Text to Film Comparison: Bottom the Fool | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M2B:U1:L11

Text to Film Comparison: Bottom the Fool

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production follows the text or script of the same literary text. (RL.8.7)
  • I can evaluate the choices made by the director or actors in presenting an interpretation of a script. (RL.8.7)

Supporting Targets

  • I can compare the similarities and differences between a key scene in the play and how that scene is portrayed in the film.
  • I can evaluate the choices the director or actors made in the film.

Ongoing Assessment

  • A Midsummer Night's Dream structured notes, 1.1.130-257 (from homework)
  • Text to Film Comparison note-catcher


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Engaging the Reader: Oxymoron (6 minutes)

     B.  Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Drama Circle (12 minutes)

     B.  Text to Film Comparison (22 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Whole Group Check-in (3 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Reread 1.2.1-107 and complete the structured notes.

  • In this lesson, students reread Act 1, Scene 2, in which Shakespeare introduces Bottom the weaver and Peter Quince gives out roles for the tradesmen's production of Pyramus and Thisbe. Students first read this scene aloud in Lesson 8, focusing mostly on the act of reading Shakespeare, not delving into the language or content of the scene. Thus, the comedy of the scene may have been lost on students, and it will be important to study it in this lesson. The central message or theme of this scene, as it relates to power and control, is that sometimes those who seek the most control are actually in the least control of the situation. The theme becomes clear through the workmen, as Shakespeare's "fools" struggle with putting on a worthwhile play, all the while thinking they are wise enough to undertake it. Bottom in particular brings to light the theme as he attempts to steal the show, earnestly acting out each part of Pyramus and Thisbe, gaining only the ridicule of his audience and the pity of his fellow cast members.
  • In the Drama Circle, students read the selected lines twice: first as a pure read-aloud without interruptions, and again with guided teacher questions.
  • In the Engaging the Reader portion of the lesson, students are introduced to oxymoron and begin a Shakespeare's Craft anchor chart.  This not only gives them a "way in" to discuss how Shakespeare uses the tradesmen as a primary comedic element of the play, but it also allows them to dissect Shakespeare's language, considering the meaning of the oxymoron "lamentable comedy." There are multiple layers of meaning to this particular example of oxymoron, and students may need support in capturing each layer. This is not the only example of oxymoron in the play, so students will need a solid foundation in this concept to advance their understanding of the play.
  • The focus during the Work Time becomes the text to film comparison. Students view a short segment of the film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This serves two purposes. First, it helps struggling readers make sense of this complex text. The interplay of reading, rereading, and viewing is an engaging way to present this material. (Note: Do not play the entire film for students. Strategically designed lessons incorporate film at critical junctures in student learning.) For this first purpose, the film is a supplement; working with the text is the goal. The second purpose for using the film clips is to directly address RL.8.9, which requires students to compare a text to its film version. As such, students begin to use the new Text to Film Comparison note-catcher. Note that Work Time B includes time to ensure that students understand two phrases that are crucial academic vocabulary related to RL.8.9: "stays faithful to" and "departs from." Continue to reinforce these phrases across the unit. Note also that RL.8.9 requires students not only to notice similarities and differences, but specifically to evaluate the  effectiveness of the changes made by the director and actor in order to get across the intent of the text. 
  • In the case of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the text is a play, which was intended to be a script for a performance. Students will not notice differences in the lines delivered by each character in the film; rather, direct students' attention to what is not written--for example, how each actor chose to deliver the lines. What are the gestures, facial expressions, and movements that the actor used to successfully deliver and get across the point of the lines? Similarly, students will examine how the director interpreted the play and the decisions that were made about staying faithful to or departing from what was written. This lesson builds toward the End of Unit 1 Assessment, in which students will track how the film "stays faithful to" and "departs from" Shakespeare's play. The Text to Film Comparison note-catcher used in this lesson is identical to the one that will appear on the assessment. Students will also use this note-catcher in Lesson 16, ensuring that they will be prepared for the assessment.
  • Consider previewing the film clip to better guide students in completing the text to film comparison. Note that there are some departures from the play, including an introductory scene in which one first sees Bottom hanging around town, flirting with women. His wife arrives, angrily looking for him, and he hides from her. This departure made by the director helps set up Bottom's character before he joins the tradesmen in the town square. The public nature of the scene and Bottom's "hamming it up" for the townspeople serve to further illuminate his character. Then, at the conclusion of his "performance," two young boys dump bottles of wine over his head. This particular departure made by the director solidifies Bottom's role as a "fool." Further, he returns home, soaked in wine, to a wife who is clearly frustrated with him and views him as pathetic, though no words are exchanged. Be prepared to discuss the value of these departures made by the director with students, as well as whether they detract or add to Shakespeare's overall intended message.
  • In advance: Prepare the Shakespeare's Craft anchor chart (see Opening A, and example in supporting materials); cue up the film clip.
  • Post: Learning targets.


