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Romeo and Juliet Essay

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William Shakespeare, one of the most famous playwrights of all time, was born in Stratford upon Avon in 1564 and died in 1616. He was one of eight children of John Shakespeare, a local town official and glove maker, and Mary Arden. In 1982 Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway at only eighteen. They had three children together, Susanna, and twin Judith and Hannet. Sadly Hannet tragically died at eleven. Shakespeare was known for performing at the Globe theatre with the Chamberlains Men. He wrote 37 plays in his lifetime and one of his most famous plays was Romeo and Juliet.

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I am going to compare lines 1-100 of Act One, Scene One from the text of the two film versions; Franco Zeffirelli’s version and Baz Luhrmann’s version. The text opens with the prologue, which gives a brief outline of the story, it is 14 lines long, and is therefore typical of what is known as a sonnet. It is about two families from Verona, both of similar status; both hate the other due to an ancient feud, the lovers, Romeo and Juliet both from each of the families take their own lives for their love.

Their death makes their parents see sense. Shakespeare has deliberately revealed the ending in the prologue so that the audience may judge the characters and the events up to the final tragedy. Act One Scene One begins in a public place. It starts like a comedy with word-play and puns from Gregory and Sampson, both servants of the Capulet house. They boast about what they would do to the Montague’s. One pun used is “We’ll not carry coals. ” This means we’ll not stand for any insults. “No, for then we should be colliers.

” This means if we do stand for any insults then we shall be coal sellers or coal miners which were probably regarded as dirty and poor people in their day. Sampson uses rude language, to boast about what they would do to any Montague’s “Therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, thrust his maids to the wall. ” Sampson thinks that love is just a matter of brutal conquest of another body. This part of the scene is very boastful and light hearted, until Abraham and a servant, both from the Montague house enter and the scene turns instantly threatening and tension increases.

Sampson and Gregory turn from being boastful to serious, in a way this is ironic because when the they were joking, they were not afraid of saying about what they would do to the Montagues, but now when they come across the Montague’s they become unsure as to whether to torment them or not, because Gregory says “How, turn thy back and run? ” He’s unsure whether to provoke the Montague’s. But Sampson is not as afraid as Gregory, so he decides to provoke them by biting his thumb at Abraham and the servant. Biting thumbs was regarded as an insult in that day.

Both houses start bantering at each other, both speaking politely with a threatening undertone. Gregory says “Do you Quarrel sir? ” Which is do you fight. The Capulet’s crave for a fight by aggravating the Montague’s, but the Montague’s are not up for a fight. At this point Benvolio enters and Gregory says “Here comes one of my master kinsmen. ” But he is not referring to Benvolio because he is a Montague. He is referring to Tybalt who is approaching. So the Capulet’s start the fight themselves when Sampson says “Draw if you be men, Gregory remember thy washing blow.

” The word ‘washing blow’ means in this context, a slashing blow, which is a sword move. They then fight but there is no description of what happens. Benvolio who is against fighting stops the fight, but then Tybalt who is a Capulet enters and he offers Benvolio to fight “…. Turn thee Benvolio, look upon thy death. ” Tybalt is an aggressive character and when he enters he is spoiling for a fight and he does not believe in peace, this is evident when Benvolio says “I do but keep the peace.

” Benvolio tries to restore the peace because he is a peacemaker. Tybalt does not believe that Benvolio is trying to stop the fight so he threatens Benvolio “What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word …. have at thee coward. ” Then Tybalt attacks Benvolio and a huge brawl follows, but this time the citizens and the officer attempt to break up the fight. The mood is now chaotic. Old Capulet and Lady Capulet enter. Old Capulet wants to be involved in the fight “… Give me my long sword, ho. ” Lady Capulet replies “A crutch, a crutch!

” Meaning a crutch might be better because he is too old to fight. Then enters Old Montague and Lady Montague, he also wants to fight but Lady Montague attempts to stop him by restraining him. The two heads of the families seem foolish and try to stand up for their family by trying to be involved in the fight. Then Prince Escalus enters with his train, these are his guards in our context. He is in charge of Verona and he breaks up the fight between the two families. He is furious with them both. He gives a long speech to the two families.

