Presentation on theme: "Romeo and Juliet Explained. Act One The play opens with a prologue which reveals the play’s ending. The prologue also introduces a major theme: fate."— Presentation transcript:
Romeo and Juliet Explained
The play opens with a prologue which reveals the play’s ending. The prologue also introduces a major theme: fate. The problems between the Montagues and Capulets are displayed through an on-stage fight. Prince Escalus tells each family that the fights stop now or the penalty will be death. It is important to note that the fight is between the servants of both families. When Shakespeare uses servants, he does so to point to the actions of their masters/society as a whole.
Benvolio tries to calm everyone down but Tybalt wants to fight. Prince Escalus arrives and tells the Montagues and Capulets that this feud has gone on too long. No more fighting under penalty of death. Romeo is depressed because he loves Rosaline but she does not love him back. Paris asks Lord Capulet to marry Juliet. Lord Capulet will let Juliet decide at the masquerade ball. Romeo reads an invitation to the Capulet ball and his friends convince him to go.
Juliet, her mother, and nurse, discuss marriage. Juliet is not ready for marriage. But after a bit of pressure from her mom, Juliet agrees to meet Paris and give him a chance. Juliet’s mother is not the one who raised her. The nurse raised Juliet. Romeo has a dream and Mercutio mocks his dream. Mercutio believes that dreams indicate an idle mind. Romeo has a feeling that the night’s activities will set in motion the action of fate, resulting in his death.
Romeo sees Juliet at the ball and falls madly in love with her. Romeo asks Juliet to dance and she falls in love with him as well. Romeo and Juliet fall in love and kiss after speaking only 14 lines. These 14 lines are a sonnet. Tybalt recognizes Romeo’s voice but Lord Capulet stops Tybalt from taking immediate action. However, Tybalt is angry and his anger will set in motion the tragic ending of this story.
The prologue in the beginning of act two is less a voice of fate and more a suspense builder. It shows the problem of the two lovers and hints that there may be some way to overcome it. Act 2 is the happiest and least tragic act in the play. Romeo and Juliet declare their love for one another in the balcony scene. Juliet promises to marry Romeo, he only needs to tell her where to be.
We meet Friar Lawrence who talks about good and evil which exists in all things. He says that while some plants can heal, some can lead to misfortune as well. Benvolio and Mercutio speak about Romeo's disappearance the night before. Benvolio tells Mercutio that Romeo did not come home at all. Romeo arrives and soon engages in a battle of wits with Mercutio, who is surprised by Romeo's quick replies. He says, "Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo" (2.3.77) Juliet's Nurse arrives with her man Peter and asks to speak with Romeo. Mercutio starts making sexual jokes about the Nurse, but finally exits with Benvolio. The Nurse tells Romeo her mistress is willing to meet him in marriage. Romeo indicates the Nurse should have Juliet meet him at Friar Laurence's place that afternoon.
ACT THREE In this Act, we see Mercutio and Benvolio discussing the challenge letter sent to Romeo. They fear that if they encounter any Capulets, there will be a fight. Of course Tybalt and Romeo arrive on the scene and fights ensue. The fights between Mercutio and Tybalt and then between Romeo and Tybalt are chaotic; Tybalt kills Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, flees, and then suddenly, and inexplicably, returns to fight Romeo, who kills him in revenge. Passion outweighs reason at every turn. Romeo’s cry, “O, I am fortune’s fool!” refers specifically to his unluckiness in being forced to kill his new wife’s cousin, thereby getting himself banished ( ). It also recalls the sense of fate that hangs over the play.
Mercutio’s response to his fate, however, is notable in the ways it diverges from Romeo’s response. Romeo blames fate, or fortune, for what has happened to him. Mercutio curses the Montagues and Capulets. He seems to see people as the cause of his death, and gives no credit to any larger force. Elizabethan society generally believed that a man too much in love lost his manliness. Romeo clearly believes this to be true because he says that his love for Juliet had made him “effeminate.” Romeo’s killing of Tybalt is marked by rashness and vengeance and Romeo is banished from Verona.
