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AS and A Level: Romeo & Juliet

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The social and historical context of 'Romeo and Juliet'

  1. 1 William Shakespeare was born in 1564 – He was a very successful poet and playwright in his own lifetime and is probably the most well-known English writer.
  2. 2 Romeo and Juliet is probably his best known play and was based on a poem – it is not based on a true story.
  3. 3 In Elizabethan times girls could be married as young as twelve. They were considered the property of their father until they married and then they became the property of their husband.
  4. 4 The Elizabethans would have recognised the theme of fate (star cross’d lovers) as they believed that a person’s destiny was already written in the stars and there was little an individual could do to change their destiny.
  5. 5 Romeo and Juliet was written to be performed in a theatre and the prologue makes it clear that this is not a real story.

Shakespeare's ideas and expression

  1. 1 Romeo and Juliet would be recognised by the audience as being a ‘romantic tragedy’ following Aristotle’s definition of tragedy that includes a cathartic experience for the audience who would leave the theatre feeling better after releasing emotion.
  2. 2 Shakespeare created dramatic events to entertain the audience and quickly switches from one event to another. As the audience know more than the characters do about the plot, dramatic irony increases the pathos and drama.
  3. 3 Themes include love, hatred, violence, death and fate. There are also comic scenes.
  4. 4 Most of the play is written in blank verse but includes prose, rhyming couplets and sonnets.
  5. 5 Shakespeare included a range of techniques including puns, similes, metaphors and personification.

Key things to remember when writing essays on Shakespeare's plays

  1. 1 Use PEA – point, evidence and analysis in essays. Ensure you are supporting all of your points with an appropriate quote from the play.
  2. 2 Refer to the essay question in the introduction and conclusion.
  3. 3 Use topic sentences at the beginning of paragraphs to refer back to the question and to inform the reader what is going to be in the paragraph.
  4. 4 Use terminology accurately when analysing Shakespeare’s language.
  5. 5 Information on tragedy as a genre should be included in the main body of the essay.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 12
  • Peer Reviewed essays 1
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    Romeo and Juliet is a play about conflict. By exploring Act 3 scene 5 explain how this theme is presented.

    3 star(s)

    Lord Capulet throws some insults at Juliet such as "green-sickness carrion" and "you baggage" which shows Capulet can be an abusive and angry natured character. He also manages to insult Juliet by mimicking her with such words as "I'll not wed, I am too young to love" which shows Capulet mocking Juliet's feelings. As soon as Juliet realises that Capulet refuses her wishes she turns to her mother which she is not as close to present day mothers and daughters and yet her mother lady Capulet "is she not down so late, or up so early" which shows they have a distant relationship as Juliet's mother does not often see her.

    • Word count: 802
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Interview of Friar Lawrence and Nurse after Romeo and Juliet's' Deaths

    3 star(s)

    I tried my best to unite two people who were very much in love. Yes, I did perform the marriage ceremony but I did it in good faith, I never knew what atrocities it would bring about. I also tried to help Romeo and Juliet when they were in trouble. After Romeo was exiled I helped arrange his escape to Mantua, for, you understand it might be possible for them to meet there. When I gave Juliet the drug I thought that I was doing the right thing. She was in a mess, she couldn't tell her parents so with my knowledge of herbal remedies I supplied her with the draught.

    • Word count: 858
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Describe the relationship between Juliet and her parents.

    3 star(s)

    Here we see that the relationship between Juliet and her parents is wearing out because when she is in love with Romeo she goes to the nurse for advice and does not bring her parents into it. Juliet's dad is a very unhappy person because he is worried when Juliet refused to marry Paris. Juliet does not want to marry Paris this is because she is in love with Romeo. She does not like Paris because of his act in the story.

    • Word count: 479
  4. Marked by a teacher

    For whom do you feel most sympathy in the play, Romeo and Juliet?

    3 star(s)

    The nurse, very close to Juliet, betrayed her at a very crucial moment; `I think it best you married with the County. ` It would have been heart wrenching for her to know that she let Juliet die without being on the best of terms with her. In some ways I feel the most sympathy for the Friar as he has the deaths of both Romeo and Juliet on his shoulders. He devised that plan that lead the young couple to their deaths and that in itself is a big burden.

