Essay: Cultivating students’ interest in reading


For the last few years there has been noticed a decline of students’ interest in reading.
They don’t study literature anymore and it is difficult to draw their attention to it. During the English classes, because of the lack of time, teachers emphasise the development of oral and writing skills, which are requested by the nowadays society. Thus, reading and text comprehension are not cultivated enough.
A literature class should be meant to give the students the opportunity to rediscover literature. Teachers also have to try to find among the children those who have writing skills and to teach them, first, how to read and then, how to write. If we find the most appropriate means, we may succeed in getting them closer to literature. In order to do that, teachers have to give up old-fashioned classical methods when introducing a piece of writing to the Hi5generation. They have to make sure that they find the power to fight against the prejudices the students have related to reading. Unless we, as teachers, believe this, the fight is lost. Young people need to feel that reading may be ”cool” if done with passion, interest, purpose. Teachers should not impose their own choice of favourite characters, role models or prototypes but lead the students to find their own. But if we manage to bring a spark into the classroom in order to make them use the latest high-tech learning gadget, their brain, we may call ourselves winners.
At first, we read a book slowly and hesitantly as we are not yet familiar with the author’s voice, vocabulary or syntactic habits. A lot of new information appears in front of us to absorb and keep in mind, as the contextual details of time and place, the characters’ names and the relationships among them. Most of us will give the author the benefit of the doubt for the first pages before making up our minds whether to go on reading or putting the book aside. The reader, either a grown-up or a child, looks for something to hook by. It could be the style, some elements of the background-lights, sounds, smells, shades, or a particular figure that they would like to follow to the end.
When reading Shakespeare, children and teenagers are more likely to be interested in the characters of a story as they have their vivid imagination to use in portraying those that they read about. It is this quality that teachers should use to help them wake up the interest of their students. As long as it is not contained in the school curriculum, teaching literature could be a real challenge. That is why teachers should think of new approaches to use in class. These new approaches’ goal is to make the students be willing to read, analyze and understand meanings in order to enlarge their ability to express themselves.
This paper presents some techniques of teaching the literary character which, in the opinion of the literature teachers’ community, are considered updated and more appealing to the students, regardless the age of the book or of the reader.
Chapter One, ”The Shakespearian Character” (A Possible Taxonomy), explores the types of literary characters, seen from different perspectives: according to their place/function in the action, according to the degree of individuality, in relation to the way they unfold during the action, to their psychological density (Forster) or to the referent’s nature ( Philippe Hamon).
Chapter Two, ”Modern Techniques of Teaching the Shakespearian Character”, comprises six subchapters, namely:
a) Literary Characters on Trial (combining persuasion and literary analysis in order to investigate the paramount issues of race, gender and sexuality)
b) Adapting Socio-grams to Teach Characters (using both graphic organisers that represent the relationships among characters in a literary text and economic, social and cultural shades in portraying characters )

c) Discovering Characters through Their Journals (writing journal pages from the point of view of the characters to explore their perspectives and motivations)
d) Literary Characters on Trial (combining persuasion and literary analysis in order to investigate the paramount issues of race, gender and sexuality)

2. ”Modern Techniques of Teaching the Shakespeare’s Characters”