He compares their behaviour to beasts “You men, you beasts, that quench the fire of your pernicious rage… ” He also says that there have been three civil brawls between the two families in Verona’s streets. He has had enough of it and the pointless fighting has disrupted the social life of the city. Their punishment if this happens again would be paid with their lives. Many of the characters from the two families seem to act first and think later. For instance some characters jump into a fight without thinking of the consequences.

The fight breaks out quickly between the two families which proves the point that some of the characters act first, think later. These first 100 lines prepare the audience for the haste and speed which plays a big part in the coming tragedy of the deaths of Romeo and Juliet and it prepares for the fights that take place later on in the play. The Franco Zeffirelli film version of the play is set in the 15th century in the town of Verona in Italy which is the ideal setting to the play.

The first scene which I am going to study is set on a bright sunny morning in the town market. The costumes worn are authentic to the 15th century, these include tight leggings known as Hose and close fitted jackets known as doublets worn by the men. The two families also wear the livery of their household. The Montague’s livery is blue and grey and the Capulet’s livery are red and orange. The film introduces with a prologue, just like the text. As the Prologue is being spoken, the film shows a number of views of Verona.

While this is being shown, music authentic to the time is played along with it. The prologue is correct to the text but the last two lines are cut out. After the prologue, the film goes straight to Verona’s market, the public place. This market setting is authentic with its old sandstone buildings and its bustling market. Sampson, Gregory and another Capulet who is not included in the text, are walking through the market joking and being a nuisance to some of the citizens by kicking them for a joke. This portrays the Capulet’s as trouble makers.

The mood is boastful and light hearted, which is faithful to the text. The film does not include the conversation about Colliers and Montague maids spoken between the Capulet’s. But it starts on line 25 when Gregory says “The quarrel is between our masters and us their men. ” Sampson replies to this “Tis all one. ” This is correct to the text, but it misses all the lines afterwards where Gregory says “Here comes the house of the Montague. ” The Montague’s consist of three people here, Abraham and two other Montague’s not named.

They are shown buying items from a market stall, you see them thanking the stall keeper and being polite to the citizens, Zeffirelli portrays the Montague’s as nice people even though there is no evidence of this in the text. The banters between the two families are started just like the text. Sampson bites his thumb at the Montague’s. This is also known as an insult in the film. The banters between them are correct to the text. After Abraham says “You Lie. ” The Montague’s walk away from the Capulet’s because they don’t want to start any trouble.

This is evidence to suggest that the Montague’s are nice people. Sampson retaliates to this because he craves for a fight. He deliberately trips up the older member of the three Montague’s. This is not included in the text. Sampson’s retaliation makes Abraham angry and he declares the fight by saying “Draw if you be men. ” This is actually said by Sampson in the text. Then Sampson completes the sentence from the text “Gregory, remember thy washing blow. ” The brawl starts with both sides charging at each other. The scene is now in the streets of Verona near the market.

The citizens help the Montague’s break up the brawl by grabbing hold of the Capulet’s. Then Benvolio enters, he stops the fight and says his lines from the text, but in addition to this he says “The prince expressly forbids fighting on Verona’s streets. ” This is not in the text. Then Tybalt with a lot more of Capulet’s men enter, he laughs in a threatening way and the mood suddenly gets threatening, he and Benvolio say their lines, which are correct to the text. Benvolio is cowardly towards Tybalts will to fight, and the brawl begins again.

The mood is chaotic and hot because it is set on a bright and hot street. During the fight, Tybalt injures Benvolio and he says “hi thee home? Fragment. ” This means you’re a coward and you should go home, Tybalt says it in a boastful way. The film shows the fight with lots of chaos, colours, close ups, lots of action, aerial shots of fighting, village people trying to stop the fight, things flying through the air, explicit bits like people being killed, there is no evidence of this in the play, it is hard to see who people are, such as who is Montague and who is Capulet.

At one point during the fight, Zeffirelli shows us the two households. He shows Old Capulet gathering his men and charging out into the chaotic fight. There is no conversation between Old Capulet and Lady Capulet, despite this being in the original text. Zeffirelli also shows us Old Montague gathering his men to go and join the fight, and Lady Montague attempting to stop him. At this part the conversation between Old Montague and Lady Montague is correct to the text, but it misses parts out.


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