Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliette Act IV


Romeo and Juliet Act IV, Scenes I-V

Watch a Stage Production of Act IV, Scenes I-V (25 mins)


Readers Theater (30 mins)

simply shakespeare

As another means of drilling the story deep into the children we carried out a reader’s theater performance of Act IV ( we did this during our catch up time on Friday).  This particular rewrite leaves a lot out but focuses on key scenes.  The scenes do not correspond with the actual scenes in the play.  To cover Act IV from the actual play we needed to read scene  to scene  from the book above.

Scene 14 and 15: Planning Juliet’s ‘death, and her ‘death’

Ribbet collagerj

Literary Analysis (30 mins)

  • Monologue (Greek) means ‘single speech’ which is made by one person in the company of others.  It is usually on the long side.
  • Soliloquy (Latin) also means ‘single speech’ but in a performance sense a soliloquy is differentiated from a monologue by the fact it is spoken by one person who is alone on the stage.

We reread Juliet’s impassioned soliloquy in Act IV as she prepares herself to take the drug which will render her ‘dead’.  First we read it out in original Shakespeare and then in Modern day English.  I asked the children to emphasise the iambic pentameter as they read.  We learn through the soliloquy that she is terrified.  A few alternate situations go through her head, which foreshadow that which is to come.  We revisited what fore-shadowing meant and  I left it at that.

Discussion (Done with my three Wednesday night)

Chatting with my three older children is a huge blessing to me and a window to their hearts.  It also allows me to see the direction in which their thought processes are moving, allowing me to step in if necessary.  This was no exception.  It was incredibly fun listening to them rejoicing that they would never need to clean their rooms again until they were ‘grown up’.  The (dubious) reason being that their untidiness had nothing to do with laziness and general messiness, but because their brains weren’t fully developed enough to be able to recognise the mess!  This back fired somewhat when I responded that this was one area they obviously needed to submit to me and do as I say, because their judgement was obviously impaired by lack of maturity!  This was followed up by the instruction to tidy their rooms!  He, he!  Gotta to love teens!

Does being a Teenager Affect your Ability to make Sensible Decisions? 

There have been quite a few modern ‘Romeo and Juliet’ stories in the news over the past few years.  Stories of teens running away to get married; teens committing suicide because parents wouldn’t allow them to date.  Of course there are stories of non-teens doing the same thing but for this discussion we were focused on the teens.  I wanted to know if being a teen in any way impacted these types of life altering choices, and I wanted the children to begin to ask the question ‘Would the same decision be made if they had been a few years older?’

I had photocopied a leaflet about the way a teen’s brain is wired, which they read.  We discussed any choices they had made which retrospectively they could see weren’t the most sensible.  I questioned whether pushing your parents away during this time was a good idea?  We talked about how parents and teens could work in tandem to create a really special adolescent experience.  I left them with a quote from Shakespeare’s The Winter Tale:

When a shepherd wishes “there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.”

Then I told them I couldn’t agree less and that I thought the teen years are awesome years.  I made sure they understood that just because society in general expects the worse they should not feel the need to conform to this expectation.  I encouraged them to read The Rebelution and the authors’ book  Do Hard Things.  These have revolutionised the way my son views himself and will now be required reading for all four girls.

This discussion came at a really good time in my children’s lives.  Just recently they had helped out at a holiday club and some teen, who was also helping out, teased my girls about their obedience to both Gary and myself, sneering that they allowed their parents to dictate to them with regards to a variety of things.  One of my girls has spent the past week or so pushing our parental boundaries and we had wondered why.  Now we know.  This was a great opportunity to discuss that the teen years in our house are a collaborative effort between teen and parent.  We explained that there were some decisions they were too young to make right now and that we needed as parents to step up and ensure their safety by insisting certain rules be obeyed (like for example, cleaning their bedrooms….mwaaahahahaha!).  This play really gave them insight into how true this could be.  I am pleased to say that my sweet-natured twin has returned to her normal lovely self, thank goodness!

Finally we briefly discussed what Romeo and Juliet may have done differently if they had been a little bit older.

What different types of love do we see in Romeo and Juliet?

