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Romeo & Juliet . Higher . Introduction .

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Romeo & Juliet

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  • The play is primarily a tragedy but it blends elements of comedy seamlessly into the narrative without appearing out of place. It can be seen as a comedy (the bawdy way in which the first characters speak, the Nurse’s rambling speech about her “dug”) that becomes a tragedy.
  • It is argued that it is not one of the great Shakespearean tragedies because its protagonists (R&J) lack the kind of inner turmoil seen in other plays such as Othello.
  • Verona, Italy during the Renaissance.
  • Romeo and Juliet come from feuding powerful, wealthy families in Verona. The Montagues and Capulets are as misguided as each other and the older generation are portrayed as somewhat foolish and staid compared to the young, vital and passionate younger generation. The play mirrors other Shakespeare plays such as “As You Like It” with the disregard for authority.
courtly love
Courtly love
  • The Prologue itself is a sonnet, which is typically where the idea of courtly love is exemplified. Courtly love has a spiritual, but often secret side to it and is often unrequited.
  • "a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent".
  • Romeo acknowledges that his feelings for Rosaline have made him lose a part of himself: “Tut, I have lostmyself, I am not here. / This is not Romeo; he's some other where"
  • Romeo’s ideas of love can be seen in his speech to Benvolio as perhaps immature. Is he merely in love with the idea of being in love? Does this change when he meets Juliet?
the prologue
The prologue
  • Form of a sonnet
  • Simple function – it introduces the play and tells us that the lovers will die.
  • On a deeper level, The Prologue introduces the theme of fate and the idea of the “star-crossed” lovers. The audience therefore watches the play with the knowledge that Romeo and Juliet are on a path (idea of stars controlling our destiny) that they cannot escape from. They are meant to meet, fall in love, and then die together.
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • 1. Which is the most significant event in Act I? The brawl and the family hatred it shows? The decree of the Prince? The courtship of Count Paris? The meeting of the Lovers? Why?
  • 2. How are all the other events linked to that one, so as to give it dominance?
  • 3. Why has the Poet made the lovers' hand-clasp so significant? Is true love, love at first sight?
act 1
Act 1
  • - The brawl provides the background information for the audience. The violence, particularly among the youth of the play, the social layers (servants, the Houses of Montague and Capulet, the Prince (who embodies law and order). The fight brings in ideas of family honour, the demands of the social world and its conflict with private passion (shown by Romeo)
  • It introduces Tybalt (who appears to embody hatred “What drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word/As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.”
  • Benvolio (Romeo’s friend who represents a foil to Romeo. He is thoughtful and logical whereas Romeo is withdrawn and self-involved in his ideals of courtly love at this point in the play)
act 11
Act 1
  • Romeo meets the servant with the guest list for Capulet’s feast by chance, therefore reinforcing the idea of fate that he will meet Juliet. It also causes rising action in the play as the audience will now have expectations that Romeo and Juliet will be about to meet. How will Romeo be distracted from Rosaline?
  • Juliet’s parents are planning her marriage to Paris. She does not truly have a say in this. The social world can be seen to be interfering in private passion. It is also a device by which their love may be thwarted. Juliet cannot control the world around her so it is a force of fate and society working against her.
act 12
Act 1
  • Romeo’s conversation with Mercutio conveys the idea of fate and foreshadows what is to come:
  • “I fear too early, for my mind misgives/Some consequence yet hanging in the stars/Shall bitterly begin his fearful date/With this night’s revels and expire the term/Of a despised life clos’d in my breast/By some vile forfeit of untimely death”
  • Mercutio is a man led by his passions, just as Romeo and Tybalt are but he is free of social pressures and arguably the cleverest character. His long speech displays the quickness of his mind, he mocks other characters and in doing so, exposes truths about them. Mercutio offers a darker interpretation of the play – by mocking dreams he is also mocking ideals and presents a nihilistic vision of the world – perhaps a world where love is not real. He offers an alternative reality through his famous “Queen Mab” speech.
act 13
Act 1
  • Romeo sees Juliet and declares: “Did my heart love til now? forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty until this night!” – is this just the new object of his affection or does he view Juliet in a truer, more pure way? The use of light imagery suggests he may love her in more fundamental way .
  • The hand-clasp scene is rightly very famous and shows a physicality missing with Romeo’s relationship with Rosaline.
  • The speech is full of religious imagery. R&J are connecting on a spiritual level as well as a physical level.
  • The Act ends with a sonnet as it began – the Chorus reiterating that the destinies of the lovers are already cast, and nothing can be done.
elements of humour
Elements of humour
  • The Nurse’s bawdy (sexually vulgur) tale
  • Mercutio’s mocking of Romeo’s dramatic declarations about love.
  • The servant being unable to read (the servants offer a comic reality to their masters’ high blown ideals of love and family honour)
  • Why do we not meet Romeo at the very start of R&J, and is there any significance in the language Shakespeare uses when we do meet Romeo?
  • At least one side of A4 complete with quotations to support!
  • Enjoy!
helpful sites
Helpful Sites
today s lesson
Today’s Lesson
  • Timed essay practice – reference to notes needs to be minimal!
  • Homework is due
  • Next homework has been emailed – questions on Act 2.
act 2 prologue
Act 2 - Prologue
    • This device s used by Shakespeare to remind us of:
    • The new love between Romeo and Juliet
    • The enmity between the families which makes it difficult for them to meet
    • But their love gives them the power and determination to overcome these obstacles
  • “But passion lends them power, time means, to meet, / Temp’ring extremities with extreme sweet” (2.Prologue.13–14) – this creates suspense by suggesting that love may find a way after all.
act ii scene i summary
Act II, Scene i - Summary
  • Having left the feast, Romeo feels he can’t go home, but longs to be with Juliet
  • He leaps the Capulet orchard wall, and hears Benvolio and Mercutio making rude remarks about his obsession with Rosaline
  • He is in terrible danger if he is found there – he knows this, but does not care due to his need to see Juliet again
romeo and isolation
Romeo and Isolation
  • In this scene, Romeo begins a separation from his friends that continues throughout the play
  • His inability to reveal his love of a Capulet heightens his isolation
  • By leaping the wall surrounding the Capulet orchard, Romeo physically separates himself from Mercutio and Benvolio—a separation that reflects the distance he feels from society, his friends, and his family
mercutio and love
Mercutio and Love
  • Mercutio calls to Romeo using physical and sexual innuendo
  • To Mercutio, love is a conquest, a physical endeavour
  • He reveals a crude understanding of love—“quivering thigh, / And the demesnes that there adjacent lie”
  • His view of love contrasts sharply to Romeo’s- this elevates the love of Romeo and Juliet
  • Romeo’s leap over the Capulet wall is symbolic of his flight to a spiritual love as he moves away from Mercutio’s crude understanding of love
act ii scene ii summary
Act II, Scene ii - Summary
  • Romeo stands beneath Juliet’s bedroom window
  • Juliet appears on the balcony and thinking she’s alone, reveals her love for Romeo
  • She despairs over the feud and the problems it creates
  • Romeo listens and when Juliet calls on him to “doff” his name, he reveals himself
  • They exchange expressions of love and devotion
  • Nurse calls Juliet away, but she returns
  • They agree to marry
  • Juliet promises to send a messenger the next day so that Romeo can explain the wedding arrangements
  • The scene concludes as day breaks and Romeo leaves to seek the advice of Friar Lawrence
light imagery
Light Imagery
  • Shakespeare uses light and dark imagery in this scene to describe the blossoming of Romeo and Juliet’s romance
  • Juliet is compared to the sun and stars, and as a ‘bright angel’
  • As Romeo stands in the shadows, he looks to the balcony and compares Juliet to the sun
  • Romeo implies that her very appearance is enough to banish night-time
  • Thus, as Romeo steps from the moonlit darkness into the light from Juliet’s balcony, he has left behind his melodramatic woes and moved toward a more genuine, mature understanding of love
light and dark interplay
Light and Dark interplay
  • Importance of light and dark in Act 1
  • Romeo compares Juliet to, "a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear" (1.5.43) when he first sees her. This play on the comparison of dark and light shows up frequently in subsequent scenes
  • It is a central part of their love that important love scenes take place in the dark, away from the disorder of the day. Thus Romeo loves Juliet at night, but kills Tybalt during the day.
