Women’s Roles in As You Like It ~ Lesson Plan

Lesson Overview

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LESSON TITLE: Women’s Roles in As You Like It

GRADE LEVEL: Grades 9-12

TIME ALLOTMENT: Two 45-minute class periods


In this lesson, students will explore the role of women in Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It. In the Introductory Activity, students will begin with an examination of beliefs about women from texts written during Shakespeare’s day, which will allow students to imagine what women’s lives were like. In the Learning Activity, students will view video segments from the PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered to review the role of Rosalind in As You Like It and learn about the practice of disguise in Shakespearean theater. Students will then turn to Act III, Scene ii of the play and analyze the text to uncover the ways in which Rosalind is both empowered and restricted as a woman within this scene. Viewing additional segments from Shakespeare Uncovered, students will begin to consider how Shakespeare’s views on women compare with modern-day attitudes. In the Culminating Activity, students will produce a paper in which they tackle the question, “Was Shakespeare a feminist?” This lesson is best used during a reading of As You Like It.


English/Language Arts


After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe how Shakespeare presented women in his comedies and analyze how he used the theatrical practice of boy actors portraying female characters to enhance his characterizations.
  • Compare historical perspectives on women’s place in society with today’s attitudes.
  • Interpret a literary text by identifying the characters’ motivations and decisions.
  • Analyze plot and character in As You Like It.


National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

Standard 1

Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

Standard 2

Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.

Standard 3

Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

Common Core Literature Standards for Grades 11-12

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.



Shakespeare Uncovered: The Comedies with Joely Richardson, selected segments

Access the video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.

Segment 1: “Introduction to Rosalind”
An overview of Rosalind’s role in the plot of As You Like It and a description of her character.

Segment 2: “Heroines in Disguise”

An exploration of the effect of disguise in both Shakespearean and modern-day theater.

Segment 3: “Superior to Men?”

One scholar’s description of Shakespeare’s portrayal of the heroines in his comedies.


For the class:

  • Computer, projection screen, and speakers (for class viewing of online  video segments)

For each student:


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments used in the lesson. Prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Print out and make copies of the “Women in Shakespeare’s World” Student Organizer for each student.

Print out and make copies of the text excerpt from As You Like It, Act III, Scene ii for each student.

Print out and make copies of “In What Ways Was Shakespeare a Feminist?” Writing Prompts for each student. (Note: Printing the assignment is optional. See Culminating Activity for details.)

Proceed to Lesson Activities.