Literary Characters on Trial

Lesson Duration

Author: Jacqueline Podolski for ReadWriteThink

After reading a work of literature as a class, students will brainstorm “crimes” committed by characters from that text. Groups of students will work together to act as the prosecution or defense for the selected characters, while also acting as the jury for other groups. Students will use several sources to research for their case, including the novel and internet resources. All the while, students will be writing a persuasive piece to complement their trial work.
While this lesson uses Shakespeare’s The Tempest, there are several other text options. Handouts (except for the model case handout) are generic so that they can be used with any text.


Students will

  • demonstrate comprehension of the class reading.
  • create interpretive presentations of literary characters.
  • apply previous knowledge of persuasive devices to a writing piece and a presentation.
  • articulate persuasive arguments about literature.
  • compose an essay using a persuasive style.
  • find, interpret, and manipulate textual evidence to support one side of an argument.
  • work effectively with other students.
  • demonstrate effective oral presentation skills.
  • analyze the quality of information used to support an argument.
  • critically assess their own work.



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