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    William Shakespeare’s Life and Plays

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    William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. He had three children, two of which were twins. The time in which he lived in was the Elizabethan era. Fathers used to ‘sell’ their daughters to a man they thought would be suitable for her. As you see in Romeo and Juliet, some young girls used to marry at the age of thirteen. He started to write his plays in 1589. The first mention of Shakespeare was in London. Another playwright, Robert Greene seems to have been jealous of Shakespeare. He is known to write approximately thirty-five plays. Romeo and Juliet was written between 1589 – 1595.

    In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo (from the house of Montague) falls in love with Juliet (from the house of Capulet). Despite being rival families, Romeo and Juliet find some way to marry in secret. Then Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin Tybalt. Because of this, Romeo is ‘banished’ to Mantua, but before he goes, Friar Lawrence gives Juliet a potion, this will make Juliet appear dead, even though she isn’t. When Romeo finds her ‘dead’, he takes a potion and kills himself. When Juliet finally awakes, she finds Romeo dead, so she kills herself too. This is true love.

    The dramatic significance of act 1 scene 5 is, it is where Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time. Romeo realises Rosaline is going to be there so he sneaks himself into the Capulet’s ball. But as soon as Romeo first sets his eyes on Juliet, he immediately falls in love with her. “O she doth teach the torches to burn bright…” by saying this, Tybalt can tell by his voice that he is a Montague, he goes straight to tell his uncle Capulet. I have realised that Tybalt, this early on in the play, is a sly and nasty character. When Romeo and Juliet first speak to each other, they say it in a sonnet. Already, they kiss, the holy palmers kiss. This makes this scene so dramatically important to the rest of the play, it’s the first meeting of the lovers. Tybalt and Capulet own a part of this scene, but Romeo and Juliet are the main characters. Capulet, being the man of the house, is in control of whatever goes on. This relates to the times in which this play was written. I was quite surprised that Capulet never sent Romeo away, but I think peace was all he wanted. The theme of peace and conflict is here, because if Tybalt had his way, he would have sent Romeo away.

    From the start of the play, Romeo is in love with a girl called Rosaline and stresses that she is the only girl for him. When he talks to Benvolio, and says he is going to intrude in the Capulet’s ball just to see Rosaline, Benvolio says that he might see some other girl, but Romeo is sure that Rosaline is the only one he will ever love. Imagining being part of the audience, I can see that Romeo is really in love with Rosaline, he must be to sneak into the Capulet’s party. Also Juliet is only thirteen and has never even considered love or marriage before Romeo comes along.

    The theme of light and dark comes into context from act 2. “The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, As daylight doth a lamp…” Romeo expresses his love for Juliet as she is on the balcony of an upstairs room in the Capulets house. In act 3 scene 1, Mercutio and Benvolio see Tybalt, they understand that Tybalt is looking for Romeo. Mercutio draws his sword to Tybalt. At that point, Romeo steps in to stop the fight, but it was too late. Mercutio was wounded. In a furious fit of revenge, Romeo then strikes Tybalt and kills him. The theme of love and hate plays a part here. The Prince decrees that Romeo should be banished from Verona.

    In Shakespeare’s times, banished used to be , if someone done something wrong, they would get sent somewhere else as a punishment. In scene 2 of act 3, Juliet talks to the nurse, and is unaware the events that have taken place. Once she has found out what happened, she declares that she cares more for Romeo than her own cousin. “Give me my Romeo; and when he shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars, And he will make the face of heaven so fine; That the world will be in love with night…” the theme of light and dark is brought in again. Juliet also uses a lot of oxymoron’s to show her confusion. In act 3 scene 3, Romeo can’t bear life without Juliet; he’d rather kill himself than to be banished. “Heaven is where Juliet lives…” Romeo talking about Juliet.

    Death is personified in this scene and Juliet hates the word ‘banished’. Act 3 scene 4 shows how much Capulet would rather his daughter marry Paris. They prepare for Juliet’s marriage to Paris, but Juliet would rather die. I’m quite surprised of Capulet, I know he wants his daughter to marry Paris, but I didn’t think it would happen as soon as this, but considering the times in which Shakespeare wrote this, I expect something similar to this happened in real life. Act 3 scene 5 is the Capulet’s dis-owning Juliet. Juliet refuses to marry Paris, and her father verbally abuses her. “Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!…” There is some powerful language used here and I can understand the pain and hurt that Juliet must have been going through. After this, Juliet decides to seek Friar Lawrence’s help. Act 4 scene 1, Paris talks as if he already owns Juliet, “Thy face is mine…” When alone, Juliet explains to the Friar that she would rather kill herself than marry Paris. “O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris, From off the battlements of any tower…” the Friar sees how much Juliet is in need of help and devises a plan for her – the potion that makes her appear dead.

    He said he’d get a message to Romeo. In this scene I can see that the Friar must care for Juliet otherwise he wouldn’t have helped her. Act 4 scene 2, Juliet begs forgiveness from her father, and he’s delighted with the apparent change of heart. He decides there is no time to waste and calls for Paris to bring the wedding forward to the next day. Act 4 scene 3, Juliet is left alone in her bedroom and fears if things go wrong with the potion. “How, if, when I am laid into the tomb, I wake before the time that Romeo; Come to redeem me? There’s a fearful point…” Here I can see all the possibilities running through Juliet’s mind, but without no doubt, she drinks the sleeping potion. Act 4 scene 4 is a very short scene, Capulet tells the nurse to go and wake Juliet. Act 4 scene 5, the nurse discovers that Juliet is ‘dead’, and Capulet expresses his grief. “Life and these lips have long been separated. Death lies here like an untimely frost; Upon the sweetest flower of all the field…”

    The feelings of the nurse, Capulet and Lady Capulet towards Juliet are revealed. In act 5 scene 1, Romeo is in Mantua ands receives the devastating news that Juliet is dead. He decides to go to the apothecary to buy some poison, he will drink it when he goes back to visit Juliet. In this scene, I can see how much Romeo really loves Juliet, although in other scenes he has said he’d kill himself is Juliet died, well now she has ‘died’ Romeo really is going to do what he said. Act 5 scene 2 is where Friar John explains to Friar Lawrence that he couldn’t deliver the message to Romeo. In act 5 scene 3, Romeo accidentally kills Paris struggling to open the tomb, he then drinks the potion. All this wouldn’t have happened if Romeo never went to the Capulet’s party. So, as many people can see, act 1 scene 5 has importance to the rest of the play.

    I think Romeo and Juliet is one of the best love tragedies and ever since act 1 scene 5, their first meeting, Romeo knew that Juliet was the one for him. It has dramatic significance because before that scene, Romeo wasn’t even interested in any other girl apart from Rosaline. It’s a turning point of the whole play.

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    William Shakespeare’s Life and Plays. (2017, Oct 30). Retrieved from

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