In this lesson, students will watch Act 3, scene 2 from three different film versions of Romeo and Juliet and compare the ways directors Franco Zeffirelli, Baz Luhrmann, and Carlo Carlei depict the scene. Students will carefully consider the choices each director makes and how each decision affects the story and the character of Mercutio.

Get the worksheets for this lesson (plus much more!) in the printed SparkTeach guide for Romeo and Juliet.

  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  • Romeo and Juliet directed by Franco Zeffirelli, 1968
  • Romeo and Juliet directed by Baz Luhrmann, 1996
  • Romeo and Juliet directed by Carlo Carlei, 2013

Lesson Objectives

1. Students will identify methods used to present a character in film.

2. Students will recognize how a character may be represented in different ways.

3. Students will explain how different interpretations of a scene affect a story.

Instructional Sequence

This activity is designed to be completed after students have read Act 3, scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet.

1. As a class, read and discuss Act 3, scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet.

2. While reading, be sure to point out how little detail is used in the text to describe the fight scenes. Also note how important this scene is to the pacing of the story.

3. Ask students the following questions to conduct a class discussion about Mercutio’s motivations:

   - Why does Mercutio decide to fight Tybalt?

   - What is Mercutio’s attitude toward Tybalt before Romeo enters the scene?

   - Does Mercutio’s attitude change at all during the scene? If so, how and why?

   - Does Mercutio act in a credible way? Are his actions in line with what we know about his character?

   - What are Mercutio’s underlying motivations for his actions in this scene?

   - How do you imagine the setting and background for this scene?

4. After discussing the scene, show the three film versions of the scene.

5. After each scene is viewed, discuss the ways each director depicts Mercutio.

6. Hand out the Film Lesson Worksheet: Mercutio: A Character Study Through Film. Have students complete the chart. Give students time to discuss their worksheets in small groups, sharing ideas and getting feedback. Then introduce the comparative essay and discuss how students can use the worksheet as a planning guide for their writing.


Differentiated Instruction

This activity can be modified to help all students access learning.
Decrease difficulty

Eliminate the essay and finish the activity with a class discussion of the three scenes. Alternatively, use only two films to complete this lesson. Note: Since the Zeffirelli film has a unique portrayal of this scene, it is suggested that this film remain as one of the two selections.

Increase difficulty

Extend the activity by putting students in small groups and asking them to come up with a directorial vision of their own for this scene. Have students present their choices for how they would film this scene in a multimedia presentation.