2.1. Literary Characters on Trial

Dramatic activities, such as imagining a trial for certain characters, encourage students to ‘reflect on the experience and meaning’ of the reading. Students work together to create their own meanings, an essential characteristic of constructivism. Through drama, students create a new world in which the characters, themes, and motivations of the novel combine with and affect students’ understanding of the world in which they live. Most important, students are empowered to see how the themes of literature relate to their own lives
Too often, students are lectured on “the greatest playwright of all time” without really being taught what Shakespeare has to offer. And they’re expected to understand language they can’t initially relate to. Yet Shakespeare’s gripping narratives and dazzling linguistics provide topics for exploration not only within the context of Shakespeare’s 17th century, but for all worlds and eras, including our own.
Shakespeare has influenced most, if not all, Western — and possibly worldwide — playwrights. His techniques, themes, characters, and plots are contained in much of what is produced today, from television to Broadway. Critic Harold Bloom, in Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, notes, “Shakespeare teaches us how and what to perceive, and he also instructs us what to sense, and then experience as sensation.”
The timelessness of Shakespeare’s themes — race, religion, gender, family, marriage, love, and betrayal — makes these plays as meaningful today as in the era in which they were written. Besides studying the plays themselves, students can learn to think and talk about the profound issues raised by Shakespeare.
By all logic of play construction ”Julius Caesar” should be a failure. The title role is ended with the second act. Brutus, the real hero, if there is one, does not clearly emerge as the dominant character until the play is more than half over. None the less, this has been a perennial stage favourite since its composition. The explanation lies partly in Shakespeare’s superb sense of conflict upon the stage, and perhaps mostly in his incomparable rhetoric.
However, the play is correctly entitled Julius Caesar, named for the pillar of order. Brutus was against order; in rebelling against constituted authority, he brings sedition and chaos onto the political and social fabric. Although his intentions are splendid, his achievement is a catastrophe. Shakespeare shows no sympathy for the republicanism of Brutus. Rather, Brutus is portrayed as the most dangerous of subversives ‘ the misguided intellectual and idealist. Caesar, as he briefly appears, is blinded by his own divinity, but he is a majestic figure and remains through the play, and after his death, the martyred symbol of order.
Anthony’s funeral oration is justly prized as the perfect model of a speech inciting to action. Neither Anthony nor young Octavius gains stature as the avenger from a revenge tragedy, though Shakespeare shows Senecan learning, especially in the appearance of Caesar’s ghost before Philippi. The playwright’s first venture into ancient history survives chiefly as a sublime spectacle in masterful language. (1)
In Julius Caesar Shakespeare shows the liberal idealist bringing about the very opposite result to that which he intended. Brutus, like Hamlet and in some degree like Othello, is destroyed largely by his own virtues. In Brutus, nobility of character implies political innocence; in Hamlet, intelligence and sensitivity produce inability to face the world as it is; in Othello integrity and forthrightness produce credulity and, through credulity, tragic mistrust of the one person whom above all he should have trusted. Each of these characters may well have acted better if he had been a less good man. A worldlier Brutus, a less morally sensitive Hamlet, a tougher and more cunning Othello, would have done less harm in the world. This goes far deeper than simply the relation between private and public virtue. It includes, among other problems, that of the relation between innocence and virtue, or at least between innocence of character and effectiveness of moral action. (2)
In Julius Caesar, a play full of politicians and crammed with arguments about ends and means, Anthony at first seems to stand alone: he symbolises action, military excellence and a loyalty to people and country which transcends (or never once involves) intellectual calculation. In real life, such heroic integrity might be seen admirable but dull; in the play, it makes him a foil for other characters. In particular his preference for action is the mirror-image of Brutus’s love of thought, and his steadfastness contrasts with Cassius`s pliability; of the other people in the play, only Caesar and Portia can match him for single-mindedness. (3)
In Shakespeare’s time was no definite idea of history in the modern sense of the word. For the Renaissance people, History and the past was only an example which could very well epitomize the present. In their opinion, human nature did not change, human motives remained the same and events were rather similar: battles, plots, murders, the death of one king or another. This idea led to a rather static view of history, as a great mechanism which brought people to fame and pushed them to shameful death.
Shakespeare’s historical plays or chronicles drawing on English or ancient history are illustrations of the great mechanism. Yet, in his treatment of genius, the history themes change clothes: the determining force of thirst for power and everything on the historical scene is subordinated to the idea of power.
In Julius Caesar power is presented in various lights: Caesar himself represents the image of power, the representation which men have of it. As a man, he is not interesting except to show how power destroys man’s strength and turns him into an instrument of fatality. Brutus represents power in an abstract sense. He had no personal ambition; for him power is quality to be used for the public benefit. His friend Cassius and the rest are interested in the power in its basest sense. They want it for their personal purpose. Mark Anthony has the most complex relationship with power: he wants it for himself but equally for others. He is Shakespeare’s idea of a strong man, of a political leader capable at the same time of noble ideas and practical purpose.
All these people are linked together by their general features; the fact that they lived in ancient Rome is a simple accident. Historical circumstance is therefore a mere pretext. Shakespeare himself did not bother about minute reconstitutions of the past; clocks strike the hour in his ancient Rome and the Roman citizen speck the jargon of the London people. His view on history then was mostly philosophical and artistic; first and foremost he was a dramatist, interested in people and the dramatic potentialities of their behaviour. (4)
For Shakespeare and his contemporaries, a tragic hero was an individual whose evolution involved a rise and fall movement. Brutus is the first of his characters who breaks the pattern and who illustrated the Aristotelian idea of an exceptional character whose fall is determined by a flaw in his character. Brutus has all the qualities of a great man; everybody admits that he is great. When he dies the words said about him imply that he was so good, so virtuous, with all features so harmoniously blended in him that “nature should stand up and say: this was a Man.” However, Brutus is an idealist, a man whose pride blinds him and does not let him see the others as they are. His main flaw is that he lives in his own world ignoring the other people and their motivations. Because of the latter, a man who could have become an example for all the others and a model to be followed is put in the position of a rebel and a dangerous element. The tragic irony of Brutus’s fate is that he must be defeated because he adopted a wrong position. Shakespeare, who was the supporter of law and order, could not approve of murder as a justifiable means, no matter how correct its reasons might have been. Therefore, in principle, Brutus is a hero because he prefers to die when he realizes his mistake, rather than abdicate from his ideals. He is not a victim because he knows very well what he wants to do and what he can achieve as a character. He is severe, blunt, soldierly, yet indefinitely tender and gentle to his wife. It is in fact when the latter commits suicide, no longer able to bear the shame of seeing her husband regarded as a traitor, that he decides to kill himself. In Brutus, Shakespeare created one of his first figures of noble heroes who are destroyed precisely by greatness.
In every tragedy the hero is presented in relation with another character who serves as a counterpart or foil. In Shakespeare’s play the role of the foil is played by Mark Anthony. He may be considered an antihero, a man of ordinary character. But at the same time he has several remarkable features, being in no way a common man. In the play, Anthony is the realist opposing Brutus’s idealism and demonstrating its futility. A loyal friend of Caesar’s, he also knows very well where his own interest lies. His defends Caesar’s memory but at the same time he follows his own interest. He is an illustration of Machiavelli’s “Prince” who was an ideal of political ability and intelligence at that time. For Anthony the end justifies the means and he is not ashamed to appear frightened or humble in front of the citizens. He intends to convince them and every strategy is good for that: flattery, insinuation, emotional blackmail, bribery. He is not only an intelligent and brave man but also a subtle and clever politician. He addresses the crowd all the time, he flatters them, he appeals to their emotions. He realizes that they are strong and that if he wants to lead them he should first tame them as you do wild beasts. His speech perfectly illustrates these characteristics. An intelligent and brave man, Anthony does not hesitate to appear weak and fearful. He says: “I come to bury Caesar not to praise him.” And then: “I fear I wrong the honourable men whose daggers have stabbed Caesar; I do fear it!” He also persists in calling Brutus noble and honourable and underlines the fact that he comes to speak by “Brutus’s leave” and thus not disagree with him: “I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke.” By this attitude he makes the citizen believe that he is harmless and their vigilance relaxes. Further on, he appeals to their feelings, insisting all the time that they have nothing to do with the right or wrong of Brutus’s and the rest. He mentions that “you all did love him once” and insinuates it is not right that they should know how much Caesar loved them. Gradually, without the citizens realizing it he has made them feel that “there is not a noble man in Rome than Anthony”, something which they did not say about Brutus himself. His subtlety and artfulness consists in the fact that he makes the citizens say what he wants them to say, namely that he is a noble man and that the others are traitors. This illustrates the Machiavellian side of his mind at the same time his capacity to manipulate people. (5)
An interesting role is that of the people, the citizens of Rome. In Shakespeare’s tragedy, they have to a certain point the function of the chorus in ancient tragedies. This means they reflect the average opinion, the voice of common sense. In the conflict between Brutus and Anthony, their role is that of witnesses to the way in which reality is manipulated so as to suit the purpose of the two speakers. They thus become the witnesses of a tragic irony which makes Caesar at the same time a tyrant and a benefactor, a hero and a villain. Like the spectators themselves, the citizens of Rome are confronted with the fact that clever political manipulation can completely change the face of the truth. (6)
Anthony’s speech can better be understood stylistically if it is compared with Brutus’s speech. The two moments, following in quick succession, offer two strong points of intense dramatism achieved by different kinds of rhetoric. Brutus who is a soldier and a straightforward, simple man uses prose and his words have the sharpness and the straightness of sword blows. He organizes his ideas into parallel symmetrical sentences, clear and easy to understand. The Romans are driven by Shakespeare intended to show that truth could be made to appear different, depending on the speaker’s point of view. The moments of Brutus’s and Anthony’s speeches are not only passages of insight, but also moments of tragic irony when truth is bent to political necessity and Caesar’s image is made to appear now white, now black, depending on the speakers` interests and needs. (7) The strength of these words and forced to admit that Brutus was right. But Brutus is also a hero and an aristocrat. He does not care what people feel and he is not interested in them as a potential force. His only preoccupation is to demonstrate that he is right and that he was justified in murdering Caesar. That is why the pronoun “I” appears very often, more often that it does in Anthony’s speech. The latter fully understands the people’s potential power. So he keeps referring to them and taking them as witness. “You all did love Caesar and not without a cause.” He asks them “bear with me” and appeals to their vanity by saying that they are not “stone or wood but men.”
By these two different approaches to the same subject, by using different styles (prose for Brutus, verse for Anthony, concision for Brutus, digression for Anthony, bluntness for Brutus, flattery for Anthony)

