Romeo and Juliet is sometimes considered to have no unifying theme, save that of young love. Since it is such an obvious subject of the play, several scholars have explored the language and historical context behind the romance of the play.
On their first meeting, Romeo and Juliet use a form of communication recommended by many etiquette authors in Shakespeare's day: By using metaphors of saints and sins, Romeo was able to test Juliet's feelings for him in a non-threatening way. This method was recommended by Baldassare Castiglione whose works had been translated into English by this time. He pointed out that if a man used a metaphor as an invitation, the woman could pretend she did not understand him, and he could retreat without losing honour. Juliet, however, participates in the metaphor and expands on it.
The religious metaphors of "shrine", "pilgrim", and "saint" were fashionable in the poetry of the time and more likely to be understood as romantic rather than blasphemous, as the concept of sainthood was associated with the Catholicism of an earlier age. Brooke's Romeus and Juliet. In the later balcony scene, Shakespeare has Romeo overhear Juliet's soliloquy, but in Brooke's version of the story, her declaration is done alone.
By bringing Romeo into the scene to eavesdrop, Shakespeare breaks from the normal sequence of courtship. Usually, a woman was required to be modest and shy to make sure that her suitor was sincere, but breaking this rule serves to speed along the plot. The lovers are able to skip courting and move on to plain talk about their relationship— agreeing to be married after knowing each other for only one night.
Romeo and Juliet's love seems to be expressing the "Religion of Love" view rather than the Catholic view. Another point is that although their love is passionate, it is only consummated in marriage, which keeps them from losing the audience's sympathy. The play arguably equates love and sex with death. Throughout the story, both Romeo and Juliet, along with the other characters, fantasise about it as a dark being , often equating it with a lover. Capulet, for example, when he first discovers Juliet's faked death, describes it as having deflowered his daughter.
Right before her suicide, she grabs Romeo's dagger, saying "O happy dagger! This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die. Scholars are divided on the role of fate in the play. No consensus exists on whether the characters are truly fated to die together or whether the events take place by a series of unlucky chances. Arguments in favour of fate often refer to the description of the lovers as " star-cross'd ". This phrase seems to hint that the stars have predetermined the lovers' future.
Draper points out the parallels between the Elizabethan belief in the four humours and the main characters of the play for example, Tybalt as a choleric. Interpreting the text in the light of humours reduces the amount of plot attributed to chance by modern audiences. For example, Romeo's challenging Tybalt is not impulsive; it is, after Mercutio's death, the expected action to take. In this scene, Nevo reads Romeo as being aware of the dangers of flouting social norms , identity, and commitments. He makes the choice to kill, not because of a tragic flaw , but because of circumstance.
O heavy lightness, serious vanity, Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms, Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! Scholars have long noted Shakespeare's widespread use of light and dark imagery throughout the play. Caroline Spurgeon considers the theme of light as "symbolic of the natural beauty of young love" and later critics have expanded on this interpretation. Romeo describes Juliet as being like the sun,  brighter than a torch,  a jewel sparkling in the night,  and a bright angel among dark clouds.
For example, Romeo and Juliet's love is a light in the midst of the darkness of the hate around them, but all of their activity together is done in night and darkness while all of the feuding is done in broad daylight. This paradox of imagery adds atmosphere to the moral dilemma facing the two lovers: At the end of the story, when the morning is gloomy and the sun hiding its face for sorrow, light and dark have returned to their proper places, the outward darkness reflecting the true, inner darkness of the family feud out of sorrow for the lovers.
All characters now recognise their folly in light of recent events, and things return to the natural order, thanks to the love and death of Romeo and Juliet. Time plays an important role in the language and plot of the play. Both Romeo and Juliet struggle to maintain an imaginary world void of time in the face of the harsh realities that surround them. Stars were thought to control the fates of humanity, and as time passed, stars would move along their course in the sky, also charting the course of human lives below.