  • It especially shows up in the first act in the way Romeo shuts out the daylight while he is pining for Rosaline.
light and dark in act 2
Light and dark in act 2
  • The interaction and conflict of night and day is raised to new levels within the second act. Benvolio states that, "Blind is his love, and best befits the dark" (2.1.32), in reference to Romeo's passion.
  • And when Romeo finally sees Juliet again, he wonders, "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. / Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon" (2.1.44-46). Romeo then invokes the darkness as a form of protection from harm, "I have night's cloak to hide me from their eyes" (2.1.117).
  • This conflict will not end until the disorder of the day eventually overcomes the passionate nights and destroys the lives of both lovers.
love and purity
Love and purity
  • Shakespeare describes the pure and innocent quality of their love by juxtaposing the balcony scene with Mercutio’s lewd sexual jokes in the previous scene
  • Romeo returns to the religious imagery when he describes Juliet as, “a bright angel” and “dear saint”
  • The recurring use of religious imagery emphasises the purity of Romeo and Juliet’s love
  • The scene takes place at night, illustrating the way Romeo and Juliet’s love exists in a world separate from others
  • Throughout the play, their love flourishes at night - an allusion to the forbidden nature of their relationship
  • As night ends and dawn breaks, the two are forced to part to avoid being discovered by the Capulets
  • Romeo begins to display signs of increasing maturity
  • His speeches are now natural rather than the rehearsed rhymed couplets
  • Romeo is no longer the melancholy lover of Act I
  • He is no longer concerned with himself, but thinks of Juliet
  • He is willing to sacrifice his family, society and his life for her
  • Although Romeo has matured to an extent, he remains somewhat immature when compared with Juliet
  • She considers practical and logical ideas
  • He is impetuous, headstrong breaking into his enemy’s garden and risking his life
  • He continues speaking in romantic exaggerated images
  • Juliet reveals intelligence through complex philosophical thought concerning the nature of identity
  • Compares Romeo to a rose and reasons that if a rose were given another name, it would still be a rose
  • Shows increasing self-possession and confidence - introduces the idea of marriage
  • Practical, concerned with Romeo’s safety
  • Realist: stops Romeo from swearing his love on the moon as it is too “inconstant” and “variable” - encourages him to express his love genuinely
  • Mature in understanding they are moving too quickly and that their love may not last: “It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden”
  • ‘I have no joy of this contract tonight’ - She is aware that they are both in the grip of a passion and possession that they cannot fight – and that it may not necessarily end well for them (foreshadowing)
  • Very quickly, she demands that if Romeo’s ‘love be honourable’, then they should marry immediately, and she will give up everything for him (including her name)
  • At Juliet’s suggestion, they plan to marry
  • Fear Romeo will be discovered by the Capulets
  • Feel anxious for Juliet who is unaware that she is exposing her innermost feelings to Romeo
  • Interruptions from the Nurse add to the atmosphere of intense urgency as the lovers frantically say good-bye
  • It also reveals the way in which others intrude upon and destroy their love
  • The anticipation of their forthcoming marriage continues to build further tension and increase the pace of the play
  • However, this is the most positive, joyful, problem free scene in the play
  • It is the only scene where their love is developed and explored, with the possibility of a happy conclusion
  • Juliet seeks her own fate rather than a destiny imposed upon her by her parents as she introduces the idea of marriage to Romeo
  • Juliet’s promise to Romeo to “follow thee my lord throughout the world” foreshadows the final scene of the play, when Juliet follows Romeo into death
  • Juliet refuses to accept that Romeo must be her enemy, but she cannot make him NOT be a Montague, and all that that name stands for
  • In the garden, they are able to pretend that names (or language) does not matter, and that only the language of love holds sway
  • But the language of society will prevail in the end – Romeo IS a Montague and will only ever be seen as such by his enemies
act ii scene iii summary
Act II, Scene iii - Summary
  • Friar Laurence speaks a lengthy meditation on the duality of good and evil that exists in nature
  • This alerts us to the fact that he has a deep knowledge of the properties of plants and herbs
  • Romeo arrives, tells him of his love for Juliet and asks the Friar to marry them later that day
  • The Friar is amazed and concerned at the speed with which Romeo has transferred his love from Rosaline to Juliet
  • But he agrees to marry the couple hoping it will ease the feud between the families
conflict between good and evil
Conflict between Good and Evil
  • The dual nature within the Friar’s plants suggests a coexistence of good and evil: “Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied; / And vice sometimes by action dignified.”
  • The tension between good and evil is a constant force in this play
  • The Friar is a good example as his intentions are good, in that he wishes to end the feud, but his plan precipitates the tragic end to the play
  • He is naive in his underestimation of the feud and the workings of fate
friar and romeo
Friar and Romeo
  • The Friar acts as a father figure to Romeo
  • He is the only person to whom Romeo can confide the secret of his love for Juliet and his plans to marry
  • He also knew about his love for Roseline, and yet Romeo’s parents did not
  • Equally he cares about Romeo offering him advice
  • The Friar’s disbelief at the speed of Romeo’s love for Rosaline turning to love of Juliet causes us to question if his love is genuine
  • He describes Romeo as a ‘young waverer’
  • This suggests Romeo’s emotions fluctuate
  • Although Romeo may appear superficial at this stage he will prove his love for Juliet throughout the action of the play
romeo s flaw
Romeo’s Flaw
  • Romeo is typically impulsive and wants to be married that day
  • The Friar advises caution, reminding Romeo of the love he recently had for Rosaline and the speed with which he has abandoned that love
  • Romeo’s flaw is that he acts without thought and impulsively follows his emotions
act ii scene iv summary
Act II, Scene iv - Summary
  • It is the morning after the Capulet feast
  • Benvolio explains that Tybalt has sent Romeo a challenge to fight
  • Mercutio suggests Tybalt is a good fighter
  • Romeo arrives and we see a change in him – he is lively, funny and quick-witted
  • The marriage plans proceed as Nurse arrives to find out information for Juliet
  • Mercutio exasperates her with his sharp mocking words
  • Romeo tells the Nurse that Juliet should meet him at Friar Laurence’s cell at 2 p.m. that afternoon to be married
  • The Nurse is to collect a rope ladder from Romeo so that he can climb to Juliet’s window to celebrate their wedding night
romeo development
Romeo Development
  • We see a change in Romeo
  • He is now rejuvenated, buoyed by romantic energy
  • Thoughts of his marriage have enlivened him and his mind enabling him to meet all of Mercutio’s verbal challenges with equally intelligent, rapid retorts – he outwits Mercutio
  • An air of excited anticipation energizes the atmosphere
  • Mercutio notices this change: ‘is this not better than groaning for love? Now art thou Romeo.’