1 Andrei Banta??, Procopie Clon??ea, Pia Br??nzeu, Manual de literatur?? englez’?i american??, Bucure??ti, editura Teora, 1993, p. 67-68
2 Andrei Banta??, Procopie Clon??ea, Pia Br??nzeu, Manual de literatur?? englez’?i american??, Bucure??ti, editura Teora, 1993, p. 70
3.Andrei Banta??, Procopie Clon??ea, Pia Br??nzeu, Manual de literatur?? englez’?i american??, Bucure??ti, editura Teora, 1993, p. 73
4 Andrei Banta??, Procopie Clon??ea, Pia Br??nzeu, Manual de literatur?? englez’?i american??, Bucure??ti, editura Teora, 1993, p. 73-74
5 Andrei Banta??, Procopie Clon??ea, Pia Br??nzeu, Manual de literatur?? englez’?i american??, Bucure??ti, editura Teora, 1993, p. 74-75
6 Andrei Banta??, Procopie Clon??ea, Pia Br??nzeu, Manual de literatur?? englez’?i american??, Bucure??ti, editura Teora, 1993, p. 75
7 Andrei Banta??, Procopie Clon??ea, Pia Br??nzeu, Manual de literatur?? englez’?i american??, Bucure??ti, editura Teora, 1993, p. 76

8.Andrei Banta??, Procopie Clon??ea, Pia Br??nzeu, Manual de literatur?? englez’?i american??, Bucure??ti, editura Teora, 1993, p. 109-110

9. Andrei Banta??, Procopie Clon??ea, Pia Br??nzeu, Manual de literatur?? englez’?i american??, Bucure??ti, editura Teora, 1993, p. 1143-144

10. Anda Teodorescu, Lectures and Synopses of English and American Literature

11. Huntley, E.D. Amy Tan: A Critical Companion. London: Greenwood Press, 1998

2.2 Adapting Sociograms to Teach Characters

A sociogram is a graphic representation of social links that a person has. It is a sociometric chart that plots the structure of interpersonal relations in a group situation (1). Sociograms were developed by Jacob L. Moreno to analyze choices or preferences within a group. They can diagram the structure and patterns of group interactions. A sociogram can be drawn on the basis of many different criteria: social relations, channels of influence, lines of communication. (2)
Literature teachers may adapt sociograms in their attempt to teach characters in a less conventional manner, using graphic organisers that represent the relationships among characters in a literary text. In order to help their students feel close to the characters they meet while reading a piece of literature, an useful approach would be to use, as a tool, the economic, social and cultural shades of the context in portraying characters. We can not just display the characters as if on exhibition, they need to be placed within a setting and a time. History, geography, cultural trends influence the features a character bears. Getting students familiar with the main characteristics of a given time is the first step to a successfully achieved task.