Romeo speaks of a foreboding he feels in the stars' movements early in the play, and when he learns of Juliet's death, he defies the stars' course for him. Another central theme is haste: Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet spans a period of four to six days, in contrast to Brooke's poem's spanning nine months. Thomas Tanselle believe that time was "especially important to Shakespeare" in this play, as he used references to "short-time" for the young lovers as opposed to references to "long-time" for the "older generation" to highlight "a headlong rush towards doom".
In the end, the only way they seem to defeat time is through a death that makes them immortal through art. Time is also connected to the theme of light and dark. In Shakespeare's day, plays were most often performed at noon or in the afternoon in broad daylight. Shakespeare uses references to the night and day, the stars, the moon, and the sun to create this illusion. He also has characters frequently refer to days of the week and specific hours to help the audience understand that time has passed in the story.
All in all, no fewer than references to time are found in the play, adding to the illusion of its passage. The earliest known critic of the play was diarist Samuel Pepys , who wrote in Publisher Nicholas Rowe was the first critic to ponder the theme of the play, which he saw as the just punishment of the two feuding families. In mid-century, writer Charles Gildon and philosopher Lord Kames argued that the play was a failure in that it did not follow the classical rules of drama: Writer and critic Samuel Johnson , however, considered it one of Shakespeare's "most pleasing" plays.
In the later part of the 18th and through the 19th century, criticism centred on debates over the moral message of the play. Actor and playwright David Garrick 's adaptation excluded Rosaline: Romeo abandoning her for Juliet was seen as fickle and reckless. Critics such as Charles Dibdin argued that Rosaline had been purposely included in the play to show how reckless the hero was and that this was the reason for his tragic end. Others argued that Friar Laurence might be Shakespeare's spokesman in his warnings against undue haste.
With the advent of the 20th century, these moral arguments were disputed by critics such as Richard Green Moulton: In Romeo and Juliet , Shakespeare employs several dramatic techniques that have garnered praise from critics; most notably the abrupt shifts from comedy to tragedy an example is the punning exchange between Benvolio and Mercutio just before Tybalt arrives.
Before Mercutio's death in Act three, the play is largely a comedy. When Romeo is banished, rather than executed, and Friar Laurence offers Juliet a plan to reunite her with Romeo, the audience can still hope that all will end well. They are in a "breathless state of suspense" by the opening of the last scene in the tomb: If Romeo is delayed long enough for the Friar to arrive, he and Juliet may yet be saved.
Shakespeare also uses sub-plots to offer a clearer view of the actions of the main characters. For example, when the play begins, Romeo is in love with Rosaline, who has refused all of his advances. Romeo's infatuation with her stands in obvious contrast to his later love for Juliet. This provides a comparison through which the audience can see the seriousness of Romeo and Juliet's love and marriage.
Paris' love for Juliet also sets up a contrast between Juliet's feelings for him and her feelings for Romeo. The formal language she uses around Paris, as well as the way she talks about him to her Nurse, show that her feelings clearly lie with Romeo. Beyond this, the sub-plot of the Montague—Capulet feud overarches the whole play, providing an atmosphere of hate that is the main contributor to the play's tragic end.
Shakespeare uses a variety of poetic forms throughout the play. He begins with a line prologue in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet , spoken by a Chorus. Most of Romeo and Juliet is, however, written in blank verse , and much of it in strict iambic pentameter , with less rhythmic variation than in most of Shakespeare's later plays. Friar Laurence, for example, uses sermon and sententiae forms and the Nurse uses a unique blank verse form that closely matches colloquial speech.
For example, when Romeo talks about Rosaline earlier in the play, he attempts to use the Petrarchan sonnet form. Petrarchan sonnets were often used by men to exaggerate the beauty of women who were impossible for them to attain, as in Romeo's situation with Rosaline. Early psychoanalytic critics saw the problem of Romeo and Juliet in terms of Romeo's impulsiveness, deriving from "ill-controlled, partially disguised aggression",  which leads both to Mercutio's death and to the double suicide.
That hatred manifests itself directly in the lovers' language: Juliet, for example, speaks of "my only love sprung from my only hate"  and often expresses her passion through an anticipation of Romeo's death. Feminist literary critics argue that the blame for the family feud lies in Verona's patriarchal society. When Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo shifts into this violent mode, regretting that Juliet has made him so "effeminate". The feud is also linked to male virility, as the numerous jokes about maidenheads aptly demonstrate.