    • Word count: 650
  5. Peer reviewed

    Is lord Capulet a good father?

    4 star(s)

    Lord Capulet clearly loves his daughter very much but this love is contrasted to his great temper. In my essay I am going to argue the good points of Lord Capulet as a father as well as the bad. We can see that Capulet loves Juliet very much from the way he speaks about her to Paris in act 2 scene 2 'stranger in the world.' This shows he is protective of her. He wants her to be happy and shows his affection, 'she's the hopeful lady of my earth.' 'Woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart.'

    • Word count: 612
  6. Romeo and Juliet: Give Me Love or Give Me Death

    Romeo is the most memorable of all the characters. At first, the reader might admire him for his passion and zest for life. However, as the play unfolds, Romeo proves to be dangerously impulsive, and this flaw in his personality brings about the tragic ending. Romeo acts impulsively throughout act one which takes place at the Capulet's party. The entire day Romeo is gloomy and sad about his unrequited love for Rosaline. He conveys his heavy heart saying, "I have a soul of lead/ so stakes me to the ground I cannot move" (1.4 15-16).

    • Word count: 620
  7. Themes introduced my Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet

    To cry, "A plague on both your houses!" in that day and age was an extreme insult, and considered as a curse on not just ones self, but on an entire family (or "house"). The black plague was extremely prominent, burned into the minds of the English. It had wiped out more than a third of Europe's population, and had crippled many prominent families. To utter such words was to curse ones family to suffer from the plague, effectively resulting in the death of various people.

    • Word count: 741
  8. Romeo and Juliet essay

    Juliet received a potion to take before the wedding that would make her appear as if she was dead. Friar Lawrence told her that Romeo would be at the tomb to rescue her from the tragedy. The plan seemed like it was going to work but Romeo thought she was actually dead. This tragedy of infatuation combined with Juliet's bad decisions and communication in solving problems resulted in the unnecessary deaths of Romeo and Juliet. In the play, Juliet agrees to marry Romeo, her family's moral enemy. Although Juliet barely knows Romeo she believes she is truly in love.

    • Word count: 581
  9. Fictional Obituary: Romeo and Juliet

    He also won the award for being the most handsome and good looking youngster of Verona. Although his death caused a lot of grievance, it had a positive outcome also. His death caused the end of the hostility between the Montagues and Capulets. He is survived by his father and mother. God bless his soul. Paris Escalus Paris Escalus sadly died on 21st October 1602.

    • Word count: 501
  10. Free essay

    Examine the ways in which what has happened up to Act 3 of the play. Is Friar Lawrence to blame for making this decision?

    His intentions seem good but he is too positive in the marriage of Romeo and Juliet, thinking it will bring the two feuding families together. Tragically, the two families do restore peace at last, but the price is the death of the two couples. Though being cunning and cautious throughout the play, Friar Lawrence is depicted as a coward for not admitting his failure to his plan and escapes at the end, leaving Juliet alone in the tomb. Friar Lawrence plays an important role in "Romeo & Juliet".

    • Word count: 739
  11. romeo presented to the audience

    Benvolio and Montague are both concerned about Romeo's recent behaviour because he has not been acting himself lately. Montague reveals 'Away from light steals home my heavy son'. This presents Romeo as a character who locks himself out of regularity and is constantly feeling sorry for him. His father feels that he needs to depend on others to remove him from this extraordinary insecurity. Benvolio comments 'Towards him I made, but he was ware of me', this shows that Romeo is feeling unsociable at he moment as well as out of character. Romeo also unexpectedly admits that in recent times he has not been himself 'Tut, I have lost myself, I am not here, this is not Romeo, he's some other where' Romeo is presented to the audience as quite timid and introverted.

    • Word count: 538
  12. baz lurhman

    The camera zooms towards the TV and as it does a female news reader gives a vivid account of what is happening and what to expect in the plot, yet to unfold. She is a middle aged woman of Caribbean culture and has the ability to present her narrative in a clear diction. This also shows the audience the film has been updated because up until 25 years ago the black race were a 2nd class race across countries and in Shakespeare's time the black race would not have been in one of his plays.