A literary sociogram is a visual representation of the relationships among characters in a literary text. It helps students to think more deeply about the texts they read or view. Johnson and Louis (1987) describe the construction of sociograms as the most valuable literature teaching technique they had encountered.
There are many variations, but this is a simple explanation based on that given by Johnson and Louis, with some additions. In a sociogram, the central character(s) is placed at the center of the page, and the other characters are placed around him/her. The spatial relationship on the page should in some way represent each of the character’s relationship with the main character, as well as with each other. Lines/arrows are used to show the ‘direction and nature’ of the relationship (e.g. strength/weakness, friend/foe, dominance/submissiveness, etc.). Students can begin by manipulating small pieces of paper that represent each of the characters; once they have arranged them in the best way to reflect their understanding of the text, the names can then be placed on a larger piece of paper/poster and the rest of the sociogram can be constructed. A number of conventions may be useful in developing sociograms:

‘ Place the central character(s) at the center of the diagram
‘ Let the physical distance between characters reflect the perceived psychological distance between the characters
‘ Let the size/shape/symbol of a character metaphorically represent each personality, importance, one’s power or lack of, etc.
‘ Show the direction of a relationship by an arrow/line , and its nature by a brief label (the lines can be creatively applied: What might the following types of lines indicate? A jagged line? A wavy line? The thickness of the line? etc.)
‘ Represent substantiated relationships with a solid line and inferred relationships by a broken line.
‘ Circle active characters with a solid line; circle significantly absent characters with a broken line.
‘ Place the characters that support the main character on one side of a dividing line, and antagonistic characters on the other side.
‘ Illustrate the tone and or theme of a piece by the use of colour or visual symbols.
‘ Explore creative ways to represent a character’s motivation. For example, inside each ‘character’s circle’ might be one or more words that seem to capture the essence of that character. Immediately outside the circle could be a series of arrows that represent the forces that influence that character. (3)

Sociologists use sociograms mainly to survey the level of social adjustment of various groups of people to various contexts. Literature teachers may take advantage of this instrument and adapt it to measure the degree to which their students perceive the depth of the books they read and of the characters they run into.

The following works have been chosen to illustrate not only the intricate relationships between the protagonists and the net of minor characters gathered around, but also they way their development is influenced by the context the authors placed them in. Feelings, reactions, emotions, arguments, even elements of physical appearance can be used in a graph in order to draw an account, as accurate as possible, of the character we are interested in.

Much of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet involves the lovers’ struggles against public and social institutions that either explicitly or implicitly oppose the existence of their love. Such structures range from the concrete to the abstract: families and the placement of familial power in the father; law and the desire for public order; religion; and the social importance placed on masculine honour. These institutions often come into conflict with each other. The importance of honour, for example, time and again results in brawls that disturb the public peace.
Though they do not always work in concert, each of these societal institutions in some way present obstacles for Romeo and Juliet. The enmity between their families, coupled with the emphasis placed on loyalty and honour to kin, combine to create a profound conflict for Romeo and Juliet, who must rebel against their heritages. Further, the patriarchal power structure inherent in Renaissance families, wherein the father controls the action of all other family members, particularly women, places Juliet in an extremely vulnerable position. Her heart, in her family’s mind, is not hers to give. The law and the emphasis on social civility demands terms of conduct with which the blind passion of love cannot comply. Religion similarly demands priorities that Romeo and Juliet cannot abide by because of the intensity of their love. Though in most situations the lovers uphold the traditions of Christianity (they wait to marry before consummating their love), their love is so powerful that they begin to think of each other in blasphemous terms. For example, Juliet calls Romeo ‘the god of my idolatry,’ elevating Romeo to level of God. (4) The couple’s final act of suicide is likewise un-Christian. The maintenance of masculine honour forces Romeo to commit actions he would prefer to avoid. But the social emphasis placed on masculine honour is so profound that Romeo cannot simply ignore them. It is possible to see Romeo and Juliet as a battle between the responsibilities and actions demanded by social institutions and those demanded by the private desires of the individual. Romeo and Juliet’s appreciation of night, with its darkness and privacy, and their renunciation of their names, with its attendant loss of obligation, make sense in the context of individuals who wish to escape the public world. But the lovers cannot stop the night from becoming day. And Romeo cannot cease being a Montague simply because he wants to; the rest of the world will not let him. The lovers’ suicides can be understood as the ultimate night, the ultimate privacy.
References :
2. Brown, Donald R.and Harvey, Donald. An Experiential Approach to Organization Development 7th ed, Pearson,2005, p.134
3. Johnson, Terry D and Louis, Daphne R., Literacy through Literature, Methuen, 1987
4. Shakespeare, William Romeo and Juliet , The Illustrated Stratford Shakespeare, Chancellor Press, 1993, p. II.i.156

2.3. Discovering Characters through Their Journals

A.Double-Entry Journals
Students can use a double-entry journal to help them study concepts or vocabulary, express opinions, justify an opinion using text, and understand or respond to the text they are reading. The double-entry journal is a two-column journal. In the left column, students write a piece of information from the text, such as a quotation or a concept, which students want to expand upon, understand better, or question. In the right column, students relate to or analyze the information that is written in the left column. For example, the student could title the left column “Quotes” and the right column “Reflections.” In this instance, the student would copy quotes from the text in the left column and reflect upon what they mean in the right column. Double-entry journals give students a way to interact personally with the text, by reflecting on and writing about their understanding of the material they are reading. Students can use the text to form an opinion and then use pieces of text to support their opinions. Students process the information and relate to the text, increasing reading comprehension.
Have students write the names of several characters from a book they are reading in the left column, and then have them describe what they think about the characters in the right column. Ask students to select and write three meaningful quotes from a book they are reading in the left column. In the right column, ask them to explain why they chose the quote and what it means to them.
After reading The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by W. Shakespeare, students and use a double-entry journal to reflect upon the characters and their actions.
Students will use a graphic organizer to improve their reading comprehension of literary characters.

