William Shakespeare: Cultural Icon of Renaissance England

Brooke Wilson, English, West Mecklenburg High School

Final Unit (PDF)  Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)


The proposed unit is essentially a unit that covers the English Renaissance
time period in a 12th grade British Literature course. This is done through the lens of a
cultural icon of the time, William Shakespeare. The language of Renaissance England
and the works of Shakespeare are often difficult for high school students to understand.
Therefore, it is the goal of this curriculum unit to help students immerse themselves into
the time period by gradually being exposed to the language. The unit will begin with an
introduction to William Shakespeare. Students will then begin to compare Renaissance
English to modern English words and phrases. Next, Shakespearean sonnets will be
analyzed and explicated. Finally, students will embark on reading and interpreting
Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. Ultimately, students should progressively become
acquainted with not only the works of Shakespeare, but the elements of the playwright’s
life and society that influence his writing and make him a cultural icon.