  • This ‘sociable’ Romeo is the ‘real’ Romeo
tybalt s threat
Tybalt’s Threat
  • Mercutio doubts Romeo’s ability to fight with Tybalt: ‘Alas, poor Romeo, he is already dead!’
  • Dramatic irony, as Romeo will kill Tybalt
  • Tybalt’s challenge embroils Romeo in the feud even though he has a peaceable nature
  • Tybalt’s anger is caused by a trivial incident - he is determined to confront Romeo despite Capulet’s opposition
  • The mischievous repartee contrasts with the darkly ominous threats of Tybalt’s challenge
  • As in other parts of the play, vastly contrasting ideas coexist – love/hate; euphoria/despair
the nurse
The Nurse
  • Brings news of Juliet to Romeo, and warns that ‘the gentlewoman is very young’ and that if he should ‘deal double’ with her, it would be an ‘ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing’
  • She is concerned for Juliet and acts as a mother
  • Romeo reassures her that he is serious in his intent
  • The sense of anticipation increases in this scene through repeated references to time
  • The Nurse’s delay in finding Romeo amplifies an already intense sense of urgency
  • News that the wedding ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. illustrates the speed with which Romeo and Juliet meet and are to be married - in less than 24 hours!
act ii scene v summary
Act II, Scene v - Summary
  • Juliet waits impatiently for the nurse to return (she has been gone three hours)
  • Whether deliberately or not – the Nurse delays telling her Romeo’s news, thus building up dramatic tension for Juliet (and the audience..)
  • Instead, she complains about her aches and pains
  • Nurse relents when Juliet becomes forceful
  • The Nurse then leaves to collect the rope ladder
  • Again, Juliet reveals the practical, no-nonsense, and direct aspects of her character and personality
time and tension
Time and Tension
  • The dizzying speed with which the lovers fell in love is contrasted with the long hours Juliet waits for news
  • It emphasises the nature of time dragging when parted from a loved one
  • The Nurse’s comic role increases the tension in this scene as she deliberately refuses to be hurried by Juliet
  • Juliet is forced to wait and coax the news from the Nurse, stifling her impatience when the Nurse continually changes the subject
juliet s development
Juliet’s Development
  • The scene echoes Romeo’s discussions with the Friar because both Romeo and Juliet are desperately impatient to wed
  • Juliet’s soliloquy and her subsequent exchanges with the Nurse show her desire to be with Romeo and her growing impetuous nature
  • Unlike her demeanor in other scenes, Juliet reveals little patience for deferred gratification
  • However, marriage suggests Juliet’s necessary maturity with ominous, fateful overtones - can she be mature at 13?
the plan
The plan
  • Juliet has to pretend to be going to confession, and in Friar Laurence’s cell, she and Romeo will be secretly married by the Friar
  • A servant of Romeo’s will bring a rope ladder to the Nurse, who will so arrange this as to allow Romeo access to Juliet’s room (wherein the marriage can be consummated)
  • Consummation was an important legal, moral, emotional and religious concept
act ii scene vi summary
Act II, Scene vi - Summary
  • Romeo and Friar Laurence wait for Juliet
  • The Friar has misgivings about the hastiness of the decision to marry
  • He hopes that fate will favour their actions: ‘so smile the heavens upon this holy act..’
  • Romeo – reckless as ever – does not care about the consequences, but believes wholeheartedly in the power of love
  • Juliet arrives and the Friar takes them into the church to be married
power of love
Power of Love
  • Romeo believes in the strength of love to overcome all difficulties
  • He believes that not even death can counteract the pleasure he feels in marrying Juliet
  • He boldly believes love has the power to defeat death: “love-devouring death”
  • He asserts that no matter what miseries await love overrides them all: ‘But come what sorrow can, It cannot countervail the exchange of joy That one short minute gives me in her sight’
foreshadowing and fate
Foreshadowing and Fate
  • The Friar counsels moderation, warning that ‘these violent delights have violent ends’
  • However, he is becoming embroiled in the rash actions of Romeo and Juliet
  • The wedding scene is notable for its brevity and pervasive atmosphere of impending doom
  • Images of happiness and marriage are repeatedly paired with images of violence and death
  • Although he is unhesitating in his desire to be married to Juliet, Romeo’s challenge to fate is prophetic and full of dramatic irony because it foreshadows the final outcome; that death triumphs over both protagonists
at the end of act 2
At the end of Act 2
  • These are the final ‘happy’ scenes
  • Shakespeare emphasises the thrilling and ecstatic joy of young, romantic love
  • The mood and tone are euphoric, with only a few small notes of foreshadowing included to remind the audience that this is a tragedy, and there will be no ‘happy ending’ for Romeo and Juliet
writing task
Writing task
  • Read Act II Scene iii closely once more, then write brief answers to the following:
  • What does Friar Laurence’s opening speech tell us about him, and his views on nature..?
  • What does this scene tell us about Romeo’s character (and Friar Laurence’s opinion of him..)
act iii scene i summary
Act III, Scene I - Summary
  • Benvolio is concerned they will not “scape a brawl”
  • Tybalt enters looking for Romeo
  • Tybalt and Mercutio - two of the most headstrong and passionate members of each side of the feud - conflict will arise
  • Benvolio tries to avoid confrontation but Mercutio is deliberately provocative
  • Romeo appears and Tybalt insults him, hoping he will respond to the challenge
  • Romeo refuses because he is now related to Tybalt through his marriage to Juliet
act iii scene i summary1
Act III, Scene i - Summary
  • Mercutio, disgusted by Romeo’s reluctance, fights on Romeo’s behalf
  • To stop the battle, Romeo steps between them and Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm
  • Mercutio’s wound is fatal and he dies cursing: “A plague o’ both your houses!”
  • Blinded by rage over Mercutio’s death, Romeo attacks Tybalt and kills him
  • Romeo is forced to flee a mob of citizens as the Prince, the heads of the two households, and their wives appear at the scene
  • After Benvolio gives an account of what has happened, the Prince banishes Romeo from Verona under the penalty of death and orders Lords Montague and Capulet to pay a heavy fine
setting and mood
Setting and Mood
  • This scene acts as a violent contrast to the euphoric mood and romance of the previous few scenes
  • The harsh, uncompromising daylight reality replaces the dark secrecy and moonlight declarations of the previous scenes
  • The searing heat, flaring tempers, and sudden violence of this scene contrast sharply with the romantic, peaceful previous night
  • The play reaches a dramatic crescendo as Romeo and Juliet’s private world clashes with the public feud
romeo s refusal to fight
Romeo’s Refusal to Fight
  • Romeo appears, euphoric and unaware he’s been challenged to a duel – his mood separates him from the other characters in the scene
  • In response to Tybalt’s attempts to initiate a fight, Romeo tells Tybalt he loves “thee better than thou canst devise” – he will not fight as he is now a kinsman of Tybalt’s
  • In Romeo’s mind, he has shed his identity as a Montague and has become one with Juliet, his wife
  • However, Tybalt still sees Romeo as standing on the wrong side of a clear line that divides the families
  • Tybalt does not understand why Romeo will not respond to his challenge - traditional assertion of masculine nobility
  • Romeo and Juliet’s love removes them from the animosity that drives the feud
romeo and conflict
Romeo and Conflict
  • However, the love of Romeo and Juliet is flawed by Romeo acting out of anger rather than his love for Juliet
  • Ironically, Romeo’s refusal to duel with Tybalt brings about the very acceleration of violence he sought to prevent and Mercutio’s death
  • Romeo blames himself for Mercutio’s death because he placed his love for Juliet before consideration of his friend and regards himself as effeminate
  • Romeo thus attacks Tybalt to assuage his guilt
  • By doing so, he disregards any effect that this may have on Juliet
  • His action is impulsive and reckless, his rage overpowers his sensibility, and his tragic fortunes are sealed
  • By attacking Tybalt in a blind fury, he has become one with fiery Tybalt; one with the feud
  • The hot-headed Mercutio starts a quarrel the instant Tybalt requests a word with him, by responding, “make it a word and a blow.”
