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AS and A Level: Romeo & Juliet
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The social and historical context of 'Romeo and Juliet'
- 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 Romeo and Juliet is probably his best known play and was based on a poem – it is not based on a true story.
- 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 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 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 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 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 Themes include love, hatred, violence, death and fate. There are also comic scenes.
- 4 Most of the play is written in blank verse but includes prose, rhyming couplets and sonnets.
- 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 Use PEA – point, evidence and analysis in essays. Ensure you are supporting all of your points with an appropriate quote from the play.
- 2 Refer to the essay question in the introduction and conclusion.
- 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 Use terminology accurately when analysing Shakespeare’s language.
- 5 Information on tragedy as a genre should be included in the main body of the essay.
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
a impede to this Friar Lawrence took things in to his own hands, and tried to interlace a bond between the two households by marrying Romeo, and Juliet, however he does not stop think of the consequences he is creating by performing the marriage in covert, nevertheless also in two shakes of a lamb's tail he supplies Juliet with a solution in order to 'fake' her own death, which Romeo should have known about, but was not informed of as the letter Friar Lawrence sent did not reach him in time, inconsequence leading him to accept as true that Juliet was now dead, and consequently committing his own suicide.
- Word count: 1529
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
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
Although Capulet changes his mind, this is due to the fact that Juliet is extremely upset. Her parents believe this is because her cousin, Tybalt, was murdered. This is actually far from the real reason. The real reason was that it was Romeo who murdered him and therefore is due to be executed when found. At this time, Juliet is married to Romeo and is also worried about what her parents would think if they were to find out as Romeo was a Montague, Capulet's enemy.
- Word count: 1661
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
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
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
Compare the way Shakespeare presents the love between Romeo and Rosaline with that of Romeo and Juliet
The fact that he feels as if time is standing still, suggests that he is depressed and in despair. The use of language in which Romeo uses to talk about Rosaline is highly fashionable, the fact that Romeo uses many different techniques i.e. oxymoron's in the following lines express that he is in deep contemplation. "Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!" These words indicate that he is thinking too much and that his feelings for Rosaline are not coming from his heart.
- Word count: 1790
get into a fight, household against household which is then broken up by Benvolio, 'Put up your swords, you know what to do'. When he says this, it brings the realisation that they are in public, but the hot headed Tybalt does not agree and wants to fight. He says, 'Peace? I hate the word' and they fight again. This is only then broken up by the officers, and Prince, even though the heads of the families arrive and actually want to fight each other themselves!
- Word count: 1487
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
However the play begins as Romeo is pining for another girl he professes to be in love with, Rosaline. She represents the petrarchan ideal; an unattainable woman Romeo idolises and rarefies, who his love for is unrequited - a direct contrast with the immediate mutual amorousness he and Juliet share. Here, Shakespeare chooses to depict teenage love as melodramatic, superficial and fickle. Romeo seems to almost obsess over Rosaline, though only upon her good looks and the fact that she has decided to 'remain chaste' despite his advances upon her.
- Word count: 1113
This was because in the time period it was common for fathers to choose their daughters husbands from a pool of possible suitors. This is because Capulet thinks the wedding will make her happy after the death of her cousin Tybalt, as she has really been upset about Romeo's banishment. However when Juliet informs Capulet that she would not like to get married to Paris and her parents get quite angry with Lady Capulet saying that " I would the fool were married to her grave".
- Word count: 1556
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
"Away with the joint stools, remove the court cupboard". Parties were traditionally used as settings for important events in many dramas at the time Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet and as such the audience would be anticipating an exciting or important event so the scene would be set for the star-crossed lovers to meet. As Lord Capulet and Juliet enters the room Shakespeare changes the focus from the servants to Lord Capulet welcoming his guests it is at this point that the audience is beginning that something pivotal is about to happen.
- Word count: 1486
Shakespeare had very little props to produce a scenery and didn't consist of back drops for each act and scene. So he heavily relied on the spectacular costuming and words the actors spoke. Women would never be seen on stage as it was perceived as prostitution. I suggest if I were directing the play for a modern audience, I would present Capulet as a very confident, assuring man; he would take power of the stage and be seen very dominant but affectionate.
- Word count: 1376
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
Juliet wakes up and after seeing Romeo's body she kills herself. The set they used was very simple, set out on stage left was a table with a flowery cloth on it, in the centre of the stage was a black box making it look quite simple and old fashioned, this had a sword in it, at the back was obviously a backdrop, where the actors changed and also was a music player. The music was very carefully chosen and really set a goof atmosphere, the costumes made it very obvious of the time this played would have taken place.
- Word count: 1218
What does Shakespeare achieve with regard to characterisation, pot development and atmosphere in Act I Scene V
There is no plot development yet as none is needed just to set the scene. 'More light you knaves and turn the tables up' Between lines thirty-three and forty-two Shakespeare presents Capulet talking to his cousin, this shows the audience he is a friendly and reasonable kind of person. There isn't any6 plot development here although it does develop the characters personality further more. Capulet is not talking about anything important, he is just setting the scene of the party and making the atmosphere more light hearted.
- Word count: 1491
Romeo goes on by comparing Juliet's eyes to the stars he says, "Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven," claiming that she eclipses the stars as daylight overpowers a lamp. Her eyes alone shine so bright that they will convince the birds to sing at night as if it were day he says, "birds would sing at night and think it were not night." At this moment Romeo has a look of desperation as he is looking at the silhouette of Juliet in her window and wishes to see speak and touch her.
- Word count: 2794
On the other hand, Zeffirelli wanted to keep as close to the time of Shakespeare, as possible. He set it in a town centre, with market stalls around. Zeffirelli wanted to get across the clear division of the families. You were either a Montague or a Capulet, there was no in between, I think this shows how damaging and serious the violence was. When the bell was rung in the town, it displayed the clear involvement of the whole town,, it also shows the rivalry and hatred between the families, when they raced out with swords, when the brawl broke out.
- Word count: 1136
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
The Capulets and Montagues were the strongest of enemies. This formed a barrier between Romeo and Juliet's love because they were from those families. Juliet being a Capulet and Romeo being a Montague would have made it impossible for their families to allow their love to prolong. In the Elizabethan period, there were arranged marriages and the daughter had to respect her parents' wishes to whom they chose her to marry, this is clearly shown in 'Romeo and Juliet' as the Capulets try to make her marry Paris.
- Word count: 2350
They liked watching plays written by William Shakespeare and was acted out at the globe theatre. It was important for Shakespeare to make his plays exciting as possible because people would regularly go to the theatre to watch his plays and did not like to see the same play to many times over. An audience in the 16th century would have liked "Romeo and Juliet" because it had a very interesting tale about two people who fell in love despite there family feud which is mixed with feelings of love and violence and has a sad ending to it.
- Word count: 1436
Love and hate. They do however cause a lot of other ongoing themes such as pride, loyalty and family. They also extend into different types of love and hatred. We see the love grow from something sexual into something physical and as it does we also see the hatred grow from something petty and violent into a deep set full on loathing. All very powerful and dangerous emotions as we see in the play. The prologue was written in sonnet form, which was very popular in 1595.
- Word count: 2085