oxymoron; lamentable comedy (1.2.11-12), tyrant (1.2.21), gallant (1.2.22), monstrous little (1.2.50), entreat (1.2.96)


  • Shakespeare's Craft anchor chart (new; teacher-created; see supporting materials)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (book; one per student)
  • Act 1, Scene 2 Teacher's Guide (for teacher reference)
  • Text to Film Comparison note-catcher (one per student)
  • Document camera
  • Film, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999) (beginning at 15:05 until 22:31)
  • Text to Film Comparison note-catcher (for teacher reference)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream structured notes, 1.2.1-107 (one per student)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream supported structured notes, 1.2.1-107 (optional, for students needing additional support)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream Structured Notes Teacher's Guide, 1.2.1-107 (for teacher reference)



A. Engaging the Reader: Oxymoron (6 minutes)

  • Display the new Shakespeare's Craft anchor chart.  Write the word oxymoron and the accompanying example on the anchor chart. Tell students that oxymoron is a method authors use to convey conflicting ideas. Shakespeare used it often in his plays and poetry, and it appears more than a few times in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Invite a student to read the definition of the term aloud.
  • Mention to students a real-life example of an oxymoron, such as "jumbo shrimp." Shrimp by nature are small, so placing the word "jumbo" in front if it creates the oxymoron.
  • Invite students to share more examples of oxymorons that come to mind. Some examples may include: "pretty ugly," "kill with kindness," "awfully good," "random order," etc.
  • Introduce the example "lamentable comedy" to students by explaining that Quince says this phrase when he is introducing the play Pyramus and Thisbe to the tradesmen. Read aloud:

*   "Marry, our play is 'the most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe" (1.2.11-13).

  • Ask:

*   "What do you know about the meaning of the word comedy?"

  • Call on one or two volunteers to discuss the word. Students will most likely respond that comedy means something that is funny. Tell them that their understanding of the word comedy as "funny" applies to plays sometimes, but not always. A comedy can be any play in which every character (or mostly every character) is happy at the end. A Midsummer Night's Dream, however, includes the kind of comedy they identified as well. The jokes, word play, and physical comedy in the play are entertaining and engaging.
  • Refocus students on the synonyms of the word lamentable. Ask:

*   "Do you recognize another word you may have heard before in the word lamentable?"

  • Students may recognize the root word, lament. If not, share this with them and tell them that "to lament" means to express deep sorrow or grief.
  • Point out that the word lamentable has two possible meanings. One is "very sad," and the other is "very unsatisfactory." For example, a person's sad life story could be called "lamentable," and the conditions at a cruel prison could be called "lamentable." 
  • Ask:

*   "Why would Shakespeare use these two words in a row, 'lamentable comedy,' to describe the play?"

  • Call on one or two volunteers. Students may discuss how the play could be both sad and funny at the same time.
  • Add to the anchor chart under Shakespeare uses oxymoron to: "show opposite or conflicting feelings/ideas."
  • Tell students that an oxymoron like "lamentable comedy" can be used to show two conflicting feelings at the same time, but in this case, Shakespeare may also be using it to say something about the character, Peter Quince, as well as the play he will direct. Invite students to turn and talk:

*   "What might Shakespeare be suggesting about Peter Quince by having him use an oxymoron to describe the tradesmen's play?"

