Midsummer: Language KS4/5

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In these lessons, students will learn how to read and respond to the text of the play. This will help them to gain crucial close-reading skills. Tasks include: textual allusions to social and political issues of the time; a close analysis of one particular speech for performance; and a list of practice exam questions with an emphasis on language.

In order to benefit fully from these lesson plans, we recommend you use them in the following order:

If you would like to teach the play in greater detail, use these advanced KS4/5 Lesson Plans. If students are new to the play, we suggest you start with the introductory KS3 Lesson Plans

These lesson plans are available in the Downloads section at the bottom of this page. To download resources, you must be logged in. Sign up for free to access this and other exclusive featuresActivities mentioned in these resources are available in a separate downloadable 'Student Booklet', also at the bottom of this page. The 'Teachers' Guide' download explains how best to use Teach Shakespeare and also contains a bibliography and appendices referencing the resources used throughout.

Key Questions for Students:

Can I analyse quotations to establish what is being said about a particular character, and the context in which it is said?

Can I use contextual information to support my analysis of the play’s language and imagery?

Key words: address, character development, compliment, epithet, imply, infer, insult, name, status, style, textual evidence, title, verdict, viewpoint


Prologue: Opening Discussion

Students are given a set of cards with a number of words and phrases written on them, all things that characters say about other characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Students are asked to think creatively and find ways to group them, e.g. who they are said about, who says them, whether they are saying positive things or negative things, whether they are official titles or more personal and familiar ways of addressing each other, etc. Take feedback about pairs’ approaches and findings. The cards are available in the downloadable Lesson Plan at the bottom of this page.


Enter the Players: Group Tasks

1) What the others say

Pairs of students could each take one character and carry out a detailed language investigation. Students should write quotations from other characters in the grid in the Student Booklet. Some entries could feature in more than one cell of the table:

  • official titles (e.g. Duke) and relationships (‘daughter’)
  • compliments
  • insults
  • descriptions of a character

Students could reflect on:

  • how the character describes themselves
  • which quotations are used in that character’s presence and which are not
  • whether the language used about this character changes, and why


2) ‘The Fairy Queen’

In the Student Booklet, there is a very brief extract from Act 2 Scene 1 lines 8-15, accompanied by some very detailed contextual notes. Explain to students that such detailed notes support interpretation of the play’s language and references that may seem obscure to modern readers. Model for students making the connection between a piece of contextual information and the meaning of Shakespeare’s language for one of the examples, and students could repeat this process. Support students with their reading and comprehension of this kind of heavily annotated text. They can also help with making cross-curricular links in terms of both reading skills and prior knowledge in/relevance to different subject areas. Students should begin to establish a connection between Shakespeare’s portrayal of Titania with Queen Elizabeth I in his audience’s minds.



3) Social and political comment

Following on from the above activity, students could reflect on the following quotations, which are displayed on the Rulers PowerPoint (available in the Downloads section at the bottom of this page). Students should think about how Shakespeare makes subtle social and political observations by using the fairy king and queen as an allegory for earthly rulers, the fairies as courtiers and their subjects. What do the following quotations have to say about the relationship between rulers and their subjects? How do ‘ordinary subjects’ view the people who rule over them? What do they reveal about the world of the royal court, its language, manners, etc.?


‘I jest to Oberon, and make him smile.’ (Puck, Act 2 Scene 1)


‘The human mortals want their winter cheer:

No night is now with hymn or carol blest,’ (Titania, Act 2 Scene 1)


‘And this same progeny of evils comes

From our debate, from our dissension;

We are their parents and original.’ (Titania, Act 2 Scene 1)


‘Out of this wood do not desire to go:

Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no.

I am a spirit of no common rate;

The summer still doth tend on my state;

And I do love thee: therefore go with me.

I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee.’ (Titania, Act 3 Scene 1)


‘Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.’ (Titania, Act 3 Scene 1)


‘Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped bumble bee on the top of a thistle; and good mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not.’ (Bottom, Act 4 Scene 1)


Exeunt: Closing Questions for Students

How do the characters in the play address each other and talk about each other?

