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Romeo and Juliet Research
Transcript of Romeo and Juliet Research
Written by William Shakespeare
By Rene Nagy
Romeo is a part of the Montague family, which has a long standing rivalry with their counterpart: the Capulets. He desperately wants to find love, and he is frustrated at the beginning of the story by his unreciprocated love for a girl named Rosaline. He meets Juliet while sneaking into a Capulet ball and promptly falls in love with her, forgetting about Rosaline.
Juliet is a part of the Capulet family. She too, immediately falls in love with Romeo upon meeting him. She was brought up by a nurse, whom she trusts greatly and confides in. This serves to better show the reader (or playgoer) Juliet's thoughts.
Count Paris is Juliet's suitor. He is wealthy and related to Prince Escalus (the main voice of authority in the story). He seeks to marry Juliet, despite her reluctance to marry. Juliet's parents threaten to disown her if she does not marry Paris.
Cousin of Count Paris and Price Esculus , Mercutio is a friend of Romeo. He is reckless and quick to start a fight. He starts a fight with, and is ultimately killed by, Tybalt, leading Romeo to kill Tybalt out of revenge.
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Tybalt is Juliet's cousin, and is a main antagonist in the story. He is rash and short tempered, but is a skilled swordsman. He kills Mercutio after he is insulted by him. In turn, Romeo kills Tybalt.
Friar Laurence is a Catholic holy man that is friends with both Romeo and Juliet. He secretly marries the two, hoping to end the feud between the Montagues and Capulets. He is a mentor to Romeo, and has a large role in major plot developments.
The story begins with a street fight between the Montegues and Capulets, two rival families that hate each other. The fight is broken up by Prince Escalus, who proclaims that further fighting will result in punishment by death. During this encounter, Benvolio is talking to Romeo about why he is so sad, and finds that it is about his unreturned love for a Capulet girl named Rosaline. Benvolio and Mercutio convince Romeo to sneak into a Capulet ball, where he hopes to meet Rosaline.
At the ball, Romeo meets Juliet, and they fall in love. However, Romeo is discovered as a Montegue sneaking into the Capulet ball. After the ball, Romeo returns to the Capulet house, and finds Juliet. Soon after, they decide to get married secretly by Friar Laurence, who hopes to unite the two families with their marriage.
Tybalt, angry at Romeo entering the Capulet ball, and challenges him to a duel. Romeo refuses, but Mercutio fights on his behalf. When Mercutio is mortally wounded in the duel, Romeo faces Tybalt and kills him.
Prince Escalus exiles Romeo from Verona for his crimes in killing Tybalt. Capulet wants Juliet to marry Count Paris, and goes as far as to disown her if she does not comply. Juliet asks for assistance from Friar Laurence, who gives her a potion that will put her into a death-like coma for about two days. They plan to fake her death, so that Romeo and Juliet may meet again.
Friar Laurence sends a letter to tell Romeo of this plan, but the letter doesn't reach him. Romeo's servant Balthasar informs Romeo of Juliet's supposed death. Romeo goes to the Capulet crypt after he buys some poison from an apothecary. There, he finds Paris, who is mourning Juliet. Paris thinks Romeo has come to vandalize her grave, and the two fight. Romeo kills Paris, and then himself, with the poison. Juliet then awakens to find Romeo dead, and kills herself with his dagger. Friar Laurence tells the two families what has happened. They see the death that has come from their fighting, and they agree to end their feud.
Written by William Shakespeare
The main premise of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet goes hundreds of years. Based on a story that goes as far back as the fifth century A.D. is Masuccio's Novellino from 1476, which follows Mariotto and Giannozza in a story much like Shakespeare's play. This, in turn influenced a story by Luigi da Porto in 1530, Matteo Bandello's Novelle in 1554, and a version by Pierre Boaistuau in 1559 with each of these stories becoming increasingly like Shakespeare's version. In 1562, Arthur Brooke published the poem
The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet
, which served as the basis for Shakespeare's play. He added drama to the story, and shortened the time frame, and thus his play was born.
Themes and Symbols
Symbol 1: Poison
Poison is not inherently evil, as it does not kill people. However, it can be used by people to kill. The poison symbolizes how human society turns good things into poison. The Montague-Capulet feud shows this. A simple, pointless rivalry causes so much violence and death.
Symbol 2: Queen Mab
Mercutio makes a long speech about the fairy Queen Mab, describing her as a tiny fairy that brings dreams to sleepers about their evils, such as lust and greed. His description of Queen Mab's insignificant size and ridiculousness show that Mercutio thinks that dreams and desires are fragile, like Mab, and are evil. This contrasts Romeo's opinion, as he thinks his love is very real.
Theme 1: Love Causes Violence
Howe, Tiffany. "Shakespeare's Sources." <i>Romeo & Juliet:</i>. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <http://pages.towson.edu/quick/romeoandjuliet/sources.htm>.
Mabillard, Amanda. Themes and Motifs in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare Online. 18 Sept. 2000. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/playanalysis/romeocommentary.html >
Shakespeare, William, and Brian Gibbons. <i>Romeo and Juliet</i>. Walton-on-Thames, Surrey: T. Nelson and Sons, 2000. Print.
"Romeo and Juliet Themes, Motifs, and Symbols." <i>SparkNotes</i>. SparkNotes. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/romeojuliet/themes.html>.
Romeo and Juliet
, as soon as the two fall in love, things get more and more violent. In the story, love is a strong passion that blinds people, and it is this overwhelming passion that causes things to be more and more violent as the play goes on. Both Romeo and Juliet threaten to commit suicide if they can no longer see each other. In the end, it is a grand act of violence, double suicide, that proves the greatness of their love.
Theme 2: Destiny
The story of Romeo and Juliet is all about not knowing, and it is this unawareness that leads to the tragic deaths of the main characters. They are led along by the unseen hand of Fate to their ultimate demise, as the story does not have a real main villain or antagonist, only a series of unfortunate events. Romeo even describes himself as "fortune's fool" (3.1.141). This shows that we are all at the mercy of a higher power, and that we have little control over our own lives.