In Defence of Adultery

by Julia Copus

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Defence

Step 1

Ask your students, “What’s something that people convince themselves of? What are some examples of the delusions we tell ourselves to make us feel better?” Briefly discuss.

Step 2

Read “In Defence of Adultery” by Julia Copus. When you’re done, briefly discuss the speaker’s attitude toward adultery. How does she truly feel about the act and the people who engage in it?

Step 3

Say, “Choose something in which people must “delude themselves.” Then, come up with a list of reasons to “defend it.” You don’t have to believe these defenses, of course, but you must merely provide a list of reasons, feelings, emotions, etc. that people create to feel a certain way.” Then give your students a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Ask your students to compose a poem similar in sentiment to “In Defence of Adultery” in which they come up with a list of “defenses” that people make to excuse themselves from their behaviors or actions.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Tone Shifts

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the concept of tone or tonal shifts, go through the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Start the class cold by showing your students the following copy of the poem. Read the poem aloud with your students. As you are reading, ask them to pay particular attention to the tone of the speaker in their “defence of adultery.”

Step 3

Ask your students to identify the language that elicits a specific mood or tone. Briefly discuss.

Step 4

Now show your students the actual, full version of the text. Ask your students to find the difference between the two.

Step 5

Now discuss how the meaning of the poem has changed with the inclusion of those lines. How have the lines, words, phrases, etc. discussed earlier taken on a different meaning? How has the tone shifted?

Step 6

Have your students open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to identify the tone of the piece before the inclusion of the last two lines and then after the reveal of the last two lines. How has the attitude of the author changed? When you’ve gone over the instructions, give your students time to work.

Step 7

When your students are done, ask them to discuss the lines they chose from the piece and how the tone changes with the inclusion of the final two lines of the poem.

Step 8

If time permits, share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Tone


  • Family
  • Joy
  • Love

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone