Romeo and Juliet - summary
Romeo and Juliet Coursework
For my English coursework, I have been studying the Shakespeare play “Romeo and Juliet”. “Romeo and Juliet” is a romantic tragedy. The plot chronicles two star-crossed lovers, which belong to two feuding families, the “Capulet” family and the “Montague” family. For the two to be happy they must deceive their families. This is done with the help of Juliet’s maid and Friar Lawrence. The dramatic play concludes tragically as the couple die, together, in a sad twist of fate.
The scene I have chosen to dramatise and direct, as on stage is, Act 1 Scene5. During this scene the two main characters, Romeo and Juliet, meet at the Capulet’s masked ball. Romeo sees Juliet and is infatuated, he then follows her. Meanwhile Tybalt, a highly respected, powerful Capulet, discovers that Romeo, a Montague, is at the party, “Tis he the villain Romeo”. Tybalt is told not to pursue Romeo and let him be, by Sir Capulet “It fits when such a villain is a guest; I shall not endure him”. Approaching the end of the scene Romeo finds Juliet. He takes her behind a curtain, and tries to kiss her “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss”, She gives in after playing hard to get, and the two kiss twice. Juliet’s maid then interrupts and tells Juliet that her mother wants to talk to her “Madam your mother craves a word with you.” Juliet goes, and Romeo leaves the party. At the end of the scene Juliet asks her maid what was Romeo’s name, She answers, “His name is Romeo, and a Montague; The only son of your great enemy”. On that note the scene ends.
In the scene leading up to this, the Montague’s were deciding whether or not to crash the Capulet’s party. We find out more about Romeo’s best friend and companion Mercutio, this character plays a large role in this scene, and also later in the play. Romeo then enters the party disguised in a mask.
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In the scene following on from mine, the party has ended and Romeo intrudes into the forecourts of the Capulet Mansion. Romeo then goes to Juliet’s balcony. Then the sentence that is most well known, “ O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I'll no longer be a Capulet.” is proclaimed. This is an example of irony, because Romeo is actually hidden very near the balcony from which she is speaking. She then encounters him later in the scene Romeo and the two embrace romantically before nearly being caught.
During Act 1 Scene 5 we discover some important information about some of the main characters, such as Romeo, Juliet, Juliet’s Nurse and Tybalt. We learn that Romeo has strong feelings towards his newfound love Juliet, and he seems anxious to pursue these feelings. We also learn that Romeo is about nineteen years old. He is also a Montague, and only son of his father Sir Montague. Juliet is young but is mature, she is about thirteen years old. She is a Capulet. Also she is the only daughter of Sir Capulet. This proves a difficulty later in the story. Tybalt is the “henchman” of Sir Capulet. He is very powerful and seems to be second in command to Sir Capulet. Juliet’s nurse is understanding of Juliet’s new found love. She is he one who walks into the two would be lovers first embrace. She accepts that Romeo is a Montague, the enemy of the family she works for, and doesn’t hold it against him. She actually acts as a go between, later in the story. She is the one who delivers the news to Juliet, that Romeo is a Montague.
In this scene I am trying to draw out the love and passion of the two characters. I want to show that even though the two families despise each other, Romeo and Juliet would put that behind them, as their love is so strong. I want to point out that Romeo is infatuated with Juliet and the audience should be aware of this. “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear; beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear! So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows, as yonder lady o'er her fellows shows. The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand, and, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand. Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.” This is what Romeo says when he first sets eyes on Juliet, and it is a great example that he is infatuated with her.
The context I have chosen to set my scene in is the 20th century (present day). This is because I feel it is an practical and realistic time to set the play. It would be easy to find props and costumes, as they would be the ones everyone is using at the moment. Also actors wouldn’t have to put on any old fashioned voices, they could speak as they would at any other time.
On my stage, the set (scenery and furniture) would consist of the following items; the main set would be a large ballroom with a large elaborate staircase being the centre of attention, here would be a chandelier, grand piano, a buffet table, and a posh settee. It would have a large dance floor, and a long dining table with silver cutlery and chairs for all the guests. Lastly my set would have a bar with stools placed around it.
I have chosen my set to be a ballroom as this portrays the Capulet’s well. The Capulet’s and the Montague’s are described as the two most powerful, most well off families in the whole of Verona. So at one of the Capulet’s parties it would have to be very posh, big and flamboyant. I am also trying to create an atmosphere of style, authority and high class, as the Capulet’s are a well respected family. All the furniture would have to be top of the range and the food would have to be gourmet style, as this what would be expected of a family of such authority.
The costumes would be modern but still very sophisticated. The women would be wearing cocktail dresses, high (stiletto) heels and a corsage. The men would be dressed in expensive black tuxedos with a bowtie and black shoes. Lastly, the waiters would be wearing a reversed tuxedo (white jacket with a black shirt), bowtie and black shoes. Romeo would be wearing a tuxedo with gold cufflinks and his hair would be slightly gelled straight with a quiff. Juliet would be wearing a black silk cocktail dress with a revealing slit up the side, her hair would be let down, lastly she would be wearing some gold jewellery and a diamond necklace. This would indicate the family was of high class. My actors/actresses would be dressed like this as the party because it is a posh ball room party and is well organised in high society, the actors would have to match the scenery around them otherwise they would look out of place.
At the start of my scene the characters would all cascade down the staircase and Romeo would go to the bar. Juliet would firstly go to the settee with her date and then on to the dance floor. Romeo will first set eyes on her here. Tybalt and the Capulet’s would be in a corner watching over everyone. All the guest would be spread out all over the set, some by the buffet table others by the settee. The waiters would be circulating the whole set handing out drinks of white and red wine. The main spotlight would be on Romeo and Juliet.
The main and most important dialogue in this scene is when Romeo and Juliet have met for the first time and it is just before the kiss. It is when Romeo is asking for a kiss, “O then dear saint, let lips do what hands do! They pray: grant thou, lest faith turn to despair”. Their two palms are touching and Romeo is suggesting that their lips should be doing the same. This should be emphasised with slow romantic talking, he should put on a soft, smooth voice. The two characters should be close together face-to-face. Juliet’s reaction to this should be hard to get at first, “Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake” she wouldn’t be facing him at this time, but would be looking away. Her mood soon changes when she looks into his eyes.
In this scene, while the two are talking there should be soft romantic music playing quietly to set the scene off. The spotlight should also be on quite low shining down on the two lovers. The rest of the stage should be in complete darkness, with all the audiences’ attention on Romeo and Juliet. When the nurse interrupts the lights should return to normal and the music back to the partying spirit. All should return to normal.
In conclusion, I am trying to draw out the romantic aspects of the scene. My objective is to make the audience feel Romeo and Juliet’s love for each other at such an early stage in the play. The atmosphere should be of a soft and romantic feeling; the audience should feel Romeo’s heartbreak when he fails to score the kiss at first and happy when he finally gets it.