Shakespeare’s famous play begins with a Prologue which establishes that this play will be a tragic one, and that the children of two families in constant quarrel (“ancient grudge”), Romeo of the Montague family and Juliet of the Capulet family, will both fall in love and die in the course of this play.
The Prologue does not merely set the scene of Romeo and Juliet, it tells the audience exactly what is going to happen.
The prologue lines 6 – 10:
“A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,”
The audience therefore watches the play with the expectation that it must fulfill the terms set in the Prologue. The structure of the play itself is the fate from which Romeo and Juliet cannot escape.
There are certain eternal themes that will always
still be relevant in any old play, things like love/hate/death/romance/jealousy and pain, there are still families who dislike and argue over each other. Families who often argue teach their younger generation to dislike the other family causing them to altercate and kill each other out of spite and hatred, and people still make stupid choices in life.
Unfortunately Romeo and Juliet shows the nasty side of human altercations.
These are all things that have been around since forever, so it doesn’t matter when it was written, they’ve always been here and shall continue to be around for as long as mankind can remember.
Deep Human emotions do not modernize opposed to the things around us like technology and way of living, so they would be the same in Shakespeare’s time as they are today.
Shakespeare’s memories and stories will continue to be told within the globe theatre, which is still having inpact on modern life, people go to see plays there, even modern plays are being used in there at the moment, it’s an incredibly famous building which should continue to stand for hundreds more years.
Who knows, maybe Shakespeare even got some of his characters emotions from personal experiences?
The most obvious evidence for it still being a fantastic piece of writing is that it was popular back then and it’s obviously popular now, seeing as there are plays of it taking place every day all over the world, if something like this can still be known after hundreds of years it must be exceptional, it’s also one of those things where even almost every child in the country knows about. If you ask someone which of Shakespeare’s plays are most famous the chances are they’re going to say either Romeo & Juliet, or Macbeth.
Some plays just never get old.
Romeo appears to be an adolescent, around 15/16 years of age maybe, he’s experiencing what many people call ‘Calf-love’ or in a more modern term as ‘Young-love’, whereby he’s claiming to be in love and he has all these new feelings and emotions, but he has no real experience to back him up on the situation that he’s in. (Being in love with Rosaline, currently.)
Benrolio tells him to examine other women though, as he knows that it’s just young love, and that there’s plenty more fish in the sea, but Romeo wont listen to him as he’s intent on getting that one girl, in fact, he is desperately attempting to be a fantastic lover before he’s even had the experience.
Shakespeare makes Romeo a very believable adolescent character, which adds to the drama and tenstion because of how realistic it sounds, as most elder generations believe that kids claim to fall in love with people when really they just think they do because all the emotions are new to them, and they assume it’s love.
This is just after the party when Romeo and Juliet first meet, there was an immediate reaction and now he’s run off to find her.
“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks. It is the East and Juliet is the Sun.” – This is a very strong reference to how Romeo see’s Juliet at that moment, how she is the sun and he gazes apon her, examining how beautiful she is, he feels as though she is the saviour of his life, she will make everything well for him, and now he must get her, by trying to be the perfect lover.
“Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon
Who is already sick and pale with grief”
Another quote of how she will get rid of the “envious moon”, which i think is a reference to how Juliet will remove all the bad thoughts from his head and all the evil from his life.
Shakespeare portraits a very romantic scene here, using natural imagery, with Juliet in the moonlight, with Romeo talking about her sunlit poseur and her eyes.
She talks about how if a Rose went by another name, it would still smell as sweet, this, so would Romeo if he went by another name other than a “Montague”.
She moves on from danger of a name to the physical danger, and how if she were to meet with him again her fathers guards would surely kill him on sight.
Juliet is anxious to appear modest, as she blushes a lot.
She doesn’t want Romeo to think that she can be seduced so easily, she doesn’t want to seem like a prize effortlessly won, and that he’d have to work to get her.
Again, this is describing an entirely plausible situation and a realistic Juliet, no girl wants to be seen as easy to get, they want to play hard to get, make the boy really put some effort into getting her.
She also cuts Romeo off when he starts using over poetic language, which again is him trying to hard to seem ‘Sweep her of her feet’ romantic, a sign that he has no experience when talking to girls about love.
Lady, by yonder blessed moon I vow,
That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops–
O, swear not by the moon, th’ inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circle orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.
After a short while Romeo then drops the overdone language and simply tells her that he hopes it’s not all a dream.
There is a definite expectation of behaviour for Romeo from Juliet, she wont settle for anything less than what she wants/needs.
Towards the end of the scene, there is a slight change in imagery vocabulary.
Romeo begins to seem more sensible and/or realistic, as he seems to be just a “Schoolboy from Books”, he knows many stories about love but he has no real experience. He begins to drop the flattering language but Juliet continues to use language of danger as she still realizes how much danger Romeo is in, and she fears for his safety, and even life.
Juliet’s imagery is also blossoming, and they seem a lot more comfortable with each- other than they did before.
What there is to consider, is Shakespeare celebrating the wonders and feelings of young love? Or is he warning us about unseen consequences, like that they’ll be together for a while and everything will be amazing, but there’s always a catch that comes with something good, as what they have Is a ‘forbidden love’, and it’s just not meant to be.
Shakespeare is giving us both answers by telling us that there is no answer, it’s love and it’s immensely difficult to control.
Romeo’s language is much more violent and outgoing in this scene. “Joint by Joint”
He attempts to tell Paris to leave as a warning, but when he doesn’t listen Romeo is left with no choice other than to kill him.
Vocabulary imagery is also used again too. “The womb of death.”
Romeo immediately realizes that Paris is equally caught up in this web of hate.
When he arrives at the place of Juliet’s body, he says that “Even in death Juliet’s body lights up the room.” which directly links to Juliet being the sun on the Balcony Scene at the start.
There is irony in the scene too when Romeo says that she looks so alive when she’s dead, when really, she isn’t dead at all, her plan has just not worked out the way she planned.
The image of a pilot that has come to the very end of his journey comes to mind.