Much Ado About Something cites Shakespeare's sonnet #50 (included with other sonnets on this handout) as evidence that the author of Shakespeare's works was an exile: someone who felt estranged from the culture in which he was living. Sometimes, even the best students see reading and understanding sonnets as daunting. Teachers can help students gain access to the sonnets of Shakespeare using the handout How to Read a Poem.
Time needed: 25 minutes for group discussions, 25 minutes to report back to the class.
Read Sonnet #50, sonnet #71, sonnet #104, or the daring, playful sonnet #20, all available under Some Sonnets by Shakespeare or at http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com. (Note to teachers: This site is a great source for accessing the sonnets. Be aware, however, that commentary by unidentified commentators follows each sonnet. Caution students about the dangers of plagiarism and the dangers of using unknown commentators as unquestioned experts.)
Using the handout, How to Read a Poem, ask students to break into groups of four to six to discuss the sonnet they have chosen. Depending on time, teachers might want to help students look at the terminology on the handout or students can find definitions of these terms in their anthologies.