- Slides: 26
Character Analyses for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
Why is character analysis important? William Shakespeare’s characters in all of his plays have become classic characters in English literature. These well-known characters are often paralleled in other works. This is a true testament to Shakespeare’s craft as a writer.
“Two households, both alike in dignity…” Shakespeare sets his famous tragedy in Verona, Italy and has two feuding families as the central conflict. The Montagues Capulets (Romeo’s family) vs. The (Juliet’s family) *The cause for the feud is unknown, but symbolizes the arbitrariness of status in society.
The Montagues: Romeo is the young son of the affluent Montague family. He lusts after the unavailable, but oh-so gorgeous Rosaline until he sets eyes on Juliet Capulet (the only daughter of his family's arch enemies) and falls in love at first sight.
The Montagues: Benvolio, whose name literally means "good will, " is a classic nice guy. Benvolio often gets stuck playing the straight man to Romeo and Mercutio, but he occasionally manages to stick in his own funny lines.
Benvolio cont. Despite the fact that he is constantly telling everyone else to calm down and stop fighting, duels always seem to happen around him. Benvolio is regarded as the trusted go-to guy. Romeo's parents turn to him when their son is acting weird and the Prince always asks him to explain what went down in the most recent street fight.
The Montagues: Lord and Lady Montague Lord and Lady Montegue are Romeo’s parents and Benvolio’s uncle and aunt. They are fairly minor characters and only pop up after some kind of tragedy (duel and death). They are seen as loving parents who are concerned about their son’s sanity.
The Capulets: Juliet is the beautiful (and only) daughter of the Capulets. In the play, she falls in love with Romeo Montague, the son of her family's mortal enemies. She also seems to be more mature than Romeo at times and is often the voice of reason.
The Capulets: Tybalt is Juliet's cousin, which makes him a Capulet. He is a captivating, testosterone-driven character and almost always completely over-the-top. Mercutio, who hates Tybalt, gives him the "catty" nickname the "Prince of Cats" and it totally suits Tybalt. While Romeo can sometimes remind you of a bouncy and overeager puppy, Tybalt tends to stalk around proudly looking for fights.
The Capulets: Lord Capulet (a. k. a. Capulet) is the father of Juliet. At first, he seems like a pretty good dad, but his willingness to allow Paris to marry his super young daughter seems questionable. Lord Capulet's relationship with his wife is also up for debate. Lady Capulet is probably much younger than he, since she was married to him when she was about twelve years old. Needless to say, this age difference seems to have caused some tension in their marriage.
The Capulets: Lady Capulet Like many other mothers of teens, Lady Capulet and her daughter clearly have a troubled relationship. The interactions between Lady Capulet and Juliet are strained and distant. Lady Capulet does make an effort to reach out to her daughter now that she's of an age to be married. But it's obvious that Juliet's closest bond is with the Nurse; Lady Capulet never even comes close to challenging that.
There’s always someone in the middle! Another quality that makes Romeo and Juliet an amazing story is the people who are trapped in between the two families. The “People in the Middle” tend to sway more towards certain households, but this adds another layer of super thick drama…and gossip…and deception…and awesomeness!
People in the Middle: Prince of Verona The Prince of Verona (Escalus) does the best he can to keep the peace, but he can't restrain the violence between the Montagues and the Capulets. If the Prince can't do anything about the feud, it means that the law(which the Prince embodies) is powerless against the passions of hate and of love. He also has relatives who are caught in the middle…stay tuned!
People in the Middle: Mercutio (whose name is derived from the word "mercurial, " meaning "volatile") is Romeo's sword-fight loving BFF. He never backs down from a duel and, although he's neither a Montague nor a Capulet, he gets involved in the long-standing family feud on the side of the Montagues. P. S. He’s a kinsman to the Prince!
People in the Middle: Paris is a young count who asks Lord Capulet for Juliet’s hand in marriage. Their love is very much one-sided or unrequited because Juliet does not love Paris back. P. S. Paris is also a kinsman to the Prince which makes him a kinsman to Mercutio…D. R. A. M. A!!! *Think back to the Trojan War discussion and ponder this: Why did Shakespeare name this character Paris based on his attributes?
People in the Middle: The Nurse is one of the funniest characters in the play and one of the most disturbing. She and Juliet have what seems to be a gossiping, but loving relationship. The Nurse, along with Friar Laurence, is one of the facilitators of Juliet's relationship with Romeo. She plays the role of messenger. She is also considered “uneducated” which classifies her as comedic relief in the play.
People in the Middle: Friar Laurence is a mentor to Romeo and constantly advises him to act with more caution and moderation. But Friar Laurence's own plans to help Romeo and Juliet end in tragedy. He is also seen as Romeo’s father-figure, much like the nurse is Juliet’s mother-figure.
“There are no small parts only small actors. ” Romeo and Juliet has a long list of minor, but very important characters. The main purpose for these characters is to establish the setting, enhance the conflict and to also help move the plot forward.
Minor Characters Chorus- Introduces the setting, situation and conflict at the beginning of each Act. Sampson- A servant to the Capulets and swordfighter. Gregory-A servant to the Capulets and swordfighter. Abram- A servant to the Montegues and swordfighter. Balthasar (Man)-Romeo’s servant
Minor characters cont. Peter- Servant to the Nurse Officer-An official of Verona who “keeps the peace. ” Second Capulet-One of Lord Capulet’s creepy kinsman. They talk about young girls and their “prime” years in Act I, Sc. V. Friar John-Colleague of Friar Laurence who makes a fatal error. Citizens of Verona(4)- Gentlemen, gentlewomen, maskers, torchbearers, pages, guards, watchmen, servants/servingmen and attendants. Musicians (3)- Lead the matrimonial and burial precessions. Apothecary- A person who sells drugs and medicines…an olden day pharmacist!
Now what? Now that you have a brief understanding of who each character is in the play; each pod will be in charge of constructing symbolic hats for the characters. The actors will wear the hats during our class reading of Romeo and Juliet!
Who gets what? Each pod will have 14 hats to create! Periods 1 and 3 will be in charge of the Montegues, the Prince, Mercutio, Friar Laurence, Friar John, the Apothecary and the 4 citizens. Periods 4 and 5 will be in charge of the Capulets, Paris, the Chorus, the 3 Musicians and the Officer