the theme).

      3. The student will be able to draw connections to King James I with King Lear -

    (VA SOL 12.3: Relate literary works and authors to major themes and issues of their eras).

Lesson Procedures and Activities:

      Introduction: open class by asking how the dialogue between Lear and his daughters sets up the theme for the rest of the play.
    Presentation: have four students play the parts of Lear, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia and read aloud 1.1.37-155. Discuss this passage as a class, responding both as audience members and as critics, emphasizing the theme, conflict and structure. Is Lear’s reaction fair? Compare and contrast Lear with King James I and his opinions on the divine right of kingship, keeping in mind that James was a patron of Shakespeare’s acting company and that it was illegal to portray a reigning monarch on the stage.

Assessment: Asking questions of students throughout class.

Materials and Equipment: Elements of Literature text, King Lear text.

Classroom Arrangement: In two sets of rows facing each other, with an aisle down the middle.

Closure: Ask class how they think the play will progress, based on their previous knowledge of Elizabeth drama and Shakespearean plays in particular; assign homework (finish reading Act I, review the following literary terms: exposition, inciting force, blank verse, tragedy, tragic hero, paradox, dramatic irony).


Day 2

Performance Objectives:

      1. The student will be able to define dramatic irony and explain how it is used in Act I -

      (VA SOL 12.3: Recognize major literary forms and techniques).

      2. The student will be able to defend King Lear as a tragic hero -

      (VA SOL 12.1: Use a well-structured narrative or logical argument).

      3. The student will be able to analyze whether the film version of Act I does justice to the parent-child relationships, or whether it fails by being too explicit or too subtle -

    (VA SOL 12.2: Critique relationships among purpose, audience, and content of presentations).

Lesson Procedures and Activities:

      Introduction: ask students to describe King Lear as a tragic hero, using the A.C. Bradley definition.
    Presentation: Assign two students to play the Fool and Lear in 1.5.14-44. Discuss the dramatic irony in the passage and what it reveals about Lear’s character. Discuss the role of the fool in drama. Comment on the use of blank verse v. prose in dialogue. Watch parts of Act I on the VCR/DVD player and discuss them, focusing on the parent-child relationships between Lear and his daughters and Gloucester and his sons.

Assessment: Asking questions of students throughout class.

Materials and Equipment: King Lear text, King Lear film, A.C. Bradley handout.

Classroom Arrangement: In two sets of rows facing each other, with an aisle down the middle and a TV/VCR/DVD player at the front of the classroom.

Closure: Relate content discussed to homework and tomorrow’s class; assign homework (read Act II and review the following literary terms: soliloquy, allusion, aside, rising action, couplet, tragic flaw, tone).


Day 3

Performance Objectives:

      1. The student will be able to define tragic flaw and explain how it relates to the tragic hero as a whole and to tragedy as a genre -

      (VA SOL 12.3: Recognize major literary forms and techniques).

      2. The student will be able to explain how dialogue can be used to develop a character, specifically in 2.4.305-328 -

      (VA SOL 12.6: Compare and contrast ways in which dialogue [...] contribute[s] to the theme).

      3. The student will be able to critique whether the film version of the play does an accurate job of portraying character development in this act -

    (VA SOL 12.2: Critique effectiveness of presentations).

Lesson Procedures and Activities:

      Introduction: ask class what they think Lear’s tragic flaw is. Are they in agreement?
    Presentation: assign four students to play Lear, Goneril, Regan and Cornwall and read 2.4.216-304. Discuss the playwright’s use of dialogue as a method for character description. Assign another student to read Lear in 2.4.305-328. Discuss Lear’s intentions and “darker purpose” in this scene. Watch parts of Act II on the VCR/DVD player and discuss them, focusing on character and theme. How are the characters’ relationships with each other depicted and developed in this act?

Assessment: Asking questions of students throughout class.

Materials and Equipment: King Lear text, King Lear film.

Classroom Arrangement: In two sets of rows facing each other, with an aisle down the middle and a TV/VCR/DVD player at the front of the classroom.

Closure: Relate content discussed to homework and tomorrow’s class; assign homework (read Act III, and review the following literary terms: climax, symbol, comic relief, foreshadowing, foreboding, imagery).


Day 4

Performance Objectives:

      1. The student will be able to define pathetic fallacy and apply it to King Lear -

      (VA SOL 12.3: Compare and contrast ways in which [...] staging contribute[s] to the theme).

      2. The student will be able to explain how the plot is developed via storm symbolism -

      (VA SOL 12.6: Describe the conflict, plot, climax, and setting).

      3. The student will be able to recognize Act III as the climax of the play and describe how it relates to what they’ve read and what they will read -

    (VA SOL 12.3: Recognize major literary forms and techniques).

Lesson Procedures and Activities:

      Introduction: ask students to volunteer to read what they think is the “stormiest” line in the act.
    Presentation: Review the evolution of King Lear up to this point and his reactions to what has been going on (referencing the A.C. Bradley handout). Define pathetic fallacy. Assign three students to play Lear, Kent, and the Fool to read 3.2 aloud. Discuss the storm symbolism. Watch parts of Act III on the VCR/DVD player and discuss them, focusing on plot development, foils and the storm imagery/symbolism.

Assessment: Asking questions of students throughout class.

Materials and Equipment: King Lear text, King Lear film.

Classroom Arrangement: In two sets of rows facing each other, with an aisle down the middle and a TV/VCR/DVD player at the front of the classroom.

Closure: Relate content discussed to homework and tomorrow’s class; assign homework (read Act IV).


Day 5

Performance Objectives:

      1. The student will be able to discuss Lear’s madness as a form of character development and in context of madness in other Shakespearean plays -

      (VA SOL 12.3: Recognize major literary forms and techniques).

      2. The student will be able to describe Lear as a tragic hero -

      (VA SOL 12.6: Compare and contrast dramatic elements of plays).

      3. The student will be able to explain whether they think the film adaptation of Act IV was faithful or not -

    (VA SOL 12.1: Use details, [...] comparisons, and analogies to support purposes).

Lesson Procedures and Activities:

      Introduction: ask class to discuss how many of the tragic hero characteristics Lear has shown up to this point.
    Presentation: Assign three students to play Lear, Edgar and Gloucester in 4.6.99-205. Discuss Lear’s madness. Watch parts of Act IV on the VCR/DVD player and compare/contrast them with the text, focusing on the character development of King Lear and Gloucester. Comment on how the characters’ desires are beginning to converge.

Assessment: Asking questions of students throughout class.

Materials and Equipment: King Lear text, King Lear film.

Classroom Arrangement: In two sets of rows facing each other, with an aisle down the middle and a TV/VCR/DVD player at the front of the classroom.

Closure: Relate content discussed to homework and tomorrow’s class; assign homework (read Act V).


List of Resources

      King Lear text

      Elements of Literature text

      Various film versions of King Lear

                1984: 150 minutes (Laurence Olivier)

                1997: 150 minutes (Ian Holm)

http://www.folger.edu

E-Mail Megan Hodge !

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