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    Romeo and Juliet Prologue Summary & Analysis Essay

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    The first fourteen lines of Shakespeare’s play gives a background of what the play is about and helps you understand it. Someone who is not a character in Romeo and Juliet reads it, so is a neutral person just letting you know what is happening.

    The third line is ‘ From ancient grudge break to new mutiny ‘. This makes us aware that there is conflict from the start and that is ongoing. It is referring to the two families who have been involved in conflict for many years but we never learn who or why the conflict started.

    ‘ A pair of star cross’d lovers take their life ‘, shows that the play will have a tragic ending so you know from the beginning. In the 1600’s people believed heavily that the stars influenced your life and determined your fate. Shakespeare has used this here to reveal the fate he has planned for the forbidden lovers.

    I think that in the Elizabethan period when Shakespeare wrote this play, the prologue would have also been used to quiet the audience ready for the play to begin.

    Even from just the prologue you can see the hatred the two families have for each other. The words ‘mutiny’, ‘fatal’, ‘star cross’d’, ‘misadventur’d and ‘overthrows’ all signify the tragedy, pain and conflict that the play will unfold.

    In the opening scene of the play we have two servants from the Capulet household, Gregory and Sampson walking through Verona. Their conversation is not about love but about dominating aggressive men as Sampson says ‘therefore women being the weaker vessels are ever thrust to the wall: therefore I will push Montague’s men from wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.’ This is a crude comment but shows that these men don’t think of love but of violence.

    Even though they are not main characters in the play, when they see a member of the rival household (Abram) they have no hesitation in instigating a quarrel as Sampson says to Gregory,’nay as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it.

    To which Abram replies ‘do you bit your thumb at us, sir?

    At the time this play was written to ‘bite your thumb’ at someone would be considered an insult’.

    So even from the very start of we see rivalry even in the pettiest form.

    Throughout Romeo and Juliet, conflict is explored in many contrasting themes such as love and hate.

    Shakespeare uses phrases, for example ‘ Here’s much to do with love but more with hate’ and ‘But this intrusion now seeming sweet, convert to bitt’rest gall. I think that he uses this disparity to show the love that Romeo and Juliet share, but the inevitable misfortune that will follow for them. He also uses images of poison to show how tragically these events will turn out in the end.

    Fate plays a big part in this play as if Romeo had not come across the man carrying invitations to the Capulet party, he would have never met Juliet to begin with. He talks of the consequences if he goes to the party, ‘ my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars’. This refers back to how Elizabethan people believed the stars mapped out their lives. Romeo and Juliet seem to struggle against fate as many things go wrong for them that seem beyond their control.

    Families who have hated each other for generations threaten both lovers and Juliet knows that if her kinsman discover Romeo they will kill him as she says to him ‘If the do see thee they will murder thee’. This continuously reminds us that death is a possibility for this love struck teens.

    Death is repeatedly mentioned during the play and the older characters know ‘they are born to die’ whilst the younger characters in the play have their lives cut short by early death. Throughout the play there are 5 deaths, however they are all deaths of young people (Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Romeo and Juliet.). Words and phrases such as ‘untimely death, deathbed and death’s darting eye are used. Shakespeare also personifies death by saying ‘ death is my son in law, death is my heir, my daughter he hath wedded’ (act 4 sc.5) to signify the catastrophic deaths in the play. Life seems to conflict with ever-present death.

    In the play public affairs and private lives are also another contrast. The actions shifts from outdoor fighting to indoor romance, from public squares to private rooms. This portrays other conflict such as the conflict between Juliet and her father and his wanting of Juliet to wed Paris. Romeo and Juliet talk of love but other events force them to marry in secret because of feuds in public.

    When Romeo is exiled from Verona for the murder of Tybalt, Juliet and Friar Lawrence devise a plan so that Juliet will not have to marry Paris. She will take a ‘potion’ that will make it look like she is dead but however only lasts for 48 hours. This way her family will believe her to be deceased, but infact hours after she will awake to go and be reunited with her new husband, Romeo. As we know this does not go as accorded. The letter that friar Lawrence sent to Romeo to inform him of what is going on never reaches him, so when it is broadcast publicly that Juliet has died, Romeo rushes back to Verona. He makes a choice that he does not want to be alive if Juliet is not alive and so buys a poison to take.

    When he reaches Juliet’s deathbed he swallows the poison and almost simultaneously Juliet awakes from her deep slumber. I believe this is the most tragic part of the play as there is now no way Romeo can be saved and he dies. Juliet is in the same mentality as Romeo as in she wishes to be dead if Romeo is dead and so stabs her self in the stomach. Both lovers are lifeless side by side. This is the dramatic finale to the play that has been built up with language throughout. It is now finally that the ending that had been pre planned is unveiled.

    The final words of the play are ‘ A glooming peace this morning with it brings, The sun for sorrow will not show its head. Go hence to have more talk of these sad things; Some shall be pardoned, and some punished: For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and Romeo’. This sums up what Shakespeare wanted a tragic love story, but with hope for a brighter future?

    In conclusion I think that Shakespeare explores conflict in five main sections ; love and hate, fate and free will, death and life, public and private and light and dark. Although the play is filled with hatred due to conflicts it is also heavily packed with language of love. I believe that Shakespeare had a well thought ending to this play as it does suggest hope and a less bleak future, The loss of a daughter and the loss of a son resolved the conflict shared by the families for centuries. So in two deaths comes a new beginning for others.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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