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

    Relatable Characters

    Relatable Characters


    In this lesson, students will consider how rumor can ruin a reputation, even if it’s not true, and how difficult it is to try to proclaim innocence. They’ll also get to see how Shakespeare dealt with these very human problems through the characters in Much 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.

    Act 3, Scenes 4 and 5 Discussion

    • Use this check-in to assess students’ understanding of the plot to this point.


    This is the time to discuss with your teacher any questions you have about the scenes you finished reading for homework.

    Here are some questions to get you started.

    • What does Margaret think is wrong with Beatrice?
    • Do you remember who the two men the guard has arrested are? What is their role in the plot so far?

    Rumor 101

    • Collect Dialectical Journal entries for act 3.
    • Provide students with the poems about rumor. Tell them that this will be the underlying conversation about act 4, scene 1 where we really find out about the mettle of each of the characters, based on who believes the story and who does not.
      • ELL: Help students understand how the word “mettle” is similar to and different from “metal.”
    • Have students read through the poems.
    • They can record their thoughts in their annotations.
    • This is a great time for a quick class check-in, if time allows.

    Work Time

    Today, you’ll be reading act 4, scene 1 aloud in class, and you and your classmates will take the parts of the characters. This is a short but very important scene because it shows the true mettle of all the characters: who believes the scene’s terrible rumor and who does not tells us a lot about the characters.

    But before you begin, consider rumor. Take a look at these famous sayings and poems about how it impacts people’s lives.

    • Record your initial thoughts about these rumor readings.
    • Do any of them sound familiar to you? Why is that?

    Act 4, Scene 1 Read Aloud

    • Share the scene summary for act 4, scene 1.
    • Discuss what happens in the fourth act in the arc of the five-act Shakespearean play (falling action).
      • SWD: For those students who may be having difficulties following the complex plot of the play, this is a great time to check back to their predictions about what they think may happen. You can help them evaluate how accurate they were or make changes if they feel these are necessary.
    • Cast the play for today from those students willing to participate. Tell them that you will be recasting at least one more time before the class finishes the play and that you hope that everyone will take a turn to read aloud.
    • This scene is pivotal to the play, as it sets up the ending.

    Work Time

    First, listen carefully as your teacher introduces act 4, scene 1.

    • Then read act 4, scene 1 aloud with your class, stopping along the way for questions and clarifications.
    • Your teacher will assign parts so that as many students as possible read.
    • When you finish the scene, take a few moments to include more information about your characters in your Much Ado About Nothing Character Chart. How have they changed since the play began?

    Act 4, Scene 1 Characterization

    • Have students take a few moments to write in their Character Charts to include the additional information about them that is present in this scene.
    • Check for understanding once the small groups convene.
    • Students can write their thoughts on the Character Chart or in their annotations.

    Work Time

    With a partner or a small group, discuss these questions about the dramatic action in act 4, scene 1, and add anything important to your Much Ado About Nothing Character Chart.

    Be sure to write down your thoughts.

    • Why is Claudio so eager and willing to believe the worst, especially since this is the second time he’s been duped?
    • Why would Hero’s own father believe the falsehood?
    • Why would Claudio mortify Hero in front of everyone? What does this say about him?
    • How does this relate to the categories in The Good and the Badde ? Into what category would you put Hero? What category does Claudio think she belongs in?
    • How important is reputation? Has this importance changed since Shakespeare’s time?

    Act 4, Scene 1 Rumors

    • Facilitate a discussion of the students’ small group conversations.
      • ELL: The meaning and significance of reputation can vary greatly across cultures. Support students in discussing how the importance of reputation varies in different cultures and how this is similar to or different from Shakespeare’s society.
    • The student questions from the last task can serve as a jumping-off point for discussion here.
    • Have students revisit the poems that they read at the beginning of this lesson.
    • Read one or two aloud.
    • Ask if these poems make more sense now that students have read this scene.
    • In preparation for the homework, read aloud the summary of act 4, scene 2.


    Discuss your group’s thoughts and questions with the whole class.

    • This is a great time to clear up anything that might still be confusing to you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help—keep in mind that Shakespeare’s language can be tricky even for experienced modern-day readers.
    • Next, take a second look at the poems and sayings about rumor that you encountered in the lesson opening.
    • Has what you’ve read in the play given you a new perspective on them?

    Act 4, Scene 2

    • Have students read act 4, scene 2 for homework. This is a very short scene. Students need to complete their Dialectical Journal entries for both scene 1 and scene 2 for the next lesson.


    • Read and annotate act 4, scene 2.
    • Complete your Dialectical Journal entries for both scenes in act 4. They are due at the beginning of the next lesson.