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Prologue to Romeo and Juliet

A Visual Paraphrase
by

Anne Ehlers

on 15 March 2016

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Transcript of Prologue to Romeo and Juliet

Prologue to Romeo and Juliet
In fair Verona,
Two households, both alike in dignity
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life
where we lay our scene,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife
The fearful passage of their death-marked love
and the continuance of their parents' rage
Which, but their children's end, naught could remove
Is now the two-hours traffic of our stage
The which, if you with patient ears attend,
Here lies the feud between the Capulets and
the Montagues
.
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Interpretive Claim
In the prologue to
Romeo and Juliet
, the Chorus emphasizes the feud’s effects on the young lovers with images of blood and conflict, with reversed and convoluted syntax, and with significant word patterns of twos and the stage.
Syntax CSI:
Shakespeare opens the play with adjective and prepositional phrases stacked between the subject "Two households" and the verb "break", keeping them apart in tension, providing important information about the setting and importance of these families. Two parallel dependent clauses -- both starting with "where" add more information about Verona and the new violence between the families.
The parallel structure of the "ancient grudge" and "new mutiny emphasize the duration and increasing violence of the conflict.
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
Full transcript