Humor In Language
In this lesson, students will analyze the humor in language that is embedded in Much Ado About Nothing and maybe come to appreciate it a little bit more.
- Read the lesson and student content.
- Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
- Watch the videos. Choose and prepare the clips from act 3, scene 3 that you will use. Decide whether you will pause for note taking, show it twice, or make other modifications.
- Assign small groups for the reading of act 3, scenes 4 and 5. There are six parts to read: Hero, her gentlewomen Margaret and Ursula, Leonato, Dogberry, and Verges.
Act 3, Scene 3 Language Questions
- Allow students to share with their groups their confusion regarding Dogberry’s language.
- This scene is one in which students may benefit from having access to annotations. As noted at the start of Episode 2, Shakespeare Navigators is a good source for line-by-line annotations.
With one or two of your classmates, compare the lists that you made for homework of problems and confusing words from act 3, scene 3.
- Did you share any of the same problems? Can others in the group help clear up your confusion?
- As you discuss, be sure to also share your understanding of what happens in act 3, scene 3.
- Make a list of questions that you still have, and be ready to discuss them with your class.
Act 3, Scene 3
- This will have been a hard scene for students. Dogberry’s lines are difficult. Try to clarify all you can, but tell them that, really, they do not have to understand everything in order to get the gist of things.
- Ask them why this and other Dogberry scenes are humorous.
- Talk to them about names: all the upper classes presented here have classical names; the working classes have humorous names. Why?
- ELL: “Class” is a word with multiple meanings. Clarify the meaning of “class” in this context.
This is the time to discuss with your teacher all of the problems you had that your group was unable to clarify for you. Listen carefully to what your classmates bring up, and help them out if you can.
- What does your class think about this scene and its humor?
- Can you identify specific parts that made you laugh?
- Are other parts funny now that you understand more of Shakespeare’s jokes?
Act 3, Scene 3 Staged
- After you have clarified some of the problems with this scene, show a film version of it. The Branagh version of the Dogberry scene, where the actors take it way over the top for humor’s sake, is a good choice.
- Facilitate a conversation based on what the partner groups presented.
- SWD: Again, the subjectivity of humor might affect students’ responses. If discussing what is and what is not funny has been difficult for your class, you can focus on the second two questions.
Your teacher will show you a clip from this section of the play. As you watch, pay attention to what you do and don’t find funny.
Afterward, discuss these questions, first with a partner and then with the class.
- Do you find this scene funnier now that you have seen it performed?
- Are there parts that you understand better as a viewer than you did as a reader? What were they?
- Are there places where the film is harder to follow than the text of the play? Where?
Act 3, Scenes 4 and 5 Read Aloud
- Before students begin reading, share the synopsis of what happens in act 3, scene 4 and act 3, scene 5 from your source for scene summaries.
- These are both short scenes and will be started in class and completed at home.
- ELL: For students who may need more information than the synopses provide, consider conducting a small discussion group about these scenes before students begin to read.
- Remind students to continue with their Dialectical Journal entries. They are due in the next lesson.
In a small group, read and annotate act 3, scene 4, as well as act 3, scene 5.
- These are short scenes; you will begin reading in class and complete what you don’t finish for homework.
- As you’ve done before, assign parts to different members of your group, and pause after each page to make sure everyone understands what happened.
Don’t forget to write in your Much Ado About Nothing Dialectical Journal. The act 3 Dialectical Journal entries are due in the next lesson.
Act 3, Scenes 4 and 5
- Students will need to complete their Dialectical Journal entries for submission during the next lesson.
- Finish reading act 3. Complete your Much Ado About Nothing Dialectical Journal entries for act 3, and submit them at the beginning of the next class.