27th February 2004 at 00:00
KS4: Asking pupils to consider what happens to literary characters after their death can promote useful and interesting discussion. Set up a speaking and listening exercise based on Romeo and Juliet, and be ready for some surprises. The scenario: have pupils assume the roles of St Peter, and a couple of assistants, and of each of the deceased in the play - not forgetting Romeo's mum. Each character makes a case for admission to Heaven: St. Peter and friends make and justify their decision. You can extend the exercise to include the living, like the Nurse, Friar Laurence, the Capulet parentsI Modify as necessary to accommodate notions of the afterlife held by pupils from other cultures - the judgments and the debate will still help them focus on which characters deserve what fate.

This exercise will work with many other texts - should George in Of Mice and Men go to Heaven or to Hell for what he did to Lennie, for example?

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