Quotations Reflections and Analysis
“If there be any good think to be done/That may to thee do ease, and grace to me,/Speak to me.” (I, i, 130-2) Horatio; he doubted the existence of the King’s ghose, but then he sees the ghost himself and begs the ghost to explain his presence. The ghost leaves, and Horatio wants Hamlet to see the ghost because he thinks the ghost will speak to Hamlet. Horatios seems like the ghost is a good friend.
“…But to perservere/In obstinate condolement is a course/Of impoius stubborness, ’tis unmanly grief,/(I, ii, 92-4) The King; he thinks that Hamlet has been mourning his father’s death too long. He wants Hamlet to recongnize him as the new King and Hamlet’s mother as the King’s wife. This seems strange. Why would the king rush Hamlet’s mourning? I don’t think a child can take too long in mourning a parent’s death.
“Within a month,/Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears/Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,/She married–O most wicked speed…” (I, ii, 153-6) Hamlet; he is disgusted and angry that his mother remarried his father’s brother so quickly after his father’s death. I can’t blame Hamlet. That would make me angry, too. I wonder if Hamlet will do anything about that?
“Let not the royal bed of Denmark be/A couch for luxury and damned incest./But howsom ever thou pursues this act,/Tain not thy mind, not let they sould contrive/Against thy soul contrive/Against thy mother aught.” (I, v, 82-6) Ghost; Hamlet meets his father’s ghost. The ghost tells Hamlet that his brother (Hamlet’s uncle) fell in love with his wife (Hamlet’s mother) and killed him. The ghost tells Hamlet to avenge his death, but that he shouldn’t do anything against his wife (Hamlet’s mother).

‘ Situation: Imagine you are at Stonehenge. It is the day when Tess was captured. Identify with Angel Clare/with Tess.
Instructions: Write a last entry in your diary. Follow these steps:
1. Identify yourself with the character and think about what you feel.
2. Discuss your feeling with your desk mate.
3. Start writing, keep your pen moving, do not stop the motion fro about five minutes. don’t worry about your spelling.
4. Read the draft and make the necessary changes, if any.
5. Turn on to your partner and read what you have written (in turns).
6. While listening to your partner’s reading, think about something you particularly like and want to hear more about. Tell your partner about it.
7. Work on the first draft again and improve it according to the previous discussion.
8. Put the first draft aside and write again. Write for about fifteen minutes. Be more careful with your spelling.
9. Read again and analyze your piece of writing.
10. Exchange the diary entry with your partner and make some more final comments.
11. Write again if necessary.
A class discussion may follow, as well as creative writing tasks as homework assignment. Conceived in this way, the activity is lively and stimulating. The students internalize the meaning of the literary text re-create it through self-reflection. Reading and writing skills are developed in an integrated way, and the students are also encouraged to think and communicate freely on a given subject.
‘ Read the following text and answer the sentences :
(From Phase the fifth: The Woman Pays)
[…] When he spoke it was in the most inadequate, commonplace voice of the many varied tones she had heard from him Tess!’
‘??Yes. dearest’.
‘Am I to believe this? From your manner I am to take it as true. O you cannot be out of your mind! You ought to be! Yet you are not … My wife, my Tess – nothing in you warrants’ such a supposition as that?’ I am not out of my mind, she said’
‘And yet – He looked vacantly at her, to resume with dazed sense: ‘Why didn’t you tell me before? Ah yes, you would have told me, in a way – but I hindered you, I remember!’
These and other of his words were nothing but the perfunctory babble1 of the surface while the depths remained paralyzed. He turned away, and bent over a chair. Tess followed him to the middle of the room where he was and stood there staring at him with eyes that did not weep Presently she slid down upon her knees beside his toot, and from this position she crouched in a heap.
‘In the name of our love, forgive me!’ she whispered with a dry mouth. ‘I have forgiven you for the same!’
‘And. as he did not answer, she said again’
‘Forgive me as you are forgiven! I forgive you Angel.’
‘You – yes. you do.’
‘O Tess, forgiveness does not apply to the case You were one person: now you are another My God – how can forgiveness meet such a grotesque – prestidigitation’ as that!’
He paused, contemplating his definition: then suddenly broke into horrible laughter – as unnatural and ghastly as a laugh in hell
‘Don’t – don’t! It kills me quite, that!’ she shrieked. ‘O have mercy upon me – have mercy’
He did not answer; and. sickly white, she jumped up.
‘Angel! Angel! what do you mean by that laugh?’ she cried out. Do you know what this is to me?’ He shook his head.
‘I have been hoping, longing praying to make you happy! I have thought what joy it will be to do it. what an unworthy wife I shall be if I do not! That’s what I have felt, Angel!’ ‘I know that.’
‘I thought, Angel, that you loved me – me, my very self! If it is I you do love, O how can it be that you look and speak so? It frightens me! Having begun to love you, I love you for ever – in all changes, in all disgraces, because you are yourself I ask no more. Then how can you, O my own husband, stop loving me?.
‘I repeat, the woman I have been loving is not you.’
‘But who?’
‘Another woman in your shape.’

