Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Connecting Characters and Themes in Julius Caesar

Pat Mixon

Description

This pre-writing assignment prepares the students for the literary analysis. Writing one body paragraph gives the students the flavor of the analysis. The students locate, interpret, evaluate and analyze the relationship between a character and the theme.

Objectives

The student selects and uses appropriate pre-writing strategies, such as brainstorming, graphic organizers, and outlines.

The student drafts and revises writing that: is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; has an organizational pattern that provides for a logical progression of ideas; has effective use of transitional devices that contribute to a sense of completeness; has support that is substantial, specific, relevant, and concrete; demonstrates a commitment to and involvement with the subject; uses creative writing strategies as appropriate to the purpose of the paper; demonstrates a mature command of language with precision of expression; has varied sentence structure; and has few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and common use of semicolons; correct capitalization; correct sentence formation; correct instances of possessives, subject/verb agreement, instances of noun/pronoun agreement, and the intentional use of fragments for effect; and correct formatting that appeals to readers, including appropriate use of a variety of graphics, tables, charts, and illustrations in both standard and innovative forms.

The student writes text, notes, outlines, comments, and observations that demonstrate comprehension and synthesis of content, processes, and experiences from a variety of media.

The student organizes information using appropriate systems.

The student understands the relationships between and among elements of literature, including characters, plot, setting, tone, point of view, and theme.

Materials

-Shakespeare, William. [The Tragedy of Julius Caesar]. New York: Dover Publications, 1991.
-Teacher examples found in the attached files.
-Paragraphic rubric found in the attached files. Need one copy for each student.

Preparations

1. Read attachment 1 that provides examples.
2. Copy attached rubric.
3. Discuss the components of a literary analysis:
What you think--the purpose of an analysis is to discuss what you think the piece is saying to you the reader and how (descriptions, diction, tone, mood, you know the literary stuff) the author is conveying that message to you.
Proof from the text--in order to "prove" that your opinion is a valid one and based on specifics rathar than "what you feel," you have to provide the evidence from the literature that indeed what you think is correct.
Commentary to explain why you are right--without this part of the paragraph you are leaving it up to the reader to make the connection between your proof and your opinion. Remember, we all don't see things the same way.

Procedures

Prior knowledge:
Students have read and discussed Shakespeare’s [The Tragedy of Julius Caesar].
Students have completed the following journal entries:
• Discussed characterization—what a character says, what a character does, what others say about the character, and what others do because of the character.
• Students found four descriptive quotes about each of the four major characters (Brutus, Cassius, Antony, or Caesar).
• Brainstormed themes found in the play.

1. Students select one character from their journal entries that have four descriptive quotes about each of the four major characters (Brutus, Cassius, Antony, or Caesar).

2. Discuss what the quotes reveal about each character’s personality (most characters have multiple traits).

3. Point out that some characters’ traits change during the course of the play while others’ traits remain constant. For example: Antony changes from the playboy to the vicious member of the triumvirate; Brutus remains constant in his nobility.

4. Students match themes from the list students have in their journals with characters. (See attachment 1 for list of possible themes.)

5. Provide a sample statement of theme. (See attachment 1 for sample statement.)

6. Give examples of connections. (See attachment 1 for sample connection.)

7. Students write 3 sample statements of themes in their journals from the list of themes they connected to the character they chose.

8. Students select one statement from the three to use as the topic sentence for the paragraph.

9. Demonstrate how to rewrite the selected sentence incorporating a character and trait into the sentence. (See attachment 1 for sample sentence.)

10. Students write two sentences in their journals explaining how one of their quotes shows that the character and the theme are connected.

11. Students write two sentences in their journals explaining how a second quote shows that the character and the theme are connected.

12. Students write a concluding sentence in their journals that restates the topic sentence.

13. Inform the students they have all the components necessary to write a body paragraph for a literary analysis. The only part missing is the transition.

14. Distribute copy of rubric.

15. Show the students how to put the sentences together in paragraph form. (See criteria list 2-7 for format.)

16. Students write the rough draft of their paragraphs.

17. Evaluate the paragraphs using the Paragraph Rubric.

18. Return paragraphs to students. Allow students who score 1 or 2 on rubric to rewrite and resubmit.

Assessments

Students write a paragraph that shows an understanding of the relationship between one of the four main characters in Shakespeare’s [The Tragedy of Julius Caesar] and one of the themes in [Julius Caesar] discussed in class.

See attached file entitled Paragraph Rubric.

Criteria for the paragraph:
1. The paragraph is an original document of 100 to 150 words.
2. The topic sentence shows the relationship between the chosen character and selected theme.
3. The second sentence contains a documented direct quote describing the character.
4. Two commentary sentences follow the quote explaining how the quote proves the relationship between the theme and the character.
5. A transition connects a second documented quote describing the character to the previous information.
6. Two commentary sentences follow the quote explaining how the second quote further proves the relationship between the theme and the character.
7. A concluding sentence reaffirms the relationship between the character and the theme.

Extensions

1. Peer edit the rough paragraphs looking for the components of an analysis paragraph.
2. Teach MLA in-text documentation.
3. Require students to turn in a final, edited, documented copy of the paragraph.

Web Links

Provides characterization of main characters along with citations.
William Shakespeare's [Julius Caesar] Grade 10 Teaching Guide and Student Activities

Attached Files

Teacher examples of topics and sentences     File Extension: pdf

Paragraph Rubric     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.