Why is it so important when writing about a quotation to think about who says it, who they are with, what the circumstances are, etc.?


Suggested plenary activity…

Students could play around with the idea of nicknames and epithets, perhaps drawing on some of the evidence they have gathered from the activities here. They should think of the most apt nicknames or epithets for the various characters in the play. How might these change as the play goes on? 


Asides: Further Resources

  • ‘The Faerie Queen’ is a long English epic poem by Edmund Spenser dating from the 1590s - the same decade as A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  This popular poem, which found favour with the queen herself, can be read as an allegory in praise of Queen Elizabeth I.


Epilogue: Teacher's Note

This activity could be used to follow on from the activities in Key Stage 3 Characters relating to status. Further materials about the play’s historical and social context can be found within the Key Stage 3 and the Key Stage 4 resources.

Key Questions for Students:

Can I identify a range of literary techniques and consider their effects?

Can I identify a variety of effects Shakespeare achieves through his use of iambic pentameter?

Can I make interesting and subtle comments about the techniques used and the effects created?

Key words: antithesis, enjambment, iambic pentameter, personification, prose


Prologue: Opening Discussion

An activity revising some of the literary techniques that were focused on in the Key Stage 3 resources would be useful here: alliteration, metaphor, repetition, rhyming couplet, simile. You may wish to assign a particular scene or scenes for students to investigate, depending on students’ confidence with scanning and skimming the text. 

Enter the Players: Group Tasks

1) Iambic pentameter

Fiona Banks writes that ‘We can use our knowledge of the verse structure to look at the verse diagnostically’. Banks also suggests a number of activities which support this kind of investigation into the variety of Shakespeare’s use of metre and the different kinds of effects that can be created.

  • plotting findings about the number of syllables in each line of a speech in a graph (that looks like a heart trace print-out). Relate this to what is happening and being said in each line
  • listing and analysing the first and last stressed syllables of every line. Compile them in a chronological list and then look for progression or patterns
  • noticing where the rhythm is more varied, e.g, more or fewer syllables, use of a trochee (dum-de) or a spondee (dum-dum)
  • ‘walking the line’, i.e. foot up on unstressed syllables and down on stressed syllables, and noticing and commenting on irregularities
  • exploring how shared lines work using five pieces of paper (each representing an iamb) as stepping stones, with two characters speaking their syllables within the line and therefore meeting in the middle

Students could make notes in the Student Booklet about how these activities have helped them to analyse a particular speech or scene.


2) Script machine

For this activity, students need access to the Playing Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream microsite: 2012.playingshakespeare.org/language. They should access it on three different screens, e.g. on tablets or laptops at three (or perhaps - due to class size - six) different stations in a computer room. Students need to work in groups and each group should be assigned one of these five features: antithesis; enjambment; iambic pentameter; personification; prose. Groups should move in a carousel, visiting each scene and using the Script Machine feature to identify examples of their particular feature. Each feature is not present in every scene, so students should also use their time at each station to revise metre. (The scenes are Act 1 Scene 1, Act 3 Scene 2 and Act 4 Scene 1.) At the end of the carousel, students could report back to the class:

  • their literary technique and what it means
  • up to three examples of the literary technique (ideally one example from each scene)
  • a comment to accompany each example, explaining the effect(s) of this technique


3) The language of the fairies

Explain to students that they are now going to be applying their knowledge of literary terms and language investigation skills to the text. Students should analyse how Shakespeare makes the fairies speak in a different way to the other characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and why he chooses to do so. Students should now look at the quotations in the Student Booklet. The class could compile a brainstorm of anything they immediately notice about how the fairies’ language is different, e.g. shorter lines, songs, repetition, unusual words, etc. You could then model a close reading to the first quotation, paying particularly close attention to metre (including the frequent use of tetrameter, other language techniques and their effects.)

Students could then work in groups reading the rest of the quotations, marking their texts with anything they notice about language techniques and their effects.

As an extension activity, students could start to be more specific about the different use of language by the fairy characters, e.g. is the language of Oberon and Titania different to that of the others because of their status? If so, how?



