Romeo and Juliet Activities: Language (KS5)

Add to My Resources Remove from My Resources

Here you can find resources designed around the 2019 Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production of Romeo and Juliet. Created for young people, students are able to follow along with the production online on the Globe's dedicated Romeo and Juliet microsite.

If students are new to the play, we suggest you start with these introductory Key Stage 3 Lesson Plans. If you would like to teach the play in greater detail, we recommend you use the advanced activities which can be found in the Key Stage 4 or Key Stage 5 areas.

We will be updating this section week by week, so be sure to check back for more activities soon. 

Read the article, 'Love and Hate in Romeo and Juliet', by Chris Nayak. Chris highlights two major speeches in which the title characters express themselves using oxymora.

We're going to start by looking at one of these in more detail: Romeo's speech in Act 1, Scene 1, lines 168-174.

Divide a page in half and title the first column, Romeo.

Within this column, list all the oxymora that Romeo uses within this speech. At this point in the play, who is Romeo talking about? What is causing Romeo to feel this way?  Add this explanation underneath your list. Annotate the oxymora with all the connotations you can think of linked to each word.

Another play in which Shakespeare employs a list of oxymora is A Midsummer Night's Dream; title the second column with this. Locate within Act 5 the list of oxymora used, and record these in the second column.

Which characters are being spoken about with these oxymora? What do they have in common with Romeo and Juliet? Add this explanation underneath your list. Annotate the oxymora with all the connotations you can think of linked to each word. Using your annotations, compare the oxymora used above to those that Romeo uses in his speech. What do you notice?

A Midsummer Night's Dream was written after Romeo and Juliet. Given how the characters are portrayed in the former play, how might the oxymora be being used to comment on Romeo and Juliet?

How else could you link these two plays? Consider characters and themes.

Find the Week 1 blog by the assistant director of the play Natasha Rickman. In the blog, Natasha mentions the different uses of verse and prose, and highlights how Mercutio switches between verse and prose depending on the situation. 

Research Howard Giles' Communication Accommodation Theory, focusing particularly on convergence and divergence. In pairs, discuss the situations in which you might ‘converge’ or ‘diverge’ your speech. What influences your choices, for example: particular people, locations, situations?

Now look at how Romeo changes his speech, and think about what Shakespeare might be trying to suggest about his character.

Look at:

  • Romeo and Mercutio in Act 2, Scene 4, from ‘Come between us, good Benvolio’ to ‘now art thou Romeo’.
  • Romeo and Juliet in Act 2, Scene 2, from ‘My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself’ to ‘Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love’.

Complete the following tasks:

  • Read the exchanges aloud several times each, taking it in turns to be Romeo, and experimenting with saying it in different moods (jolly, sincere, timid, playfully, etc.). 
  • Identify which is an example of verse and which is prose, and link this to which mood seemed to best fit your readings above.

Think back to i) Natasha's blog, and what she said about when characters are likely to use verse and prose, and ii) your research into Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT).

Why might Romeo have used verse in one situation, and prose in the other? How might CAT be applied to Romeo in these examples? What is Shakespeare telling us about Romeo's character through his selection of prose or verse?

Visit to read an article about how verse and prose is used in another of Shakespeare’s plays: Much Ado About Nothing. How does Benedick’s use of both compare to that of Romeo’s?

Find the Week 3 blog by the assistant director of the play Natasha Rickman. In her Tuesday blog entry, Natasha outlines how the cast have been working on Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech, in Act 1 Scene 4 of the play.

Find the questions that director Michael poses about this speech within the blog, and show/write them onto the board, explaining that the activities that follow will help to explore these.

Before beginning, remind students what the context for this speech is: Mercutio, Romeo and friends are on their way to the Capulet ball, when Romeo tells his friends his lovesickness means he is not in the mood to dance at the party. Furthermore, he says he has ‘dreamt a dream’ that it wasn’t a good idea to go. The Queen Mab speech is Mercutio’s response to this. Provide students with the whole Queen Mab speech except the final four lines, and dictionaries/access to the internet to look up unfamiliar words.

Have students work in pairs to split the speech up into different sections; they should decide on where the splits should happen according to what Mercutio is describing across the speech (e.g. they might decide their first section will focus on the description of Mab in her chariot). They should give each section a title, and paraphrase the images that Shakespeare creates, OR draw an image that captures this, annotated with quotations.

Compare this with how other pairs have split this speech: How did each pair split their speech? What were the similarities and differences? Did any of the splits surprise you? Had any pairs noticed things that you had missed?

After the comparison of the splits, ask students to use these to help them track how the speech changes as it progresses. Draw out that:

i) Mab starts as tiny, fairy-like and is described in detail, but becomes a larger than life presence, mischievous and invisible (i.e. un-describable);
ii) the dreams all have something negative about them - they are all selfish, and the fact they are dreams suggest they cannot come true.

Explain that there is a final image of the speech, and ask students to predict what it might tell us about Queen Mab, i.e. will it be something positive or negative, based on the ‘journey’ of the speech so far? What do they think it might reference?

Reveal the final four lines:

‘This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage.
This is she-’

Discuss as a class: What is Mercutio is saying about Queen Mab here? What is the subtext and how does this link in to the treatment of women across the play? Have students in their pairs consider how this speech continues/disrupts the trajectory of their splits from earlier in the lesson.

Next, ask students to look at how Romeo and Benvolio react. In their pairs, how would they summarise each reaction in a sentence? Have students write these reactions on post-it notes and place them on the board; read out a selection of Benvolios, then a selection of Romeos. Extend the Romeo reaction by asking: If Mab is responsible for filling people’s heads with unrealistic dreams - but dreams that contain their biggest desires - then what does this say about Romeo’s dream of ‘true love’? Considering the dramatic structure
of the play, why is it significant that the scene in which ‘Queen Mab hath been with [Romeo]’ is placed directly before the scene in which Romeo meets Juliet? 

At this point, ask students to return to Michael’s questions from the blog and discuss these. This could be done in pairs and then shared, or as a whole class discussion, depending on the size of the group.

Once students have discussed the blog questions, have them work on responding to the following statement, either through planning an essay response, or through a verbal presentation: ‘Mercutio is an anti-romantic, an anti-hero; his primary function in the play is to express a realistic view of love’ (Cash, 2013). How does he achieve this through the Queen Mab speech?

Next, have students turn their attention to the comparisons that can be made between Queen Mab and other Shakespearean characters and/or descriptions. Students could create comparison charts between Queen Mab and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and/or the ‘Flibertigibbet’ described in King Lear. Students could create the create the criteria by which they undertake the comparison, or could be provided with specific prompts, e.g. physical description, link to genre, etc.

A further interesting comparison could be to look at descriptions of Queen Mab found in other literature following Romeo and Juliet, for example, Ben Johnson’s The Entertainment at Althorp or Shelley’s Queen Mab.


Want to download these resources and more? Log in or sign up to Teach Shakespeare.


Log in or sign up to add your own notes.