Other critics, such as Dympna Callaghan, look at the play's feminism from a historicist angle, stressing that when the play was written the feudal order was being challenged by increasingly centralised government and the advent of capitalism. At the same time, emerging Puritan ideas about marriage were less concerned with the "evils of female sexuality" than those of earlier eras and more sympathetic towards love-matches: A number of critics have found the character of Mercutio to have unacknowledged homoerotic desire for Romeo.
As Benvolio argues, she is best replaced by someone who will reciprocate. Shakespeare's procreation sonnets describe another young man who, like Romeo, is having trouble creating offspring and who may be seen as being a homosexual. Goldberg believes that Shakespeare may have used Rosaline as a way to express homosexual problems of procreation in an acceptable way. In this view, when Juliet says " The balcony scene was introduced by Da Porto in He had Romeo walk frequently by her house, "sometimes climbing to her chamber window", and wrote, "It happened one night, as love ordained, when the moon shone unusually bright, that whilst Romeo was climbing the balcony, the young lady A few decades later, Bandello greatly expanded this scene, diverging from the familiar one: Julia has her nurse deliver a letter asking Romeo to come to her window with a rope ladder, and he climbs the balcony with the help of his servant, Julia and the nurse the servants discreetly withdraw after this.
Nevertheless, in October , Lois Leveen speculated in The Atlantic that the original Shakespeare play did not contain a balcony. Leveen suggested that during the 18th century, David Garrick chose to use a balcony in his adaptation and revival of Romeo and Juliet and modern adaptations have continued this tradition. Romeo and Juliet ranks with Hamlet as one of Shakespeare's most performed plays. Its many adaptations have made it one of his most enduring and famous stories. Scholar Gary Taylor measures it as the sixth most popular of Shakespeare's plays, in the period after the death of Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd but before the ascendancy of Ben Jonson during which Shakespeare was London's dominant playwright.
The First Quarto, printed in , says that "it hath been often and with great applause plaid publiquely", setting the first performance before that date. The Lord Chamberlain's Men were certainly the first to perform it. Besides their strong connections with Shakespeare, the Second Quarto actually names one of its actors, Will Kemp , instead of Peter, in a line in Act Five. Richard Burbage was probably the first Romeo, being the company's actor, and Master Robert Goffe a boy the first Juliet.
All theatres were closed down by the puritan government on 6 September Upon the restoration of the monarchy in , two patent companies the King's Company and the Duke's Company were established, and the existing theatrical repertoire divided between them. This was a tragicomedy by James Howard, in which the two lovers survive.
Otway's version was a hit, and was acted for the next seventy years. Theophilus Cibber 's adaptation of , and David Garrick 's of both used variations on it. For example, Garrick's version transferred all language describing Rosaline to Juliet, to heighten the idea of faithfulness and downplay the love-at-first-sight theme. The earliest known production in North America was an amateur one: Garrick's altered version of the play was very popular, and ran for nearly a century.
Her portrayal of Romeo was considered genius by many. Miss Cushman's Romeo is a creative, a living, breathing, animated, ardent human being. Professional performances of Shakespeare in the midth century had two particular features: Secondly, they were "pictorial", placing the action on spectacular and elaborate sets requiring lengthy pauses for scene changes and with the frequent use of tableaux. Forbes-Robertson avoided the showiness of Irving and instead portrayed a down-to-earth Romeo, expressing the poetic dialogue as realistic prose and avoiding melodramatic flourish.
American actors began to rival their British counterparts. The first professional performance of the play in Japan may have been George Crichton Miln's company's production, which toured to Yokohama in In the 20th century it would become the second most popular, behind Hamlet. In , the play was revived by actress Katharine Cornell and her director husband Guthrie McClintic and was taken on a seven-month nationwide tour throughout the United States.