Exeunt: Closing Questions for Students

How regular or irregular is Shakespeare’s use of metre?  

What are the effects of variations in the play's metre?

How do I think the audience would be affected by the fairies' use of language?


Suggested plenary activity…

Students should take one of the techniques that they have learned about, and find an example of it from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They should then write a sentence or two, explaining what they think the effect of this might be in the context of the play. Take feedback.


Asides: Further Resources

  • Giles Block describes Shakespeare’s verse as being ‘based on two things: a line length that corresponds with our breathing, and an underlying rhythm that corresponds with our heartbeat’.


  • In Creative Shakespeare, Fiona Banks notes that Shakespeare often uses tetrameter for non-human characters and that it denotes ‘other-worldliness’. Students could look at passages from other Shakespeare plays where tetrameter is used, such as King Lear. Why do they think Shakespeare chooses to write certain passages in tetrameter? 


  • Shakespeare’s tetrameter is usually trochaic rather than iambic. Fiona Banks describes a helpful way to distinguish between iambs (‘shabooms’) and trochees (‘boomshas’).


Epilogue: Teacher's Note

Ideas to support students in preparing for this learning sequence can be found within the Key Stage 3 resources. They also give another experience of using the script machine. An introductory activity on metre can also be found there. This learning sequence returns to the rhythms of Shakespeare’s verse, and focuses in more depth on the intended effects of the language being used.

Key Questions for Students:

Can I make inferences about plot, character, etc. using language clues in the text?

Can I extend my explanations about the meaning and effects of language?

Key words: accusation, analyse, annotation, complaint, dispute, explain, formal, interruption, opposites, quarrel, refute, rehearsal, verdict


Prologue: Opening Discussion

The activities in this learning sequence focus on scenes featuring disagreements between characters. Students are going to develop their language investigation skills, commenting in more detail about characters’ viewpoints, intentions and motivations based on clues in the text.

Show students the Harmony PowerPoint (available in the Downloads section at the bottom of this page). It shows images from previous productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, each of which features two characters. Students should work in pairs to place them in order along a spectrum with ‘harmony’ at one end and ‘disharmony’ at the other. Students are looking for clues as to the level of agreement/disagreement and peace/agitation between the characters. Visual clues may include body language and facial expressions. As an extension activity, students try to work out which scene each image comes from, and look for quotations that would serve as fitting captions.



Enter the Players: Group Tasks

1) Egeus’ complaint

Students could begin by reading Egeus’ speech in Act 1 Scene 1 lines 22-45 out loud. First, students should read the speech and tap their desks lightly whenever they encounter a punctuation mark. Next, read the speech again and students should only tap the desk when they come to a full stop. What difference does this make? Students should then answer the questions in the Student Booklet about the character of Egeus. These include the reasons for Egeus’ concerns, Egeus’ emotional state, his feelings about Lysander and Demetrius, and what he wants from Theseus. Students should ensure they support all of their points with textual evidence.


2) Annotated script

Students should now read the next part of the scene from lines 46-127, ideally in groups of six or seven. The seventh student serves as director and also plays Hippolyta (who is present but doesn’t speak). It’s important to give a specified amount of time to groups, which could extend over more than one lesson. The following steps may support students in this activity:

  • highlighting their own parts and having an initial read through
  • reading the text again, noting down initial thoughts about their character in the scene
  • possibly making their own cuts to the text as a group
  • rehearsing the scene in different ways, e.g. raising voices at times or not, varying tone, sitting vs. standing, pointing on the pronouns, etc.
  • making more notes about their voice, position, movement, etc. at various points in the scene
  • performing the scene (they don’t have to be ‘off the book’ for this!)


3) Titania and Oberon

To continue this exploration of characters arguing in the play, students could focus on other dialogues. A good example is the meeting between Titania' and Oberon in Act 2 Scene 1 lines 60-145. Titania’s and Oberon’s powers are such that their quarrels have a profound effect on the world around them. Students should read the dialogue in pairs and could then do the following exercise:

  • Read it again but this time, listen very carefully and repeat the most important word or phrase the other character has said, then speak your own lines
  • Note the words or phrases you picked out
  • Read the scene again, only this time when you repeat the word or phrase, think about how it might affect your character

Four follow-up questions are included in the Student Booklet.


