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Romeo and Juliet


William Shakespeare


A. Summaries

. Act I

2. Act II

3. Act III

4. Act IV

5. Act V

B. Essays

. In an essay of 1000 words trace how Juliet changes from a girl to a woman and how Romeo changes from a boy to a man. Comment on the differences in their personalities as revealed, for example, in the balcony scene and how they respond to crises later in the play.

2. How does Shakespeare use language to tell us about people's personalities? How do different characters talk, what can we tell about them from the way they talk, how does Romeo's language change as he changes, how does it change according to his mood?

3. What aspects of love does Shakespeare explore in Romeo and Juliet?

C. Notes

A. Summaries

. Act I

Prologue: The Chorus explains the scenery, of two rivaling households in Verona, and lays out the plot for the audience, announcing that two lovers, one from each house have to die to end the feud between both houses.

Scene 1: Sampson and Gregory, servants to the house of Capulet, start a quarrel with Abraham and Balthasar servants to the house of Montague. Benvolio a kinsman of the house of Capulet tries to part the quarreling groups but Tybalt tells him to fight. Both Capulet and Montague try to join in the fighting but are held back by their wives. Prince Escalus arrives at the scenery stops the feud and warns the two houses that if they were ever to break the peace again the punishment would be death. The Prince leaves, accompanied by Capulet, leaving Benvolio with Montague and Lady Montague behind. To the question of the whereabouts of Romeo, Benvolio answers that he has been wandering in the woods early in the morning. The Montagues tell him that he has been in sorrow for some time. Romeo joins them and as the Montagues leave Benvolio finds out that unrequited love is the reason for his sorrows. Benvolio however tries to persuade Romeo into looking for another woman; he however prefers to stay in his state of self-indulgent love.

Scene 2: Paris asks Capulet for Juliet's hand, he thinks she is still too young, however invites him to a feast that night. Capulet also sends a servant to invite other guests to the feast. Benvolio talking once again to Romeo about his love is interrupted by the servant, who asks Romeo whether he can read the invitations for him. Romeo discovers that Rosaline, his beloved, will be at the feast and Benvolio dares him to go to the feast too and compare Rosaline to the other girls there.

Scene 3: Lady Capulet wants to have a private word with Juliet; the Nurse however starts talking about Juliet's childhood. Lady Capulet continues and tells Juliet that Paris has asked for her hand. She also appeals to Juliet to consider this and see that he is the right man for her. Servants enter and call everyone to the feast.

Scene 4: Mercutio tries to convince Romeo to dance at Capulet's feast; Romeo however retorts that he is in to deep sorrows. He even adds that it is not a wise move to show up at the feast at all because of a dream he had which prophesizes a terrible fate for him. Mercutio teases him for believing in dreams by talking about "Queen Mab". At last Romeo goes to the feast with his friends.

Scene 5: Romeo and his friends arrive at Capulet's house while preparations are being made for the dancing. Capulet greets the masked people who turned up for the ball. Romeo sees Juliet for the first time and says that it is the first time he has seen true beauty. Tybalt recognizes Romeo by his voice and wants to fight, Capulet however tells him off. Tybalt leaves enraged threatening Romeo. Romeo speaks to Juliet holding her hand, and begs for a kiss which is given to him by her. They are both called away and depart in a last kiss. As they are leaving they find out about each other's identity and exclaim upon the fate which has led them to fall in love with their enemy.

Act I: In the first act the audience is introduced to all the characters. It starts off with a quarrel between the two houses. Romeo is introduced to the audience as a rather immature person who is lost in self-pity about his unrequited love. Paris asks for Juliet's hand which is for now declined by Capulet. Juliet however is being informed about this offer. Romeo's friends try to persuade him to go to the feast and dance at the Capulet's house. This is where Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time and discover their love for each other. They learn about each others identities and see the conflict that lies in the love between two enemies. In addition to that Tybalt threatens Romeo for the first time, foreshadowing the following events.

2. Act II

Prologue: This time the Chorus tells the audience that Romeo and Juliet are suffering because they are separated but that they find a way to bypass this.

Scene 1: On the way home from Capulet's feast, Romeo turns back and jumps over the wall into Capulet's garden. Benvolio and Mercutio both call for Romeo to come back but as he doesn't appear they depart.

Scene 2: As Romeo stands in Capulet's garden he sees Juliet at her window. He listens to her talking about her love to him and wishing that he had a different name. He surprises her by offering to take a different name if only they could be together. They make vows of love to each other until Juliet is called away by the nurse. She returns and tells Romeo that she will send a messenger the next day to find out when and where they are to marry. Once again she is called away and returns to set a time for the messenger to come. They finally depart after a long goodbye and Romeo says that he will visit Friar Lawrence in his cell to ask for his help.

Scene 3: When Romeo enters Friar Lawrence's cell he is gathering herbs. Romeo tells him all about how he fell in love with Juliet and that he wants the Friar to marry them. At first Friar Lawrence criticizes how Romeo has so suddenly changed from love of Rosaline to Juliet, but at last agrees to marry them because he thinks it may end the feud between the house of Capulet and the house of Montague.
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Scene 4: Mercutio wonders where Romeo is, while Benvolio tells him that Tybalt has sent a challenge to Romeo. When Romeo enters Mercutio makes remarks about love of very physical kind and Romeo joins in. The Nurse comes to pick up the message from Romeo about time and place of his and Juliet's marriage. Mercutio teases the nurse with further bawdy remarks. The Nurse and Romeo leave them behind and she complains about Mercutio but receives information from him.

Scene 5: Juliet awaits the return of the Nurse impatiently hoping to find out news from Romeo. ...

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