– What is Angel’s first reaction to Tess’ revelation”
– Why did Tess not tell him before the marriage?
– What is Angel’s deep-down reaction?
– What reasoning does less use to attempt to persuade Angel to forgive her.?
– Why does this not work?
– How does Tess react to Angel’s terrible laughter?
– Why can’t she understand his behaviour on a rational basis?
– Can you accept Angel’s remark that the woman he has been loving is ‘another woman’ in Tess’ shape? Is Angel being sincere’:’
– The title of this part of the hook is ‘The Woman Pays’. What general moral do you think Hardy was trying to express’? Use your answers and the diary entries you have written as proofs in: ‘The trial of Tess D’Urbervilles’ (from the perspective of the 21st century ).
‘ Students are divided into groups (of their choice, so they could better cooperate ): judge, prosecutor, defence lawyer, bailiff, witnesses, jury . Previously they have to get accustomed with specific expressions used in Court, cross-examinations questions , presenting the evidence (especially quotations from the novel)and objects brought along by them for that purpose.


After reading a work of literature as a class, students will brainstorm ‘crimes’ committed by characters from that text. Groups of students will work together to act as the prosecution or defence for the selected characters, while also acting as the jury for other groups. Students will use several sources to research for their case, including the computer and novel. All the while, students will be writing a persuasive piece to complement their trial work.
Dramatic activities, such as imagining a trial for certain characters, encourage students to ‘reflect on the experience and meaning’ of the reading. Students work together to create their own meanings, an essential characteristic of constructivism. Through drama, students create a new world in which the characters, themes, and motivations of the novel combine with and affect students’ understanding of the world in which they live. Most important, students are empowered to see how the themes of literature relate to their own lives.(22)

Students will
‘ demonstrate comprehension of the class reading.
‘ create interpretive presentations of literary characters
‘ apply previous knowledge of persuasive devices to a writing piece and a presentation.
‘ articulate persuasive arguments about literature.
‘ compose an essay using a persuasive style.
‘ find, interpret, and manipulate textual evidence to support one side of an argument.
‘ work effectively with other students.
‘ demonstrate effective oral presentation skills.
‘ analyze the quality of information used to support an argument.
‘ critically assess their own work.
Roles of the Members of a Trial

Prosecution & Defence
‘ Creates a list of main arguments
‘ Names a list of witnesses
Prosecution Lawyers
‘ Address the jury
‘ Present the arguments
‘ Question witnesses in order to convince the jury of the defendant’s guilt
Prosecution Witnesses
‘ Respond to questions posed by the lawyers for the prosecution
‘ Respond to questions posed by the lawyers for the defence
Prosecution Clerk
‘ Makes sure everyone participates in meetings and during the trial
‘ Keeps the entire prosecution team within the time limits for their presentation
‘ Helps the group prioritize arguments and make the best use of the limited time, as needed
Defence Lawyers
‘ Address the jury
‘ Present the arguments
‘ Question witnesses in order to convince the jury of the defendant’s innocence
Defence Witnesses
‘ Respond to questions posed by the lawyers for the prosecution
‘ Respond to questions posed by the lawyers for the defence

Development of a mocktrial.
1. Ask students to share what they know about courts, trials, and roles of the people involved with the class. Take notes as needed.
2. Invite the students to share examples of trials’in the media, books, movies, and so forth.
3. Ask the students to identify the similarities and differences between the trials presented in these different media.
4. Explain the mock trial activity to the class: Students will participate in a trial, inspired by situations in a piece of literature they have read recently. In addition, they will write a persuasive piece that documents the support for the arguments presented in the trial.
5. When students have experience with the legal vocabulary and related information as well as roles in trials, invite them to brainstorm characters and situations from their current piece of literature that would warrant a trial. If desired, create an example to begin the discussion.
6. As students brainstorm, record their ideas, creating a poster for each character who could be involved with a trial. Record the character’s name as the main heading over a two-column chart’one for crimes, the other for motivation. Hang the charts around the room so the groups can use their during later sessions.
7. Divide the class into small groups of four to five students each.
8. Continue gathering information on the character criminals and their crimes by having students move through the room, from poster to poster, providing information. Students can list potential crimes’anything the character did that caused problems in the reading.
9. After the students have filled out the character charts, ask them to examine all of the information that has been compiled. When students have completed work on the charts, invite each group to choose a character to try at the mock trial. After the characters have been selected, remind students of the roles to pursue and ask each group member to choose a role for the trial. Alternately, you can assign individual characters along with a role to each group by distributing cards with the character’s name and either ‘defend’ or ‘prosecute’ randomly.
10. Once characters and roles have been selected or assigned, discuss the expectations and requirements of the trial and the accompanying persuasive writing piece.
11. Walk students through the process, using a think-aloud process that demonstrates for students why you chose the main arguments, how you found information in the text, and how you put it together in a summary of the case.
12. As students discuss characters and situations from the text, listen for comments that indicate students are identifying specific evidence from the story that connects to their trial. The connections that they make between the details in the novel and the details they choose as their supporting reasons for their mock trial and persuaive writing piece will reveal their understanding and engagement with the novel.Monitor student interaction and progress during group work to assess social skills.
‘ Consider the following fragments from Julius Caesar by W. Shakespeare.
Good countrymen, let me depart alone,
And, for my sake, stay here with Antony:
Do grace to Caesar’s corpse, and grace his speech
Tending to Caesar’s glories; which Mark Antony,
By our permission, is allow’d to make.
I do entreat you, not a man depart,
Save I alone, till Antony have spoke.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

First Citizen
Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.

Second Citizen
If thou consider rightly of the matter,
Caesar has had great wrong.

Third Citizen
Has he, masters?
I fear there will a worse come in his place.