  • Mercutio’s characteristic wit turns bitter as he is incensed at what he sees as Romeo’s cowardice: ‘calm, dishonourable, vile submission’
  • As he dies he curses both Montagues and Capulets, who have been the direct cause of his death: “A plague on both your houses” (3 times)
  • In shocked disbelief, he asks Romeo “Why the devil / came you between us? I was hurt under your arm”
  • Mercutio’s death is the catalyst for the tragic turn the play takes from this point onward
  • Tybalt’s death brings Romeo a moment of clarity - he realises that he is the helpless victim of fate: “O, I am fortune’s fool!”
  • He is struck by a sense of anger, injustice, and futility, of being ‘unlucky’ and ‘cursed’ by bad fortune
  • Contrast this with Mercutio’s response to his own fate – he blames the people of the houses of Montague and Capulet, and gives no blame to any larger force
  • The speed with which Mercutio and Tybalt’s deaths occur, together with Romeo’s marriage and subsequent banishment, all contribute to a sense of inevitability—that a chain of events has been set in motion over which the protagonists have no control
  • Mercutio’s dying curse upon the houses resonates as the voice of fate itself
  • The sudden, extreme violence of this scene serves as a reminder that, for all the love, beauty and romance of the play, this love story takes place against a backdrop of honour, pride, revenge and other masculine notions
  • The beauty, purity and fragility of Romeo and Juliet’s love stands little chance against this world of violence and brutality
banishment and fate
Banishment and Fate
  • The Prince listens to the true story of what happened, anddeclares that Romeo’s behaviour was understandable, but nevertheless must be punished by banishment from Verona – forever
  • ‘..when he is found, that hour is his last’
  • Romeo and Juliet’s love is now not only censured and forbidden by their families, it is also thwarted and forbidden by the ruler of Verona
  • Their relationship puts Romeo in danger of violent reprisal from both Juliet’s kinsmen AND the state
the future
The future?
  • From an atmosphere of hope at the very end of Act II, we have moved (in one scene) to a situation of darkest despair
  • It is now very difficult for Romeo, and the audience, to see a hopeful future for the young lovers
act iii scene ii summary
Act III, Scene ii - Summary
  • Juliet is impatient for night so that she can be with Romeo
  • Nurse is distraught and unable to make clear who is dead
  • Juliet thinks Romeo has killed himself ‘Hath Romeo slain himself?’ and resolves she will also kill herself
  • Nurse then reveals Tybalt is dead and Juliet fears both Tybalt AND Romeo are dead
  • When the truth is at last revealed Juliet makes ONE speech cursing nature that it should put ‘the spirit of a fiend’ in Romeo’s ‘sweet flesh’
  • BUT when Nurse joins her Juliet reverts to her loyalty
  • Nurse explains Romeo is hiding at Friar Lawrence’s cell and Juliet sends the Nurse with a ring, bidding Romeo to come and “take his last farewell.”
tension and mood
Tension and Mood
  • Setting is peaceful (the Capulet orchard)
  • Contrasts to the conflict in the previous scene
  • Juliet looks forward to the “amorous rites” of her marriage
  • Her impatience echoes her excitement in Act II, Scene 5, when she had to wait for news of the wedding arrangements
  • Contrast –we know that her happy hopes will not be fulfilled
  • Sense of impending doom hangs in the atmosphere as she is unaware of the tragedy which awaits her
dark imagery
Dark Imagery
  • Darkness for the lovers is a time of safety
  • Juliet beckons the darkness because it has been a sanctuary for the couple, “if love be blind, / It best agrees with night.”
  • The lovers have forged their love at night as they:
    • met
    • agreed to marry
    • consummate their marriage
    • die together under the cover of night
  • Their affinity for the darkness illustrates theirseparation from the temporal, feuding world
light imagery1
Light Imagery
  • Although external light (the “garish sun”) has become their enemy, the lovers provide light for each other
  • Juliet’s eyes were like the stars, she “doth teach the torches to burn bright!,” and is Romeo’s “Juliet is the sun”
  • Here, Romeo brings “day in night”
  • Juliet begs fate to “cut Romeo out in little stars”
  • These stars represent both the timeless quality of the couple’s love and their fate as “star-cross’d lovers” who will only truly be united in death
  • Although Juliet is unaware of the tragic news that awaits her, her soliloquy contains tragic images suggesting the dark future – she states of Romeo: “if he should die”
  • Even when Juliet understands that Romeo is not dead, his banishment is equivalent to death in her eyes: “I’ll to my wedding bed / And death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead.”
  • The association between Juliet and death as her bridegroom pairs the themes of love and death
  • This emphasises that her young life is constantly overshadowed by death
love death
Love/ Death
  • Shakespeare’s linking of ‘love’ and ‘death’ continues with Juliet’s first reaction being that Romeo MUST have killed himself, and
  • Her own willingness to kill herself
  • This theme of the intensity of extreme love leading to a death impulse will be echoed in the upcoming scene, and Romeo’s reaction to his banishment
juliet and loyalty
Juliet and Loyalty
  • Juliet feels conflicted because her love for Romeo clashes with her love and sense of duty to Tybalt
  • She expresses her conflicting emotions for Romeo using oxymorons: “Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical.”
  • She is angry, but swiftly restores her loyal feelings
  • Juliet’s loyalty is firmly grounded in her love of Romeo and no longer for family - she is now a wife first and a daughter and cousin second
  • She believes that Romeo’s banishment is worse than the slaying of ‘ten thousand Tybalts’
  • She laments that she will die a ‘maiden-widow’ – there is no other love for her
  • She offers her ring to give to Romeo as a token of her love, loyalty and forgiveness
juliet and nurse
Juliet and Nurse
  • The Nurse’s inability to comprehend the intensity of Juliet’s love for Romeo causes a change in their relationship
  • Juliet is emerging as a young woman with her own opinions and emotions
  • She no longer relies on Nurse for maternal guidance
  • The rift between the Nurse and Juliet foreshadows the final split in their relationship which occurs in Act III, Scene v when the Nurse betrays Juliet by advising her to forget Romeo and marry Paris
  • The blissful love of Act II has completely disappeared in the tension of Act 3
  • The conflict has caused this deterioration
  • It is now extremely unlikely that their alliance will turn such extreme ‘rancour’ to ‘pure love’
act iii scene iii summary
Act III, Scene iii - Summary
  • In Friar Lawrence’s cell, Romeo is overcome with grief at his banishment –he will live, but without Juliet
  • In a state of frenzied grief, he falls on the floor and cannot be comforted: “with his own tears made drunk.”