Exeunt: Closing Questions for Students

How does Shakespeare use language in various disputes and disagreements in the play?

What insights does his language give us about characters’ emotional state?


Suggested plenary activity…

As a class, compile a list of different language techniques that characters use to try and ‘win arguments’. Students should use the dialogues in the previous activities as a starting point. Examples of these language techniques include rhetorical questions, emotive language and threats. Students should note down examples of each technique.


Asides: Further Resources

  • To research different actors’ ideas about how characters speak to each other during the scenes discussed here, students could consult the Adopt an Actor archive.



  • Titania and Oberon quarrel about a changeling, a child who had been swapped for another child. Elizabethans believed that fairies might take a pretty baby and leave behind an ugly one. This was one way of punishing humans for bad behaviour. In the play, Titania’s changeling boy has been taken from India. Oberon claims the boy was a prince and was stolen by the Fairies. Titania says that his mother died in childbirth.


  • The superstitious members of Shakespeare’s audience believed the weather reflected what would happen in their lives. Obviously, the right weather was important for growing food, so the Elizabethans knew that bad weather could mean bad harvest and starvation. Some took this much further. For example, believing thunder on Monday meant a woman would die, while thunder on a Thursday promised lots of sheep. Some people believed that this happened because of magic people or creatures. Titania’s lines reflect these superstitions. She says to Oberon that the terrible weather has happened because they have been fighting.


Epilogue: Teacher's Note

Worthwhile links could be made to the Key Stage 3 Text in Performance activities about the role of the director, and to activities within the Key Stage 4 resources about the role of the stage manager. 

Key Questions for Students:

Can I follow the longer speeches in this play and read for meaning?

Can I explain what a longer speech in A Midsummer Night’s Dream reveals about a character’s complexities and vulnerabilities?

Key words: character, complex, emotion, intention, monologue, motivation, soliloquy, speech, vulnerable


Prologue: Opening Discussion

Find a speech from the play that contains roughly as many lines as there are students in the class, e.g. Act 3 Scene 2 lines 6-34. Distribute lines from the speech on strips of paper, one per student. Ask students to read their line a few times; they should then see if they can work out whose speech it is and where it comes from in the play. Ask a few questions to get students thinking about what’s written on their strip of paper, e.g.

  • Who’s got the line where Puck describes the Mechanicals as a bunch of fools or clowns?
  • Who’s got the line where Puck mentions the forthcoming wedding?
  • Who’s got the line where Puck says that the Mechanicals’ clothes snagged on thorns?

Now read through the entire speech in the Student Booklet, with each student reading his or her line. (Students could attempt to reconstruct the speech first, checking their version with the original before continuing).


Enter the Players: Group Tasks

1) Peter Quince’s punctuation

Students could have fun comparing Peter Quince’s poorly punctuated performance of the Prologue to ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ with a correctly punctuated version of the speech. Both are available in the Student Booklet for students to compare and contrast. Once they ‘spot the difference’ between the two versions, they could focus on two or three examples and reflect on how the altered punctuation alters the sense and creates comedy!


2) The ‘journey’ of a speech

Students should select a favourite speech from the play and analyse it closely, as preparation for a performance of it. This could be an assessed individual task, or it could be done as an ensemble performance if preferred. The following speeches would work well for this activity:

  • Helena’s soliloquy in Act 1 Scene 1 lines 226-251
  • Titania’s long speech in Act 2 Scene 1 lines 81-117
  • Lysander’s short speech in Act 2 Scene 2 lines 110-121
  • Puck’s recount to Oberon in Act 3 Scene 2 lines 6-34
  • Bottom’s speech in prose in Act 4 Scene 1 lines 199-217
  • Theseus’ speech about the imagination in Act 5 Scene 1 lines 2-22

N.B. The speeches vary in length and complexity and there is scope for differentiation here.



3) Performing key speeches

A page in the Student Booklet takes students through the process of rehearsing, performing and reflecting on this task.