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The production was a modest success, and so upon the return to New York, Cornell and McClintic revised it, and for the first time the play was presented with almost all the scenes intact, including the Prologue. The new production opened on Broadway in December Critics wrote that Cornell was "the greatest Juliet of her time", "endlessly haunting", and "the most lovely and enchanting Juliet our present-day theatre has seen". His efforts were a huge success at the box office, and set the stage for increased historical realism in later productions.
I've always felt that John missed the lower half and that made me go for the other But whatever it was, when I was playing Romeo I was carrying a torch, I was trying to sell realism in Shakespeare. Peter Brook 's version was the beginning of a different style of Romeo and Juliet performances. Brook was less concerned with realism, and more concerned with translating the play into a form that could communicate with the modern world.
He argued, "A production is only correct at the moment of its correctness, and only good at the moment of its success. Throughout the century, audiences, influenced by the cinema, became less willing to accept actors distinctly older than the teenage characters they were playing. In an interview with The Times , he stated that the play's "twin themes of love and the total breakdown of understanding between two generations" had contemporary relevance. Recent performances often set the play in the contemporary world.
For example, in , the Royal Shakespeare Company set the play in modern Verona. Switchblades replaced swords, feasts and balls became drug-laden rock parties, and Romeo committed suicide by hypodermic needle. Romeo sneaks into the Capulet barbecue to meet Juliet, and Juliet discovers Tybalt's death while in class at school.
The play is sometimes given a historical setting, enabling audiences to reflect on the underlying conflicts. For example, adaptations have been set in the midst of the Israeli—Palestinian conflict ,  in the apartheid era in South Africa,  and in the aftermath of the Pueblo Revolt. In the 19th and 20th century, Romeo and Juliet has often been the choice of Shakespeare plays to open a classical theatre company, beginning with Edwin Booth 's inaugural production of that play in his theatre in , the newly re-formed company of the Old Vic in with John Gielgud , Martita Hunt , and Margaret Webster ,  as well as the Riverside Shakespeare Company in its founding production in New York City in , which used the film of Franco Zeffirelli 's production as its inspiration.
The best-known ballet version is Prokofiev 's Romeo and Juliet. It has subsequently attained an "immense" reputation, and has been choreographed by John Cranko and Kenneth MacMillan among others. In , Michael Smuin 's production of one of the play's most dramatic and impassioned dance interpretations was debuted in its entirety by San Francisco Ballet. This production was the first full-length ballet to be broadcast by the PBS series " Great Performances: Dance in America"; it aired in Dada Masilo, a South African dancer and choreographer, reinterpreted Romeo and Juliet in a new modern light.
She introduced changes to the story, notably that of presenting the two families as multiracial. At least 24 operas have been based on Romeo and Juliet. It is occasionally revived. The play influenced several jazz works, including Peggy Lee 's " Fever ". This version updated the setting to midth-century New York City and the warring families to ethnic gangs. Romeo and Juliet had a profound influence on subsequent literature. Before then, romance had not even been viewed as a worthy topic for tragedy.
Romeo and Juliet was parodied in Shakespeare's own lifetime: For example, the preparations for a performance form a major plot arc in Charles Dickens ' Nicholas Nickleby. Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most-illustrated works. Leveen imagining the fourteen years leading up to the events in the play from the point of view of the nurse.
Romeo and Juliet - Wikipedia
The nurse has the third largest number of lines in the original play; only the eponymous characters have more lines. The board attracted widespread media criticism and derision after the question appeared to confuse the Capulets and the Montagues,    with exams regulator Ofqual describing the error as unacceptable. Romeo and Juliet may be the most-filmed play of all time. The latter two were both, in their time, the highest-grossing Shakespeare film ever. Neither critics nor the public responded enthusiastically.
Cinemagoers considered the film too "arty", staying away as they had from Warner's A Midsummer Night Dream a year before: Stephen Orgel describes Franco Zeffirelli 's Romeo and Juliet as being "full of beautiful young people, and the camera and the lush technicolour, make the most of their sexual energy and good looks". The play has been widely adapted for TV and film.
