- Slides: 25
William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet Analysis Notes of Act I to Act V
Character List • Montagues: ▫ ▫ ▫ Lord and Lady Montague (Romeo’s parents) Romeo (the leading man!) Benvolio (nephew of Montague, friend of Romeo) Balthasar (servant of Romeo) Abram (servant of Lord Montague)
Character List • The Capulet’s ▫ ▫ ▫ Lord and Lady Capulet (Juliet’s parents) Juliet (the leading lady!) Tybalt (nephew of Lady Capulet, cousin of Juliet) Nurse (helps and cares for Juliet) Peter (servant to Nurse) Sampson and Gregory (servants of Capulet)
Character List • The Others Involved: ▫ ▫ Prince Escalus (Ruler of Verona) Mercutio (friend of Romeo, relative of the Prince) Friar Laurence (Franciscan priest) Count Paris (young nobleman, relative of the Prince, wants to marry Juliet) ▫ Apothecary (druggist)
Location • Majority of play takes place in VERONA, but in some scenes with Romeo are in MANTUA • Both cities are found in Northern Italy
The Following. . • Is a breakdown of the MAJOR events that lead Romeo and Juliet to their untimely death. Each point is of interest is one that was CRUCIAL to the breakneck speeds of which Romeo and Juliet meet, fall in love and then die.
Mapping of Events 1. Prologue introduces both lovers, and also forewarns that they WILL die. 2. Capulet servants fight the Montague servants, sparking Tybalt and Benvolio to fight… this causes the Prince to issue a new order to feuding with the Montagues and the Capulets. 3. Romeo is heartbroken over Rosaline. 4. Capulet is throwing a party – the Montague boys’ crash it. Romeo falls out of love with Rosaline, after seeing Juliet.
Mapping of Events 5. Romeo and Juliet instantly are attracted, kiss, and set the tone for the rest of the play. 6. Tybalt sees Romeo, gets upset and vows vengence. 7. Romeo and Juliet NEVER learn their names until the very end of the party, from other parties. Scorn their luck. 8. Romeo scales the wall, and welcomes in the balcony scene. He asks her to marry him.
Mapping of Events 9. Romeo goes to Friar Laurence who agrees to marry the two. 10. Juliet and Romeo are married secretly in the afternoon, no one but the Friar and Nurse know of the marriage. 11. An hour later… Tybalt kills Mercutio. Romeo kills Tybalt in revenge. 12. The Prince banishes Romeo from Verona. 13. The Capulet’s mourn over Tybalt; Juliet over Romeo.
Mapping of Events 14. Capulet agrees to marry Juliet to Paris in two days time to make her happy again. 15. Romeo and Juliet spend one night together and then Romeo runs to avoid execution for being found in Verona. 16. Juliet finds out about Paris, begs and weeps to not marry him. Threatens suicide. Mother and Nurse are against her. Father threatens to disown her.
Mapping of Events 17. Juliet goes to the Friar for help. He gives her a potion to “fake death”. 18. Wedding is moved up one day, Juliet takes the potion the eve of her wedding to Paris. 19. Capulet’s go to wake up Juliet, find her dead. Weep over their loss. As does Paris. 20. Romeo finds out from Balthasar that Juliet is dead – he dares to “defy” stars and be with her in death.
Mapping of Events 21. No letter from the Friar, though one is expected. 22. Romeo goes to the Apothecary for poison, one strong enough to kill him. 23. The letter the Friar sent never got through, his messenger is quarantined due to the Plague. Romeo has NO idea about Juliet faking her death. He believes she is dead. 24. Friar Laurence has to move fast to save both!
Mapping of Events 25. Paris is at Juliet’s tomb to pay his respect. See’s Romeo, fights him and dies. Before he fights, he sends his Page to bring the authorities. 26. Romeo lies Paris by Juliet. It was his dying request. 27. The Friar finds Balthasar outside the tomb, half sleeping. Hears about the “dream” and rushes into the tomb to a bloody surprise!
Mapping of Events 28. While the Friar was outside, Romeo take the poisonous drugs the Apothecary gives him. Dies after a kiss with Juliet. 29. After the Friar enters, he sees a dead Paris and a dead Romeo. He tries to encourage Juliet to run. She sees Romeo and vows death too. She kisses him to hope for poison. She then stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger and dies. 30. The authorities come in and see the massacre.
Mapping of Events 31. The story is told to both Capulet and Montague and the Prince. 32. Lady Montague died from grief of not seeing her son. Lord Montague and the two Capulet’s are stunned. 33. The two families agree to build a statue of gold of the others child. They no longer show hatred, but a sense of “ones-up-manship. ” 34. The Prince declares Juliet and Romeo’s story a tale of “great woe” but hopes that their deaths will cause the families to stop feuding.
