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Student Assignment Sheet: Much Ado About Something

An Introduction to Shakespeare's Language

  • A Note to Teachers

  • Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Pre-Viewing Discussion Questions
  • Preparation for Viewing

  • Post-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Debriefing Discussion
  • Help with Reading Poetry
  • Which Text Should We Read?
  • Parodies of Shakespeare
  • Further Activities with Language

  • Internet Resources

    Student Assignment Sheets
  • Shakespeare's Language (with answers)
  • Viewing Worksheet
  • How to Read a Poem
  • Some Sonnets by Shakespeare
  • To Be or Not To Be -- Three Versions
  • Answer Key

    A and B illustrate puns or plays on words.

    • Falstaff plays on the homonyms "waste" and "waist."
    • Mercutio refers to being grave (serious) and in his grave.

    C and D illustrate Shakespeare's inventiveness with language. While these examples do not illustrate neologisms or new words Shakespeare invented, they illustrate Shakespeare taking nouns and turning them into verbs.

    E, F, and G are the most difficult examples for students since they are examples of how the meaning of words can change over 400 years. Students can understand these changes if teachers point out how words like "gay" and "bad" have different meanings and connotations in different eras and contexts.

    H, I, and J are metaphors. Students like to distinguish between similes, which make a comparison using "like" or "as" and metaphors where the comparison is implicit. Teachers might point out that all similes are metaphors, though not all metaphors are similes!

    K and L are oxymorons, or apparently incongruous or contradictory pairings of words.

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