WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Liceo Scientifico Ven. A. Luzzago Anno scolastico 2010/2011
The play beginswith a sonnet, spokenasprologue, where the private emotionof the twolovers are explored in isolation and in relation totheir social context, ideasof love, destiny and death. FIRST ACT The first actopens in Verona street and covers a wholeday, the first offivedays in whose the play takesplace. Iscomposedof a seriesofdialoguesabout the courtly love, linkedto the melancholy, holydevotion and idealizationof the objectofdesire. Itendswith the scene of the masque and the metingof the twomaincharacters: Romeo, the sonof Lord Montague, the head of a family thatisgripped in a bloodyfeudwith the Capulets, and Juliet the daughterof Lord Capulets.SECOND ACT Isconcentrates on the developmentof the relationshipbetween the twolovers. Itendswith a ceremony: the secret weddingof the twocharacters, celebrated in the chapelbyFriar Laurence.
THIRD ACT The centralact; the longestonethat can bedivided in twoparts: the public events, concentrated in the first scene , full ofactionanmovement, and the private events . FOURTH ACT The preparatoryactto the finaltragedy. The deviationof information creates a divisionof the characters in twoparts, each living a different story. OnlyFiar Lawrence and Juliet share both. FIFTH ACT Composedbythreescenes. The first breaks the unityofplace, movingfrom Verona toMatua, where Romeo hasgoneafter the banishmentfrom Verona forkillingTybalt, Juliet’scousin. In the last scene Romeo findsJuliet’s sleeping body in the family tombaftershehasdrunk a potion and hebelievesthatsheis dead. Hedecidestokillhimself, thenJulietwakes up fromhersleep. Out offear and love sheinsert a daggerintoherheartwith the famousline " Oh happy dagger”. The deathof the coupleends the feudbetweentheirfamilies
Romeo, the young heir of the Montagues, attends the great ball of the Capulets and falls in love with Juliet, the daughter of the house, at first sight. Romeo turns out to be the prototype of the platonic lover. THE LIGHT Love isoneof the mostimportantaspect in Romeo and Juliet. In The Masquewhehe first seesJuliet, hecomparesherto the brilliant light of the tourchesthat illuminate Capulet’sgreat hall. Julietis the light thatfreeshimfrom the darknessofhisperpetualmelancholy .
In the BalconyScene associates Juliet with the sunlight, the daylight and the light emanating from angels. In turn, Juliet compares their new found love to the lightning, mainly to reveal the speed at which their romance is moving, but also to suggest that, as the lightning is a break in the blackness sky, so their love is a flash in a dark world. In the second act the darkness becomes one of the central images. The final indication that darkness has triumphed over light comes from the last act when Romeo finds his love lying in the tomb. ROMEORomeo is the synonymous of lover and in the play he loves in a pureand passionate way, but Romeo’s character is not just a lover he’s farmore complex. We can see that Romeo’s love matures during theplay, from the simple desire to and intense passion. Romeo lacks ofcapacity of moderation: love compels him to risk his life enteringthe garden just to see Juliet; desperation compels him to suicidewhen he hears about Juliet’s death. Besides he’s clever, loyal andunafraid of danger.
JULIETWe meet Juliet as thirteen years old girls, obedient, sheltered and not mature yet. We can understand from his indecision about who she really loves, how childish she is at the beginning of the play. She has no friend of her own so it’s not easy for her to talk about sex. During the play she turns into adult and shows great determination and strength. Even if she is deeply in love she doesn’t follow Romeo blindly. She becomes a loyal, capable and mature woman. When she wakes in the tomb and find Romeo dead, she demonstrates much more courage than him.
“…Shakespearian scholar, A.C. Bradley, went so far as to neglect the play entirely in his well-known collection of lectures on the great tragedies, Shakespearian Tragedies.”Romeo and Juliet is characterised by elements both of comedy and tragedy: It begins as a comedy (the instant attraction of the two lovers, the masked ball, the comic servants). It’s different from conventional comedies because in the end knowledge is not for everybody, but only for the characters who has suffered and, even then, not completely. It is a tragedy because of the role of chances; the heroes of the play must fight against external forces that make their relationships difficult, but unlike the great tragic heroes they lack inner struggle.
THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE CREATES THE TRAGIC FINALEThe lackofknowledge, whichnecessarilyderivesfrom bad communication, is a maintheme. Romeo and Julietis a tragedyofnotknowing and unawarness; itcannotbesummed up as the tragedyofoldhator young love, since the tragicfinaldestructionresultsfrom a pattern whcichincluedeselementspf chance and the more pervadingoneofmisinformation.
This is the famous Balcony Scene, where the two lovers declare their love to each other. While Romeo praises Juliet’s beauty with images in the style of the courtly tradition, Juliet turns out to be an unconventional character. CURIOSITIES Envious moon (line 4) the goddess of virginity, Diana (the moon personified), is envious of the fair Juliet. Romeo implores Juliet not to be in Diana’s service; thus, not to remain virgin.
Sick and green (line 8) some scholars read this passage as pale and green (a common expression in the play) and claimed that it should be referred to the uniform worn by Henry VIII’s court jester –white and green. Thus, her vestal livery is the garb of a fool and therefore this interpretation would also explain the reference to fools in the line below. The brightness of her cheek…it were not night (line 19-22) it is one of the most glorious comparison of Juliet as light. We find the imagery of Juliet’s eyes pouring forth brilliant cosmic beams of light that burst through the clouds and fool the birds into believing it is day. IMPORTANCE OF NAMES AND LANGUAGE “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet”Leaning out of the window, unaware that Romeo is below in the orchard, she asks why Romeo must be Romeo –Why he must be a Montague, the son of her family’s greatest enemy. She asks him to deny his family for her love. She adds, however, that if he will not, she will deny her family in order to be with him if he merely tells her that he loves her.
`Tis but thy name that is my enemy…belonging to a man (line 27- 30)A major theme is the tension between social and family identity. Juliet believes the feud between the houses is the result of a superficial identity, based only on names, for this reason she thinks this name can be denied and that her love overrides her family’s hatred for the Montague name. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose…take all myself (line 31-37) She says that if Romeo were not called Romeo or Montague, he would still be the person she loves. Therefore she reflects upon the relationship between a name and what it stands for. JULIET’S TENDENCY TO REALISM She shows a tendency to realism in her use of language. Though she is set within the courtly love convention, she belongs to no idealisation: she is a real woman. She’s aware of loving Romeo and finds an obstacle in his name, therefore she reflects upon the symbolical order of language and links to realty in order to face and overcome it.
Both Romeo and Juliet struggle to maintain an imaginary world void of time in the face of the harsh realities that surround them. From the very beginning, the lovers are designated as star-cross’dreferring to an astrologic belief associated with time. Stars were thought to control the fates of humanity, and as time passed, stars would move along their course in the sky, also charting the course of human lives below. Romeo and Juliet fight time to make their love last forever. In the end, the only way they seem to defeat time is through a death that makes them immortal through art. Time is also connected to the theme of light and dark. In Shakespeares day, plays were often performed at noon in broad daylight. This forced the playwright to use words to create the illusion of day and night in his plays. Shakespeare uses references to the night and day, the stars, the moon, and the sun to create this illusion. All in all, no fewer than 103 references to time are found in the play, adding to the illusion of its passage.