  • Listen for them to discuss how Shakespeare could be "making fun of" Quince or "trying to make him look stupid." Guide and clarify as needed.
  • Tell students you heard some interesting conversations about why Shakespeare uses oxymoron in Quince's lines, and you will add one key idea to the anchor chart. Add to the anchor chart under Shakespeare uses oxymoron to: "show the foolishness of characters (Peter Quince, Bottom)."
  • Explain that tradesmen in Shakespeare's times were generally not educated the same way as the wealthy or academic people of the times. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as many of his other plays, Shakespeare uses the tradesmen as a source of comedy, pointing out their lack of education to make the audience laugh. Peter Quince's use of the oxymoron is not clever; it shows he does not know that a comedy cannot really be lamentable. It also shows that the play will be unsatisfactory by pointing out the comedy of the tradesmen's first rehearsal.
  • Tell students to watch for additional oxymorons as they read on in the play. Ask them to share any oxymorons they find with the class.

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

  • Read the learning targets aloud with students:

*   "I can compare the similarities and differences between a key scene in the play and how that scene is portrayed in the film."

*   "I can evaluate the choices the director or actors made in the film."

  • Tell students that today, they will reread a scene from the play and then compare it with the film version of the same scene. Tell students that just like authors make choices about how they present a story to create mood or tone, develop characters, establish a setting, etc.,directors make choices when presenting a story in a film. They interpret a script and make choices.
  • Remind students that A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play and served as a script from which actors and directors performed the play. Explain that they may not notice differences in the words or lines that the actors say, but they may notice how those lines are interpreted in their delivery. For example, students should look for an actor's facial expressions, gestures, and movements, and listen for their tone of voice. These are all things that are not written in the script but that an actor needs to interpret to successfully deliver the lines. Similarly, a director may choose to add to a scene or delete from a scene in the script. Students should notice how the director's choices to stay faithful to (or keep the same) and depart from (or change) the script affect the meaning of the play.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Drama Circle (12 minutes)

  • Invite students to gather in the Drama Circle. Be sure they have their text, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ask them to turn to Act 1, Scene 2 of the play (lines 1-107), when Peter Quince gives out roles to the workmen for their production of Pyramus and Thisbe, which they will perform on Theseus and Hippolyta's wedding day.
  • Remind students that they've read this particular scene; rereading will help them understand the dense text.
  • Invite students to turn and talk about what they remember about this scene. Listen for them to discuss that Peter Quince gives out roles to the workmen, demonstrating his desire to control the production of their play, Pyramus and Thisbe. Encourage students to figure out who gets what roles in the scene and listen for them to discuss the names of the characters. For example, Bottom gets the part of Pyramus, and Francis Flute gets the part of Thisbe.
  • Remind students that they discussed how Bottom thought of himself in this scene., and invite a volunteer to share what they remember of this discussion
  • Launch the scene by prompting students to review the scene summary and the stage directions in italics. Ask them to turn and talk:

*   "What do the characters in this scene have in common?"

  • Listen for them to discuss the characters' occupations. "Tailor" and "carpenter" may be more familiar to most students, while "joiner" (defined underneath the summary), "bellows-mender," and "tinker" may be less so. Encourage students to make inferences about these unknown occupations. If they need prompting, remind them of what you mentioned earlier: that this group of men, in Shakespeare's times, would have been considered less educated because of their jobs. Explain that a bellows-mender fixes chimneys, a tinker fixes household objects like pots and pans, and a joiner is another title for a carpenter or cabinetmaker.
  • Call on one or two volunteers to share what they discussed about what the characters have in common. Students may discuss how all of the characters work with their hands or are tradesmen. They may also mention that the characters are most likely all men. Clarify and guide students as needed.
  • Invite students to volunteer for roles (Quince, Bottom, Snug, Flute, Snout, and Starveling). Choose roles and remind students to read loudly and clearly, with appropriate expression. Begin the read-aloud.
  • After this first read, have students read the scene again. Consider switching roles for this second read. Explain that this time you will have them pause to answer questions about what they read. (Refer to the Act 1, Scene 2 Teacher's Guide, detailed notes on guiding students through this scene.) Some of the included questions could be directed to the whole group, and others could be directed to discussion partners and then shared whole group.
  • This read-aloud builds comprehension of this particular scene. Consider having stronger readers complete the read-aloud while others listen and follow along.
  • Consider splitting up the roles by page (Hermia 1, Hermia 2, etc.) so more students can participate. This lets you differentiate, as some pages have fewer lines than others.
  • Consider creating a nametag for each character to wear during the Drama Circle.
  • As students are beginning to build confidence reading Shakespeare aloud, consider playing one of the main roles yourself. This will allow students to hear longer chunks of the text read aloud fluently.
  • Consider appointing several students to act as "interpreters." When the Drama Circle read-aloud hits a particularly challenging bit of language, the interpreters are charged with referring to the left-hand page for explanatory notes, then reading or paraphrasing those notes for the class.