Fourth Citizen
Mark’d ye his words? He would not take the crown;
Therefore ’tis certain he was not ambitious.
– Which of the roles in the mock trial would be the most suitable for Antony and for Brutus ?
– What is the effect of the rhetorical questions ? What is the answer meant to be in each case?
– How does the opening of Antony’s speech differ from Brutus’?
– In what ways does Antony show his contempt for the conspirators?
– Which of the following do you agree with most ‘? Antony cheapens the ruth, he flatters, he persuades, he deceives, he mocks and he manipulates the sentiments of the crowd.’
‘Antony genuinely feels what he is saying and he knows what the crowd is really feeling.’
– Which of the participants in the mocktrial is more likely to utter them ?
As a result of the use of mocktrials in the class :
– Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
– Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
– Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
– Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information.

Character webs (also known as literary sociograms) are visual maps of the relationships between the main characters in a story. Students engage with a range of narrative texts appropriate to their developmental level. They complete different reading activities to develop their understandings about the characters in a story, their motives, development and the relationship between characters. The culminating activity is the creation of character webs by individual students. In a character web, each character is assigned a separate box in the concept map. Lines with arrows at one end show the relationship of one character to another and should be accompanied by a brief text description.
ICT makes it possible to develop and manipulate the character web over time. This allows the students to engage more deeply with the text. For example, the size of each character box can denote their relative importance. As a narrative develops these may need to be changed. A digital version of the character web is a clean, tidy product for display, portfolios and as a record of learning.
How can it be used, adapted, or differentiated’? Younger students can use pictures of characters and word cards to construct their sociograms.
‘ Students can work independently and then share their sociograms or small groups of students can work collaboratively.
‘ Sociograms can be used to help explore power relationships implied in non-fiction texts such as newspaper reports and feature articles, aiding in the development of critical literacy skills.
‘ Listening carefully to students’ explanations of their sociograms can provide insight into their comprehension and their ability to make inferences from texts.

Students are frequently intrigued by the ides of a feud lasting several generations. Such feud is the one between the Montague and Capulets, which, so tragically, influenced the destinies of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s tragedy. Students should do some research both on a theme of classical tragedy(the role of fate and fortune, the inevitable nature of tragedy, or the isolation of the tragic hero) and one of the literary themes of Romeo and Juliet : family hostility and its effects on the innocent, the use of deception and its consequences , or effects of faulty decision making.
Read the following fragment from Romeo and Juliet:
(Act II. Scene 2)
Romeo: [Juliet appears above at a window]
But, soft! what light through yonder’ window breaks?
It is the east and Juliet is the sun!
Arise’, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid are far more fail than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious,
Her vestal livery” is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it; cast’ it off.
It is my lady: O, it is my love!
O, that1 she knew she were!
She speaks, yet she says nothing: what of that?
Her eye discourses, I will answer it.
I am too bold, tis not to me she speaks:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do intreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!
Juliet :Ay me!
Romeo: She speaks:
O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art
As glorious to this night, being o’er my head,
As is a winged messenger of heaven
Unto the white-upturned wondering eyes
Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him,
When he bestrides” the lazy-pacing clouds
And sail upon the bosom of the air,
Juliet. O Romeo. Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name,
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love”;
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
Romeo: [Aside] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?
Juliet : ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man.
O, be some other name.
What’s in a name that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d.
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name
And for thy name, which is no part of thee.
Take all myself.
‘ Answer the following questions:
– What kind of images predominate in the passage?
– What are Romeo and Juliet compared to? Make a list.
– What is Romeo’s reaction when Juliet begins to speak?
– What does Juliet want Romeo to do?
– What aspect of the Shakespearean theatre makes this scene possible? Why do you think this story still fascinates modern readers?
– What is the secret of its power’? Divide a sheet of paper in half lengthwise, place the House of Capulet on one side, the House of Montague on the other. Use it to illustrate the relationships of the characters.
‘ Choose either Romeo or Juliet and complete the character sociogram below :

‘ A group of students should use its piece of chart paper to create a sociogram for the characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Each group will be given a different major character: the Ghost, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Gertrude, Claudius, Polonius, Horatio, Osric, Laertes, Ophelia, and Hamlet himself (each of whom should be placed in the very centre of the diagram). Head the diagram with the question, “Which character would you choose to walk the battlements with at midnight?” The idea is to graph the lines of affiliation between as many of the play’s characters as you. Horatio, for example, would probably answer, “Hamlet and Marcellus,” but whom would each of them choose? These answers would be graphed in this manner:
Marcellus < ----------------------- Horatio----------------------- > Hamlet

‘ Consider the following sociogram on Twelfth Night (by Shakespeare) characters’ relationships .

‘ Draw a similar one to illustrate all the relationships below:
Sebastian is the twin brother of Viola
Antonio is Sebastian’s friend
Orsino is madly in love with Olivia, but the feeling is not mutual.
Viola is madly in love with Orsino.
Cesario is the messenger for Orsion.
Orsino thinks that Viola is a man (Cesario.)
Maria is the gentlewoman of Olivia.
Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are best friends
Fabian is Olivias servant
Maria likes Sir Toby as a friend
Feste is Olivias fool
Maria hates Malvolio
Malvolio is the steward of Olivia
Olivia is Sir Toby’s niece
Sir Andrew is the suitor countess to Olivia
Valentine is the courtier of Orsino
‘ Students will use graphic organizers and charts to analyze characters. In turn, students will exhibit their ability to analyze a specific character by creating a “Character T-Shirt.” Students will learn various literary terms and how to give a thorough analysis of a character within a piece of literature.
Students will be able to :
– Empathize, for the purpose of understanding, the character.
– Understand the difference between direct characterization and indirect characterization.
– Understand the difference between a static and dynamic character.
– Understand the various complications with which a character must deal.
– Understand the difference between internal conflict and external conflict.
– Understand the role of motivation within a character.
– Understand how poetry elements are an important aspect of character analysis.
‘ Introduce the literary elements and definitions in the worksheet Understanding Character Have students read through each of the elements and definitions aloud.
‘ Using the designated piece of literature as a resource (class story, novel, etc.) and the Character Analysis Chart, have students begin analyzing a character of their choosing. This may be facilitated in groups or as an independent activity.
1. Character T-shirt Instructions