  • Unrequited Love: Romeo for Rosaline, Paris for Juliet
  • Romantic Love: Romeo and Juliet
  • Parental Love: Lord and Lady Capulet for Juliet, Lord and Lady
  • Montague for Romeo, Nurse for Juliet
  • Friendship: Romeo and Benvolio, Romeo and Mercutio, Romeo and
    Friar Laurence, Nurse and Juliet
  • Love of Family Honor: Tybalt, Mercutio, Romeo

What are the Types of love described in the Bible?

  • Eros Love: Eros is a Greek term which actually means desire and longing.  Eros love is based on the strong feeling we have towards one another and it usually develops during the 1st stage of a romantic relationship. This kind of love is based on the physical traits and tends to be a selfish love.
  • Agape Love: Agape love is not determined by our feelings; it is more a doing word than a feeling word.  With agape, a person demonstrates love even when they may not feel that love.  We talked about how sometimes in a marriage or friendship you may not feel very loving towards the person but agape love continues to love in spite of a lack of feelings.  It is this type of love, rather than eros love which allows couples to stay together regardless of transient feelings.  Often to love even when you do not feel the love results in feelings of love.  It’s a win win!
  • Philos Love: This refers to loving one another just like your brother or sister.   This is the love between friends in a Biblical sense and, whilst wonderful to experience both the giving and receiving of philos type love, it tends to be unreliable when problems set in, unless agape love bridges the gap until the philos love returns.

The Ethics of Killing 


One of my favourite things about having teenage children is their ability to discuss almost anything passionately.  Since having children, I have learnt that to bring them up with a black and white view of the world will not only render them judgemental but also won’t do them any favours later on in life when they realise there are a lot of grey areas.

Romeo and Juliet is misunderstood if it is merely thought of as a romance.  This sells it short in the extreme.  Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy extraordinaire.  Six lives are lost to murder, suicide and revenge.  Six lives that can never be brought back.  All gone in a flash.   In this act alone there is murder and much hinting towards suicide from both Romeo and Juliet (foreshadowing).

I wanted to discuss the ethics of killing.  I created a sheet of points I wanted them to consider which would help them discuss Is killing someone ever morally justifiable?  Not the ethics of murder, but the ethics of killing.  I left lots of time for this because there was much to cover.   We talked about every instance of killing I could think of from war to suicide to execution as well as murder verses killing.  I had included prompts to direct their discussion but made sure not to pass an opinion myself.  I then gave them a couple of Christian apologetics articles on this topic to round off the whole session with how God views killing someone.  They can be found here and here.

I found it very interesting hearing their responses.  T, who would be older in both years and maturity, was able to see the whole discussion in all the different hues of grey, whereas C tended to be more black and white.  Again, there was no right or wrong, but I do love having a good discussion with my (almost) three teens.  Their views will often make me re-think my own.  I posed the question of killing in self defense, when the choice was your death or the death of the other person.  T and L believed that death under those circumstances would not be considered murder but manslaughter, as there was no intent.  C believed killing is killing no matter what.  She said she would simply negotiate with the would-be killer, and offer him whatever he wanted (!).  There would, in her reasoning, be no need to kill her then.  She was emphatic though that she would consider killing to be wrong under any circumstances.  She would rather die innocent than live having killed someone.

Talking with them about capital punishment was interesting and very probably has changed my view on it.  I have always believed it to be a good thing if someone commits brutal murders repeatedly, but my very passionate daughter was horrified by this!  She gave me a very good argument about killing someone through capital punishment, who perhaps because of some (presently unknown) disorder was unable to fully comprehend their actions (mad or bad argument).  If that were the case we would be killing an innocent man.  It made me realise that, whilst I believed it could be a good thing in certain circumstances, I absolutely wouldn’t be able put my money where my mouth was.  If I was in the position of influencing law, I’m not sure I would be able to actually vote for capital punishment or even worse, be able to order it on some one’s head.  It made me very glad that I am not called to make judgement calls in this area.  Believing something in principal is very different from doing it in actuality.

Just love my passionate teens!

As most of this work was done Wednesday evening whilst we were eating dinner, and we took Thursday completely off, no project work was completed on this day.


  1. You had some deep dinnertime discussions, that’s for sure. Amazing the roads Shakespeare can still take us down.

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