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Romeo and Juliet
Transcript of Romeo and Juliet
what life was like at the time it was set
"And you be mine, I'll give you to my friend;
And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets" (Act 3, Scene 5, l191-192)
This helps us to understand the play, as things have changed a lot since that time!
Written by Shakespeare in the 1600s, we have to keep in mind what audiences of that period would have experienced and believed.
Why is Juliet's dad so angry with her?
Just like in some cultures today, parents would arrange their children's marriages.
They would look for someone with a good reputation, a respectable family lineage and preferably a lot of money!
Love would not be a necessary consideration.
The Globe Theatre, London
Theatres were a very popular form of entertainment. Even the monarchs of that time enjoyed the theatre and often financed groups of actors so that they could be paid.
If you were poor you'd probably stand for the whole play and seeing as there was no roof, if it rained, you got wet!
Richer people would pay more for seats and if you wanted luxury then you could hire a cushion.
There was no electricity, which is why there wasn't a roof, and plays would be performed in the day.
If they wanted to pretend that it was night time they would bring torches onto the stage.
Juliet's dad had already been very reasonable earlier in the play.
"My will to her consent is but a part;
And she agreed, within her scope of choice
Lies my consent and fair according voice." (Act 1, Scene 2, lines 17-19)
He's basically saying that Juliet can have a say in who she marries.
After Tybalt's death, Lord Capulet thinks that a wedding will cheer them all up, especially Juliet!
He is angry because she rejects his choice.
Families were very different to how they are now.
Parents of rich families wouldn't have spent so much time with their children
Extended families would have been closer
Children were seen more like property
How would this affect your text?
What evidence can you suggest that shows that their relationships are different to what we experience today?
Consider the relationship of:
Romeo and Benvolio...
Juliet and Tybalt...
Juliet and her parents...
Romeo and Juliet both have surrogate parental figures.
Romeo has probably been brought up by the friar - who probably educated Romeo from a young age.
Romeo would have been use to going to the friar for advice because that was his church role.
In Shakespearean times rich people hired women to nurse their babies for them.
Juliet's mum wouldn't have breast fed her child but employed someone to do it for her.
The Nurse, in Romeo and Juliet has looked after Juliet from birth till now.
No wonder Juliet treats the nurse more like her mum and keeps her mum fairly distanced.
Well, Romeo and Juliet don't go to their parents for support and advice - instead they go to their surrogates.
How does this affect the plot?
What do you think of Romeo and Juliet's parental role models? Do you think that they made good decisions and gave good advice? Do you think that they could have had ulterior motives for the advice they gave?
The people in Shakespeare's time were more religious than we are today.
Not only did they believe in Christianity...
They also believed in traditional paganism (what people believed before Christianity came into England.)
How does this affect Romeo and Juliet?
Romeo and Juliet believe that 'fate' brought them together and therefore they believe that they should be together.
Romeo, before going to the party, senses something bad is going to happen, but puts his life in the hands of 'fate'.
Romeo also exclaims 'I defy you stars', when he finds out about the death of Juliet - which basically means he's angry with fate/his destiny as shown by the stars.
Shakespeare's dad was fined for not attending Protestant church services and he was believed to be a secret Catholic. Shakespeare himself would have had to at least appear Protestant, even if it wasn't what he believed.
When Queen Mary was ruling England, the country was forced to follow the Catholic religion. Then, when she died, Elizabeth, her sister, turned the country Protestant.
Shakespeare knew a lot about religion, as would his audiences, and that's why he references things that seem unusual to many people today.
Most education in Shakespearean times, would have been provided by the church and only boys would have had a formal education.
Romeo was likely to have spent a lot of time with the Friar growing up, hence their close friendship.
In the Catholic church there is something called 'confession' - which is the act of telling a priest your sins, so as to be forgiven for them (repentance).
Romeo would have been use to confiding his thoughts and feelings to the Friar, and listening to his wisdom.
The idea of going to confession is also the excuse that Juliet gives so that she can go and marry Romeo and later, so she can go and see the Friar when she's confused about what to do about Paris and their marriage.