Exeunt: Closing Questions for Students

What can I do to approach a long Shakespearean speech with confidence?

What did breaking down a speech into sections reveal about the ‘journey’ of that character’s thoughts and feelings throughout the speech?


Suggested plenary activity…

Ask students to create an alternative representation of a character’s ‘journey’ through one of the speeches they have looked at closely today. They could use a comic strip or storyboard format, a map or mindmap, a diagram of the stage, or perhaps even edit/update the speech, so as to turn it into a series of status updates or tweets.


Asides: Further Resources

  • Compared to many of Shakespeare’s other comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream has quite a long average speech length. There are 605 occasions when a character speaks and the average speech length is 27.29 words. Many of the play’s longer speeches use rhyming couplets.


  • Students may notice differences in punctuation in versions of the same play. Remind students that the key to exploring a complex text is to use the punctuation as an aid when reading aloud, and as a way of breaking the text into ‘sense units’. Both of these approaches will support reading for meaning, and will help students to understand the ‘journey’ of a character’s thoughts and feelings through a long speech. Encourage students not to pause at the end of a line of verse unless there is a punctuation mark. Students could also note how the number of punctuation marks affects the pace of delivery of a speech.


  • As well as performing with scant regard for punctuation, the Mechanicals frequently mispronounce words and get words mixed up. As an additional classroom activity or homework task, students could find out what ‘malapropism’ means and the origins of this word. With dictionaries to hand, students could see how many malapropisms they can find (e.g. ‘paramour’/‘paragon’). Scenes to use for this activity include the Mechanicals’ rehearsal and Bottom’s scenes with Titania.


Epilogue: Teacher's Note

Although based on a different play, the Staging It materials linked to the ‘Is this a dagger…? soliloquy from the Scottish play take students through the same step-by-step process of analysis: shakespearesglobe.com/discovery-space/staging-it

Key Questions for Students:

Can I explore the significance of words that are frequently used in this play?

Can I write in an insightful way about how Shakespeare uses particular words in the play and the effects of these words?

Key words: concordance, context, diction, effect, opposites, oxymoron, repetition, tone, vocabulary, word form


Prologue: Opening Discussion

Which words are used most of all by Shakespeare? It will come as no surprise to students that the most common words in Shakespeare’s plays are very short useful words: the, and, I, to, of, a, you, my, in, that, is, not, with, me and it. Students can find the exact statistics at opensourceshakespeare.org/stats/.

Ask students to jot down what they think the most common words in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are, leaving short words like pronouns and characters’ names aside. After giving students a few minutes for this activity and taking some feedback, show a Wordle-generated word cloud showing the 100 most commonly used words in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You could even play a game of ‘Pointless’ using this information!


Enter the Players: Group Tasks

1) Word cloud

Next, assign one of the most commonly used words to a pair or group of three. Students should find as many examples of that word in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as they can, either using an online concordance or scanning the text themselves. Possible words to use: dream, eye, fairy, flower, love, music, night, queen, sense, sight, sleep, vision. Then take feedback about the word’s meaning or meanings in the play. Students could choose how they do this feedback, e.g. dramatic presentation, choral speaking of important quotations, mindmap or poster with commentary by the students.


2) Close reading: Act 4 Scene 1 lines 27-77

Ask students to read the extract from Act 4 Scene 1 lines 27-77 and place it in context. Explain that this activity is not about language features so much as diction, i.e. Shakespeare’s word choices. As students read, they should look for the same words they searched for in the previous activity. How many of them can they find? Perhaps students could do what Fiona Banks calls ‘thematic heckling’, echoing the word to draw attention to it!

Next, divide the extract into five sections of ten lines each. Students should pick out what they feel are the three most important words within their assigned section. Students should then go beyond the twelve words they looked for in Activity 1 and pick out the other words they feel are particularly crucial in this passage. Which words or closely-related forms of that word are repeated, e.g. love/lover, moon/moonshine)? What effects does this repetition achieve?