    • Word count: 974
  13. Free essay

    Romeo + Juliet Review

    Love at first sight - what a surprise. Most people would find that over time, in this instance four centuries, the average lifestyle tends to differ slightly, in similar fashion the people of this day and age (particularly the younger generations) do not seem to grasp an understanding of Shakespearean culture. Enter Baz Lurmann's master plan. The idea consists of the simple conception that if the audience has evolved the story should require a similar adjustment. Lurmann uses the same Shakespearean language but with a dramatically modernised setting.

    • Word count: 639
  14. How Lord Capulets reaction to Juliet changed through out the play

    This implies that she is all he has and he doesn't care about anything else but her happiness. Capulet also shows his affection by refusing to marry her to Paris "my child is yet a stranger in the world, she hath not seen the change of fourteen years, let two more summers wither in their pride. Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride" he does this because he wants to protect her because he thinks she is too young for Paris and marriage this shows that he loves her. In Act 3 scene 4 Capulet loves and wants to cheer her up for `Tybalts death`, and intends to marry her to

    • Word count: 546
  15. Romeo And Juliet

    Lady Capulet is very sympathetic towards her daughter in this scene and tells her that her father's plans will make her feel better. This is when Lord Capulet (Juliet's father) enters her bedroom and tells Juliet his plans to have her married to Paris on Thursday. This is when the argument occurs between father and daughter because Juliet refuses to marry Paris. In Elizabethan times this was considered to be very wrong on the daughter's part because Elizabethan women were dominated by the men in the family the women were seen to be inferior to men.

    • Word count: 727
  16. Romeo and Juliet

    believes this is the only way to be with Juliet, she awakens to find her lover dead And strikes a dagger to the heart, to be with Romeo. In the balcony scene, where they declare their love for each other, Romeo sees Juliet on her balcony and declares his love for her. When she sees Romeo she is surprised but he reassures her. She declares her love for him. Romeo climbs up onto her balcony to kiss her good night and they agree to marry in the next day.

    • Word count: 651
  17. Examine Shakespeares use of language in Act 2 scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet. How do events in this scene foreshadow the end of the play?

    This gives u the idea that Romeo falls in and out of love very quickly and easily. This is proved as he was madly in love with Rosaline, and got over her after just one meeting with Juliet. In act 2 scene 2 Romeo praises Juliet many times. This is revealed when Romeo says 'Juliet is the sun', this could mean that he thinks she brightens everything up, also this could mean that everything evolves around her. Alternatively it could mean that where she is there is light, but there is always going to be darkness on the other side.

    • Word count: 975
  18. Romeo and Juliet

    An example of this is; Romeo: "but soft what light from yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun." This phrase implies that Shakespeare is asking the audience to imagine its dark and its night time and all they can see is a bright light appearing from above. This bright light suggests that she is life giving and beautiful, all eyes are drawn up to her in the theatre. Shakespeare uses positional language, such as, Romeo: "Thou art as glorious to this night being over his head." This suggests that Juliet is on a balcony high above the stage and Romeo is below her.

    • Word count: 889
  19. Free essay

    Explore the relationship that Romeo an Juliet have with their parents throughout the play.

    This shows the audience their hostile relationship. This is already showing that the nurse appears far more motherly to Juliet than Lady Capulet. Lady Capulet continues to 'speak briefly' and questions Juliet about the possibility of love for Paris, a man she has not met. In the sixteenth century marriage played a strong part in a young 'girl's' life, whether she had meet the man or not, if it was a suitable match she would be wedded to keep her families status high and marry into money.

    • Word count: 300
  20. different types of love in romeo and juliet

    This illustrates Shakespeare's perception of love as being more of lust than love because in the patriarchal society, love wasn't really established; people only got married without love or just had women for pleasures. A good example of this is the relationship between lord and lady Capulet.

    • Word count: 418
  21. Romeo And Juliet - Juliets Reaction To Romeo

    Their first meeting is set up in a Sonnet form. This is a fourteen line poem. The sonnet is divided to equal parts. Shakespeare does that to show us that Romeo and Juliet communicate amazingly well for a first meeting. Shakespeare also uses the metaphor of a pilgrim to show Romeo's love to Juliet. Romeo describes himself as a pilgrim going to a holy place, in this case Juliet. Once the pilgrim reaches the place he loves and respects the place just like Romeo intends to do with Juliet.