  • The Nurse arrives, with news of Juliet’s distress, but Romeo assumes Juliet will not want him now
  • Once again, he offers to rid himself of his name, this time by stabbing himself.. ‘In what vile part of this anatomy Doth my name lodge? Tell me, that I may sack The hateful mansion’
  • The Friar advises Romeo to go to Juliet, then flee to Mantua
  • He promises to announce Romeo and Juliet’s marriage and gain a pardon for Romeo to return safely
  • This scene parallels the previous scene where Juliet reacted to the news of Romeo’s banishment with forceful emotion
  • Romeo responds to his banishment with wailing hysteria and a failed suicide attempt
  • Their reactions show the similar feelings of Romeo and Juliet – the structure of the play consistently links their actions
  • Juliet lamented her fate, her marriage, and her life with maturity, while Romeo falls to the floor grappling for a dagger with which to end his suffering
romeo impusive
Romeo - Impusive
  • Reacts in usual fashion - extreme passion, and lack of moderation
  • Willing to kill himself – seeking oblivion rather than live without Juliet
  • We might question this believing it was also caused by Romeo’s impulsive behavior
  • Romeo realises he cannot escape the responsibilities of family – he is fated by his name
  • He angrily blames his name and wishes to cut from his body: ‘Had I it written, I would tear the word’
  • He distinguishes himself from his identity as a Montague: “that name’s cursed hand / Murdered her kinsman”, but it seems his family name will lead to his death
  • The Friar links Romeo and Juliet’s marriage with ill fate when he says that Romeo is “wedded to calamity”
  • Throughout the play, Romeo and Juliet are described as being wedded to death which foreshadows the play’s conclusion
  • It suggests that fate is an omnipotent, controlling power that draws the characters toward their doom
youth and age
Youth and Age
  • Conflict between the older and younger generations
  • The Friar chastises Romeo and reminds him of his good fortune that the Prince has given a “gentler judgment” of exile rather than death
  • Romeo’s blind passion is far removed from calm reasoning of Friar
  • As in previous and subsequent scenes, the older generation’s failure to comprehend the depth of Romeo and Juliet’s passion isolates the lovers from sources of wisdom that might otherwise prevent their tragic fates
act iii scene iv summary
Act III, Scene iv - Summary
  • Late on Monday evening, Capulet and Paris discuss Juliet’s grief over Tybalt’s
  • This has prevented Paris from continuing his courtship of Juliet
  • Suddenly, as Paris prepares to leave, Capulet offers him Juliet’s hand in marriage
  • He tells Paris that Juliet will obey his wishes and marry Paris on Thursday: “I think she will be ruled in all respects by me” (No, she won’t)
  • Paris eagerly agrees and Lady Capulet is sent to convey the news to Juliet
fate tension
Fate/ Tension
  • Juliet’s father suddenly decides that she should marry Paris as soon as possible - rash plans
  • Repeated references to days and times creates a sense of urgency as events rush towards their tragic conclusion
  • He reasons that since it is Monday night, Wednesday would be too soon due to Tybalt’s death; therefore, Thursday would appropriate
  • It seems that Juliet’s fate is inescapable
  • BUT by the Tuesday (following) morning, Juliet will have spent the night with Romeo, and consummated their marriage
  • Juliet CANNOT then marry another man – this would be blasphemous and a ‘mortal sin’
lord capulet
Lord Capulet
  • Capulet’s belief that Juliet will obey his will contrasts sharply with his manner previously
  • The decision reflects his impetuous nature but it may have political reasons as he knows Paris is related to the Prince who may be useful if the feud escalates
  • His language suggests a shift from parental concern to material/ social status
  • His belief in his daughter’s compliance are ironic because Juliet has already defied her father
  • The older generation is out of touch as Juliet is upstairs consummating her marriage
  • Capulet, like his wife, is anxious to have his daughter marry successfully
  • He addresses Paris using a series of titles suggesting his social superiority, “Sir Paris,” “noble earl,” and “My lord.”
  • Paris is a relative of the Prince and would bring Capulet’s family increased wealth and status
  • Capulet would never be able to understand, let alone agree to, a marriage for Juliet based solely on love
  • Juliet is powerless in this situation – her thoughts and wishes are not taken into consideration at all – making Capulet’s earlier declarations of regard for her seem insincere and meaningless
  • She is a political and financial asset to him, and one that he feels free to use for his own ends..
act iii scene v summary
Act III, Scene v - Summary
  • At dawn on Tuesday morning, Romeo and Juliet declare their love before Romeo leaves for Mantua
  • Juliet tries to resist the coming day that brings their separation by pretending that it is still night
  • Romeo is willing to throw caution to the winds and stay with her: ‘Let me be ta’en, let me be put to death/I am content, so thou wilt have it so.’
  • Juliet is more pragmatic and insists that he leaves:‘ O, now be gone! More light and light it grows.’
  • The threat of death forces the lovers to part
act iii scene v summary1
Act III, Scene v - Summary
  • Lady Capulet tells Juliet that she is to marry Paris
  • Juliet is stunned and tells her mother that she cannot be married in such haste
  • Her father enters expecting to find Juliet excited
  • When she expresses opposition, he is enraged and demands Juliet obey his “decree”
  • The Nurse tries to defend Juliet, but Capulet threatens to disown his daughter
  • The scene ends with the Nurse advising Juliet to obey her father
  • Juliet resolves to seek the advice of Friar Lawrence
light dark
  • Dawn divides Romeo and Juliet, this time, for good
  • As the sun’s rays “lace the severing clouds,” Juliet wishes the lark were the nightingale
  • Juliet tries to deny the arrival of the coming day to prolong her time with Romeo
  • As in previous scenes, Romeo and Juliet’s love flourishes in the dark, but daylight brings separation and ill fortune: Juliet says reluctantly, “window, let day in, and let life out.”
fate and foreshadowing
Fate and Foreshadowing
  • As Romeo descends the balcony, Juliet experiences a frightening vision of Romeo “as one dead in the bottom of a tomb.”
  • This prophetic image will prove true in the final scene when Juliet awakens to find Romeo dead on the floor
  • Equally Romeo states: “Dry sorrow drinks our blood’
  • Images of love and death intertwine, infecting the joy of their wedding night with the foreshadowing of their coming deaths
lady capulet and the feud
Lady Capulet and the Feud
  • Lady Capulet plans to avenge Tybalt’s death by poisoning Romeo
  • Ironic as she anticipates the method he finally chooses to take his own life
  • Although Romeo drinks the poison, it is the hatred, driven in part by Lady Capulet that gives him cause
  • Her venomous comment at Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris “I would the fool were married to her grave.” anticipates the lovers’ tragic reunion in death
  • It is as if Lady Capulet, by her single-minded focus on the feud condemns them to their fates
  • When Capulet refused to consent to his daughter’s marriage unless she was willing, he seemed concerned for Juliet’s welfare “My will to her consent is but a part”
  • Such parental concern evaporates into authoritarian ranting as Capulet calls Juliet “baggage”, degrading her to a possession
  • He threatens Juliet with violence and disinheritance if she disobeys him, “hang! Beg! Starve! Die in the streets! / For by my soul I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee.”