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In , Peter Ustinov 's cold-war stage parody, Romanoff and Juliet was filmed. The film was a commercial and critical success. The production starred Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad. The production used RSC actors who engaged with the audience as well each other, performing not from a traditional script but a "Grid" developed by the Mudlark production team and writers Tim Wright and Bethan Marlow. The performers also make use of other media sites such as YouTube for pictures and video. Title page of the Second Quarto of Romeo and Juliet published in All references to Romeo and Juliet , unless otherwise specified, are taken from the Arden Shakespeare second edition Gibbons, based on the Q2 text of , with elements from Q1 of From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
For other uses, see Romeo and Juliet disambiguation. The opening act of Romeo and Juliet. Characters in Romeo and Juliet. Count Paris is a kinsman of Escalus who wishes to marry Juliet. Mercutio is another kinsman of Escalus, a friend of Romeo. House of Capulet Capulet is the patriarch of the house of Capulet. Lady Capulet is the matriarch of the house of Capulet.
Juliet Capulet is the year-old daughter of Capulet, the play's female protagonist. Tybalt is a cousin of Juliet, the nephew of Lady Capulet. The Nurse is Juliet's personal attendant and confidante. Rosaline is Lord Capulet's niece, Romeo's love in the beginning of the story. Peter, Sampson, and Gregory are servants of the Capulet household. House of Montague Montague is the patriarch of the house of Montague. Lady Montague is the matriarch of the house of Montague.
Romeo Montague , the son of Montague, is the play's male protagonist. Benvolio is Romeo's cousin and best friend. Abram and Balthasar are servants of the Montague household. Others Friar Laurence is a Franciscan friar and Romeo's confidant. Friar John is sent to deliver Friar Laurence's letter to Romeo.
An Apothecary who reluctantly sells Romeo poison. A Chorus reads a prologue to each of the first two acts. Romeo and Juliet on screen. When performed at Court, inside the stately home of a member of the nobility and in indoor theaters such as the Blackfriars theatre candle lighting was used and plays could be performed even at night. Menninger's Man Against Himself Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, The Arden Shakespeare , second series.
The New Penguin Shakespeare. The Pressures of Masculinity in Romeo and Juliet ". A Life in the Theatre. University of Michigan Press. The Invention of the Human. In Alexander, Margaret M. Review of English Studies. Bowling, Lawrence Edward Tragedies from these eras traced their philosophical essence back to Senecan tragedy ,  grounded in nobles who have a tragic flaw or commit a grave error hamartia which leads to their reversal of fortune peripeteia.
However, some critics have argued that the "pseudo-Aristotelian" concept of the tragic flaw does not apply to Shakespeare's tragic figures. One marked difference between English renaissance tragedies and the classics that inspired them, was the use and popularity of violence and murder on stage.
Select exemplary non-Shakespearean Elizabethan and Jacobean tragedies: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Shakespeare A to Z. History of Theatre 9th ed. The World as Stage. Dunton-Downer, Leslie; Riding, Alan The Arden Shakespeare , third series. Greenblatt, Stephen , ed. The Norton Shakespeare 2nd ed. Hoy, Cyrus , ed. Jamieson, Lee 1 May Retrieved 4 April The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy.
Cambridge Companions to Literature. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.
Shakespere and his Predecessors. The Passionate Pilgrim To the Queen. William Shakespeare 's Antony and Cleopatra. The False One c. Antony and Cleopatra William Shakespeare 's Coriolanus.
Veturia Thomas North Roman Tragedies Historia Regum Britanniae c. Cymbeline ; TV Cymbeline Shakespeare's late romances Philaster c. William Shakespeare 's Hamlet. Dumbshow Induction Quiddity Substitution. Moscow Art Theatre — Richard Burton Hamletmachine Dogg's Hamlet Fortinbras Rockabye Hamlet The Lion King Last Action Hero Hamlet William Shakespeare 's Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar overture, William Shakespeare 's King Lear. William Shakespeare 's Macbeth. Voodoo Macbeth MacBird! Macbeth , Verdi discography Macbeth , Bloch. Otello ; opera Otello ; opera Othello ; overture The Moor's Pavane ; ballet Othello ; ballet score Bandanna ; opera.
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