To look at the time in which this play was written we have to look at the conditions I which it was written. Also we need to consider why it was written. Firstly four hundred years ago there were on electric lights, torches were dangerous and candles were expensive. So Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in public houses where candle light was free in the evening. But the problems with this are that it was a noisy atmosphere and he probably got a little bit drunk. So because of this there may be mistakes that we are unable to prove that they are mistakes.
“Thou shalt continue two-and-forty hours.”
Said by Friar Laurence act four, scene one line one hundred and five, is an example of a possible mistake. Forty two hours doesn’t fit the time scale of the play, twenty four hours would fit in to the play better. But Shakespeare may not have made such possible mistakes. All of his plays were written just once the actors only had heir lines so they had to learn when to speak carefully. It was only after Shakespeare’s death that the lines were put together as a whole script. During this process many mistakes could have been made.
The theater in which the plays were to be preformed in would reflect the way in which it was written. Before Shakespeare’s time theaters were mobile moving from town to town. Also before Shakespeare’s time people had very little leisure time and so theaters were in very little demand. But around four hundred years ago rural – urban migration was at a high and people started to have more leisure time. This was the industrial revolution.
The first stationary theater was built around the turn of he 17th century. This was the Globe Theater, Shakespeare’s plays were written especially written because of the conditions that it was to be preformed in. It was a circular building with an open roof, this was because there was no artificial lights and if there were a roof it would be too dark to see what was happening. So the weather and time of day often delayed or canceled the performances. The stage was raised and had no back drops, it had two doors. These were used to show characters entering and leaving scenes. In-between scenes some of the scenery could be changed.
Below the stage was space for the lower class audiences. There were quite bad conditions and there were no toilets so people went where they could. This was common, as drinking water was fatal, people drank mild beer instead. So they were often rowdy and had a short attention span. So between acts a chorus would go on stage to recap the story so far. There is an example of this at the start of act two. The chores enters and explains what has happened. This is also a way to show the passing of time and scenery can be changed in this time.
Also around the edge of the theater set higher than the stage and the lower class audience was a balcony with seats for the high-class audience. They would have had to pay more to get these seats. On the balcony it would have been easier to see what was happening but it may have been harder to here over the noise from below.
Dew to the noisy atmosphere actors repeated some things three times to make sure that the audience heard it. A well-known example of this is in act two, scene two, line thirty-three and said by Juliet.
“O Romeo, Romeo! Here fore art thou Romeo?”
Also because the audience surrounds the actors on three sides even if some members of the audience were paying attention they still might not hear what has been said.
As their were no back drops, curtains and very few props, things the actors said had to inform the audience what time of day it was and where they were. A good example of this is where Benvolio in act three, scene one lines one and two, says.
“I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire:
The day is hot, the capels are abroad,”
This tells the audience that it is daytime and is hot, probably mid day because it is the hottest time of the day.
This play was written to attract the widest possible audience. Having two types of humor in the play, clever jokes and rude jokes does this. The clever jokes were intended to attract the higher-class audience sitting on the balcony; these jokes were often double ententre. This is when someone says something that has two meanings. There is a double ententre joke at the start of the play said by Sampson in act one scene one line thirty-two.
“My naked weapon is out. Quarrel. I will back thee.”
This is humorous because of the conversation it is said in. it’s first meaning is that he has drawn his sword but in the circumstances it could mean something else.
The other type of joke, the rude jokes are intended to attract the lower class audience. There is a rude joke in act one, scene three line forty-one and forty-two and I said by the Nurse
” ‘Yea,’ quoth he, ‘dost thou fall upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou has more wit,”
This means that Juliet fell on her face when she was young but when she is older and wiser she will fall on her back to make love.
The play is set in Italy. Most people would never have been to Italy but would have heard stories about it. It had a reputation of being a hot romantic place and all the people their to have very fiery tempers. Also it was thought that there were many large, rich families that would avenge people who are enemies of the family. Shakespeare wrote the play as people believed Italy was.
The play is written in Iambic pentameter, which means that there are five syllables that are stressed in a line and every other syllable is stressed. Writing in poetry was common in this time but to write a whole play in this way would have been very difficult. I have written in iambic pentameter and found it difficult. It took Shakespeare about ******** to write a whole play in this way.
Shakespeare included many powerful emotions in to this play, which would have been part of people’s lives. Such as love, death, hate, revenge, haste and religion. Love and death are the main emotions included in the play. The love between Romeo and Juliet is shown by the chances they take to be together, also at the end of the play they are willing to die to be together.
