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How does Act 1 set the stage for Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

How does Act 1 set the stage for Romeo and Juliet? The prologue at the beginning of the play outlines the plot and subtly tells the reader what is going to happen. It gives an indication that tragedy is inevitable and written in the stars "star-crossed lovers" and "fatal loins". This passage is full of oxymorons such as love/hate which leaves an ominous feeling as you begin the play. Romeo is first introduced to us wandering around in Verona. "Is the day so young?" He did not take part in the violence which shows he is a peaceful person. He complains that Rosaline (a Capulet girl) whom he loves does not love him in return. He says "out of her favour where I am in love" describing his despair at the situation. ...read more.

Middle

The couple soon discover their love is not going to be easy and society will not accept their feelings for each other. "My only love sprung from my only hate." This quote is Juliet deciding that she will love Romeo even though she has been taught that all Montagues are evil. They decide to get married immediately even though they know this would be against their parents' wishes. There is also the complication that the audience know Capulet has agreed to let Paris marry Juliet. This is dramatic irony. This also sets the stage for the rest if the play as we see the problems that are going to befall Romeo and Juliet that will eventually lead to their deaths. Throughout the first act we get sense of violence in Verona. ...read more.

Conclusion

Showing the violence and division in Verona sets the stage for disaster. The first act has a sombre mood for Romeo as he seems to foreshadow his own death more than once; "by some vile forfeit of untimely death." Romeo says this after reluctantly agreeing to go to Capulet's party. It is this party that leads to his death as he meets Juliet there. Juliet also makes comments such as "my grave is like to be my wedding bed." Constantly having little reminders and predictions of the lover's deaths makes us nervous about their fate and the rest of the play. The first act ends after Romeo and Juliet have just met. Their meeting and instant love is surprising and the way their families hate each other is sad for the reader. By leaving the reader feeling that their relationship is special and different, Shakespeare gives a hint of how the play is going to develop in the next acts. ...read more.

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