3) Recurring motifs

Explain to students that certain key words and images recur with such frequency throughout the play that they can be considered motifs. A table in the Student Booklet asks students to look for examples from throughout the play of the following motifs in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They should make a more detailed comment about one of these motifs:

  • eyes and seeing
  • the moon
  • sleep and dreams
  • hunting and pursuing

As an extension question, students could think about how each of these motifs connects to the play’s main themes.


4) Opposites and oxymorons

Students could also investigate the use of opposites and oxymorons in this play, and their effects. Two passages for close analysis and annotation - from Act 1 Scene 1 and from Act 4 Scene 1 - are included in the Student Booklet, along with some prompts to support analysis of these passages and of the play as a whole.


Exeunt: Closing Questions for Students

Which words does Shakespeare use repeatedly in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

What are the potential effects of this on the audience?

What conclusions can I draw from this about the play’s atmosphere and mood, and about its themes and issues?


Suggested plenary activity…

Students choose one word from A Midsummer Night’s Dream which they have looked at today. This word should have more than one meaning or a more complex meaning than they first thought. Students should write down a few sentences about their word, and then a range of words and commentaries can be shared.  


Asides: Further Resources

  • Students can discover the frequency of any word in Shakespeare’s plays at opensourceshakespeare.org/concordance/. Students can then be taken to each individual instance of the word in use in specific plays or Shakespeare’s entire milieu.


  • Wordle (wordle.net) can generate a variety of word clouds to support analysis of Shakespeare’s use of language in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, e.g. the commonest words in the whole play or in particular scenes or speeches, the language used by different characters, how a character’s diction changes.


Epilogue: Teacher's Note

There is more information about each of the play’s motifs and themes in the Themes resources for Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.

Key Questions for Students:

Can I remember key quotations and who said them?

Can I choose and incorporate short and appropriate quotations into my planning?

Can I draft a coherent paragraph that makes effective use of quotations?

Key words: character, draft, key words, language analysis, plan, quotation


Prologue: Opening Discussion

As a class, create a brainstorm showing everything that students already know about using quotations in essays.

At this point in the lesson, some of the following issues will come up whereas others can be integrated into the lesson subsequently as appropriate:

  • appropriateness/relevance
  • length
  • key words
  • use of speech marks
  • use of ellipsis
  • use of square brackets
  • use of integrated quotations
  • direct vs. indirect quotation.


Enter the Players: Group Tasks

1) Who said what?

Mix up the following quotations and ask students to match them to the character speaking:


Hippolyta           “But all the story of the night told over,
                            And all their minds transfigur’d so together,
                           More witnesseth than fancy’s images,
                           And grows to something of great constancy;
                           But howsoever, strange and admirable.”                     


Francis Flute     “Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
                            Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier, 
                            Most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew, 
                            As true as truest horse that yet would never tire, 
                            I'll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb.”


Philostrate                                         “No, my noble lord; 
                            It is not for you: I have heard it over,
                            And it is nothing, nothing in the world; 
                            Unless you can find sport in their intents, 
                            Extremely stretch'd and conn'd with cruel pain, 
                            To do you service.”


Titania’s Fairy    “Either I mistake your shape and making quite, 
                           Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite 
                           Call'd Robin Goodfellow: are not you he 
                           That frights the maidens of the villagery; 
                           Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern 
                           And bootless make the breathless housewife churn...”


Egeus                  “Scornful Lysander, true, he hath my love;
                             And what is mine my love shall render him;
                             And she is mine, and all my right of her
                             I do estate unto Demetrius.”


Tom Snout         “This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show
                            That I am that same wall; the truth is so: 
                            And this the cranny is, right and sinister, 
                            Through which the fearful lovers are to whisp”


Students should then choose a memorable shorter quotation (between 1 and 8 words in length) from each long quotation, and highlight them in the Student Booklet.


2) A ‘cameo’ character study

Students will perform a character study of a minor role in the play: Francis Flute. You should model the process the students will be doing for themselves in the next activity:

  • zooming in on the appropriate section or sections of the text
  • picking out three short quotations that will support you in answering the question ‘How would you describe the role and significance of Francis Flute in the play?’ and recording them
  • annotating these quotations and planning out your answer, then drafting your paragraph, ensuring that the success criteria described below are met.

