OER Administrator
English Language Arts, Composition and Rhetoric
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Freedom
  • Grade 12 ELA
  • Shakespeare
  • Writing
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Examining Characters Actions & Persona

    Examining Characters Actions & Persona


    In this lesson, students will write about and discuss this question: Who is enslaved in The Tempest? They’ll read, annotate, write about, and discuss act 5. Then students will take on the persona of one of the characters and explain their actions.


    • 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.

    Who Is Enslaved?

    • Allow students about 3 minutes to write.
    • As these are short pieces of writing, partners do not need much time to share.
    • Facilitate a class discussion about wielding power over others.
    • Once students have shared their lists, open a discussion about how someone may be emotionally enslaved, using as an example Prospero's overwhelming need to get revenge.
    • Ask in which way any of these characters is enslaved or held captive:
      • ✓ Prospero
      • ✓ Miranda
      • ✓ Ferdinand
      • ✓ Alonso
      • ✓ Antonio
      • ✓ Sebastian
      • ✓ Gonzalo
      • ✓ Stephano
      • ✓ Trinculo
      • ELL: Be aware that orally discussing such abstract and sophisticated topics as these in a foreign language can be a taxing task. Be sure that ELLs are allowed to ask questions to clarify meaning if needed.


    Complete a Quick Write in response to the following question.

    • Besides Ariel and Caliban, who else in the play has been held captive or enslaved?

    Open Notebook

    Share your response with a partner. Make a joint list of the characters you consider to be enslaved.

    Then share your list with your classmates. Discuss the ways each of the characters listed is enslaved or held captive.

    Act 5

    • Before students begin reading, explain that in act 5, Prospero frees all of the characters from the magic spells he has cast on them. He begins to explain what happened to them and his motives.
    • Circulate through the room to assist and encourage students.
      • SWD: When pausing to discuss what happened, encourage all students to check that everybody in the group is following and able to engage in the activity productively. If SWDs are having difficulties, consider grouping them and offering support so that they can be successful.
    • Take note of which students are struggling and need additional support.

    Work Time

    Read and annotate act 5 with your group.

    Choose from the following options to decide how your group wants 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.

    Act 5 Summary

    • As the small groups are sharing, circulate through the room to eavesdrop, assist, and encourage.

    Work Time

    Work with your group to summarize the action of act 5. Record answers to the following questions. Each person in the group is responsible for recording answers.

    • How does Ariel describe the emotional states of the group of noblemen (Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, and the others)?
    • How does Prospero initially comfort Alonso, who believes he has lost his son?
    • What is Prospero’s attitude toward Sebastian and Antonio?
    • What has happened to the crewmen of the ship?
    • How does Prospero treat Stephano and Trinculo?

    Open Notebook

    The Hot Seat

    • Explain the Hot Seat activity:
      • ✓ You will call on one student at a time to sit on the hot seat, as though she or he is one of the characters from The Tempes t, to answer questions from the class.
      • ✓ Students may need a minute or two to develop their questions, but keep the activity going.
      • ✓ When one student has answered three or four questions, choose another student to be another character.
      • ✓ One option is to have a student volunteer to be a specific character.
    • Put at least three students on the hot seat.

    Work Time

    Participate in the Hot Seat activity.

    • If called on, take the hot seat as one of the characters from The Tempest . Other students will ask you questions about your behavior and motives. You must answer the questions honestly.
    • If you’re not in the hot seat, be prepared to ask questions of the characters.

    The Ending

    • Facilitate a final discussion of the play, making sure that students understand the status of each of the characters at the ending.
      • ELL: As ELLs participate in the discussion, monitor for knowledge of the topic. Stay alert to follow up on contributions that seem unclear or ambiguous. When ELLs contribute, encourage them to focus on content and, as much as possible, not to allow grammatical difficulties to distract them from understanding the meaning.

    Work Time

    Look back at act 5.

    • Use this time to talk through the final action in the play with your classmates.

    Who Is Treated Most Unfairly?

    • Let students know to save their responses for the Opening of Lesson 9.
    • Introduce the homework reading assignment, a scholarly essay by Michael O'Toole, “Shakespeare's Natives: Ariel and Caliban in The Tempest .”


    Complete a Quick Write in response to the following question.

    • Which one character in the play has been most oppressed and treated most unfairly?

    Open Notebook

    You will share your response during Lesson 9.

    Shakespeare's Natives

    • Encourage students to take notes on the main points and arguments presented in the essay.
    • Remind students to choose and locate an Independent Reading text before Lesson 12.


    Read and annotate Michael O’Toole’s essay “Shakespeare’s Natives: Ariel and Caliban in The Tempest.”

    • Note what claims and arguments O’Toole makes about the play and the characters of Prospero, Ariel, and Caliban.
    • Prepare to explain whether you agree or disagree with the claims O’Toole makes and why.