Romeo Juliet Resource Pack Contents Characterisation Context Quotes
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Romeo & Juliet Resource Pack Contents à Characterisation à Context à Quotes from Shakespeare plays à Synopsis à The writer’s choices à Themes, motifs, metaphors à Artistic license in the adaptation à Foreshadowing events à Key quotations - analysis à Case study evaluations à Essay writing technique
William Shakespeare Born in Stratford. Upon Avon, UK (1564 -1616) Context of Romeo & Juliet William Shakespeare (born in 1564) attended grammar school but his formal education proceeded no further. In 1582, he married Anne Hathaway and had three children with her. In 1590, he left his family behind and travelled to London to work as an actor and playwright. Public and critical success quickly followed, eventually becoming the most popular playwright in Britain and part-owner of the Globe Theatre. Elizabeth I and James I reigned during his literary career – he was a favourite of both monarchs. James I even gave him the title of King’s Men. Shakespeare died in 1616 at the age of fiftytwo. Much of Shakespeare’s story is shrouded in mystery. Some argue that his plays were written by someone else, but these are considered conspiracy theories. Shakespeare did not invent the story of Romeo and Juliet – a poet named Arthur Brooks first brought the story of ‘Romeus and Juliet’ to an English speaking audience and was an adaptation of an adaptation. Many of the plot details are lifted directly from Brook’s poem – the meeting at the ball, their secret marriage, Romeo’s fight with Tybalt, the sleeping potion, and the timing of the lover’s eventual suicides. His adaptation adds original characterisation (such as Mercutio), intense pace of its action (9 months into 4 days) and extraordinary use of language. The story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ also echoes ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ from Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ and is referenced as a play-within-a-play in another of his works: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. à Shakespeare wrote 37 plays (all of which have 5 Acts), 140 Sonnets, 5 extended poems and used 31, 534 different words with 1, 223 different characters and wrote 884, 421 words in total. à The three genres of his plays are: comedy, history, and tragedy. à Shakespeare is considered one of the best writers of all time. Comedies Histories Tragedies All’s Well That Ends Well Henry IV, Part I Antony and Cleopatra As You Like It Henry IV, Part II Coriolanus Comedy of Errors Henry V Cymbeline Love’s Labour’s Lost Henry VI, Part I Hamlet Measure for Measure Henry VI, Part II Julius Caesar The Merchant of Venice Henry VI, Part III King Lear The Merry Wives of Windsor Henry VIII Macbeth A Midsummer Night’s Dream King John Othello Much Ado About Nothing Pericles Romeo and Juliet The Taming of the Shrew Richard II Timon of Athens The Tempest Richard III Titus Andronicus Twelfth Night Two Gentlemen of Verona A Winter’s Tale Troilus and Cressida
“Talking isn't doing. It is a kind of good deed to say well; and yet words are not deeds. ” “O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything did nothing first create” [KEY QUOTATIONS BY SHAKESPEARE] “No legacy is so rich as honesty. ” “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. ” “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow. ” “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. ” “If you prick us do we not bleed? “Jealousy…it is the green-eyed monster” “What is past is prologue. ” “The course of true love never did run smooth. ” “Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise. ” “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. ” "In my mind's eye" “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. ” “Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast. ” “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players” “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. ” “The love “To be, or not to be, that is the question. ” of heaven makes one “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. ” “The lady doth protest heavenly. ” “I must be cruel, only to be kind. ” too much, methinks. ” “Once more into the breach” “What light from yonder window breaks? ” "Can one desire too much of a good thing? " "Now is the winter of our discontent" "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, rounded with a little sleep" "Though this be madness, yet there "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. " is method in 't. " "Beware the ides of March" "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? ” "I will speak daggers to her, but use none" “A Pair of Starcrossed Lovers”