  • His sudden transformation illustrates his tendency toward impulsive, cruel, and reckless behavior
  • These tendencies may have contributed to the origins of the feud
parental love
Parental Love
  • Juliet’s interaction with both her mother and her father confirms the failure of parental love
  • Their sole concern is with a socially acceptable marriage that will improve the wealth and status of the Capulet family rather than Juliet’s happiness
juliet s strength
Juliet’s Strength
  • Juliet handles herself with striking maturity
  • No longer the dutiful teenage daughter of the Capulets, she is a young woman, a bride, a wife
  • Her answers to her mother are skillfully truthful yet deceptive and filled with double-meanings
  • In response to her mother’s desire to have Romeo killed, Juliet remarks that she “never shall be satisfied / With Romeo, till I behold him - dead - is my poor heart….”
  • When told she will marry Paris she snaps back immediately ‘He shall not make me there a joyful bride!’
  • Her father’s rage places her in a position where she has nothing to lose which encourages her defiance
  • Juliet will not give in
the nurse and juliet
The Nurse and Juliet
  • The Nurse, more of a mother figure to Juliet than her biological mother, fails Juliet at this critical moment
  • To comfort Juliet in her desperation, she offers an easy solution - marry Paris and forget the “dishclout”Romeo
  • This betrays Juliet’s trust and indicates the Nurse’s inability to understand the moral, emotional or religious connotations of Juliet’s marriage
  • The Nurse regards love as a temporary, physical relationship, and she sees Juliet’s marriage to Paris in entirely practical and economic terms
  • Juliet severs herself from the Nurse (an emotionally charged act, highly symbolic of leaving childhood behind) declaring: “Go, counsellor!/Thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain”
juliet abandoned
Juliet Abandoned
  • Appeals to the heavens: ‘Is there no pity sitting in the clouds..’
  • Appeals to her mother: ‘O sweet my mother, cast me not away!’
  • Appeals to the Nurse: ‘O Nurse, how shall this be prevented?’
  • Everyone has abandoned her
  • At the end of Act 3, she is as much ‘banished’ as Romeo
  • She flees to the Friar as a source of aid and counsel
  • Her isolation is nearly complete, and yet she is calm and resolute, as she determines to die rather than enter into a bigamous marriage with Paris: “If all else fail, myself have power to die.”
  • Like Romeo, she realises that choosing to live, or not live, can represent the only means of asserting authority over the self
  • She has defied her father, but knows she stands little chance of success in this male-dominated world
today s lesson1
Today’s lesson
  • Folio signatures
  • Homework – complete reading R&J
  • Analysis – to be completed this week
  • The following to hand in their completed folios by the end of today WITHOUT FAIL
  • James
  • Josh
  • Sophie MacGill
  • Lauren
  • Lisa
act iv scene i summary
Act IV, Scene i - Summary
  • Paris tells the Friar of the wedding (in two days)
  • Friar is shocked at haste - it ‘should be slowed’
  • Juliet cool towards Paris, cleverly sidesteps his compliments; Paris is affectionate towards her
  • Paris leaves and Juliet threatens to take ‘this bloody knife’ and kill herself if no help given
  • The Friar offers Juliet a sleeping potionwhich will induce a coma-like state for 42 hours
  • She will lie alone in her chamber (on Wed night)
  • Everyone will believe she is dead, and Romeo will be sent for and they will escape to Mantua
  • Juliet agrees instantly
  • The dramatic tension in the scene is created through the meeting of Paris and Juliet
  • Juliet and Paris engage in rigid, formal talk
  • Paris tries to engage Juliet but she is quick to respond and curt in manner
  • He is courteous suitor, while Juliet proves her nimble mind as she evades Paris’s questions and compliments
juliet s strength1
Juliet’s Strength
  • She is surprised to find Paris at the Friar’s yet she presents herself as composed and confident
  • She describes the horrors she is prepared to face rather than marry Paris highlighting her bravery and the depth of her love for Romeo
  • Juliet is prepared to take her life rather than be without Romeo
  • The Friar states that if she has ‘the strength of will’ to kill herself, then she will have the courage to take the potion
  • She makes this decision quickly suggesting her determination and resolution to try anything to be with Romeo
  • This scene is defining moment in the structure of the play
  • In this scene, Juliet’s decision to accept the Friar’s potion demonstrates her
    • commitment to defying her father’s rule
    • asserting her independence
    • accepting her resolution to die in order to be with Romeo
romeo and juliet parallel
Romeo and Juliet - Parallel
  • Juliet’s conversation with the Friar parallels Act III, Scene 3 with Romeo when he threatens to kill himself
  • Juliet, like Romeo, now believes that only death can offer a solution to her dilemma: “Be not so long to speak. I long to die / If what thou speak’st speak not of remedy.”
  • As always, Rome and Juliet mirror each other’s actions
friar and fate
Friar and Fate
  • The Friar uses his knowledge of flowers and herbs when thinking of the potion
  • In Act II, scene iii, the Friar described the dual qualities of plants that are capable of healing yet have the power to act as a poison
  • The Friar’s plan offers hope for Juliet, but due to the influence of fate, becomes the vehicle of the tragedy
at the end of this scene
At the end of this scene:
  • Juliet has found an ally
  • The Friar has proven himself to be wily, scheming and inventive in aiding Romeo and Juliet
  • BUT can he be trusted?
  • Paris appears to be genuinely interested in Juliet
act iv scene ii summary
Act IV, Scene ii - Summary
  • Juliet returns home where she surprises her parents by sweetly capitulating to the wedding
  • Capulet is so pleased, that he insists on bringing the wedding forward by one day (to the Wednesday morning)
  • Lady Capulet protests, saying it does not leave enough time to prepare, but the euphoric Lord Capulet states he will prepare everything
  • Juliet is now to be married the following morning
  • This will affect the Friar’s arrangements to let Romeo know of their plans
  • Here, fate twists Juliet’s fortunes once again
  • Capulet, in his impulsive zeal, complicates the Friar’s plan by moving the wedding forward a full day
  • Juliet must take the potion that night and lapse into a suspended state 24 hours sooner than the Friar had anticipated
  • This development reduces the amount of time the Friar will have to notify Romeo in Mantua
juliet duplicitous
Juliet - Duplicitous
  • Juliet pretends to acquiesce to Capulet’s plan
  • She reveals enthusiasm which is somewhat genuine since she feels hope in the potion
  • She reveals her ability to pretend and her perception in working out what others want
  • Juliet displays duplicity as she describes her meeting with Paris saying she gave him, “what becomed love I might / Not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty.”