    • Word count: 434
  22. How does Shakespeare make Act 3 Scene 5 dramatic in romeo and juliet?

    Weddings were arranged usually by the father of the household; mainly choosing a wealthy man to suit his daughter. Most children from rich and influential families were cared for by a Wet Nurse; normally a lady who had lost a child previously so she would care for another child as if it were her own. As Juliet grew up her wet nurse became a very important figure in her life. William Shakespeare creates tension when Capulet sends Lady Capulet to Juliet's room to tell her of the marriage they have planned for her. The audience knows that Romeo and Juliet are married and actually in bed together.

    • Word count: 724
  23. How does Shakespeare show different attitudes to love in Romeo and Juliet

    I am going to start my essay by looking at the way Romeo feels for Rosaline. "Benvolio: In love ? Romeo: Out- Benvolio: Of love ? Romeo: Out of he favour, where I am in love." This conversation between the characters Romeo and Benvolio shows that Romeo understands Rosaline does not feel the way about him, as he does about her, he knows he is experiencing unrequited love. The language Romeo is using when talking about his "love" for Rosaline is depressing which contrasts compared to the happiness and enjoyment usually associated with love. "Romeo: Alas, that love whose view is muffled still" The use of the word muffled suggests that Romeos outlook on love is becoming unclear, and we are starting to see evidence of his uncertainties.

    • Word count: 771
  24. English: Shakespeare Coursework Assignment

    Shakespeare deliberately includes a sonnet at the beginning of the play to engage the interest of the audience and for the uneducated people to have an understanding of what would happen in the course of the play. Another technique which Shakespeare uses for making the play dramatically interesting for the audience is the use of conflict. Shakespeare uses conflict throughout the play to keep the audience on their toes. However, the audience would be expecting conflict from the start of the play because in the sonnet, it says "From ancient grudge break to new mutiny" and "The fearful passage of their death marked love."

    • Word count: 785
  25. Romeo and Juliet 2 - I will be comparing and contrasting Act I Scene I of the text of Romeo and Juliet

    The text starts after a prologue," Do you bite your thumbs at us sir?" this is written in archaic language, this shows that William Shakespeare wrote the play during the Elizabethan times. Characters such as Gregory, Sampson, Abraham, Benvolio, Officer, Capulet, Lady Capulet, Montague, Lady Montague, Prince and Tybalt are involved in Act One Scene One, which have a result in the overall plot of the play; the two characters Gregory and Sampson are blamed for causing another brawl in the market place.

    • Word count: 677

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Discuss Shakespeare's use of the chorus in Romeo and Juliet paying particular attention to the language and its dramatisation.

    "If there was no prologue the story may be a bit confusing as the plot thickens the audience would be baffled as to what's going on. The ending would not be as effective as the audience wouldn't know they were going to die so it would be a shock, and they then would not realise how cleverly produced the play was to come to this conclusion in such an exciting and eventful way. By Claire Brocklesby"

  • Analyse and comment on the success of the title sequence of Baz Luhrmann's 1997 film adaptation of 'Romeo & Juliet'.

    "In conclusion, considering all the areas of the title scene, Baz Luhrmann has successfully given birth to a fantastic opening to Romeo and Juliet. The title scene underlines key aspects of the sonnet which opens the play, to help the people in the audience who don't understand Shakespeare and even the ones who do. He introduces the principle characters, again to stop the audience from getting confused. The use of exciting images, such as the gun and the images of police and violence makes certain people in the audience stay and not walk out because they may believe it to be boring; many teenagers would believe Shakespeare to be boring. The opening scene had a very strong effect on me personally. It really made me want to see the movie again, even though I had already seen it about three times. The scene gripped me and not many title scenes have done that to me. Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet was a complete success. Alex Kirshbaum"

  • Discuss the relationship between Capulet and his daughter Juliet in the play 'Romeo and Juliet'.

    "In conclusion to my essay the relationship isn't very strong. They don't know much about each other, they don't trust each other and aren't very close. Shakespeare puts the two characters in different situations to let us think this and gives both of them very strong personalities. I think Shakespeare has written about this kind of relationship because of the way his family might have treated him or maybe because he didn't like the way fathers were allowed to treat their daughters."

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