[MEMORABLE SHAKESPEAREAN SYMBOLS] Hamlet Macbeth The Merchant of Venice Twelfth Night Othello Much Ado About Nothing Romeo & Juliet Julius Caesar Taming of the Shrew A Midsummer Night’s Dream Richard III The Tempest Henry V King Lear
: : : The Montagues : : : In popular culture, the name has become synonymous with “lover”. His purity and passion is confirmed when he kills himself Romeo when believing Juliet has died. Romeo pines for Rosaline, and his quickness to fall for Juliet so quickly suggests a juvenile impulsiveness. Romeo is a great reader of love poetry – is he in love with the idea of love rather than love itself? Romeo’s love for Juliet is deeper than for Rosaline, despite being ‘love at first sight’. Juliet is his muse for his most intense poetic expressions. Romeo is an intense feeler with a deep capacity for love. He may lack the capacity for moderation, acting out of a monumental love for Juliet, but also incredible acts of rage and revenge against the likes of Tybalt and Paris. Romeo’s volatility which swings from hero to villain at a moment’s notice is both a blessing and a curse. His social persona - he is quick-witted, intelligent, fond of verbal jousting with Mercutio, loyal and unafraid of danger. Characterisation Other key characters Friar Lawrence Mercutio Balthasar Sampson Gregory Caroline Montague remains most worried about Romeo’s introverted and romantically melodramatic demeanour. Ted and Caroline’s backstory is only hinted out through the exposition of the Montague-Capulet feud. Benvolio remains closest to Romeo out of the Montague family (his cousin) who teases him about his infatuation with Rosaline. Benvolio’s rivalry with Tybalt remains a conflict catalyst, as Sampson and Gregory are prone to scraps with Abra and Petruchio. Nearly 14 years old, Juliet is at an age standing between immaturity and maturity. Initially, she seems to be an obedient, sheltered, naïve child. . Marriage isn’t a thought yet. She responds dutifully to her mother arranging a potential marriage with Paris. Her conception of love is immature due to its compliance. She has no friends her own age and seems closest to the Nurse. The story of Romeo & Juliet spans four days and represents an extremely fast rites-of-passage for the young teenager. Romeo acts as the catalyst to her adulthood, and her inevitable rebellion against her parents’ repression. She is also critical of Romeo and remains logical despite a deep loyalty to Romeo remains the most irrational of the two – her love and loyalty for Romeo trumps her love and loyalty for her family. It is not out of feminine weakness that she kills herself but rather an intensity of love for Romeo – her bravery to stab herself trumps Romeo’s swallowing of poison. Juliet Apothecary Prince Escalus Ted & Caroline Montague Benvolio : : : The Capulets : : : Rosaline Nurse Dave Paris Abram Peter The Chorus Friar Lawrence – convinced that Romeo & Juliet’s impulsive betrothal may lead to an ending of the age-old Montague/Capulet feud. He orchestrates various schemes in favour of their secret union. Apothecary – the reluctant provider of poison for Romeo whose deathwish is based wholly on the intensity and at times, irrationality of his love. Nurse – Juliet’s closest confidante who acts as a messenger between Capulet and Montague factions until yielding to the Capulet’s wishes to urge Juliet to marry Paris after Romeo’s involvement in Tybalt’s death. At this moment, Juliet feels betrayed by the person she trusted deeply. Mercutio – Romeo’s Best Friend – quick-witted, rebellious, charismatic and mercurial. Mercutio is the party starter but does not shy away from a fight. His ‘plague on both your houses’ speech remains iconic and harrowing. Prince Escalus – the man responsible for bringing order out of the chaos of Montague/Capulet rivalry. His lawful ultimatum is not enough to bring peace between the two rival families until another great tragedy strikes. Dave Paris plays Juliet’s suitor, Balthasar plays one of Romeo’s friends and messengers, Rosaline plays Romeo’s old crush. Other characters: Abram/Peter/The Chorus Fulgencio & Gloria Capulet Tybalt Abra Petruchio Fulgencio Capulet’s organisation of an arranged marriage with Paris to Juliet seems more motivated by uniting the Capulet’s with another elite family in high society. Gloria Capulet attempts to be their match-maker. The increasingly forceful nature of this arrangement reveals her parents’ villainies, as the tempestuous and combative Tybalt acts as one of the key antagonists in the story as a conflict catalyst. Abra and Petruchio more than hold their ground against Sampson and Gregory in intimidating encounters with the Montagues.