  • She also pretends to prepare for the wedding while preparing for her presumed death
  • She has emotionally removed herself from those who have betrayed her
lord capulet1
Lord Capulet
  • Capulet is characteristically impulsive, rash, and unpredictable
  • His blind enthusiasm leads him to insist that his entire family and staff work through the night to make adequate preparations for the hastened ceremony
  • He shows disrespect for his wife and Juliet insulting Juliet by accusing her of “peevish, self-willed harlotry” and he completely dominates his wife, disregarding her desire to delay the wedding and ordering her to Juliet’s room to help the Nurse
act iv scene iii summary
Act IV, Scene iii - Summary
  • In her bedchamber, Juliet asks the Nurse to let her spend the night alone
  • She begins to wonder what will happen to her if she drinks from the vial
  • She comes up with reason after reason why drinking the sleeping potion may cause her harm – physical or psychological – but drinks it anyway, telling Romeo ‘I drink to thee’
juliet independence
Juliet – Independence
  • Juliet asserts independence by asking Nurse and Lady Capulet to leave her alone
  • She is separating herself from her family and takes a step toward her plan to be with Romeo
  • This request marks a turning point for Juliet
  • Previously, she refrained from making her own decisions (waited for instruction from Romeo when they would wed and depended on Friar to provide a plan)
  • She has grown more mature and independent
  • Places dagger by her side showing her decision to die if she can’t be with Romeo
juliet strength
Juliet - Strength
  • When Juliet is left alone, she is struck by the horror of her situation
  • She imagines gruesome, nightmarish horrors of 13-year-old facing her own mortality: being buried alive in the airless tomb and facing Tybalt’s corpse: “festering in his shroud.”
  • She is tempted to call for Nurse, but realises she must act independently
  • She displays courage as she defies her parents and fate itself ad is prepared to die
  • She accepts she must trust the Friar’s potion, and has strength in her ultimate faith
  • Both the knife, and the poison, hint at the lovers’ actual deaths
  • Just as Juliet drinks “poison”, Romeo will eventually procure poison from an apothecary and kill himself that way
  • Juliet will use the knife on herself
act iv scene iv summary
Act IV, Scene iv - Summary
  • Lord Capulet has not been to bed but has been preparing for the wedding
  • The Capulet household has been alive throughout the night with frenetic wedding preparation activities
  • The day begins to break, and Capulet hears music signaling that Paris is approaching the house
  • He orders the Nurse to awaken Juliet
  • The mood is joyful and excited
  • The Capulet house bustles with activity
  • Banter with the servants is frenetic and excited
  • The atmosphere is electrified with the joyful expectation of the upcoming marriage
  • This provides a striking contrast with the scene upstairs, where the bride lies in bed, apparently dead
  • This scene relieves the tension from the previous dark scene
act iv scene v summary
Act IV, Scene v - Summary
  • The Nurse enters Juliet’s room and discovers her seemingly lifeless body on the bed
  • The Nurse believes her to be dead and cries out to the family in desperation
  • They dramatically mourn Juliet’s loss
  • The Friar expresses the belief that Juliet is in heaven and that they are partly to blame
  • He then arranges for Juliet’s body to be taken to the family vault
  • Capulet orders that the wedding preparations be changed to funeral preparations
  • The Nurse opens this with humorous banter
  • However, the mood changes quickly when the Nurse discovers Juliet’s body,
  • The tone of the scene immediately changes from excited anticipation to shocked sorrow creating a sense of shock for the audience
the parents
The parents
  • In their mourning for Juliet, they appear as individuals who have suffered a great loss
  • The audience gains an understanding of how much their hopes for the future had been invested in Juliet
  • And Paris’ grief seems genuine, rather than just disappointment
  • However, their griefs are centred on themselves and much of the sadness is shown in repetitive wailing rather than genuine feeling
at the end of act iv
At the end of Act IV
  • The situation is dire, but there could still be hope IF the Friar’s plan can be made to work
  • Juliet is apparently dead, and is being taken to the family tomb
  • The Friar has to send a message to Romeo (earlier than he thought) explaining the situation to him
  • Potential for tragedy?
act v scene i summary
Act V, Scene I - Summary
  • Romeo muses on a pleasant dream he has had in which Juliet brings him back to life with a kiss: ‘breathed such life with kisses’
  • Romeo mistakenly believes this dream portends good news
  • Romeo’s servant, Balthasar, reports incorrectly that Juliet is dead and that ‘her body sleeps in Capel’s monument’
  • Romeo is utterly distraught, determines to take ‘fate’ into his own hands and take his life
  • He offers a poor apothecary a large amount of money to sell him poison illegally
  • The poison will enable Romeo to be reunited with Juliet in death
  • Contrast: The audience expect to find Romeo wallowing in despair due to his banishment, BUT he is in very good humour
  • Irony: He has dreamed that he died and Juliet’s kisses breathed life back into him, but as Mercutio says “Dreamers often lie.”
  • Foreshadowing: she will find him dead, and will kiss him, BUT won’t revive him!
  • Romeo’s soliloquy is full of dramatic irony - the dream anticipates the final scene when Juliet awakes to find Romeo dead and tries to kiss the poison from his lips
  • Tragedy is imminent when Balthasar arrives and delivers Romeo news that Juliet’s “body sleeps.”
  • Because the Friar’s message did not reach Romeo, this incorrect information causes Romeo’s decision to take his life
  • Romeo rages against the malevolent influence of fate and in bold defiance cries: ‘Then I defy you, stars!’
  • Romeo believes, absolutely, that he and Juliet have been blighted by ‘fate’, and now determines to take his own ‘fate’ into his own hands
romeo and development
Romeo and Development
  • This moment of defiance marks a change in Romeo’s character
  • From now on he is angry, cynical, and emboldened to defy his fate
  • Balthasar sees Romeo is in shock and notices a physical change his ‘looks are pale and wild and do import/some misadventure’
  • His anger and frustration drive him to try to take command over his own life - he decides that if he cannot be with Juliet in life, he will join her in death
  • His resolve to die echoes Juliet’s expression that her last resort is her sanctuary - they have the power to die
  • Once resolved he becomes calmer, more determined.. ‘Tush, thou art deceived/Leave me and do the thing I bid thee do.’
death and macabre
Death and Macabre
  • This scene is filled wit darkness and images of death:
  • Apothecary risks his life to sell dugs to Romeo:‘such mortal drugs I have. But Mantua’s law/Is death to any he that utters them.’
  • He is starving and poor - image of him is deathly and skeletal: he wears tattered clothes; his face is hung with “overwhelming brows,” and “sharp misery has worn him to his bones”
  • His shop is described as dusty and tomb-like containing deathly images – it is filled with the bodies of dead animals, “skins,” “bladders,” and “old cakes of roses.”
  • Romeo’s offers a meditation on what he feels really poisons ‘this loathsome world’ - money, and worldly things, do much more damage than actual poison
  • He is deeply depressed, cynical and despairing – seeing no hope or good in the world at all
impetuous behaviour
Impetuous Behaviour
  • Haste drives one misfortune to collide with another pushing the action forward toward the tragic conclusion:
  • Romeo’s hasty reaction to Mercutio’s death causes his banishment
  • Capulet’s rash decision to move the wedding day precipitates Romeo missing the message from the Friar
  • Romeo’s haste to consume the poison causes him to die just prior to Juliet’s awakening
  • Haste throughout the play acts as a vehicle for fate to draw characters through a series of unfortunate coincidences that form the intricately intertwined plot of the tragedy itself
tragedy romeo s decision
Tragedy – Romeo’s Decision
  • He will thwart the forces that are trying to keep them apart by choosing to die ‘I will lie with thee tonight’ but
  • It is this very attempt to ‘defy’ fate that causes the tragedy
  • In killing himself beside the sleeping Juliet, he directly triggers the double suicide of the lovers
at the end of this scene1
At the end of this scene
  • Romeo firmly believes that Juliet is dead and has decided that he will join her
  • He has procured the means of ending his life
  • He has no way of finding out the truth about the Friar’s plan as he is now on his way back to Verona
act v scene ii summary
Act V, Scene ii - Summary
  • In his cell, the Friar speaks with Friar John, and realises that Romeo has not received news of Juliet’s plan
  • Friar John as supposed to deliver the letter to Romeo but was quarantined because of an outbreak of the plague and unable to leave Verona
  • Friar Lawrence becomes upset, realising that Juliet will wake alone in the tomb
  • He then hurries to the Capulet tomb because it is nearly time for Juliet to wake
  • He calls for a crowbar, intending to retrieve her, keep her safe in his cell, and send news again to Mantua
  • He calls Juliet a ‘poor living corse, closed in a dead man’s tomb!’ (foreshadowing)
  • Fate has once again altered the course of events in the play
  • In this instance, fate thwarts the Friar’s plan by delaying his letter
  • The Friar cries, “Unhappy fortune!” echoing Romeo’s earlier cry that he became “fortune’s fool.”