B. Text to Film Comparison (22 minutes)

  • Invite students to turn and talk:

*   "Should a director have the freedom to change a book or play when making a movie out of it? Why or why not?"

  • Cold call a few students to share what they discussed with their partners.
  • Explain that students will now view the film version of the same scene they have just read. The film will not only advance their understanding of the scene, but it will give them insight into how a director and actors interpret writing to create a visual representation of a story. Tell students they will use a note-catcher to track and evaluate the similarities and differences between the film and the play.
  • Distribute the Text to Film Comparison note-catcher and display a copy using the document camera. Remind students that the first learning target was about comparing and contrasting the text with the film.
  • Tell students that before they watch the film segment or work with this new note-catcher, you will orient them to the columns of the note-catcher. Focus the class on the second column and cold call a student to read the questions in that column aloud:

*   "What is the same? How does the film version stay faithful to the novel?"

  • Ask students to think and then talk with a partner:

*   "What do you think 'stay faithful' means?"

  • Cold call a student to respond. Students may connect staying faithful to their religious faith or remaining faithful to a friend. Clarify as needed: Be sure they understand that in this context, to stay faithful means to stay the same, to stick to the original.
  • Focus students on the third column and call on a volunteer to read the questions in that column aloud:

*   "What is different? How does the film version depart from the novel?"

  • Ask:

*   "What do you think 'depart' means?"

  • Call on a student volunteer to explain that to depart means to change or go away from. 
  • Read the question in the last column:

*   "Evaluation: Do the choices of the director or actors effectively convey the central message of the text? Why or why not?"

  • Clarify that the central message of the text is the same as the theme. In this case, the concept of control is part of the central message of the scene. Remind students that Peter Quince's and Bottom's attempts to control the scene, as well as the production of Pyramus and Thisbe, is the central message of this scene.
  • Remind students that when we read, we often get an idea in our minds of what characters look like or how they are supposed to act. We imagine scenes and settings. Directors, actors, and even the screenwriter make decisions about how a play or story is going to be portrayed onscreen, including changing things dramatically on occasion. The director also uses music, lighting and camera angles to tell the story. After identifying what is the same and different, students will have to determine if the film stays true to the central message of the scene and evaluate the choices of the director or actors in conveying the scene.
  • Invite students to be seated with their Syracuse Discussion Appointment partners before viewing the film.
  • Show the film, A Midsummer Night's Dream (beginning at 15:05 until 22:31). Note that the dialogue from Act 1, Scene 2, lines 1-107, begins at 15:54. Before then, the film provides a brief introduction to Bottom before he meets with the other workmen.
  • Refer to the Text to Film Comparison note-catcher (for teacher reference) as needed to see possible student responses and to help guide them through the organizer.
  • Have students jot down their answers in the first two columns of the note-catcher. Invite them to turn and talk with their Discussion Appointment partner as they work. Then cold call students to share details. On the displayed note-catcher, model adding these notes on the "same" column. Details include: characters, almost all lines, and the comedy/characterization of Bottom as the "fool."
  • Call on students for details to add to the "different" column on the teacher model. Details include: the introduction scene in which Bottom flirts with the women and hides from his wife; lines eliminated from the end of the scene, around line 85; and the final scene at Bottom's house.
  • Tell students that before they finish the note-catcher, they will watch the film clip again, focusing on music, lighting, and the actors' choices. Explain the actor's choices can include how he delivers the lines, his tone, his gestures, and his facial expressions. Reinforce that the choices of the actor can make or break whether or not the film stays faithful to the original play. Students will evaluate the choices made by the director or actors and the impact those choices have on the scene.
  • Tell students that in this scene, the director has chosen to play an Italian operatic song called a "Brindisi," a type of song that encourages listeners to drink wine and be joyful. Ask:

*   "Why might a director want to use this type of song for this particular part of the movie?"