FULL SYNOPSIS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO & JULIET A brawl breaks out on the streets of Verona between the servants of the feuding noble families of Capulet and Montague. Benvolio Montague and Tybalt Capulet clash as the aggression escalates. Citizens are outraged by the constant violence between the warring factions. Prince Escalus decrees death for any individual that disturbs the peace in future. Benvolio finds Romeo who is moping in a grove of sycamores. Romeo confides that he is in love with Rosaline, a woman who does not return his affections. Benvolio counsels him to forget this woman and find another. Meanwhile, the Capulet family are match-making Paris (a kinsman of the Prince) with Juliet. The father Capulet acts Paris to wait two years as Juliet is only fourteen, and organizes a masquerade ball for Paris and Juliet to become acquainted. Romeo agrees to go to the party when a Capulet servant bears a list of invitations, on hearing Rosaline will be there. Juliet talks with her mother, Lady Capulet and her nurse about the possibility of marrying Paris. The feast begins with Romeo hanging out with Benvolio, Mercutio and friends at the Capulet’s house. Romeo sees Juliet from a distance and instantly falls in love with her. He forgets about Rosaline completely. Tybalt recognises Romeo and is enraged that a Montague would sneak into a Capulet feast. He prepares to attack but father Capulet holds him back. Romeo speaks to Juliet and the two experience a profound attraction. They kiss, not even knowing each other’s names. When he finds out from Juliet’s nurse that she is the daughter of Capulet, his family’s enemy, he becomes distraught. When she finds out, she becomes equally upset. Romeo leaps over the orchard wall into the garden whilst Mercutio and Benvolio leave. He sees Juliet in a window above the orchard and hears her speak his name. He calls out to her and they exchange vows of love. Romeo hurries to Friar Lawrence, who whilst shocked, agrees to marry the young lovers in secret since he sees that their love could end the age-old feud between Capulet and Montague. The next day, they get married. The Nurse procures a ladder which Romeo will use to climb into Juliet’s window for their wedding next. Tybalt is enraged that Romeo attended the Capulet feast and encounters Benvolio and Mercutio challenging Romeo to a duel. Romeo appears. Romeo begs for peace as they are now family. Disgusted by Romeo’s plea for peace, Mercutio says he will fight Tybalt himself. The two duel. Romeo tries to stop them by leaping between them. Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm and Mercutio dies. Romeo, in a rage, kills Tybalt. Romeo flees. The Prince declares him forever banished from Verona for his crime. Friar Lawrence arranges for Romeo to spend his wedding night with Juliet before he has to leave for Mantua for following morning. Juliet awaits the arrival of her new husband. The Nurse tells Juliet that Romeo has killed Tybalt. Juliet finds herself married to a man who has killed her kinsman, but believes her duty belongs with her love, Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s room that night and they consummate their marriage and love. Morning comes and the lovers bid farewell. Juliet learns that her father now wishes to marry her and Paris in the next three days. The Nurse advices Juliet to proceed as if Romeo were dead and marry Paris. Disgusted with the Nurse’s disloyalty, Juliet disregards her advice and hurries to Friar Lawrence. He plans to reunite Juliet with Romeo in Mantua. The night before her wedding to Paris, Juliet must drink a potion that will make her appear dead. After she is laid to rest, the Friar and Romeo will secretly retrieve her, and she will be free to live with Romeo, away from parents’ feuding. Juliet returns home to discover the wedding has been moved to the next day. That night, she drinks the potion and the Nurse discovers her apparently dead. The Capulets grieve and Juliet is entombed. Friar Lawrence’s message explaining the plan to Romeo never reaches Mantua. Friar John, the messenger, is confined to a quarantined house. Romeo hears that Juliet is dead. Romeo learns only of Juliet’s death and decides to kill himself rather than live without her. He buys a vial of poison from an Apothecary then speeds back to Verona to take his own life at Juliet’s tomb. Outside the Capulet crypt, Romeo comes upon Paris, who is scattering flowers on Juliet’s grave. They fight and Romeo kills