  • The series of near misses in these two scenes suggest ‘fate’ at work or are they just bad luck or human error?
  • These two scenes are designed to convey a sense of unavoidable destiny descending on Romeo – who himself feels that he has been thwarted by fate – ‘Then I defy you, stars’
act v scene iii summary
Act V, Scene iii - Summary
  • Paris is the scattering flowers on Juliet’s
  • He sees Romeo and is convinced that he has come to defile the Capulet tomb
  • He blames Romeo for Juliet’s death (believes she has died of grief for Tybalt)
  • Romeo breaks into the tomb claiming to retrieve his ring
  • Balthasar, worried about what Romeo will do, also hides
  • Paris confronts Romeo and they fight - Paris dies
  • He begs Romeo to place him in the tomb next to Juliet and Romeo grants his wish
  • Romeo is dazzled by Juliet’s beauty even in death
  • Without hesitation, he kisses her, drinks the poison, and dies at her side
  • The Friar arrives and discovers the dead bodies
act v scene iii summary1
Act V, Scene iii - Summary
  • Juliet then wakens and finds Romeo and Paris dead
  • The Friar flees, and Juliet is alone
  • She tries to drink poison from Romeo’s vial but finding it empty, fatally stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger
  • The Prince arrives, with the Capulets and Lord Montague
  • Lady Montague has died of grief at Romeo’s banishment.
  • The Friar recounts the events of the past week and offers his life in atonement
  • The Prince instead lays the blame for the deaths on Montague and Capulet for their longstanding quarrel
  • The Prince also blames himself for his leniency and fines Montague and Capulet severely
  • The two families are finally reconciled
romeo and aggression
Romeo and Aggression
  • As Romeo charges into the tomb he sheds much of the compassion which had previously dominated his character
  • His plans are “savage-wild,” and he vows to tear anyone who attempts to detract him “joint by joint” and to “strew this hungry churchyard with thy limbs”
  • Romeo has separated himself from his family, from the feud, from Verona, and now from his humanity
  • Paris’ challenge to Romeo parallels Tybalt’s challenge in Act III, Scene i
  • In both instances, Romeo resists the invitation to fight, but fate conspires to leave him no choice
  • Romeo says to Paris, “By heaven I love thee better than myself” and responded similarly to Tybalt“But love thee better than thou canst devise.”
  • The Friar points out to Juliet that: ‘A greater power than we can contradict/Hath thwarted our intents’ – suggesting heavenly control over these events
romeo s kindness
Romeo’s Kindness
  • Paris challenges Romeo to fight, and Romeo resists, saying ‘I love thee better than myself’
  • He only fights when Paris pushes him towards this
  • Paris asks to be laid to rest with Juliet and Romeo agrees, remembering that Paris ‘should have married Juliet’ that day
  • This reveals his compassionate and generous nature
light dark1
Light/ Dark
  • This last scene takes place in the dark of night
  • Romeo and Juliet’s relationship flourished at night, and each provided the other with light
  • In this final scene they find each other in darkness again
  • Romeo once again uses light imagery to describe Juliet as she acts as a source of light in the darkness of the tomb: “her beauty makes / This vault a feasting presence full of light.”
dramatic tension and irony
Dramatic Tension and Irony
  • Romeo is struck by the way Juliet’s beauty appears to defy death—she still looks alive: “Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe / That unsubstantial Death is so amorous?”
  • Dramatic tension is created by the audience’s awareness that she is still alive
  • In bleak irony, his attraction to her even in death emboldens him to take his own life just as she is about to awaken
the friar
The Friar
  • Discovers Romeo and Paris’ dead bodies
  • Sees that Juliet is stirring, and urges her to leave with him or live in a monastery!
  • Juliet will not leave, and the Friar, fearing he will be caught there, flees without her
  • His sense of responsibility for his actions and for Juliet is lacking
  • Juliet tries to take poison from Romeo’s lips by kissing him but is not able to get enough poison, and so uses Romeo’s dagger
  • Offering to use her body as the dagger’s ‘sheath’, she stabs herself and dies beside him
  • Rather than demonstrating weakness or a distracted mindset, Juliet’s death indicates her dignity and strength of character
  • Juliet ignores the Friar’s warnings and deliberately follows through with her vow to be with Romeo in death
  • Due to the strength of their love Romeo and Juliet have consistently defied societies rules
  • Their suicides are the final act of defiance – they will choose not to live rather than live in the world forced upon them by their parents
  • Their ‘violent ends’ transform that world, with the Prince, and their parents, recognising that such a supreme sacrifice must be honoured
  • They are fated – by ‘the stars’, by the violent world in which they live, by the violence and intensity of their love
  • They are the archetypes of true love – they will kill themselves to preserve their love
  • The Prince blames the Capulets and the Montagues, saying ‘See what a scourge is laid upon your hate’
  • He also blames himself for ‘winking at’ (ignoring) the feud for too long
  • The Friar also accepts blame for his actions
  • Fate is to blame for the control it has asserted over the lives of the lovers
positive resolution
Positive Resolution
  • The final scene reunites the lovers
  • We also see the reconciliation of the feuding families - Capulet and Montague shake hands, deep in sorrow over their losses
  • Montague offers to raise a statue of Juliet, in gold
  • Capulet realises that Romeo and Juliet have been ‘poor sacrifices of our enmity’ and offers his “daughter’s jointure”
  • Romeo and Juliet’s lives will be immortalized in gold as witness to their sacrifice and as a reminder to avoid conflict for future generations
  • By their deaths, Romeo and Juliet bring about the very world that would have allowed them to love each other and be happy - this is the central tragedy of the play
negative resolution
Negative Resolution
  • However, the point of reconciliation seems insubstantial since neither work out their differences and offer material recompense instead
  • Are these just empty gestures?
  • The tragic waste of the young lovers’ lives is highlighted as the older members of the feuding families stand amidst their dead bodies
  • This seems unnatural and unfair
  • It is pitiful that the love and joy which Romeo and Juliet felt could never last in this world but was destroyed
today s lesson2
Today’s Lesson
  • Essay question on R&J due in for Thursday
essay question
Essay question

Choose a play which explores the theme of love in difficult circumstances.

Explain how the dramatist introduces the theme and discuss how in the course of the play he/she prepares you for the resolution of the drama.

sqa example
SQA example
  • Read the essay from SQA and then discuss what grade you would give it.
  • Read the marker’s comments