  • Cold call students to answer and listen for them to say that it shows how the workmen provide the comedy in the play, especially in this scene. Some may also say that the song signifies a lighter or happier mood, since the previous scene was more serious.
  • Ask students to pay special attention to the music as they watch the scene again, especially toward the end of the scene, when Bottom returns home.
  • Invite them to consider the lighting and shadows of the scene as well, which also change when Bottom returns home. Ask:

*   "What are some words we could use to describe the lighting in a particular scene?"

  • Cold call one or two students to answer the question. Words could be: "bright," "soft," "dark," "shadowed," etc.
  • Show the same film clip again. Invite students to respond to the final question on their note-catcher. Then have them share with their partner.
  • Ask:

*   "Do the choices the director made effectively convey the central message of the text? Why or why not?"

  • Remind students that as they fill out this section of the note-catcher, they should think about whether the director's portrayal of Bottom and his desire to control the scene are faithful to Shakespeare's original text.
  • Circulate around the room and probe with individuals or pairs to be sure they are actually evaluating. Probing questions might include:

*   "What does the audience get out of the additional scenes the director chooses to add?"

*   "Does the scene depart so much from the play that it changes the message?"

*   "Why do you think the director decided to cut those particular lines?"

*   "How does the scene in the film help you better understand Bottom?"

*   "How would you describe the music/lighting at the end of the scene, when Bottom is at home?"

*   "I noticed Bottom and his wife don't talk to each other during the final scene at their home. What do you think that means?"

  • During this Work Time, you may want to pull a small group of students to support in the concepts involved in the graphic organizer.
  • Consider showing the clip for a third time to students if they struggle with recording the similarities and differences while watching.
  • When reviewing graphic organizers or recording forms, consider using a document camera to display the document for students who struggle with auditory processing.
  • Providing models of expected work supports all learners, but especially challenged learners.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Whole Group Check-in (3 minutes)

  • Refocus students whole group. Tell them you heard some great conversation between Discussion Appointment partners during the Work Time. Tell students you would like to give them a chance to hear what others were talking about. Ask:

*   "Do you think the decisions made by Michael Hoffman, the director, changed the central message of Shakespeare's scene? Why or why not?"

  • Call on a few students to share what they discussed with their partner and or wrote down on their note-catchers. Listen for students to discuss how the director's decision to include the boys who throw wine on Bottom helps to reveal how foolish he is. They may also discuss how the scene with Bottom's wife, at the end of the film clip, makes him seem like more than just a clown; this scene reveals his humiliation in front of his wife and is a major departure from Shakespeare's original text. Overall, the scene remains mostly faithful to Shakespeare's main theme, but these departures could create engaging discussion among students about whether they change Shakespeare's message. For example, this makes Bottom seem like more of a complex character than he really was meant to be. He's a little less funny and lighthearted in the film with these departures from the script.
  • Thank students for their astute observations of the film and the text. Remind them that they will continue to use this note-catcher and practice using the concept of how a director can "stay faithful to" and "depart from" a text when making a film. They will use this same note-catcher on the End of Unit 1 Assessment.
  • Distribute the A Midsummer Night's Dream structured notes, 1.2.1-107. Tell students that they will reread the same passage from today's Drama Circle for tonight's homework. Remind them to use the Play Map and Tips for Reading Shakespeare handout to help them.
  • Consider collecting the Text to Film note-catchers to assess students' grasp of the concept of how directors can "stay faithful to" and "depart from" a text. 


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Reread 1.2.1-107 and complete the structured notes. 
  • Provide struggling learners with the supported structured notes for additional scaffolding as they read the play.

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