Act 3, scenes 2–4 Juliet is waiting for Romeo. The Nurse arrives on the scene with news that Tybalt has been killed. However, the way the Nurse behaves leads Juliet to believe Romeo has been killed. Juliet threatens to kill herself which foreshadows her future suicide. The Nurse promises to take Juliet’s ring to Romeo. Meanwhile, in Friar Lawrence’s cell, Romeo finds out that he has been banish-ed. Romeo believes that his banishment is a fate worse than death because he will go on living without Juliet. Romeo reasons that he will have to wonder if she’s fallen in love with another but not be able to see her. Romeo threatens to commit suicide. He would rather die than live without Juliet. More foreshadowing here! The friar tells Romeo to man up and stop acting like a girl. Then the friar comes up with a plan: Romeo will visit Juliet that night, but make sure to leave her chamber, and Verona, before the morning. He will then reside in Mantua until news of their marriage can be spread. The Nurse hands Romeo the ring from Juliet, and this physical symbol of their love revives his spirits.
Act 3, scene 5 Romeo and Juliet have their wedding night. Romeo climbs out the window below. Standing in the orchard below her window, Romeo promises Juliet that they will see one another again, but Juliet responds that he appears pale, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb. Romeo answers that, to him, she appears the same way, and that it is only sorrow that makes them both look pale. This is yet another dream/vision that plays an important role in this play. Here, they experience visions that blatantly foreshadow the end of the play.
Lord Capulet promises Juliet’s hand in marriage to Paris. He even decides that the wedding should be held on Wednesday...even though it is only Monday! Lord Capulet changes his mind again and sets the Wedding for Thursday. This is a big change from the two years he told Paris to wait! After hearing that he has been exiled, Romeo acts with his typical drama: he is grief-stricken and overcome by his passion. He collapses on the floor. Romeo refuses to listen to reason and threatens to kill himself. Juliet, on the other hand, displays significant progress in her development from the simple, innocent girl of the first act to the brave, mature, and loyal woman of the play’s conclusion. After criticizing Romeo for his role in Tybalt’s death, and hearing the Nurse speak badly of Romeo, Juliet regains control of herself and realizes that her loyalty must be to her husband rather than to Tybalt, her cousin.
Act Four Friar Lawrence is the wiliest and most scheming character in Romeo and Juliet: he secretly marries the two lovers, sends Romeo to Mantua, and stages Juliet’s death. The friar’s machinations seem also to be tools of fate. The tragic failure of his plans is treated as a disastrous accident for which Friar Lawrence bears no responsibility. Once again Juliet demonstrates her strength. She comes up with reason after reason why drinking the sleeping potion might cause her harm-- physical or psychological-- but chooses to drink it anyway. In this action she not only attempts to be with Romeo, she takes full responsibility for herself. She recognizes that drinking the potion might lead her to madness or to death. In drinking the potion she not only demonstrates a willingness to take her life into her own hands, she goes against what is expected of women and takes action. Juliet appears dead and her parents mourn her death.
Act Five Act five illustrates the power fate has in the lives of the characters. Due to unforeseen events, Romeo finds out Juliet is dead from Balthazar rather than Friar John. Romeo acknowledges that fate has cursed him yet again. Then, he buys poison to drink in Juliet’s tomb. Romeo arrives at Juliet’s tomb but Paris is there mourning her death. Juliet’s would-be husband (Paris) and Juliet’s actual husband (Romeo) fight. Romeo slays Paris. Romeo drinks the poison minutes before Juliet wakes up. Juliet discovers Romeo and dead and uses her “happy dagger” to kill herself. Upon discovery of Romeo and Juliet’s love for one another, the Montagues and the Capulets agree to stop fighting. This is exactly what the prologue had predicted.