This editable 7-question close reading and annotating resource helps students derive deeper meaning from William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. This worksheet features an abridged excerpt from Act 3, Scene 1, and covers Tybalt’s confrontation with Romeo and Mercutio. By engaging in this exercise, students will read to apply literary devices (with an emphasis on foreshadowing, dramatic irony, symbolism, theme, and pun), develop their vocabulary, identify what the text says explicitly and implicitly, make their engagement with the text visible, and analyze character motivations. An answer key with sample annotations is included. More specifically, this resource covers the following:
- Understanding character motivations: Why Mercutio challenges Tybalt.
- Understanding character motivations: Why Romeo refuses to fight Tybalt.
- Discerning meaning from what the text explicitly states: “Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives. / That I mean to…dry-beat the rest of the eight. / Will you pluck your sword out of his pilcher by the ears? / Make haste, lest mine be about your ears ere it be out.”
- Applying knowledge of literary devices: symbolism of cats, and characteristics cats share with Tybalt.
- Applying knowledge of literary devices: the foreshadowing of Mercutio’s remark, “A plague o’ both your houses!”
- Applying knowledge of literary devices: the dramatic irony present in Romeo’s interaction with Tybalt.
- Applying knowledge of literary devices: Mercutio’s use of pun (“Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man”).
- Applying knowledge of literary devices: discerning rational, relevant themes derived from the selected passage.
This resource aligns well to Adolescent Literacy Project teaching principles. I recommend using these worksheets as the basis for small-group discussions, letting students discuss, debate, and support their reasoning for answer choices. In the role of facilitator, I observe my students becoming more consistently engaged with the novel and taking greater ownership of their learning.
In addition to helping students gain deeper understanding of the material and greater confidence in their ability to read complex texts, this resource was designed to prepare students for ACT-style questioning.