Romeo & Juliet

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.
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?
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.
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?
- 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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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
 At least one side of A4 complete with
quotations to support!
 Enjoy!
Timed essay practice – reference to notes needs
to be minimal!
Homework is due
Next homework has been emailed – questions on
Act 2.
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.
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
 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
calls to Romeo using physical and
sexual innuendo
 To Mercutio, love is a conquest, a physical
 He reveals a crude understanding of love—
“quivering thigh, / And the demesnes that
there adjacent lie”
 His view of love contrasts sharply to Romeo’sthis 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
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
 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
 The scene concludes as day breaks and Romeo
leaves to seek the advice of Friar Lawrence
 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
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
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.
 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
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
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
Juliet reveals intelligence through complex
philosophical thought concerning the nature of
 Compares Romeo to a rose and reasons that if a
rose were given another name, it would still be a
 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
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
 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
 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
 Friar
Laurence speaks a lengthy meditation
on the duality of good and evil that exists in
 This alerts us to the fact that he has a deep
knowledge of the properties of plants and
 Romeo arrives, tells him of his love for Juliet
and asks the Friar to marry them later that
 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
 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
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
 He also knew about his love for Roseline, and yet
Romeo’s parents did not
 Equally he cares about Romeo offering him
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 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
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
 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
 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
 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;
 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
 She is concerned for Juliet and acts as a
 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
 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!
 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
 Nurse relents when Juliet becomes forceful
 The Nurse then leaves to collect the rope
 Again, Juliet reveals the practical, nononsense, and direct aspects of her character
and personality
 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
 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
 However, marriage suggests Juliet’s
necessary maturity with ominous, fateful
overtones - can she be mature at 13?
 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
 Consummation was an important legal,
moral, emotional and religious concept
 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
 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’
 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
 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
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
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 3
 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
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
 This
scene acts as a violent contrast to the
euphoric mood and romance of the previous few
 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
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
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
 The
Prince listens to the true story of what
happened, and declares 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
 Their relationship puts Romeo in danger of
violent reprisal from both Juliet’s kinsmen
AND the state
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
Juliet is impatient for night so that she can be with
 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.”
 Setting
is peaceful (the Capulet orchard)
 Contrasts to the conflict in the previous
 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
 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:
agreed to marry
consummate their marriage
die together under the cover of night
 Their
affinity for the darkness illustrates
their separation from the temporal,
feuding world
 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
 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
 Shakespeare’s
linking of ‘love’ and ‘death’
continues with Juliet’s first reaction being
that Romeo MUST have killed himself,
 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 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
 She is angry, but swiftly restores her loyal
 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
 The
Nurse’s inability to comprehend the intensity of
Juliet’s love for Romeo causes a change in their
 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’
In Friar Lawrence’s cell, Romeo is overcome with
grief at his banishment –he will live, but without
 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
 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
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
 Conflict
between the older and younger
 The Friar chastises Romeo and reminds him
of his good fortune that the Prince has given
a “gentler judgment” of exile rather than
 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
 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
 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
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’
 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
 She is a political and financial asset to him, and
one that he feels free to use for his own ends..
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
 The threat of death forces the lovers to part
 Lady
Capulet tells Juliet that she is to marry
 Juliet is stunned and tells her mother that
she cannot be married in such haste
 Her father enters expecting to find Juliet
 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
 Dawn
divides Romeo and Juliet, this time,
for good
 As the sun’s rays “lace the severing
clouds,” Juliet wishes the lark were the
 Juliet tries to deny the arrival of the
coming day to prolong her time with
 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.”
 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
 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
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
 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
 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 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 doublemeanings
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
Juliet will not give in
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”
 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
Act 4
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
Sophie MacGill
 Paris
tells the Friar of the wedding (in two
 Friar is shocked at haste - it ‘should be slowed’
 Juliet cool towards Paris, cleverly sidesteps
his compliments; Paris is affectionate towards
 Paris leaves and Juliet threatens to take ‘this
bloody knife’ and kill herself if no help given
 The Friar offers Juliet a sleeping potion which
will induce a coma-like state for 42 hours
 She will lie alone in her chamber (on Wed
 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 and Paris engage in rigid, formal
 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
 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
 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
 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
 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
 The Friar’s plan offers hope for Juliet, but
due to the influence of fate, becomes the
vehicle of the tragedy
Juliet has found an ally
 The Friar has proven himself to be wily,
scheming and inventive in aiding Romeo and
 BUT can he be trusted?
 Paris appears to be genuinely interested in Juliet
 Juliet
returns home where she surprises her
parents by sweetly capitulating to the
 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
 Juliet is now to be married the following
 This will affect the Friar’s arrangements to
let Romeo know of their plans
 Here,
fate twists Juliet’s fortunes once
 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
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
 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
 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
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
 This request marks a turning point for
 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
 Places dagger by her side showing her
decision to die if she can’t be with Romeo
 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
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
 The day begins to break, and Capulet hears
music signaling that Paris is approaching the
 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
 The atmosphere is electrified with the
joyful expectation of the upcoming
 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
 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
 He then arranges for Juliet’s body to be
taken to the family vault
 Capulet orders that the wedding
preparations be changed to funeral
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
 In
their mourning for Juliet, they appear
as individuals who have suffered a great
 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
 The
situation is dire, but there could still
be hope IF the Friar’s plan can be made to
 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 5
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
 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,
 Romeo believes, absolutely, that he and Juliet
have been blighted by ‘fate’, and now
determines to take his own ‘fate’ into his own
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
 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.’
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
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
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
 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
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
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
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
 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
 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
 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’
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
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
The Prince arrives, with the Capulets and Lord
Lady Montague has died of grief at Romeo’s
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
 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
 Romeo says to Paris, “By heaven I love thee
better than myself” and responded similarly to
Tybalt “But love thee better than thou canst
 The Friar points out to Juliet that: ‘A greater
power than we can contradict/Hath thwarted
our intents’ – suggesting heavenly control over
these events
 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
 This reveals his compassionate and
generous nature
 This
last scene takes place in the dark of
 Romeo and Juliet’s relationship flourished
at night, and each provided the other with
 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.”
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
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
 Offering to use her body as the dagger’s
‘sheath’, she stabs herself and dies beside
 Rather than demonstrating weakness or a
distracted mindset, Juliet’s death
indicates her dignity and strength of
 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
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
 However,
the point of reconciliation seems
insubstantial since neither work out their
differences and offer material recompense
 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
 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
Essay question on R&J due in for Thursday
Choose a play which explores the
theme of love in difficult
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.
Read the essay from SQA and then discuss what
grade you would give it.
Read the marker’s comments

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