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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.

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  1. Free essay

    romeo and juliet

    Romeo shows his true, inner feelings for Juliet by asking her to "Be not her maid...cast it off!" This is an imperative statement, as he wants her to liberate herself sexually. This symbolizes that Romeo does not just want to be with Juliet, but wants her to cast off her virginal clothes for him, instead of being Diana's maid. Overall, the evidence implies that Romeo's physical longing to be with and touch Juliet is very strong. Physical desire as well as strong emotional attachment is another dimension of Romeo's feelings for Juliet.

    • Word count: 2255
  2. 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
  3. Is the love between Romeo and Juliet true?

    In the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, a lot of romance is involved and is exemplary of their true love too. Juliet is incredibly anxious and eager to get married to Romeo even though she knows her family could never accept him into the family. This shows the strong bond they had and stuck by each other. "Come night, come, Romeo, come, thou day in night." Juliet expresses her feelings for Romeo in a romantic, passionate fashion. The above quote represents how she just cannot stop thinking about Romeo day and night and is constantly longing for him; almost as if she is rendered helpless without him.

    • Word count: 1200
  4. What techniques does Baz Luhrman the director of the 1997 film "Romeo And Juliet" use to make the opening scene effective

    The fire also shows the hatred between the two families. When the petrol station is on fire there's a poster burning which says "The 2nd brawl breaks between...." this shows that there is a lot of vendetta between the families. Luhrman's use of religion is to support the ancient grudge between the two families. At the very start of the movie there are two skyscrapers, one which belongs to the Capulets and the other to the Montague. In between the two skyscrapers there is a statue of Jesus. This shows the ancient grudge the families have had and the Holy war, therefore the statue of Jesus keeps the families away from each other to keep the peace.

    • Word count: 1252
  5. Consider the dramatic significance of Act 1, Scene 5

    In Act 1 Scene 1, two Capulet servants wander through the streets of Verona. They see servants from the house of Montague, they quarrel. This scene is opened by fighting; this is a dramatic opening and shows how deep the feud between the Montagues and Cauplets is. The speed in which the fighting breaks out prepares the audience for the way haste and speed plays a big part in the coming tragedy; the play starts on Sunday morning and ends on Thursday afternoon. This quarrel begins almost as a farce; biting your thumb at someone is an ancient Italian insult.

    • Word count: 1790
  6. The two directors Baz Lurhman and Zefferelli both presented the style, pace, tone and mood of the two Shakespeare film in different ways.

    They choose to stick to the normal text "draw for your sword" even though it's a gun. In the first scene the mood was aggressive. However In the other scenes it was tenser and calm and more romantic due to its focuses on Romeo and Juliet. Also, on the opening scene the tone was harsh and deep to start with to develop the feud between the two sworn enemies. Overall the tone is soft and sharp to build more effect on their romantic love scenes.

    • Word count: 1080
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. how Shakespeare presents conflicting attitudes to love in the play Romeo and Juliet

    Shakespeare uses the work of a poet called Petrach in the play. Petrach began his work in the 1300s, he wrote a particular type of poem which portrays all the characteristics of courtly love these were called Petrachian sonnets and Shakespeare uses these sonnets in the play and mainly in the poem Romeo writes to Rosaline confessing his love for her. Courtly love involves a lot of joy and pain and Romeo experiences the painful side in the first few scenes of the play when he is consumed by his love for Rosaline.

    • Word count: 1583
  10. Romeo and juliet

    Juliet tries to compliment the Nurse but her plan fails. The Nurse then goes on to describe how handsome Romeo is and how Juliet has an eye for men. The Nurse makes many sexual remarks which instantly gives tells us that she is more a friend than a parent figure. A general parent figure would have no sexual remarks of any kind and find them to be gruesome. Juliet's eagerness for news rises and eventually tells Juliet her great news indirectly. "Then hie you hence to Friar Lawrence's cell. there stays a husband to make you wife" This shows that the Nurse is at that point uncaring to Juliet as

    • Word count: 2156
  11. 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
  12. explore the role fate plays in romeo and juliet

    It is their misfortune that leads to the sorrowful and tragic ending of the play. It also says Romeo and Juliet are destined from the day that they are born, "from forth the fatal loins of these two foes a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life..." To these two ill-fated hostile families are born two lovers who are destined by the stars (as in fate) to disaster. In Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare is playing the role of fate and he has told the fate of the two lovers in the prologue. Shakespeare is showing that it is like normal peoples lives that fate has been decided for everyone.

    • Word count: 1689
  13. An essay on the play Romeo and Juliet

    When Romeo first appears he has a conversation with Benvolio, this tells the audience what is wrong with Romeo. Romeo tells Benvolio that his current state is because of unrequited love. Shakespeare shows Romeos emotions using a paradox "O brawling love, O loving hate" (the theme of love and hate is reoccurring through out the play) and "Feather of lead" these are examples of oxymoron's (a paradox reduced to two words), they show that Romeo is in a confused and perplexed state, this could mean that Romeo does not fully understand his love for Rosaline and is bewildered by it.

    • Word count: 1244
  14. 'All our sympathies are with Juliet because she receives very little help or guidance at home.' How true is this statement?

