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The play is a great tragedy, as both of the main characters die as well as a few others.
The play is still popular as it deals with issues that are still relevant- Love, Violence and action.
The play opens with a fight between the boys from the Capulet family vs. the ones for the Montague family, ending in a warning from the prince. And if anybody was to be caught fighting, they would be sentenced to execution.
Romeo is the son of Lord and Lady Montague.
He is handsome, charming, young and also the leader of the Montague boys. After he fell in love with Juliet, he tried to make peace with the Capulet’s but when he found that Mercutio had died; he became very aggressive, which lead to killing Tybalt and his banishment.
Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin. He hates the Montagues and wants to pick himself a fight with Romeo as he disapproves of his romance with Juliet.
Mercutio is Romeos best friend; he can be very aggressive and argumentative. He is always up for a fight. He is the main one to escalate all of the problems.
Benvolio is gentle and tries to stop the fighting. Also he always tries to explain the problems going on. He is the peace maker in the group.
Prince Escalus is the Prince of Verona and is highly in control of the two feuding families. He is the voice of authority in Verona.
Act 1 Scene 1 starts with a fight as the Capulet and Montague servants fight in the street.
Prince Escalus says that the next person to be caught fighting in the streets will be killed “At pain of death”
Benvolio then goes to see Romeo and tells him about what just occurred.
Romeo expresses his love to Benvolio for Rosaline and thinks he is in love with her. This is shown by the quote
“Out of her favour where I am in love”.
This changes the mood of the scene as it makes it much calmer and quieter.
Act 1 Scene 2 starts with Paris asking Capulet for Juliet’s hand in marriage.
Capulet replies saying Juliet is still too young to marry anybody
“She hath not seen the change of fourteen years”.
After this, Capulet arranges for a party at his home so that Juliet can meet Paris.
The servant then goes to invite people to this party, providing they are not Montague’s.
He then meets Romeo and his boys, giving them the information of the party.
Romeo is then given a letter from the servant.
After reading it, he discovers Rosaline is on the Capulet family list, so is very eager to go.
“Ill go along no such sight to be shown, but to rejoice in splendour of mine own”.
This shows that Romeo will go to the party in disguise as he is a Montague, but only for the pleasure of meeting Rosaline.
Act 1 Scene 5
Romeo goes to the Capulet party to see Rosaline, but instead meets the beautiful Juliet and instantly falls in love with her
“If I profane with my unworthiest hand, this holy shrine the gentle sin is this”.
Romeo uses a lot of religious imagery to show Juliet the way he feels about her to show how kind he is.
But after this, they realise that their families are enemies
“Is she a Capulet? Oh dear account! My life is my foe’s debt”.
This quote suggests that he knows he is going to have to pay for loving her.
Tybalt recognises Romeo and swears revenge for the insult
“It fits when such a villain is a guest: I’ll not endure him.”
This means that Tybalt will not spare Romeo.
In Act 2 Scene 1 Romeo tries to find Juliet.
They agree their love is stronger than the hatred between the two families. They arrange to marry in secret.
At the end of act two, Romeo and Juliet are married.
Friar Lawrence hopes the wedding will end the feud.
‘For this alliance may so happy prove
To turn this household’s rancour to pure love”
After this the mood changes.
Act 3 Scene 1, the key scene, follows. It is full of violence, hatred and death.
In the key scene 2 of the young men die. At the beginning of the scene Tybalt insults Romeo. Romeo tried to ignore him and tell Tybalt that he loves him. The audience know that Romeo and Juliet are now married, but Tybalt is unaware that he is now related to Romeo.
Tybalt insults Romeo, he says “Boy, this shall now excuse the injuries that thou hast done me”.
Tybalt uses the word ‘Boy’ to sound insulting and making Romeo sound like he is a child.
In reply Romeo is as friendly as possible towards Tybalt, “But love thee better than thou canst devise, till thou shalt know the reason of my love; and so, good Capulet, which name I tender as dearly ad my own, be satisfied”
This shows the audience that Romeo no longer hates Capulet’s and want to be at peace with them.
In Act 3 Scene 1 William Shakespeare creates mood, atmosphere and tension by writing a scene which contrasts to the other scenes. Adding Hate instead of love, Violence instead of peace and death contrasting to passion.
He creates tension by using pathetic fallacy, making the weather hot and having the Capulet’s hunting Romeo down in the streets.
He creates atmosphere by using domestic irony to increase the tension in the audience.
This means, the audience know things that some of the characters do not. For example, the audience know Romeo and Juliet are now married, but the other characters are highly unaware.
Due to the violence, Tybalt killed Mercutio, which angered Romeo, resulting in vengeance by killing Tybalt, then later was permanently banished from Verona.
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