Paris. He enters the tomb, sees Juliet’s inanimate body, drinks the poison, and dies by her side. Friar Lawrence enters and realises that Romeo has killed Paris and himself. Then, Juliet awakes. Juliet sees her beloved Romeo and realises he has killed himself with poison. She kisses his poisoned lips, and when that does not kill her, buries his dagger in her chest, falling dead upon his body. The watch arrives, followed closely by the Prince, the Capulets and the Montagues. Montague declares that Lady Montague has died of grief over Romeo’s exile. Seeing their children’s bodies, Capulet and Montague agree to end their long-standing feud and to raise gold statues of their children side-by-side in a newly peaceful Verona. CONTEXT FULL TITLE · The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet GENRE · Tragic drama - play WRITTEN · London, mid-1590 s CLIMAX · The deaths of Romeo and Juliet in the Capulet tomb (5. 3) PROTAGONISTS · Romeo; Juliet ANTAGONISTS · The feuding Montagues and Capulets; Tybalt; the Prince and citizens of Verona; fate TIME/PLACE · Renaissance (15 th centurty) - Verona and Mantua, North Italy POV · Perspectives of Montagues and Capulets Act 1, Prologue: PROLOGUE Act 1, Scene 1: Verona. A public place. Act 1, Scene 2: A street. Act 1, Scene 3: A room in Capulet's house. Act 1, Scene 4: A street. Act 1, Scene 5: A hall in Capulet's house. Act 2, Prologue: PROLOGUE Act 2, Scene 1: A lane by the wall of Capulet's orchard. Act 2, Scene 2: Capulet's orchard. Act 2, Scene 3: Friar Laurence's cell. Act 2, Scene 4: A street. Act 2, Scene 5: Capulet's orchard. Act 2, Scene 6: Friar Laurence's cell. Act 3, Scene 1: A public place. Act 3, Scene 2: Capulet's orchard. Act 3, Scene 3: Friar Laurence's cell. Act 3, Scene 4: A room in Capulet's house. Act 3, Scene 5: Capulet's orchard. Act 4, Scene 1: Friar Laurence's cell. Act 4, Scene 2: Hall in Capulet's house. Act 4, Scene 3: Juliet's chamber. Act 4, Scene 4: Hall in Capulet's house. Act 4, Scene 5: Juliet's chamber. Act 5, Scene 1: Mantua. A street. Act 5, Scene 2: Friar Laurence's cell. Act 5, Scene 3: A churchyard; in it a tomb belonging to the Capulets.
THEMES, MOTIFS AND METAPHORS • • • Love at first sight – impulsive, forceful, passionate – whilst Romeo was initial penning love poetry for Rosaline, the instancy of his love for Juliet transcends the infatuation of his former crush. Shakespeare challenges the idea of ‘love at first sight’ as a negative idea, showcasing the romantic beauty of Romeo and Juliet’s impulsive courtship. The tragedy of the play’s denouement also suggests that ‘love at first sight’ is a dangerous idea in the long term, particularly amidst a context of familial rivalry and ‘star cross’d’ love that was a catalyst for conflict. Emotional extremes – infatuation, revenge, misery, suicide – grudges and familial vendetta provide the caustic backdrop for manic and bipolar behaviour from the likes of Romeo, Juliet, Benvolio, Tybalt and Mercutio. Their families have created a void of worst case scenarios for their offspring, whose immaturity and impulsiveness leads to severe tragedy. Love as a catalyst for conflict – courtship tension provides the most intense of catalysts for conflicts between warring factions. When certain sides disapprove of romantic unions, sparks always fly. The individual versus society – what happens when the freedom of an individual leads to societal discord? Romeo and Juliet’s romantic union isn’t breaking any laws, but within a context of familial rivalry is a recipe for war and revenge. Are there times when freedoms should be regulated for ‘the greater good’? The inevitability of fate versus chance – are some characters doomed from the start, or do their choices in life dictate the consequence? One could argue that the fraught dynamic between the Montagues and Capulets meant Romeo and Juliet were both doomed from the off. THE WRITER’S LITERARY TECHNIQUES Antithesis and oxymoron – the complexity of love and hate, conflicting heroisms and villainies, of beauty and horror, is the recurring motif of Romeo & Juliet – the paradoxical traits of good and evil in each of the characters creates a template for disaster: - Romeo’s poetry– “Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything, from nothing first create”. - Juliet’s realisation of Romeo as a Montague - “my only love sprung from my only hate”. - Juliet missing Romeo after visit at Orchard – “Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow” - Juliet desperately confused by Romeo’s