    But in Capulet's mind Juliet was still "a stranger in the world." Although Juliet was not told or consulted it appears that Capulet had her best interests at heart and was asking Paris to prolong the marriage, for another two years. Capulet thought that Juliet was still young and had more to learn. He asked Paris to wait for another two years not only because of the metal stress that awaited her but, because it could otherwise endanger her life as well as that of her child. He made this apparent as he stated "And too soon marr'd are those so early made".

    • Word count: 2109
  15. Romeo & Juliet (The Opening Scene)

    In the prologue the families are described as '...two households both a like in dignity' showing that however much hate there is between them they will always be the same. It also mentions '...an ancient grudge' and that '...civil blood makes civil hands unclean.' Telling us for years the blood and violence shared between them has destroyed the civilisation of Verona. It also introduces the love, of Romeo & Juliet, that could never be. Their love in the prologue is described as '...

    • Word count: 1081
  16. Explore the dramatic and poetic devices used by Shakespeare to portray Romeo and Juliet's experience of falling in love with each other

    out of the house, Juliet looks to her mother for support but alls eh says is that she should listen to her father. And even when she asks for the nurse's help she says that she better do what Lord Capulet says as she does not want to lose her job by going against what Lord Capulet, her employer and man of the house she works in. So although they might not agree with anything the man in charge says, they (the nurse and Lady Capulet)

    • Word count: 2130
  17. 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
  18. Discuss the theme of love in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet."

    In the second part of Act 1 Scene 1 lady Montague asks Benvolio about Romeo's strange behaviour. Benvolio questions Romeo, " What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours?" From Romeo's response Benvolio realises that Romeo is in love but he does not know whom with. Romeo is troubled by his love and he seems confused and bewildered. Romeo's lover Rosaline does not know that Romeo loves her. Romeo has just experienced what he believes to be true love but it is just a passion.

    • Word count: 1428
  19. ROmeo and Juliet

    This essay will focus on the different ideas Shakespeare portrays about love in Act 1 Scene 1, Act 1 Scene 5 and Act 2 Scene 2. Love is presented through family love and honour. The two houses 'Montague' and 'Capulet' are enemies in the play and they fight each other all the time to prove who is the better family. At the start of the play in Act 1 Scene 1 it begins with Sampson and Gregory, ' I will push Montague's men from the wall, and thrust their maids to the wall' Sampson says to Gregory.

    • Word count: 664
  20. romeo and juliet.Conflict plays an important part in this play and is used very often in several scenes

    This is important because a sonnet only speaks about love and death. The prologue tells us there will be death in the play, which is unusual as it gives away the story ending and ruins it in most circumstances however in this case it is used to get the audience interested and helps set the mood for the rest of the play. Act one scene one follows the prologue and the audience are already expecting a theme of love and hate which will most probably lead to violence and conflict.

    • Word count: 908
  21. How does Shakespeare present violence and conflict in 'Romeo and Juliet' with reference to Act3 Scene1?

    The Chorus points to the heads of these two families as the source of the strife at hand, the rage of their parents causing the deaths of their children. The play opens with the servants of the Montague and Capulet families quarrelling and fighting in the streets of Verona, Italy, Shaespeare immediately sets the tone of the play. The two families have been enemies for as long as anyone can remember. Romeo, son of Lord Montague, accidentally finds out about a ball given by Lord Capulet and plans to attend uninvited.

    • Word count: 1151
  22. Romeo and Juliet

    Old Montague is come, and flourishes his blade in spite of me". This quote just proves how eager the leaders are to fight and kill each other. It also shows the depth of their enmity. Another person to be blamed is Prince Escalus. Many readers may thing that the prince did the right and fair judgement by banishing Romeo from Verona. If this issue is looked in depth than we can see the prince made this judgement because he wanted Count Paris to marry Juliet as the prince was related to him.

    • Word count: 856
  23. Romeo and Juliet

    There is then a classic and passionate soundtrack which start's. This may be included as they decided to keep certain factors of the film the same as the play and this type of music would have been very popular back then. It may also be used to show how passionate the script is. Lastly it may show how much hatred there is between the two gang's as you can hate someone with a passion. After the fast zoom in, there is typography on a black background which reads IN FAIR VERONA with bold letters.

    • Word count: 2187
  24. Comment on how Romeo and Juliet use language to communicate their feelings about love until Act II, scene ii of the play

    Juliet also defies the convention by not marrying a man of her father's choosing. Despite the Capulets and Montagues long standing hatred for each other, fate coincidently brings Romeo and Juliet together. The play ends with tragic consequences as a result from the families hatred. Romeo and Juliet both sacrifice themselves for the power of love. Shakespeare uses numerous dramatic devices and language techniques to explore and convey Romeo and Juliet's emotions. Act I, scene i takes place after a riot between the Montagues and Capulets. Despite the uproar Romeo decides to take no participation in this argument as he is so infatuated by his desire for Rosaline.

    • Word count: 1912
  25. Romeo and Juliet Coursework Directing a Scene - Act 2 Scene 2 (Balcony Scene)

    Now I want both of you acting Romeo and Juliet to understand how your characters would be feeling in this scene. Romeo- you have just escaped from your friends who are jesting "at scars that have never felt a wound". To stop having to hear them teasing you, you have jumped over this wall, and you suddenly see your love - Juliet. Romeo when you say "what light through yonder window breaks?" it can be interpreted in two ways. One, that you quite literally; see a candle light in the window.

    • Word count: 2664

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