Chris Adcock
English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Performance
  • Shakespeare
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    The Good and the Badde

    The Good and the Badde


    In this lesson, students will look at five passages from a morality handbook called The Good and the Badde . This book was written during the Elizabethan Era, and it tells us a lot about what people considered proper and improper behavior in English society. The sections they read will help them appreciate both Shakespeare’s sonnets andMuch Ado About Nothing .


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Review both the original version of the excerpts from The Good and the Badde and the version translated into modern English that is available for your use. Decide whether, and how, you will use this second version in your class. There is also a scanned version of an Elizabethan copy that you can share with students.

    Your Sonnet Review

    • Have students share their first eight lines. Have the partners check to see if they are in iambic pentameter, with the rhyme scheme abab ,cdcd .
    • If they see problems, have them work together to fix them.


    Share your first two quatrains with your partner.

    • Do these first eight lines fit the proper pattern?
    • Are they in iambic pentameter, and do they follow the Shakespearean abab ,cdcd rhyme pattern?
    • If something’s not quite right, help each other fix it so your quatrains comply with the requirements.

    Sonnets and Elizabethan Women

    • Circulate through the room, visiting each group and listening in on their discussions.
    • When students are ready, facilitate a group sharing. Be sure to check in with each group.
    • Encourage students to identify Elizabethan definitions of women as seen in these two sonnets.
    • Remind students that this is a historical work, not a description of how women really are or how women today are defined.

    Work Time

    In a small group, analyze Sonnets 18 and 130. What can you deduce about how Shakespeare and his contemporaries viewed women?

    • List the ways that you and your group think Elizabethans viewed women. These might include women’s characteristics, both good and bad.
    • Make sure to use examples from the sonnets for support.

    Open Notebook

    When you’re ready, share your group’s ideas with the class.

    Part 1, The Good and the Badde

    • Before students begin, review some of the unusual spelling that they might encounter frequently in this reading. For example, U is often written asV .
    • If you choose to use the modern translation with your students, you may hand it out in part or in full, project portions for them to compare with the original, or use it only as a final resource for particularly difficult passages.
      • ELL: Let ELLs know that everyone will find these readings challenging, but that it’s also a great way to begin to understand how the English language has changed over time.
    • Give students time to individually read the first two stereotypes of women in Elizabethan England, “A Virgin” and “A Wanton Woman.”
      • SWD: If you have students with executive functioning difficulties, one way to help them keep track of the information is to model creating a graphic organizer: create a chart or table with sections to list the five types of women and a bulleted list of characteristics of each stereotype.
    • Point out that these are stereotypes. Explain that while stereotypes serve as a sort of social shortcut, they are just stereotypes—overgeneralizations that reflect beliefs and feelings, not the whole truth.
    • Use the small group discussion time to listen in on students’ conversations to make sure they “get it” well enough to move on. If they are having a particularly hard time, asking groups or pairs to “translate” some of the lines themselves can help elucidate the meaning.

    Work Time

    In the Elizabethan primer The Good and the Badde , you will read five sections that tell you what attributes were expected of women at that time.

    • Read through the first two: “A Virgin” and its opposite, “A Wanton Woman.”
    • Annotate what you find interesting or important, and explain why.
    • Don’t forget to include any questions you have.

    When you’re through, talk with your small group about what you noticed.

    Part 2, The Good and the Badde

    • If the first section proved difficult, students may feel more comfortable reading aloud, in pairs.
    • Again, make use of the translated version in whatever way will benefit your students.
    • Use this time to listen in on students’ conversations to make sure they “get it” well enough to move on.
      • ELL: This is a good time to check in with ELLs and make sure that they’re getting the gist of the readings so far.

    Work Time

    Now read the next two descriptions in The Good and the Badde , “A Quiet Woman” and “An Unquiet Woman.”

    • Annotate what you find interesting or important, and explain why. Don’t forget to include any questions you have.

    When you’re through, compare notes with your small group and discuss any questions that you have.

    Part 3, The Good and the Badde

    • Remind students to use as much evidence from the text as possible to back up their claims.

    Work Time

    Read through the final description of women in The Good and the Badde : “A Good Wife.” Now that you’ve read all five passages, what do you think are the characteristics and behaviors of an ideal Elizabethan woman? Write down your thoughts.

    As you write, consider these questions.

    • How realistic is this ideal?
    • Do these values still apply to today’s woman in our society?
    • Who decided upon these values? Did the women themselves have any say in this?
    • What does this say about Shakespeare’s society?

    Open Notebook

    Then Versus Now

    • Each group needs to assign a speaker who will present the group’s ideas to the class during the next lesson.


    With your small group, discuss these questions and take notes.

    • What do you understand about how women were expected to behave in Elizabethan England?
    • How different are the expectations for women in today’s society?
    • Each group should assign a speaker who will present the group’s ideas during the next lesson, but even if that’s not you, be sure to take good notes about your discussion.

    Open Notebook

    Your Sonnet?s Second Quatrain

    • Let students know that they will use their next quatrains for a peer editing session during the next lesson.
      • SWD: For students who have found this assignment especially challenging, review the overall sonnet structure and how the next quatrain fits into the sonnet they have written. You can refer back to the example class sonnet if you created one in the previous lesson.


    • Work on your sonnet. Draft the next quatrain at home, and bring it to class for peer editing during the next lesson.