Shakespeare and the 7th Grade

30 11 2006

In a serious moment in class, while we were delving into Act One scene one of “Romeo and Juliet,” and after I had called upon a girl to read the part of Lady Montague, whose line is: “Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe!” my student stumbled over her words and said, boldly, something quite different.

In this moment in the play, and in class, I was trying to get students to see the difference in gender: how the female characters react toward the fighting between the two families, and how the male characters react toward the fighting. The men, of course, are headstrong and pugnacious. The women are calm and resistant to the street brawl that opens the play. In this particular statement of Lady Montague’s, she is telling her husband not to move and join the fight with the Capulets and townspeople.

My student, in her clear and calm voice, read to our silent class, the following Lady Montague statement, which had all of us in stitches and my face turn a deep purple from laughing so hard: “Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a toe!”

I haven’t laughed as hard since I came to Brazil.


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