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Shakespeare's Garden


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Keywords: English, Shakespeare, Herbs
Subject(s): Art, Autism, Special Needs, Writing, Reading, Home Economics, English/Language Arts, Science, History
Grades 6 through 9
School: Brooklyn Theatre Arts , Brooklyn, NY
Planned By: Suzanne Nelson
Original Author: Suzanne Nelson, Brooklyn
AIM:
How does Shakespeare use herbs as symbols in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Give handout to students.

DO NOW:
Student reads aloud first paragraph about herbs.
Another reads aloud second paragraph about Shakespeare’s use of herbs.

MOTIVATIONAL ACTIVITY:
Instruct students to fold paper in half and write A and B on the back of the handout, one letter at the top of each column.

Teachers (wearing fairy wings, of course) walk around with two spices, A and B.
Students sniff herbs and take notes in corresponding column about the smell:
Descriptions, what it smells “like”, is it pleasing or not, a memory the smell has triggered, etc.

Review answers (perhaps list on board) after everyone has had a chance to sniff and write.

DEVELOPMENT:
Ask “Which herb might be used by a writer to symbolize something good, which herb might a writer use to symbolize something bad?”

Students turn papers over to handout side.
Passages from Shakespeare are read aloud.

SUMMARY:
How is thyme used in this passage?
What message does it help Shakespeare get across?

How is garlic used in this passage?
What message does it help Shakespeare get across?

Reveal that thyme was herb A and garlic, herb B.

Does Shakespeare’s use of the herb match your descriptions of its smell?


HANDOUT:
HERBS have been prized through the centuries for their many uses from medicinal to culinary. Tribal peoples and healers learned of their medicinal uses and passed their secrets on generation to generation. Even today, many modern medicines have an herbal basis. Today, herbs remain popular for use in aromatherapy, natural cosmetics and remedies as well as for cooking. The most popular use of herbs remains in the kitchen, where they are valued for their aromatic and flavorful contributions to food.
SHAKESPEARE referred to various herbs in his dramas. He studied the colors, the fragrance, and the features of herbs in great detail. To know how he described those herbs in his beautiful verses will help you to better understand his dramas.
THYME
In mythical folklore, thyme flowers were full of perfume and nectar for the bees, traditionally the messengers.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine;
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Act 2, Scene 1)
GARLIC
Garlic has been used over the ages to ward off evil and to prevent disease, basically … it was thought to “keep things away.”
And, most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic,
for we are to utter sweet breath;
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Act 4, Scene 2)

Follow-Up
Students create a classroom windowbox Shakespeare Garden.
Materials: CDs and DVDs
Other Items: 1 Software: English/Language Arts - Reading