The story Romeo and Juliet was written roughly between 1594-1595 by William Shakespeare, In Shakespeare’s time England was an all-Christian country. All children were born baptized into the Church of England. In those days the church was very strict, if someone missed church without a good excuse they were punished with a fine. Only boys were able to go to schools, they started at the age of four at ‘petty school’, here they learnt mainly how to read and write. At the age of seven if the boy’s father was able to afford it, the boy was able to grammar school, here they learnt mainly how to read and write Latin. In peoples free times the most popular source of entertainment was to go to see a play, these were played in bars, halls or courtyards, but in 1599 Shakespeare’s Globe theatre was built. Theatre was for everyone from babies to adult or from poor to rich, everybody was welcome. Most plays in the 16th Century were either; love, tragedy, comedy or mystery.
Romeo and Juliet first met in Act 1 Scene 5 where they fell in love at first sight. Shakespeare structured the scene by making them stand out from amongst the rest of the people in the scene. The only times when Shakespeare took the attention away from Romeo and Juliet was when Tylbalt and Capulet were arguing because Tylbalt noticed that Romeo was a Montague, Shakespeare did this so it can be interruption from Romeo and Juliet to leave the audience in suspense. At the end of the scene just after Romeo and Juliet kissed, the Nurse came in and interrupted, Shakespeare did this to leave the audience in suspense.
Shakespeare gives the characters their identities in this scene to the characters. He shows Romeo as an impulsive, religious and passionate person he is also shown as very daring when flirting with Juliet.
[To JULIET] If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
(Act1 Scene5 Lines91-95)
He shows Juliet as a flirty person, she is playful and is also very daring.
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
(Act1 Scene5 Lines96-99)
Shakespeare show Lord Capulet as a happy, jolly man who is tells us that he used to go to parties when he was younger and how much he used to enjoy partying.
“What, man! ’tis not so much, ’tis not so much:
‘Tis since the nuptials of Lucentio,
Come pentecost as quickly as it will,
Some five and twenty years; and then we mask’d”
(Act1, Scene5, Line34-37).
Tybalt is shown as a violent person, who is always up for a fight, although when he was told he couldn’t attack Romeo he seemed annoyed and very impatient of Capulet.
Come hither, cover’d with an antic face,
To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?
Now, by the stock and honour of my kin,
To strike him dead, I hold it not a sin.
(Act1 Scene5 Lines55-58)
Shakespeare shows the Nurse as an annoying woman, she ruins the scene when she took Juliet away to see her mother just when Romeo and Juliet was about to kiss again. She is like a mother to Juliet.
In this scene the people who speak in prose were the ‘common’ characters, these are people like the servants at the beginning of the scene, the Nurse and Lord Capulet, an example of a prose is;
“Away with the joint-stools, remove the
court-cupboard, look to the plate. Good thou, save
me a piece of marchpane; and, as thou lovest me, let
the porter let in Susan Grindstone and Nell.
(Act1, Scene5, Line5-8)
The people who speak in verse are Tybalt (once, Act1 Scene5 Line 88-91) and both Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet who both speak in a shared sonnet, they do this because it shows that they are both flirting with each other;
“…My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss”.
“Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this…”
(Act1, Scene5, Line94-99)
This is used to emphasize the lover’s isolation from the society in which they live in and shows the harmony of their thoughts. At the end of the scene it appeared that Romeo and Juliet were going to start another sonnet but the nurse interrupted.
Shakespeare directed our sympathies so that we feel in tune with the lovers’ values and hostility of the adults, he did this by isolating them from the rest and leaving us in suspense when the nurse interrupts. Shakespeare also made it so that we understand that Tybalt knew that Romeo had gate crashed the party and that Tybalt wanted to attack Romeo, this made it more intense for the audience because it would leave them wondering if Tybalt will catch Romeo flirting with Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet is still relevant to some of the people in the world today but not everyone, this is because this story is out of date and hard for a lot of people to understand, also in those days it was very religious the way they talk to each other, but today it is a lot different. Today the story of Romeo and Juliet is still very touching for some people. I don’t really feel much towards Romeo and Juliet myself; this is because it is not really my type of story, although if I had read this when it was first written I probably would have liked it because it would have been more understandable because of the language spoke. I think that Shakespeare was successful in his characters first meeting because he did it in a fashion where you didn’t care on what was going on around the lovers, you only cared about what they was doing, I also like the way Shakespeare left us in suspense at the end of the scene when the Nurse interrupted.