murder of Tybalt – “He’s a beautiful tyrant and a fiendish angel!” Dramatic irony – the Montagues and Capulets unaware of Romeo and Juliet’s marriage, Mercutio unaware why Romeo refused to fight Tybalt , Romeo unaware that Juliet’s death was faked and she is merely sleeping – Friar Lawrence unable to pass on the message to Romeo as Balthasar misunderstands Juliet’s ‘funeral’ – in Shakespeare’s plays, dramatic irony (when the audience know more than certain characters) can be used for comedic or tragic effect – it is tragic in Romeo & Juliet – a lack of knowledge over the real context of events leads to catastrophic consequences, and ultimately, a double suicide of two heartbroken teenage lovers. Rhapsody - epic poetry from Romeo and Juliet resounds – Romeo develops a skill at sonnet form more and more as the play progresses – Juliet acts as a muse to his romantic poetic intellect. Catharsis and pathos – Romeo and Juliet fated to die as ‘death marked’ and ‘star cross’d’ – pathos is a form of dramatic emotional persuasion that compels the audience to sympathise with the characters – the audience finds the loss of the passionate Romeo and Juliet deeply tragic. Feminist critique on patriarchy – Father Capulet’s dictatorship of Juliet’s love life and the prevalence of a male dominant hierarchy could suggest that Shakespeare was criticising patriarchy. ADAPTATION ARTISTIC LICENSE Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 version – this version moves the location of late 16 th century Verona to 20 th century MTV style Verona Beach, daggers are represented as guns, Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech represents her as an ecstacy pill, Montagues and Capulets are represented as part of gang culture, the cinematography is kinetic and brash, but the language is identical to Shakespeare’s original text. It makes for a fascinating and authentic adaptation. It works so effectively because the ‘love at first sight’ naivety of teenage romance is still as relevant as it was in its time. This version also appeals to a demographic beyond connoisseurs of literature and high society. Shakespeare would have approved of an adaptation that targets the ‘groundlings’ whilst remaining true to the text. Franco Zefferelli’s 1968 version and Carlo Carlei’s 2013 version – both of these versions maintain the original context of Shakespeare’s play (late 16 th century Verona) with appropriate costume, swordplay and architectural backdrops. Whilst there allusions to modern contexts, and the text is simplified at times, the similarity to the original remains. KEY SYMBOLS AND DEVICES Light/dark imagery – images of Juliet as a sun rising in the darkness, Juliet’s eyes shining in the sky, images of Romeo’s body cut out in little stars, Romeo and Juliet’s love as a bright, furious lightning flash – love, hate, passion and death all emphasised through this symbolism. - When Romeo first sees Juliet - "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright, " Points of view – two main perspectives explored (Romeo’s and Juliet’s) through soliloquy. Friar Lawrence and Mercutio’s perspectives are also explored with complexity and depth. Poison – a key symbol in the play – both Romeo (for suicide) and Juliet (to fake her death) take types of poison, and acts as the key object that propels both lovers towards tragedy. Thumb biting – Sampson bites his thumb at Abra – seen as a sign of utmost disrespect. Queen Mab – a fairy who represents the power of waking fantasies. Mercutio suggests that all desires are nonsensical and fragile as Mab – corrupting desires that destroy logic and rationality. Foreshadowing events - The Chorus’s first speech declaring that Romeo and Juliet are doomed to die and “star-crossed. ” The lovers’ frequent thoughts of death: “My grave is like to be my wedding bed” (Juliet, 1. 5. 132). The lovers’ thoughts of suicide, as when Romeo threatens to kill himself after killing Tybalt. Friar Lawrence’s warnings to behave moderately if Romeo and Juliet wish to avoid tragedy: “These violent delights have violent ends. . . Therefore love moderately” (2. 5. 9– 14). The lovers’ mutual impression that the other looks pale and deathlike after their wedding night (3. 5). Juliet’s faked death by Friar Lawrence’s potion. Romeo’s dream-vision of Juliet kissing his lips while he is dead (5. 1). Romeo’s outbursts against fate: “O, I am fortune’s fool!” (3. 1. 131) and “Then I defy you, stars” (5. 1. 24) – all point to the inevitable tragedy of the play’s denouement.
