Lesson Plan : Capulet / Montague Debate

Surely this has been done before.  What about getting a classroom of students together, dividing them down the middle, and “solving” the ancient grudge by having a debate over which family “wins”?  Could prove to be popular again, what with all the Twilight-inspired  “team vampire / team werewolf” nonsense going on. On the one hand you’ve got the Capulets, who appear to be the trouble makers.  After all, they start it with the thumb biting.  The Montagues, as far as we know, are delivering food to the homeless. Plus, the Montagues have Benvolio, a man whose very name seems to mean “good guy”.  On the Capulet side they’ve got Tybalt, who sometimes seems like the biggest bully around while at others he’s all talk. However, it is Lord Capulet who says (paraphrased), “It is not so hard for men so old as we to keep the peace.”  It is also Lord Capulet who finds Montagues at his party, and welcomes them. Then again, he’s not exactly keeping the peace when Juliet tells him she doesn’t want to marry Paris.  Montague, on the other hand, shows genuine concern for his boy Romeo – and nowhere do we see him have an angry side. As for the mothers, we don’t see much of Lady Montague, other than to ask for Romeo’s whereabouts during the first scuffle, and then later to die of grief at his exile.  Lady Capulet, on the other hand, screams for Romeo’s head on a platter (“I beg for justice, which thou, prince, must give; Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live.”) even though witnesses admit Tybalt started it. Lastly, when all is said and done, it is Capulet who reaches to Montague with the first gesture of reconciliation.  Montague responds in kind, but why wasn’t his hand out already? It’s like the dude who doesn’t reach for the check, but is always there saying “Oh yeah yeah, right, sure, how much do I owe?”   I realize that the “evidence” is entirely based on what Shakespeare chooses to tell us, and we see more of the Capulet family life.  But do you use that as positive evidence, or negative? Just because we don’t see Lady Montague throwing dishes at her husband doesn’t mean it *didnt* happen.   Whose side are you on?

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