“Romeo and Juliet” is a romantic and astounding play, which describes lofty and pure love of two young people. In its essence, love is an inexpressible and indescribable feeling, for the sake of which people breathe: a feeling, which encouraged noble knights to sacrifice their lives, to perform heroic exploits in honor of love to their ladies; a feeling which prompts affectionate person to donate the whole world to the beloved one; a feeling owing to which people lose their heads, and make thoughtless, and frantic actions; a feeling to which people surrender themselves completely.
Main Themes in Romeo and Juliet
- The Forcefulness of Love
- Love as a Cause of Violence
- The Individual Versus Society
- The Inevitability of Fate
- Light/Dark Imagery
- Opposite Points of View
- Queen Mab
Write an analytical essay on one topic. In your answer, make detailed reference to the play as a whole and support your answer with well chosen illustrative evidence.
- At the end of Romeo and Juliet the Prince says: ‘Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished’ (V, iii, 307). Whom do you think should be pardoned and whom punished?
- “It is too rash, too unadvis’d, too sudden.” How do Juliet’s words apply to the action of the play?
- “The blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet ultimately rests with Friar Lawrence.” Do you agree?
- Was “their parents’ strife” the reason for the love between Romeo and Juliet proving to be fatal?
- “The lesson of Romeo and Juliet is that children should not deceive their parents.” Do you agree?
- “Shakespeare made Mercutio so sparkling and diverting that he had to kill him in order to allow the tragic focus of the play to emerge.” Do you agree?
- “The Nurse fills the role of Juliet’s mother, and Friar Laurence acts as Romeo’s father.” Discuss the importance of these characters in Romeo and Juliet.
- “Romeo and Juliet come from what we, in the twenty-first century, would call dysfunctional families. This is the true cause of their tragedy.” Do you agree?
- “For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” What do you think of this estimation of the play’s events?
- “A tragedy must reflect a range of experience and base itself on a system of values which are felt by its audience to be real.” Do Romeo and Juliet achieve this? Or is it an ancient story on which we reflect with sorrow and nothing more?
- “The tragedy of a faulty postal service.” What do you think this interpretation has overlooked?
- In the Prologue, Romeo and Juliet are described as “star-crossed lovers” and reference is made to their “death-marked love”. They themselves speak like this. Do you think that Shakespeare wants to create the impression that their death is brought about by a cruel overwhelming Fate, by sheer accident or by their own wilfulness — or by some or all of these?
- “The theme of Romeo and Juliet is about a consuming love. It is a story of hatred overcome by that love, old hate versus young love, taking no thought for the past or future. And this love ends in ‘love-devouring death’; but the effect of the play is not wholly pessimistic.” Discuss.
- “Romeo and Juliet is a story of revolt against authority.” Discuss.
- “Romeo and Juliet’s love is doomed not just by the world around it, but by its own intensity.” Do you agree?
- “The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is simply a case of bad luck.” Do you think this is true?
- “Romeo and Juliet is a play about two silly, immature teenagers who lack common sense. Therefore, the play expresses the danger of a love in which two people become the whole world to one another.” Do you agree?
- ‘ A plague on both your houses!’ “Mercutio’s dying curse reminds us that, in the end, it is the adults who need to be condemned and punished for their irresponsibility and senseless feuding. Romeo and Juliet are merely innocent victims of their parents’ rage.” Discuss.
Romeo and Juliet – Key Facts
FULL TITLE · The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
AUTHOR · William Shakespeare
TYPE OF WORK · Play
GENRE · Tragic drama
LANGUAGE · English
TIME AND PLACE WRITTEN · London, mid-1590s
DATE OF FIRST PUBLICATION · 1597 (in the First Quarto, which was likely an unauthorized incomplete edition); 1599 (in the Second Quarto, which was authorized)
PUBLISHER · Thomas Creede (in the Second Quarto, using the title The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedie, of Romeo and Juliet)
CLIMAX · The deaths of Romeo and Juliet in the Capulet tomb (5.3)
PROTAGONISTS · Romeo; Juliet
ANTAGONISTS · The feuding Montagues and Capulets; Tybalt; the Prince and citizens of Verona; fate
SETTINGS (TIME) · Renaissance (fourteenth or fifteenth century)
SETTINGS (PLACE) · Verona and Mantua (cities in northern Italy)
POINT OF VIEW · Insofar as a play has a point of view, that of Romeo and Juliet; occasionally the play uses the point of view of the Montague and Capulet servants to illuminate the actions of their masters.
FALLING ACTION · The end of Act 5, scene 3, when the Prince and the parents discover the bodies of Romeo and Juliet, and agree to put aside their feud in the interest of peace.
TENSE · Present
Romeo & Juliet Character List
Romeo – The son and heir of Montague and Lady Montague.
Juliet – The daughter of Capulet and Lady Capulet.
Friar Lawrence – A Franciscan friar, friend to both Romeo and Juliet.
Mercutio – A kinsman to the Prince, and Romeo’s close friend.
The Nurse – Juliet’s nurse.
Tybalt – A Capulet, Juliet’s cousin on her mother’s side.
Capulet – The patriarch of the Capulet family, father of Juliet.
Lady Capulet – Juliet’s mother, Capulet’s wife.
Montague – Romeo’s father.
Lady Montague – Romeo’s mother.
Paris – A kinsman of the Prince.
Benvolio – Montague’s nephew.
Prince Escalus – The Prince of Verona.
Friar John – A Franciscan friar charged by Friar Lawrence with taking the news of Juliet’s false death to Romeo in Mantua.
Balthasar – Romeo’s dedicated servant.
Sampson & Gregory – Two servants of the house of Capulet.
Abram – Montague’s servant.
The Apothecary – An apothecary in Mantua.
Peter – A Capulet servant.
Rosaline – The woman with whom Romeo is infatuated at the beginning of the play.
The Chorus – The Chorus is a single character who, as developed in Greek drama, functions as a narrator.
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