KEY QUOTATIONS EXPLAIN ROMEO: Romeo compares Juliet to the ‘fair sun’ and ‘heaven’. He praises her with a sense of sainthood, deifying her as beyond earthly beauty. He insults the maid as ‘sick and pale’. Both his compliments and insults are emotive and hyperbolic. His reverence for Juliet and disgust for the Nurse show that he may be superficial, or that his ‘love at first sight’ love for Juliet is so strong, anything or anyone else pales in comparison. But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, Who is already sick and pale with grief That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she. . The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven Would through the airy region stream so bright That birds would sing and think it were not night. JULIET: O Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet. MERCUTIO: O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you. . She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes In shape no bigger than an agate stone On the forefinger of an alderman, Drawn with a team of little atomi Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep. PROLOGUE: From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife. . O, I am fortune’s fool!. . . Then I defy you, stars. ROMEO: Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything, from nothing first create, O heavy lightness! Serious vanity! Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms, Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! This love feel I, that feel no love in this. Juliet clearly pines for Romeo after their first meet. However, she is conflicted that she must be disloyal to her family in order to be united to Romeo. She is confused that someone so wonderful could be associated with the demonised Montague family. It makes her question everything. Mercutio’s reference to Queen Mab alludes to the idea that love is a fantasy that destroys logic and rationality. One could argue that this is a foreshadowing event to the downfall of Romeo who become hypnotised by ‘love at first sight’. Mercutio is both quick witted and strangely wise. The prologue immediately prepares us for the inevitable tragedy of these ‘star-crossed lovers’ who ‘take their life’. Romeo declares that he is ‘fortune’s fool’ and swears saying ‘I defy you, stars’. The doomed fate of these protagonists are clearly outlined from the start and acts as a recurring motif throughout the story. The reference to ‘fatal’ and ‘misadventured’ reinforces this. Romeo’s conflicted attitude to love when his infatuation to Rosaline is unrequited is highlighted by the use of several oxymorons including ‘brawling love’ and ‘loving hate’. His confusion with the nature of love is crystallised through epic poetry. His soliloquys suggest a detachment from the realities of human interaction and his sheltered existence dooms his future. KEY SCENES (according to RSC) The scene is set (Act 1 Scene 1) Montague and Capulet servants clash in the street, the Prince threatens dire punishment if another such brawl should take place, and Romeo tells his friend, Benvolio, of his obsession with Rosaline. The lovers meet for the first time (Act 1 Scene 4) Romeo is persuaded to attend a masked party at the Capulet household. He falls in love with Juliet the moment he sees her, and she, equally ignorant that he is a Montague, falls just as instantly for him. Romeo risks death to meet his love Juliet again (Act 2 Scene 1) When everyone has left the party, Romeo creeps into the Capulet garden and sees Juliet on her balcony. They reveal their mutual love and Romeo leaves, promising to arrange a secret marriage and let Juliet's messenger, her old Nurse, have the details the following morning. The wedding is held in secret (Act 2 Scene 5) Juliet tells her parents she is going to make her confession to Friar Laurence, meets Romeo there and, despite some personal misgivings, the friar marries them immediately. Romeo angrily kills Juliet's cousin, Tybalt (Act 3 Scene 1) Romeo meets Tybalt in the street, and is challenged by him to a duel. Romeo refuses to fight and his friend Mercutio is so disgusted by this 'cowardice' that the takes up the challenge instead. As Romeo tries to break up the fight, Tybalt manages to kill Mercutio and, enraged, Romeo then kills Tybalt. The Prince arrives and, on hearing the full story, banishes Romeo rather than have him executed. The unhappy couple are parted (Act 3 Scene 5) Arranged by the Friar and the Nurse, Romeo and Juliet have spent their wedding night together. They are immediately parted though, as Romeo must leave for banishment in Mantua or die if he is found in Verona. Juliet's father threatens to disown her when she asks for the marriage to Paris to be at least postponed, and she runs to the Friar for advice and help. The Friar suggests a dangerous solution to the problem (Act 4 Scene 1) Juliet arrives at the Friar's to be met by Paris, who is busy discussing their wedding plans. She is so desperate that she threatens suicide, and the Friar instead suggests that she takes a potion that will make her appear to be dead. He promises to send a message to Romeo, asking him to return secretly and be with Juliet when she wakes, once her 'body' has been taken to the family crypt. Juliet is found 'dead' (Act 4 Scene 4) The Nurse discovers Juliet 's 'body' dead' when she goes to wake her for her marriage Paris. Friar Laurence is called, counsels the family to accept their grief, and arranges for Juliet to be 'buried' immediately. Romeo learns of the tragedy and plans his own suicide (Act 5 Scene 1) Romeo's servant, Balthasar, reaches Mantua before the Friar's messenger and tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Romeo buys poison and leaves for Verona, planning to die alongside Juliet's body. The tragic conclusion (Act 5 Scene 3) Romeo is disturbed by Paris at the Crypt and kills him. He drinks the poison, kisses his wife for the last time, and dies. Romeo never received his message, so the Friar comes to the crypt. He finds Paris's body and reaches Juliet just as she revives. He cannot persuade her to leave, and runs away in fear. Juliet realises what has happened, takes Romeo's knife and stabs herself to death. The watchmen discovers and calls the Prince, to whom the Friar confesses everything. The Montagues and Capulets are reconciled. Peace has been achieved, but the price has been the lives of two innocent young lovers.
