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Romeo and Juliet, "A Tragedy of Haste"?

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Romeo and Juliet, "A Tragedy of Haste"? Luigi da Porto originally wrote "Romeo and Juliet" in a prose format. Shakespeare took the basic story line and transformed it into a play. The affair of the two lovers lasted a period of several months in the original prose whereas Shakespeare dramatised the play into a period of five days. This could well have been a deliberate ploy on Shakespeare's part to emphasis the tragic nature of the story. The action begins shortly before nine o'clock on a Sunday morning in the middle of July and ends at dawn the following Thursday. The time of events in the play is very precisely accounted for. The only discrepancy is in the matter of the sleeping potion. Friar Laurence tells Juliet that she will awake forty-two hours after she takes it and on Wednesday morning he sees her asleep from the potion, but on Wednesday night, about twenty-four hours after she has taken the potion, he expects her to awake soon, and she does. Shakespeare's play opens with a prologue. It tells us twice that Romeo and Juliet will fall in love, die, and so bring about the end of the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. ...read more.


/ There stays a husband to make you a wife." While Friar Laurence and Romeo are waiting for Juliet to arrive, the Friar advises Romeo to "love moderately; long love doth so; / Too swift as tardy as too slow" but just then Juliet appears, running as swiftly as she can to her love. After seeing Romeo at the Capulets party, Tybalt, Prince of Cats, had sent a challenge of a dual to Romeo. At first Romeo refuses but is forced to avenge Mercutio's murder. Romeo kills Tybalt an hour after his marriage to Juliet and is immediately banished by the Prince. Romeo flees to Friar Laurence's cell. The Friar tells Romeo to go to Juliet. He says a hasty farewell to the Friar and hurries away. Meanwhile, Paris once again comes to Capulet to ask for Juliet's hand in marriage. At first Capulet says that Juliet is mourning the death of Tybalt and that it is late, but Capulet is a hasty man and suddenly decides that the marriage should go ahead. As soon as he has decided that Juliet will marry Paris he starts making the arrangements. He says, "Wife, go you to her ere you go to bed; / Acquaint her here of my son Paris' love". ...read more.


As the entire play takes place in a period of five days Shakespeare includes characters, which have great depth. He uses them to keep the plot realistic. He makes especial use of the Nurse and Capulet. He successfully uses their emotions to put Juliet and her Romeo into perspective. Shakespeare also makes it clear that Capulet is an old man although he has a daughter just out of childhood and a wife of twenty-eight years or so. At the party Capulet says, " I have seen the day / That I have worn a visor and could tell / A whispering tale in a fair lady's ear, / Such as would please. 'Tis gone, 'tis gone, 'tis gone!" This contrast between youth and age is deliberate, as Shakespeare wanted to emphasis the fading energy of youth. Overall it cannot be disputed that Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy of haste. It is a tragedy as it sees the death of five characters: Mercutio, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet and Lady Montague. It is hasty because of the personalities of Tybalt and of Capulet, Friar Laurence's actions and Romeo and Juliet's passionate love for each other. I believe it would have been impossible for Shakespeare to create such an intense plot with such varying emotions if it had remained in its original form rather than being compressed into a time-span of just five days. ...read more.

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