OER Administrator
English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Grade 12 ELA
  • Reading
  • Shakespeare
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Gonzalo’s Idea of An Eden-like Civilization

    Gonzalo’s Idea of An Eden-like Civilization


    Who in Shakespeare’s play is guilty of violating human rights as we understand them today? In this lesson, students will continue reading, annotating, and discussing act 2 in small groups. They’ll also focus on Gonzalo’s ideas of an Eden-like civilization.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • As the class continues reading The Tempest , determine which students need support, such as a reading partner or a Guided Reading Group.
    • Help students locate copies of the Independent Reading texts.

    Rights Violated

    • After several groups have reported on which character’s rights have been violated, ask one or two groups to present evidence against the violator of the rights of a particular character. For example, Prospero is guilty of enslaving Ariel and Caliban. Another example is that Antonio is guilty of usurping Prospero’s position and sending him into exile on a leaky boat. Make sure students provide act, scene, and line numbers to support their contentions.
    • An annotation for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is provided that notes rights that may have been violated in The Tempest .


    Each group’s reporter will share the group’s answers to the questions from the Closing of Lesson 2. As they do, write down each group’s response.

    • Who in The Tempest violates those rights?
    • Where in the play are the rights violated? (Which act, scene, and line?)

    Open Notebook

    Your teacher may call on your group to present evidence against a character who is guilty of violating the human rights of another. Remember to cite act, scene, and line numbers.

    Act 2, Scene 1

    • Students should continue to work in the same small groups they formed in Lesson 1.
      • ELL: In forming groups, be aware of ELLs and ensure that they have a learning environment where they can be productive. Pair them sometimes with native speakers so they can learn from their native counterparts’ language skills. At other times, pair them with students who are at the same level of language skills, so they can take a more active role and they can work things out together. At yet other times, pair them with students whose proficiency level is lower, so they can play the role of supporter.
    • Listen in on students’ conversations to make sure they “get it” well enough to move on. If not, you may need to fill in gaps or clarify.

    Work Time

    In your reading groups, review briefly what has happened in the play so far.

    Begin reading and annotating act 2, scene 1 together. The focus here is on understanding what happens, not on acting out a part. Before beginning your reading, refer to the dramatis personae and read the short description of each character.

    The following suggestions can help you decide how to proceed.

    • Take turns, changing the reader periodically.
    • Have one or two able readers read for your group.
    • Pause your reading periodically to discuss what happened.

    Keep your voices soft so as not to bother the other groups.

    Stop reading at the entrance of Ariel.

    Act 2, Scene 1, Discussion

    • Present a quick review of act 1:
      • ✓ Prospero has caused a storm in order to wreck a ship carrying his enemies, including his brother Antonio and Alonso, King of Naples.
      • ✓ Prospero has told his daughter, Miranda, how the two of them ended up on this island 12 years ago.
      • ✓ He sends Ariel to safeguard all of the characters.
    • If necessary, work with students to update the Characters in The Tempest chart.
    • Facilitate a sharing about what these characters discuss as they inspect the island where they’ve landed.
    • If time permits, have students discuss some of the following ideas:
      • ✓ Gonzalo, from the beginning, is inclined to see the positive, to count blessings, and to use good sense; Alonso is so worried about his son that he can’t be consoled.
      • ✓ Sebastian and Antonio are making fun of Gonzalo and Adrian.
      • ✓ Gonzalo brings up the marriage of Alonso’s daughter, Claribel, to the King of Tunis; Alonso grieves further, having lost his daughter and now his son.
      • ✓ Sebastian blames Alonso for all his misfortunes.
      • ✓ Gonzalo begins to describe the kind of government he would set up if he lived on this island.

    Work Time

    At your teacher’s prompting, first review act 1 and then tell what you know about act 2.

    During this discussion, clarify for yourself what happened in the first part of act 2, scene 1.

    You might want to spend a little time on Gonzalo’s ideas, beginning at line 146.

    Discuss the following questions.

    • What is the attitude of Gonzalo about the predicament they find themselves in?
    • What is Alonzo’s greatest concern?
    • Who is making fun of Gonzalo and Adrian?
    • What memory does Gonzalo bring up for Alonso?
    • Who does Sebastian blame for all his misfortunes?

    Gonzalo?s Commonwealth

    • Allow about 3 minutes for the Quick Write.
      • SWD: Small group work offers students an opportunity to work cooperatively to negotiate and share ideas and communicate with one another. Such group learning settings give SWDs a chance to hear and use language while building their communication skills.

    Work Time

    Complete a Quick Write as follows.

    • Make a quick list of the features of Gonzalo’s ideas about an Eden-like existence on this island.

    Share your answer with your reading group, and discuss what you think about Gonzalo’s ideas.

    Act 2, Scene 1

    • Once again, circulate through the room and assist groups that are struggling.

    Work Time

    Finish reading and annotating act 2, scene 1. Note particularly what happens when Ariel puts everyone except Antonio and Sebastian to sleep.

    • What do the two men who are awake talk about?
    • What happens when Ariel wakes the others?

    Act 2, Scene 1 Discussion

    • Give students time to talk within their groups and to observe and judge the action from the perspective of their chosen character.
      • SWD: As students present, be sure that SWDs are involved in the decision-making process as actively as other students. Avoid situations in which SWDs avoid making decisions or giving their opinions by allowing their partners to “take over.”
    • Before releasing the class, let students know that in act 2, scene 2, which they will read for homework, Stephano (described in the dramatis personae as a drunken butler) and Trinculo (a jester) meet up with Caliban. Point out that Shakespeare indicates that these characters lack intelligence, wit, and social station. He does so by having them speak in plain prose rather than in blank verse.
    • For example, when Caliban speaks at the beginning of act 2, scene 2, his lines look like poetry. There are almost always 10 syllables in each line, and although they don’t rhyme, there can be rhythm. An example can be seen beginning with line 9: “Sometimes like apes that mow and chatter at me [11 syllables] / [and note that the next line, as in a poem, begins with a capital letter] And after bite me, then like hedgehogs which [10 syllables] / Lie tumbling in my barefoot way and mount [10 syllables] / Their pricks at my footfall; / sometimes am I [10 syllables].” Each of those lines is made up of 5 beats in an iambic pattern, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, as in the words today and upon. The audience would be able to detect the rhythm of the iambic lines.
    • By contrast, when Trinculo speaks a few lines later, the page no longer looks like poetry; the words go all the way from margin to margin, as in regular prose paragraphs.


    Discuss with your reading group what you understand about all of act 2, scene 1.

    • As a group, decide what one of the characters who was not in act 2, scene 1 would think about what transpired if she or he had been able to witness the scene.

    Discuss your group’s response with the whole class.

    Act 2

    • Encourage students to add to their Vocabulary in The Tempest lists.
    • Remind students to choose and locate an Independent Reading text before Lesson 12.


    Finish reading and annotating act 2 on your own.

    • Note the difference in style of speaking when Trinculo and Stephano enter in act 2, scene 2. Think about what it means that Shakespeare doesn’t have these two speak in blank verse (poetic) lines.