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Romeo and Juliet

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Zoey Is it necessary to have a full understanding of attitudes and Elizabethan England to fully understand Romeo and Juliet? Romeo and Juliet was written by William Shakespeare in 1592. Shakespeare based Romeo and Juliet on a poem by Arthur Brooke, "The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet", which was based on a story by Massucio Salerntino. Romeo and Juliet was Shakespeare's first success and was his first real attempt of writing a tragedy and unlike his later tragedies it has a light side. Shakespeare's version is regarded the best, due to the amazing language, poetic power and the exciting personalities that come to life throughout the play. This hasn't changed; it's still Shakespeare's most popular and successful play. The play is still relevant today because what happens in the play can still happen in real life, for example, people still hate each other for no reason or love people regardless. Although the play was set in Verona, there is no attempt to specifically portray the characteristics or customs of the country. Shakespeare could have set the action in Verona because around the time of the play, there was a huge voyage of discovery. Also, not many people travelled, so they relied on stories from people who did travel. ...read more.


This is where Mercutio's purpose may be more than comic relief. Shakespeare is not only detailing the customs of the time but is also commenting on them, through Mercutio's character. Shakespeare does this because if he said it himself, then he could get into trouble for offending or upsetting people, but if a character says it then it's only what the character says and is just their personality shining through, and the character dies anyway. Mercutio is particularly spiteful about courtly love. Courtly love was a fashion at the time that young men in love used to try to adopt in Shakespearean times. This posed included over-the-top language that men use in poems, expressing their feelings and is devastated if the woman frowns on them. For example Romeo is: "Out of her favour where I am in love." Shakespeare comments on this through the sarcasm of Mercutio but also through his early characterisation of Romeo. Shakespeare made courtly love seem ridiculous through early characterisation. Even though Romeo sticks to the rules of the time, he still annoys the audience: "I have lost myself, I am not here, this is not Romeo, he's some other where." When Romeo and Juliet first meet they share a sonnet together. ...read more.


In the first two hundred lines of the play we see violence, comedy and intrigue, which all contribute to the plot. Shakespeare cleverly adapts different characteristics and personalities to each character making them all individual and unique. Although we may not like Tybalt, we can still understand his views and him as a person. Also, we can understand Capulet when he tries to get Juliet to marry Paris, because he feels it's his duty and wants her to marry someone of her own status and so that he can leave her all of his belongings in his will: " Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought, so worthy a gentleman to be her bride." My favourite character is Mercutio, because he's funny and he speaks his mind and doesn't really care about the consequences. I also think Mercutio helps the audience understand the play more because he mocks and asks questions that an audience today would ask. In conclusion to the question for my essay, I think that to fully understand the play you do need to have a general understanding of the language and customs, but I don't think that it's essential. It would make it easier to understand and I think when you understand something you can appreciate it and maybe even enjoy it more. ...read more.

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