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Discuss the various perceptions of love in Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet - Then choose two contrasting examples from scenes you have discussed and explain how you would stage them to show these contrasts.

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Introduction

Discuss the various perceptions of love in Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. Then choose two contrasting examples from scenes you have discussed and explain how you would stage them to show these contrasts. William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet in 1595. When it was written, Shakespeare was quite young, 31, already five years into his career. Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne at the time, and many of the characteristics of Elizabethan lifestyle are included within the play. In the Elizabethan times, it was not unusual for people to get married and have children young. In the play Lady Capulet says, "By my count, I was your mother much upon these years," to Juliet, who appears to be about 12 years old. She is telling Juliet that she was already a mother at Juliet's age, implying she should be getting ready to marry now. Women were also not considered of much importance in those days. They were not as 'important' as men, and just used for sex, which plays a big part in the topic of conversation between characters throughout the play. Women/girls also had to obey their fathers until they got married, and then obey their husbands when they did get married. It was a very male dominant era. Romeo and Juliet is partly a comedy, tragedy and history. It is a tragedy obviously because of all the death in it. It is a comedy because of the irony and contrast the characters raise, and also because of the humour some characters like Mercutio and the Nurse bring into the play. It is a history as well because of the fact it was written a long time ago, and has historical contents in it. There is a great deal of love and passion in this play, but not all the same. Different characters have different perceptions of love, and different passions. The play is also as much about hate as it is about love, which is a very important element. ...read more.

Middle

However, this changes completely by Act 3, scene 4 when he shrewdly decides to marry off his daughter to Paris and arranges the wedding. In Act 1, scene 3, Lady Capulet has a talk with Juliet about marriage (to Paris). She does not seem to care much about Juliet's opinion, but more than she does later on. This is where we see her first selfish streak, and realise that their mother-daughter relationship is not a very close one. It is not until Act 3, scene 5 we see the Capulets completely fail their daughter, when they force an arranged marriage onto her. This is a striking scene, where Lady Capulet wishes Juliet was dead after she says that she does not want to marry Paris "I would the fool were married to her grave". Capulet is even more heartless in this scene. He completely loses his temper with Juliet, and threatens to throw her out and disown her is she does not marry Paris. The love of the Capulets' for their daughter is so possessive and domineering, that when she doesn't do as they wish, it turns into utter cruelty and really makes you question whether they love Juliet or not. Her parents want to force her into a loveless marriage because they obviously do not consider love to be at all important in a marriage, and also because they think they know what is best for Juliet and that she is theirs to treat however they like "An you be mine I'll give you to my friend; An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets, for by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee," (line 192-194). This also shows the contrast between young and old - the old don't understand the young. Lord and Lady Capulet actually show more love for Juliet when they find her supposedly dead, but even this is selfish love as they are more worried about how they are going to live without her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Romeo and Juliet's first meeting is very special. In lines 94-107 they share a sonnet, so this should be a very romantic scene. Juliet should be dancing with someone else, then they all switch partners, and Romeo hurries to be hers. Until they start dancing with each other, there should be other people all around the room (on the stage), but as soon as Romeo says his first line, "If I profane..." they should all move into the background, the music (at the party) should die slowly into a soft beat. Romeo and Juliet will dance in he middle, up-stage, and this will show the audience who they should be looking at and listening to. The lighting would hover from a calm yellow, to subtle orange, then to a soft red, then eventually to a light pink. These colours remind me of a beautiful sunset, and also romance, so I think it will work well because of the softness. They should go behind a pillar on the right side of the stage to kiss to show they are hiding it from everyone else. Romeo should wear a mask all throughout, and pull it off just before they kiss, and they should both look into each other's eyes the whole time. This will show that they do not care about each other's bodies. Both would be in their party outfits- Juliet's should be in a long cream or white dress to show her purity, with red flowers or embroidery on it, also wearing red lipstick. Romeo's outfit should be a red or maroon velvet material, with a yellow belt and silver mask. This will make him look like a 'prince', and the red worn by both characters, emphasises the 'red' associated with romance. They should speak softly to each other, and when they speak it should not be as if this is their first meeting, but as if they have known each other for a lifetime. This will show the special connection they have straight away. ...read more.

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