Death is a common occurrence in the play. In total five people die throughout the play. Shakespeare made Romeo and Juliet in to a tragedy but he also included comedy in to it. This may have been to get more in to the play to attract more people and more money. The hate between the two families causes the death of Romeo and Juliet’s death. But they don’t die without meaning. On their death the Montague and the Capulet agree to peace and to build a gold statue of Romeo and Juliet to remind the families why they should not be at war with each other.
Tybalt’s hate of Romeo causes the death of Mercutio because he fights Tybalt because Romeo can’t fight him because he is married to Tybalts cousin Juliet. But because Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo seeks revenge and kills Tybalt. But because of this Romeo is banished from Verona. This complicated part of the play shows the fiery tempers in the Italian blood. It also shows revenge in two points these are; Revenge from Tybalt to Romeo because he, a Montague went to old Capulets party when he wasn’t invited. But because Romeo doesn’t fight Tybalt, Mercutio does saying that Romeo is a coward, but they don’t know that he is married to Juliet. But seemingly by accident Mercutio is killed during the fight. And Romeo revenge for Mercutio’s death finally pushes him to fight Tybalt. But the bad results of this, Tybalt and Mercutio’s death and Romeo’s banishment, are part of catharsis.
Around Shakespeare’s time there was a major change in religion. Because of this Shakespeare made it part of his play. He didn’t seem to have a very high opinion of religion and so made it cause problems in the play. Such as Friar Laurence giving Juliet the potion to make her sleep eventually made Romeo kill himself when there was no need. Also Friar John was suppose to give Romeo a message but the undelivered message was part of Romeo’s suicide.
Romeo and Juliet meet and get married within less than a day. Thinking about it, it doesn’t seem to be a good idea. But they didn’t think about it. They didn’t think about the consequences. This part of the play that Shakespeare made to be about haste and the problems it causes are clearly shown here. They should have thought about what their families and Parises reactions would have been.
These emotions as part of a play still attract a modern audience because the audience hasn’t chanced, people are still the same and still have the same emotions and experiences. So the play doesn’t need to change to have the same effect. Modern up dates of the play using modern language, weapons and places still have the same effect as the original. This is because the plot and themes are still included.
Catharsis is some thing that means if you feel like doing something bad, if you see it done you don’t want to do it your self, because you find the consequences of what you were going to do with out doing it. And now that you have a better view of what would happen you realize that it isn’t worth doing. With this play being a tragedy with lots of people doing wrong the audience may see it and go home feeling better, not wanting to make the same mistakes which happen in the play.
This play is very well written and is worth reading but better watched. The plot is quite complex but with the way in which it is written and the order that it is written in makes it understandable. This is a short summary of the plot.
On Sunday morning two of the servants of each of the families are walking in the streets of Verona. An unfriendly gesture generates in to a town-sized battle. But the prince arrives and says if theirs any more fighting between the two families then they will pay with their lives.
At this point we are introduced to Romeo who is miserable because of Roselyn who he loves but she doesn’t love him back.
Sunday evening the Capulets are having a party. Romeo, a Montague is eventually persuaded to go to the party, but he only agrees to go to see Roselyn. But while he is there he meets Juliet and finds that she is a Capulet, his only enemy.
After the party Romeo’s friends are teasing him so he climbs over a wall in to an orchid. There he finds Juliet. Here they agree to get married only hours after meeting each other.
The next morning Juliet sends her Nurse to ask Romeo when they are getting married. Later that day Friar Laurence marries Romeo and Juliet.
Monday afternoon Tybalt kills Mercutio and Romeo kills Tybalt. Because of this Romeo is banished. But that night he amongst other things sleeps with Juliet and leaves Vern for Mantua.
On Tuesday morning old Capulet asks if Juliet will marry Paris, but when she says no he says if she doesn’t marry Paris she is no longer welcome in his home. At this Juliet goes to see what the Friar can do. Here he explains his plan that she will drink a potion that will make her sleep for forty-two hours. And in that time he will send a message to Romeo explaining that Juliet is in a deep sleep and to come and collect her when she wakes up.
The plan works but when Friar John doesn’t manage to get the message to Romeo things start to go wrong. Romeo gets a message from a friend telling him that Juliet is dead. Romeo goes to Juliet’s tomb with a poison but Paris is guarding the tomb so Romeo kills him to get to Juliet. Here he drinks the poison and kills himself. Juliet wakes up and finding Romeo dead she kills herself to be with him.
Because of Romeo and Juliet’ death the Capulets and the Muntagues agree to peace.
This is a very satisfying play and one of Shakespeare’s best in my opinion. I preferred a modern version of the play because it was set in a modern city it made the play easier to understand and relate to modern society.