Success criteria:

  • Begin with a topic sentence
  • Make at least three points
  • Include textual evidence to support your points
  • Analyse the language of the quotations: meaning(s), techniques used, effects on audience
  • End with an insightful sentence that draws a conclusion from the evidence you have gathered 



3) Drafting a paragraph

Choose another relatively minor character (e.g. Philostrate, Tom Snout, Hippolyta, Egeus, Titania’s Fairy), and write a paragraph assessing their role and significance in the play. 


Exeunt: Closing Questions for Students

What study skills do I need to identify key quotations and learn them when revising for an exam?


Suggested plenary activity…

Peer assessment of paragraphs using success criteria. Students could use ‘two stars and a wish’ or WWW (what went well) and EBI (even better if) as a structure for feeding back to their partner.


Aside: Further Resource

  • As well as searching for words, students can also search by character and create a print-out of all of a particular character’s lines at opensourceshakespeare.org


Epilogue: Teacher's Note

The next two pages take students through the process of writing an essay about A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Key Questions for Students:

Do I know what the examiners are looking for and what the question is asking me to do?

Can I generate ideas for my essay?

Can I organise my ideas into a coherent structure?

Key words: coherent, conclusion, essay, evidence, example, feedback, introduction, organisation, paragraph, planning, quotation, structure, success criteria


Prologue: Opening Discussion

A word is missing from each of these short quotations:

  1. “Full of [vexation] come I” (Egeus, I.i)
  2. “I am that merry [wanderer] of the night.” (Puck, II.i)
  3. “Methought a [serpent] ate my heart away.” (Hermia, II.ii)
  4. “Man is but an [ass] if he go about to expound this dream.” (Bottom, IV.i)
  5. “Lord, what fools these [mortals] be!” (Puck, III.ii)
  6. “Tarry, rash wanton; am I not thy [lord]?” (Oberon, II.i)
  7. “Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee! Thou art [translated]!” (Peter Quince, III.i)
  8. ‘Henceforth be never number’d among [men]?” (Hermia, III.ii)
  9. “And I am [sick] when I look not on you.” (Helena, II.i)
  10. “There is a brief how many [sports] are ripe.” (Philostrate, V.i)
  11. “Merry and tragical? [Tedious] and brief?” (Theseus, V.i)
  12. “Do I [entice] you? Do I speak you fair?” (Demetrius, I.v)
  13. “I never heard/ So musical a [discord].” (Hippolyta IV.v)
  14. “[Swifter] than arrow from the Tartar’s bow.” (Puck, III.ii)
  15. “My heart unto yours is [knit]” (Lysander, II.ii)
  16. “I love thee not, therefore [pursue] me not.” (Demetrius, II.i)
  17. “I woo’d thee with my [sword]” (Theseus, I.i)
  18. “Pyramus, enter! Your [cue] is past.” (Peter Quince, III.i)
  19. “I do but [beg] a little changeling boy” (Oberon, II.i)
  20. “Let not me play a [woman]. I have a beard coming.” (Francis Flute, I.ii)

Students should locate the quotations and insert the correct word in the spaces in the Student Booklet. How many words did they know without looking? Students could then discuss in pairs how they would go about committing short quotations such as these to memory. Share strategies as a class.

As an extension activity, students could suggest a point which could be used as evidence from the quotations.


Enter the Players: Group Tasks

1) Identifying success criteria

The focus now moves from writing a brilliant paragraph to writing a brilliant essay! You could write a brainstorm on the board of students’ ideas about what makes an excellent response to an exam task. Tailor the discussion as appropriate to cover insights drawn from the syllabus, specification, curriculum documentation, examiners’ reports, etc. Broadly speaking, the success criteria should include criteria from the following areas:

  • exam skills
  • textual knowledge and understanding
  • ability to advance an argument
  • language analysis skills
  • written expression

(A more detailed version of this checklist is provided in the Student Booklet, but you may wish to do this brainstorming exercise before looking at the more detailed version.)


