Lesson Plan

Annotation of Shakespeare's Imagery

This lesson flow guides students to identification and analysis of poetic imagery as used by Shakespeare. It would be applicable to other imagery-rich texts.
Charles Y.
Classroom teacher
Bethel Park High School
Bethel Park, United States
Show More
My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts

Students will be able to . . .

identify and categorize imagery in a brief Shakespearean text, such as a soliloquy or sonnet

explain how imagery contributes to the mood of the text

explain how imagery contributes to the tone of the text

analyze the imagery as to its function in the text 

synthesize how imagery contributes to the overall meaning of the text



English Language Arts
Grades 9 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 HOOK-- Association with Images

Prepare a Kahoot! Poll using such images of animals, liquids, plants, children/babies, light & dark, clothing, or whatever is appropriate to the soliloquies and sonnets at focus.  Find copyright friendly photos using the search website Photos for Class. 

The poll will include images that are likely to evoke responses of moods (sad, angry, joyful, wistful, timid, etc.) and tones (mean, delight, threateing, romantic, etc.), asking students to select matches between the images and the moods and tones. The poll should include 5-10 items.

Annouce class is going to start with a poll.

Instruct students to use a digital device to browse to Kahoot! (www.kahoot.it), while you (teacher) go to kahoot.com and opens the poll.

Discuss poll results with each item.  Inquire about points when students tend to agree or when there is a variety of emphasis in results.  Ask students about where their ideas and previous experience with the subjects of the images. 

Segue to definition of imagery (next step).


Student Instructions

Please log on to a web browser.



Today we are going to start with a quick poll.

Using your device, browse to Kahoot! Go to kahoot.it

Discuss the results?  How do you decide how these images affect you?

Could this be true when you read a text and an author uses images in simile and metaphor?  Are you affect by them?  Could an author use imagery purposefullly to affect mood, tone, and meaning?




2 DIRECT INSTRUCTION: Defining Imagery

Segue to definition of imagery, which can be said to be:  words and phrase that evoke images or sensory effects, often working in sets, that readers experience with a passage of literature. It signifies all the sensory perceptions referred to in a text.

This may be accomplished by instructing students to use the Dictionary - Merriam-Webster app to look up the term "imagery."  The dictionary offers three definition stems. Discuss these with students. Ask them to put them together, moving toward a literary definition by copying the definitions, rewording them to make sense to them, and jotting down notes as to how they apply to literary texts. 

The literary definition, such as found in a literary handbook, can be seen to be derived from the Merriam-Webster definitions.

Instruct students to add this definition to their notes.

Student Instructions

Look up the word imagery in the Dictionary  Merriam-Webster app.  What do we find?

If we combine these definitions, we can see they are close to the literary definition:  

imagery:  words and phrase that evoke images or sensory effects, often working in sets, that readers experience with a passage of literature. It signifies all the sensory perceptions referred to in a text.

Add this definition to your notes.

3 GUIDED PRACTICE: Highlighting a Text with Color

Next instruct students to browse to MIT's Shakepeare Resource, where they can find etexts of the Bard's works.

Guide them to one for a model.  Show them how to navigate the site to the text excerpt. Copy and paste the text excerpt into a Word Document or shared Google Doc or wiki page.

Demonstrate how they will take a color key of your design to annotate the text with highlights such as this example for Macbeth.  

red = blood
blue = other liquids (water, tears, milk, bile, rivers)
green = disease/health
yellow = light/dark
brown = clothing
orange = animals
pink = children/babies

 . . .Do this for whatever imagery sets are appropriate for the assigned texts.

Instruct students to then add themes that are related to the imagery, using comment features, or jotting in the margins adjacent to the lines.  This is to build and show student understanding of the connection between imagery and ideas.

Assign the soliloquy or sonnet texts.  If the students are familiar with the pieces, you may let them choose from an array.

Once they find the soliloquy or sonnet assigned they may begin work. This is best assigned by pairs working on the same text, at least for the first go. 


Student Instructions

You will be highlighting a short text with colors keyed to a legend of imagery type the author uses and then annotating the text with thematic universal ideas.

See how it is done in the example.  You will find your text by navigating the etext. Then, you'll copy and paste the text into a document.

With a partner you'll add the highlighting and annotations.

(Assignment of text)

4 INDEPENDENT PRACTICE: Highlighting and Annotating Text

Monitor, circulate, and assist as students work. Remind them of the four parts of the assignment:  1) imagery highlights, 2) margin notes on thematic universal ideas, and connecting imagery to both 3) mood and 4) tone 

Student Instructions

Begin:  copy and paste, highlight imagery, add note on theme in margins or comments. Identify the mood and the tone of the text and prepare to explain how these are affected by imagery.

5 WRAP UP: Sharing

Activity: Presenting

When the studnets are ready, instruct them to present their work.  You may have them do this in a variety of ways, such as sharing through Google docs or a wiki, or printing on a color printer and displaying or projecting with a document camera.

If you print them, this can make a purposeful wall display, especially for Shakespeare's plays, to show the volume of imagery he employs throughout the text(s).

Student Instructions

Present your work to the class.  Indentify the imagery and explain its effects on tone, mood, and theme.