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Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare How does the Prologue and Act 1 Scene 1 prepare the Elizabethan audience for the rest of the play?

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Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare How does the Prologue and Act 1 Scene 1 prepare the Elizabethan audience for the rest of the play? In the Elizabethan era a wide and varied mix of people would attend the theatre. Some members of the audience would have attended the theatre to try and educate themselves because they could not afford formal education. Most of the Elizabethan audience members would have been illiterate and would not have come across any of Shakespeare's work, so they would have expected the Prologue to give them a brief summary of the play. The Elizabethan audience would have been strong believers of fate and the stars, so they would have understood and accepted the idea of "star cross'd lovers". Though the audience would have a range of sophistication they would all have been able to relate to at least one of the characters. The lower classes would relate to the servants in the play because of their love for rude humour, "Ay the heads of the maids or their maiden heads", and the middle/upper class to the characters of Tybalt, Benvolio and Romeo. A prologue is the first speech that is presented in a play. You would normally expect a prologue to give you an overview of the play and possibly introduce some of the characters. ...read more.


This prepares the audience for the fighting and feuding that is to come throughout the play, for example, when Romeo kills Paris in Juliet's tomb. Humour is used at the beginning of Act1 Scene1 to not only show the Capulets obvious disdain for the Montagues but also to show the fact that the servants are low class commoners and that is why they use rude humour, "Tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh". "Draw if you be men" this quote not only instigates a fight it also challenges the Montagues servants' masculinity. Benvolio is presented as a peace keeper in Act 1 Scene1 to prepare the audience for his further attempts at keeping the peace, in Act 1 Scene 1 this is shown when he tries to put a stop to the servants fighting "part fools, put up your sword you know not what you do." He would also have been seen as empathetic when Romeo tells him about his woes, and when asked "dost thou not laugh" he replies "No coz I rather weep". Benvolio's traits as a peacekeeper affects the life of Romeo, when he has slain Tybalt and the Capulets wanted his blood without hearing the full story. "His fault concludes but what the law should end the life of Tybalt." ...read more.


It leads to the death of servants in fights like the brawl in the beginning of Act 1 Scene 1, relatives such as Tybalt and Mercutio, who favoured the Montagues over the Capulets, on both sides culminating to the most heartbreaking death of all the children of the families, Romeo and Juliet. There is a great deal of contrast in this opening scene, Act 1 Scene1, from the beginning where the house of Montague and the house of Capulet are fighting, to the end of the scene where Benvolio and Romeo are talking about love. Also there is contrast between the characters such as the emotional and lovesick Romeo, and Tybalt the hot headed fiery Capulet. To answer the question, yes I think Shakespeare was very successful in preparing the Elizabethan audience for the rest of the play. In the Prologue he immediately introduces the two families and their rankings. He also informs the audience that there will be love, death and hatred all revolving around an ancient feud between the two families. In Act 1 Scene 1 we meet four of the main characters who give us further information about the feuding families and also give an insight to themselves and their mannerisms. This scene shows how the play will pan out; in relation to fighting in the forms of the servants, and unrequited love in the form of Romeo pining over Rosaline. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rochelle Findley 10L 19/02/2009 1 ...read more.

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