The front of the t-shirt must include:
Story Title Author Character’s Name Picture of Character
Description of Character

The right sleeve must include:
Strengths of character

The left sleeve must include:
Weaknesses of character

The back of the T-shirt must include:

Internal/ External Conflicts Static/Dynamic Character
Climax Figurative Language

2. Understanding ‘Character’ Analysis
Literary Term Definition Character A person, animal, or thing in a work of literature.
Analysis Breaking down a piece of literature so that it can be understood.
Characterization The process of creating a character, including: words, actions, thoughts, appearance, other peoples’ thoughts and perceptions about the character.
Main Character The character that is represented in the story the most. The plot usually revolves around this character.
Minor Character One of the characters represented in the story, but not the main character.
Static Character A character that changes very little from the beginning to the end.
Dynamic Character A character that goes through a significant amount of changes from
the beginning to the end.
Conflict A struggle between opposing forces: usually internal or external conflict.
Internal Conflict A struggle within the character
External Conflict A struggle against another character, idea, organization, etc.
Complications Things that the character must consider before solving or dealing with ?? conflict.
Climax A high point of the story, such as where a character must make a big decision.
Motivation Why do characters behave the way they do?
Strengths The positive qualities and characteristics in a character.
Weaknesses The negative qualities and characteristics in a character.
Figurative Language Any use of metaphors and/or similes by the character.

3. Character Analysis Chart

Character Name:
Physical Description:
Literary Element First evidence of the
element & page Second evidence of the
element & page State the evidence found in a
complete sentence.

Static Character

Dynamic Character


Internal Conflict

External Conflict






Figurative Language used by
the character

Other Characters
of this character


1 Kennedy, X. J. & Gioia, Dana, Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, Harper Collins College Publishers, New York, 1995, p. xxxiii.

2 Carter, Ronald & Long, Michael N., Teaching Literature, Longman, London and New York, 1991, p. 10

3 Carter, Ronald & Long, Michael N., Teaching Literature, Longman, London and New York, 1991, p. 10-11

4 Carter, Ronald & Long, Michael N., Teaching Literature, Longman, London and New York, 1991, p. 6

5 Carter, Ronald & Long, Michael N., Teaching Literature, Longman, London and New York, 1991, p.7-8).

6 Carter, Ronald & Long, Michael N., Teaching Literature, Longman, London and New York, 1991, p.36-37

7 Carter, Ronald & Long, Michael N., Teaching Literature, Longman, London and New York, 1991, p. 72-73)

8 Carter, Ronald & McRae, John, Language, Literature and the Learner, Longman, London and New York, 1996, p. 25-27)

9 Gill, Richard, Mastering English Literature, Macmillan, London, 1995, p. 105-106

10 Delaney, Denis, Ward, Ciaran, Fiorina, Carla Rho, Fields of Vision, Longman, London and New York, 2003,p. E101-102,

11 Delaney, Denis, Ward, Ciaran, Fiorina, Carla Rho, Fields of Vision, Longman, London and New York, 2003, p. A55).

12 Delaney, Denis, Ward, Ciaran, Fiorina, Carla Rho, Fields of Vision, Longman, London and New York, 2003, p. A56).

13 Kennedy, X. J. & Gioia, Dana, Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, Harper Collins College Publishers, New York, 1995, p. 24).

14 Delaney, Denis, Ward, Ciaran, Fiorina, Carla Rho, Fields of Vision, Longman, London and New York, 2003, p. G50

15 Delaney, Denis, Ward, Ciaran, Fiorina, Carla Rho, Fields of Vision, Longman, London and New York, 2003, p. A42-44)

16 Delaney, Denis, Ward, Ciaran, Fiorina, Carla Rho, Fields of Vision, Longman, London and New York, 2003, p. A35-36)

17 Delaney, Denis, Ward, Ciaran, Fiorina, Carla Rho, Fields of Vision, Longman, London and New York, 2003, p. A50)

18 Delaney, Denis, Ward, Ciaran, Fiorina, Carla Rho, Fields of Vision, Longman, London and New York, 2003, p. A62)

19. Newman, M., Towards and ESOL Literature, March 1996*, p.9

20. Newman, M., Towards and ESOL Literature, March 1996*, p.10

21. Grellet, F., Developing Reading Skills,Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1981,
p. 244-5

Tomalin, B., Stempleski, S., Cultural Awareness, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1993
22.Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. “Learning by Being: Drama as Total Immersion”. Voices from the Middle. 6.2 (December 1998): 3-10.


Brodey, Kenneth; Malgaretti,Fabio Focus on English and American Literature,2006
??a??kova, Michaela Macmillan Literature Guide, Macmillan 2004
Delgiudice Matei, Lumini??a Teaching Literature, Tips for Teachers ,Ed. Ariadna’98,
Gower,Roger; Pearson Margaret Literature Companion,Pearson Education Ltd, 2003
Modern Languages, 2002
Newbrook, Nigel Extracts 2, Scholastic, 2006

Source: Essay UK -

Not what you're looking for?

Search our thousands of essays:


About this resource

This Education essay was submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.

  • Order a custom essay
  • Print this page
  • Search again

Word count:

This page has approximately words.



If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

Essay UK, Essay: Cultivating students’ interest in reading. Available from: <> [28-02-17].

More information:

If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal:

Essay and dissertation help

Latest essays in this category:

Our free essays: