A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Comedy of Control | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M2B

A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Comedy of Control

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In this second module, students read and analyze Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As with any of Shakespeare’s play, many rich themes are present; in this module, students will focus primarily on the theme of control. Characters in this play are controlled by emotions, other characters, and even magic. They often attempt to manipulate others in a variety of ways. Students will examine why the characters seek control, how they try to control others, and the results of attempting to control others.

In Unit 1, students will build background knowledge as they explore the appeal and authorship of Shakespeare. Students will read much of the play aloud in a Drama Circle, and will frequently reread key passages to deepen their understanding. Students will analyze differences between a film version of the play and Shakespeare’s original script.

In Unit 2, students will study how Shakespeare drew upon Greek mythology as he crafted the play within the play. They will continue to closely study characters who attempt to control or manipulate others in the play, and write an argument essay about whether or not Shakespeare makes the case in A Midsummer Night’s Dream that it is possible to control someone else’s actions or not.

In Unit 3, students will write a “confessional” narrative from the point of view of one of the characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream to creatively explain his or her attempts to control or manipulate someone else in the play. This performance task centers on standards NYSP12 ELA CCLS RL.8.2, RL.8.3, W.8.3, W.8.4, W.8.9a, and W.11b.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • Why do Shakespeare’s works hold a universal appeal?
  • What motivates people to try to control each other’s actions?
  • Is it possible for people to control each other’s actions?

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English language arts standards as students read A Midsummer Night’s Dream and read informational text about the universal appeal of Shakespeare. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies Practices and Themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content.

These intentional connections are described below.

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K–8 Social Studies Framework.

  1. Time, Continuity, and Change

–   Considering competing interpretations of events

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.


Text Quantity ISBNs
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
by William Shakespeare
One per student
ISBN: 978-0743482813
Shakespeare Set Free: Teaching Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth & A Midsummer Night’s Dream
by Peggy O’Brien
ISBN: 978-0-671-76046-5

Module-at-a-Glance

Each module is approximately 8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

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