EXAMPLE ANSWER Compare and contrast the characters of Romeo and Juliet. How do they develop throughout the play? What makes them fall in love with one another? Point - Romeo is a passionate, extreme, excitable, intelligent, and moody young man, well-liked and admired throughout Verona. He is loyal to his friends, but his behavior is somewhat unpredictable. Example - At the beginning of the play, he mopes over his hopeless unrequited love for Rosaline. Explain/Link - In Juliet, Romeo finds a legitimate object for the extraordinary passion that he is capable of feeling, and his unyielding love for her takes control of him. Comparing point - Juliet, on the other hand, is an innocent girl, a child at the beginning of the play, and is startled by the sudden power of her love for Romeo. Guided by her feelings for him, she develops very quickly into a determined, capable, mature, and loyal woman who tempers her extreme feelings of love with sober-mindedness. Explain/Link - The attraction between Romeo and Juliet is immediate and overwhelming, and neither of the young lovers comments on or pretends to understand its cause. Each mentions the other’s beauty, but it seems that destiny, rather than any particular character trait, has drawn them together. Their love for one another is so undeniable that neither they nor the audience feels the need to question or explain it. How could this answer be improved? EXAMPLE ESSAY QUESTIONS 1. How does the suicidal impulse that both Romeo and Juliet exhibit relate to the overall theme of young love? Does Shakespeare seem to consider a self-destructive tendency inextricably connected with love, or is it a separate issue? Why do you think so? 2. Discuss the relationships between parents and children in Romeo and Juliet. How do Romeo and Juliet interact with their parents? Are they rebellious, in the modern sense? How do their parents feel about them? 3. Apart from clashing with Tybalt, what role does Mercutio play in the story? Is he merely a colorful supporting character and brilliant source of comic relief, or does he serve a more serious purpose? 4. How does Shakespeare treat death in Romeo and Juliet? Frame your answer in terms of legal, moral, familial, and personal issues. Bearing these issues in mind, compare the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo and Mercutio, and Mercutio and Tybalt. 5. Compare and contrast the characters of Romeo and Juliet. How do they develop throughout the play? What makes them fall in love with one another? 6. What effect does the accelerated time scheme have on the play’s development? Is it plausible that a love story of this magnitude could take place so quickly? Does the play seem to take place over as little time as it actually occupies? 7. Compare and contrast the characters of Tybalt and Mercutio. Why does Mercutio hate Tybalt?
[Two characters: in depth] Friar Lawrence occupies a strange position in Romeo and Juliet. He is a kindhearted cleric who helps Romeo and Juliet throughout the play. He performs their marriage and gives generally good advice, especially in regard to the need for moderation. He is the sole figure of religion in the play. But Friar Lawrence is also the most scheming and political of characters in the play: he marries Romeo and Juliet as part of a plan to end the civil strife in Verona; he spirits Romeo into Juliet’s room and then out of Verona; he devises the plan to reunite Romeo and Juliet through the deceptive ruse of a sleeping potion that seems to arise from almost mystic knowledge. This mystical knowledge seems out of place for a Catholic friar; why does he have such knowledge, and what could such knowledge mean? The answers are not clear. In addition, though Friar Lawrence’s plans all seem well conceived and well intentioned, they serve as the main mechanisms through which the fated tragedy of the play occurs. Readers should recognize that the Friar is not only subject to the fate that dominates the play—in many ways he brings that fate about. Mercutio With a lightning-quick wit and a clever mind, Mercutio is a scene stealer and one of the most memorable characters in all of Shakespeare’s works. Though he constantly puns, jokes, and teases— sometimes in fun, sometimes with bitterness—Mercutio is not a mere jester or prankster. With his wild words, Mercutio punctures the romantic sentiments and blind self-love that exist within the play. He mocks Romeos self-indulgence just as he ridicules Tybalt’s hauteur and adherence to fashion. The critic Stephen Greenblatt describes Mercutio as a force within the play that functions to deflate the possibility of romantic love and the power of tragic fate. Unlike the other characters who blame their deaths on fate, Mercutio dies cursing all Montagues and Capulets. Mercutio believes that specific people are responsible for his death rather than some external impersonal force.