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Romeo and Juliet: Background

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Natalie C

on 6 January 2014

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Transcript of Romeo and Juliet: Background

Romeo and Juliet
: Background

Friar Lawrence
Outwardly kind, civil-minded, a proponent of moderation, and quick with a plan
Also the most scheming and political
Secretly marries the couple to bring peace to Verona
He doesn't even believe their love is true.
Defies canon and government laws
Why does he have such knowledge? It is unclear and out of place for a Catholic friar
Could be a jab at the medical profession and Catholicism - England was Protestant
Italian/European Societal norms
Drugs which give the appearance of death exist, but I could not find any which would have been available during the Renaissance/Elizabethan times. However, medicine was so primitive, the Friar probably could have slipped Juliet any strong sedative and she would have been proclaimed dead.
William Shakespeare Bio (1564 - 1616)
Very little is known about William Shakespeare. Some say such a man never existed due to lack of education and accreditation, but there is scant evidence which makes it impossible to refute his existence as the great Bard.
Elizabethan Theatre
Plays performed in inn-yards, open air amphitheaters, or indoor playhouses
Used for bear-baiting, gambling, immoral purposes
Many Londoners abhorred theatre, complained about rise in crime, bawdy plays, fighting, drinking. All theatres banned in London.
Troupes rarely acted the same play two days in a row
Women were not allowed to act
Costumes were bright and pretty, nearly always contemporary
Challenging craft, not at all lucrative, much like today
Dress
Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws
Dictated dress for each class to control behavior, ensure class structure.
Fines, loss of property, title, life
Elaborate, artificial, stylized, striking
Son of a leather merchant and a local landed heiress
Married Anne Hathaway - he was 18, she was 26 and pregnant.
2 daughters, 1 son (Hamnet, who died young and was the inspiration for
Hamlet
)
Shakespeare left family for London to live as an actor and playwright
Shakespeare and co. built 2 Globe Theatres
Shakespeare is famous because his characters and plots present real human beings in a wide range of emotions and conflicts which transcend their origins in Elizabethan England
He wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets
Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare didn't make up Romeo and Juliet
Arthur Brooks introduced it to an English-speaking audience in a long, plodding poem
The story spanned across a century and two languages
Similar to
Metamorphoses
by Roman poet Ovid; there is a reference to Pyramus and Thisbe in the play
Shakespeare wrote it knowing it was old, cliched, and easily parodied. He created a new archetype.
Women were objects
Two options: nun or wife.
Married in mid-to-late teens
Had to appear decorous and chaste
High class ladies most dependent - not socially acceptable to breastfeed or appear in public often
Men were authoritative
Learned their father's trade
Married ten years later than women
Expected to exert control in public affairs, but not over their lust
Children were expected to be mini adults
No rights
Peasant children sent to work as servants in wealthy households, and rarely survived to adulthood
Drug
Plague
Italy the first European country hit in 1348
Kinds of Black Death
Bubonic - buboes on body. Spread by fleas attached to rats. 1 weeks of survival
Pneumonic - airborne, infects respiratory systems. 1-2 days survival
Septicemic - 99-100% mortality. Bacteria multiplies in blood. 12-24 hrs survival
Lost respect for church
Almost anyone ordained
Couldn't gain God's favor to stop plague
Italian Burials
Most people died before 60
Grave space a precious commodity, so mausoleums used
People wanted to be buried in/near churches, especially the nobility
Embalming is new practice there today, so back then swift entombments
Full transcript