Romeo • Name is synonymous with “lover. ” Romeo • True with the play, as it is a focused experience with love of such purity and passion that he kills himself when he believes that the object of his love, Juliet, has died (aka: Edwards himself) • It’s his ability to love that makes him so juvenile: he pines for Rosaline in one Act, and then swears life and limb for Juliet in the next (she is not a mere replacement, rather fills the void of a much more authentic love than the puppy-dog love he had for Rosaline)
Romeo • Emotional character ▫ Love compels him to sneak into the garden of his enemy’s daughter, risking death simply to catch a glimpse of her. ▫ Anger compels him to kill his wife’s cousin in a reckless duel to avenge the death of his friend. ▫ Despair compels him to suicide upon hearing of Juliet’s death. Such extreme behavior dominates Romeo’s character throughout the play and contributes to the ultimate tragedy that befalls the lovers. • He was a catalyst that could have changed the outcome of the play: ▫ Had Romeo restrained himself from killing Tybalt, or waited even one day before killing himself after hearing the news of Juliet’s death, matters might have ended happily.
Juliet • Only 13: ▫ She’s on the border between immaturity and maturity. ▫ At the start: she seems merely an obedient, sheltered, naïve child. ▫ Though many girls her age—including her mother —get married, Juliet has not given the subject any thought. ▫ Uncomfortable about sex, and never gave thought to marriage
Juliet • Character herself: ▫ ▫ Determined, strong, sober-minded Smart and even-tempered Grows and matures in the few days of the play Criticizes Romeo for his rash decisions (like the balcony scene) ▫ Heartfelt and loyal (religion over a family feud) ▫ She doesn’t kill herself out of feminine weakness, she kills herself out of devotion to Romeo
Friar Laurence • Kindhearted, and generally gives good advice • Sole figure of religion in the play • Also political, and most scheming characters in the play: ▫ he marries Romeo and Juliet as part of a plan to end the civil strife in Verona ▫ he pushes 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 is all out of character for a Catholic friar. • Also: 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. ▫ The Friar is not only subject to the fate that dominates the play— in many ways he brings that fate about!
Theme: Forcefulness of Love • Love is naturally the play’s dominant and most important theme. The play focuses on romantic love, specifically the intense passion that springs up at first sight between Romeo and Juliet. ▫ Love acts as this violent, ecstatic, overpowering force that supersedes all other values, loyalties and emotions ▫ The two gives up families (“Deny thy father…”) and ditch friends (Romeo after the party) • Love acts as a force that pits the lovers against the world, and in the end… against themselves. • Romeo and Juliet does not make a specific moral statement about the relationships between love and society, religion, and family; rather, it portrays the chaos and passion of being in love, combining images of love, violence, death, religion, and family in an impressionistic rush leading to the play’s tragic conclusion.
Theme: Love as a Cause of Violence • Every death that was brought out of violent means is connected to passion (and that passion is ambiguous – it can be passionate love, or passionate hatred) • Love, with this in mind, is connected to violence • Love is blinding, and overwhelming – and so the love between the feuding lovers is consistently revolved around death ▫ Starts with Tybalt at the party, then the fight/murder after the wedding • The theme is solidified when the inevitable conclusion comes about: double suicide. • It is only through death that they can preserve their love, and their love is so profound that they are willing to end their lives in its defense. In the play, love emerges as an amoral thing, leading as much to destruction as to happiness. But in its extreme passion, the love that Romeo and Juliet experience also appears so exquisitely beautiful that few would want, or be able, to resist its power.
Theme: Individual versus Society • Majority of play focuses on Romeo & Juliet struggling against public and social institutions that either explicitly or implicitly oppose the existence of their love: ▫ Families and the placement of familial power in the father (Juliet’s dad and his decisions put her in a vulnerable position – her heart is not Juliet’s to give away, it is her fathers) ▫ Law and the desire for public order (demands conduct with which the blind passion of love cannot comply) ▫ Religion (unable to be abided by as the passionate love is too much, Juliet even calling Romeo the “god of my idolatry” making Romeo a form of God) ▫ Social importance placed on masculine honor (honor to one’s family name by brawling with the others, or every action that Romeo takes in the play is one where he challenges his heart and his masculinity – avenge his friend’s death, or no? ) • Romeo and Juliet’s appreciation of night, with its darkness and privacy, and their renunciation of their names, with its attendant loss of obligation, make sense in the context of individuals who wish to escape the public world. But the lovers cannot stop the night from becoming day. And Romeo cannot cease being a Montague simply because he wants to; the rest of the world will not let him. The lovers’ suicides can be understood as the ultimate night, the ultimate privacy.
Theme: The Inevitability of Fate • In the Prologue, the Chorus states that Romeo and Juliet are “star-crossed” ▫ Meaning: FATE controls them • The mechanism of fate works in all of the events surrounding the lovers: ▫ the feud between their families (it is worth noting that this hatred is never explained) ▫ the horrible series of accidents that ruin Friar Lawrence’s seemingly wellintentioned plans at the end of the play ▫ the tragic timing of Romeo’s suicide and Juliet’s awakening • These events are not mere coincidences, but rather manifestations of fate that help bring about the unavoidable outcome of the young lovers’ deaths. • The concept of fate described above is the most commonly accepted interpretation. There are other possible readings of fate in the play: as a force determined by the powerful social institutions that influence Romeo and Juliet’s choices, as well as fate as a force that emerges from Romeo and Juliet’s very personalities.
The Double Suicide • Makes the couple TRANSCENDENT • We don’t just read this 500 years later to annoy you with how different our lives and cultures are, we read it to show you that passionate love is an age-old concept… love stories, stories of tragedy and death… they TRANSCEND time as they constantly teach us new and incredibly important materials