2) Task bank: language

These following tasks can be used in the modelling of planning and drafting written tasks, as well as for students’ more independently produced work for assessment:

  1. Choose a longer speech from the play and write a detailed analysis of what it reveals about that character’s thoughts and feelings.
  2. How does the language of the fairies in the play mark them out as different to any of the other characters, and what might be the effect on the audience?
  3. Choose two scenes in the play in which characters are shown to disagree with each other. Analyse and compare the language Shakespeare uses in these scenes.



3) Planning

Model for students the planning process comprising:

  • generation of ideas, e.g. by creating a spider diagram or bulleted list
  • working out the best structure for the answer, including: identifying the main ideas, introduction/conclusion, logical organisation of ideas, preparing evidence and examples to support ideas


Exeunt: Closing Questions for Students

How do I work out what to include and what to leave out of my essays?

Why is it important to plan my essays?

What level of detail do I need in my essay planning?


Suggested plenary activity…

Peer assessment of plans using success criteria. Students could use ‘two stars and a wish’ or WWW (what went well) and EBI (even better if) as a structure for feeding back to their partner.


Asides: Further Resources

  • The tasks in the question banks can be used as the basis for devising further tasks to suit the needs of your own class, curriculum and syllabus.


  • Students could pick out the key words from the following essay questions (which could also be used within the modelling process and/or as practice questions):

1) How does Shakespeare use language to evoke different moods and settings in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

2) Write a detailed analysis of Titania’s and Oberon’s use of language in Act 2 Scene 1.

3) How does Shakespeare write about love in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?


Epilogue: Teacher's Note

The following page continues to work through the process of writing an essay about A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Key Questions for Students:

Can I draft an essay using my plan as a basic structure?

Can I ensure each paragraph contains detailed language analysis that supports my overall argument?

Can I review my work and make effective use of constructive feedback?

Key words: conclusion, constructive, essay, feedback, introduction, plan, review, structure


Prologue: Opening Discussion

Students could return to their peer/self assessment feedback from the previous learning sequence. This will help them to focus on their individual strengths and targets as they draft their essays. You might find this a helpful point at which to guide students through the ‘My 5 skill areas for writing a brilliant Shakespeare answer’ checklist in the Student Booklet.


Enter the Players: Group Tasks

1) Planning my essay

Following on from your planning model in the previous learning sequence, students could plan their essay with teacher support as appropriate.


2) Language analysis

In the Student Booklet, students can read paragraphs written by two students to examine how effectively each student has analysed the language of the play. They should think about:

  • their understanding of the language used
  • the argument the student is advancing in that paragraph.


3) Getting started

Using an interactive whiteboard, flipchart or visualiser, you could now model the first part of the writing process of an essay. This should include the introduction and the first sentence or two of the next paragraph, in which the main point is introduced. Ensure that your writing process explicitly demonstrates for students:

  • that you are continually going back and forwards between your plan and your essay in progress (it’s helpful to have your plan displayed so that the students can see this process in action)
  • that you are answering a specific question and are therefore echoing key words from that question
  • that you are selecting words that are appropriately formal in tone for an essay


4) Drafting essays

Students can now begin to draft their essay using the following structure:

  • introduction
  • main body of essay
  • conclusion

Students should consistently be encouraged to review their work in progress against success criteria and individual targets. The ‘My 5 skill areas for writing a brilliant Shakespeare answer’ checklist is a useful tool for reflection and target-setting throughout this process.


Exeunt: Closing Questions for Students

How helpful was my planning when it came to writing my essay?

Am I meeting the success criteria and where is there room for improvement?


Suggested plenary activity…

Students could self-assess their work in progress against the identified success criteria and their current curricular target(s) for reading and/or writing.


Asides: Further Resources

  • There is a space in the Student Booklet for students to record feedback and personal target-setting in relation to revision skills and writing skills.


  • Encourage students to include in their Student Booklet at least one practice essay and evidence of their entire writing process, from brainstorm to plan to first draft to finished draft. This will help you to assess their writing process as well as the end result.


Epilogue: Teacher's Note

This learning sequence and the previous one take students through the process of writing an essay about A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The essay can be used as an end-of-unit assessment task for reading and writing. 


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