Romeo and Juliet is a very intense and dramatic play which requires a lot of thought. The speech used is full of double meanings and there are many symbolic features in the play.
The author of the play, William Shakespeare was born on the 23rd of April 1564 in Stratford upon Avon. He was initially a schoolteacher and then a playwright. Shakespeare started writing books in 1592, he also wrote for James the 1st. He married in 1582 to Anne Hathaway. They had two daughters and one son who unfortunately died at an early age and was buried in Stratford upon Avon. William Shakespeare died at the age of 52 on the 23rd of April 1616. He too was buried in Stratford upon Avon.
The play Romeo and Juliet shows what life was like at that time that Shakespeare was writing. It shows the culture of the time and what the people believed in. Girls were considered to be the property of their fathers, for example. The graphic details and his vivid imagination really bring the play to life.
Juliet’s father has arranged for her to marry the count, Paris. We know that Juliet does not want to marry Paris because she is always thinking about Romeo, she is also afraid because she has sinned against god, she says in the script “for I have need of many orisons to move the heavens to smile upon my face.” Juliet is given a potion which will make her appear dead but will not kill her so that she can marry Romeo secretly. Juliet is scared to take the potion as it may not have the desired effect on her, “What if this mixture do not work at all’shall I be married then tomorrow morning? No, no, this shall forbid it, lie thee there.” laying down her dagger. And then she goes on to say “what if it be a poison which the Friar subtly hath ministered to have me dead”. She almost calls the nurse back because she is so frightened and she is also very lonely but decides there is no need for the nurse to be there and that taking the potion is an act that she should do in her own company.
William Shakespeare describes Juliet very well. He uses the start of the scene to show the audience the immense pressure that Juliet is under. His use of words such as ‘cold fear thrills’ and ‘freezes up the heat of life’ shows how desperate she is for the potion to work and how she feels about it not working. She does not want to marry Paris and would rather die than do so but has no choice. Shakespeare has used the conversation between Juliet’s mother and the nurse to show the viewer how lonely Juliet is feeling. This goes on to Juliet’s soliloquy. Juliet starts questioning herself about taking the potion. On the stage direction it shows us she has prepared a knife, “Laying down her knife”. It shows she acts alone, she does not want to marry Paris and this shows she intends not to.
William Shakespeare takes us through at least five interesting situations between Juliet and her conscience. For each one Shakespeare uses graphic description to give us a better understanding of the conflict and confusion Juliet is going through. These graphic descriptions that Shakespeare takes us through get increasing tense. Juliet is filled with fearful thoughts, “Is the Friar honest?”, and “Will I awake in the tomb before he comes?” Juliet thinks about this potion, what will happen is she takes it, what will happen if she doesn’t’she is also scared that potion might actually kill her.” I have a faint cold fear thrill through my veins”. Despite this she still drinks the potion.
If this mixture does not work will she marry Paris in the morning’she lies down with a dagger next to her in case the potion does not work as it is said to. What if this mixture is poison that the Friar gave her as a punishment for her sin? These are all thoughts going through her head. It seems as though she is going mad. What if she wakes up in a tomb buried with all other rotten flesh of her ancestors’she might even be ‘laid to rest’ next to Tybalt! What if she awakes buried, “what loathsome smells and shrikes like mandrakes torn out of the earth”. “O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught, environed with al these hideous fears, and madly play with my forefathers’ joints, and pluck the mangled Tybalt from his shroud, and in this rage with some great kinsman’s bone, as with a club, dash out my desp’rate brains? The use of words here is really strong and shows Juliet’s anguish at the potion not working and how confused she is about the situation. She then falls on to her bed.
There is definite and powerful theme in Juliet’s soliloquy of death and suicide. “A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life”, is the initial phrase that suggests this. The language used throughout the play and certainly in Juliet’s soliloquy has many negative connotations which engage the audience as they want to know what the outcome will be.