Romeo and juliet notes from royal shakespeare company
Romeo and JulietThemesLove versus hate and the many forms love takes; its power to challengehate; the impetuosity of young love; the irrationality of hate and itscapacity to destroy love.Some related scenes: genuinenessAct 1 Scene 1: The Capulets and Montagues fight in Veronas market-place; Romeo tells Benvolio of his unrequited love for Rosaline.Act 1 Scene 5: Forgetting Rosaline, Romeo falls in love with Juliet at firstsight.Act 2 Scene 2: In Juliets orchard the two lovers agree to marry.Act 3 Scene 1: Tybalt fatally wounds Mercutio under the newly-wedRomeos arm.Act 3 Scene 5: Romeo and Juliet prepare to part after their weddingnight.Act 5 Scene 3: Romeo and Juliet commit suicide; the Prince asks the twofamilies to reconcile.Parents and children and the struggle of young people to make theirown choices in the face of parents vested interests.Some related scenes:The Prologue: The Chorus describes the parents ancient grudge which isthe catalyst for the death of their children.Act 1 Scene 1: Lord Capulet approves Pariss request to ask Juliet tomarry him.Act 3 Scene 5: Lord and Lady Capulet tell Juliet of their arrangements forher to marry Paris.Act 5 Scene 3: Romeo and Juliet commit suicide; the parents are facedwith the consequences of their ancient feud.Chance versus choice - the inevitability and the fickleness of fate; themixture of chance and choice in determining outcomes.Some related scenes:
The Prologue: The Chorus describes the lovers as star-crossed.Act 1 Scene 4: As he goes to the Capulets ball, Romeo tells of a dreamhe has had.Act 3 Scene 3: Romeo happens upon the sword fight between Tybalt andMercutio; his intervention results in Mercutios death for which he killsTybalt and calls himself fortunes fool.Act 5 Scene 1: Balthasar tells Romeo of Juliets death and Friar Laurencelearns that Brother John has been unable to travel to Mantua to tellRomeo that Juliet still lives.MotifsLight and dark, light representing the lovers as they see one another inthe darkness of their troubles; darkness also as the shroud of secrecy;also light as lightning and therefore transitory and easily burnt out.For example:But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, andJuliet is the sunAct 2 Scene 2The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, / As daylight dotha lampAct 2 Scene 2It is too rash, too unadivsed, too sudden; / Too like the lightning, whichdoth cease to be / Ere one can say It lightensAct 2 Scene 3Take him and cut him out in little stars, / And he will make the face ofheaven so fine/That all the world will be in love with night/And pay noworship to the garish sunAct 3 Scene 2More light and light; more dark and dark our woes!
Act 3 Scene 5For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes / This vault a feastingpresence full of lightAct 5 Scene 3A glooming peace this morning with it brings. / The sun for sorrow willnot show his headAct 5 Scene 3Celestial imagery, representing the power of fate; also heaven andheavenly as descriptive of the lovers view of one another.For example:A pair of star-crossed lovers take their lifeThe Prologuemy mind misgives / Some consequence yet hanging in the starsAct 1 Scene 4so smile the heavens upon this holy act, / That after hours with sorrowchide us not!Act 2 Scene 6Can heaven be so enviousAct 3 Scene 2The heavens do lour upon you for some illAct 4 Scene 5Is it even so? then I defy you, stars!Act 5 Scene 1See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,/That heaven finds means tokill your joys with loveAct 5 Scene 3
Nature, representing beauty, value, youth and potential.For example:fresh female buds shall you see this nightAct 1 Scene 2Veronas summer hath not such a flowerAct 1 Scene 3So shows a snowy dove trooping with crowsAct 1 Scene 5This bud of love, by summers ripening breath, / May prove a beauteousflower when next we meetAct 2 Scene 2O mickle is the powerful grace that lies / In plants, herbs, stones, andtheir true qualities. / For naught so vile that on the earth doth live / Butto the earth some special good doth giveAct 2 Scene 2An eagle, madam, / Hath not so green, so quick, so far an eye / As ParishathAct 3 Scene 6sweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strewAct 5 Scene 3Well-known QuotationsHere are some well-known quotes from Romeo and Juliet in the order inwhich they appear in the play.A pair of star-crossed lovers take their lives (Prologue)
Heres much to do with hate, but more with love (Romeo, Act 1 Scene 1)But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart: My will to her consent is but apart (Lord Capulet, Act 1 Scene 1)Ill look to like, if looking liking move (Juliet, Act 1 Scene 3)Is she a Capulet? O, dear account! My life is my foes debt (Romeo, Act 1Scene 4)My only love sprung from my only hate (Juliet, Act 1 Scene 4)But soft, what light through yonder window breaks (Romeo, Act 2 Scene1)O, Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo? (Juliet, Act 2 Scene 1)That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet(Juliet, Act 2 Scene 1)Parting is such sweet sorrow (Juliet, Act 2 Scene 1)For this alliance may so happy prove, To turn your households rancour totrue love (Friar Lawrence, Act 2 Scene 2)These violent delights have violent ends (Friar Lawrence, Act 2 Scene 5)A plague o both your houses (Mercutio, Act 3 Scene 1)Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill (Prince, Act 3 Scene 1)Get these to Church o Thursday, or never after look me in the face (LordCapulet, Act 3 Scene 5)Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Heres drink: I drink to thee (Juliet, Act 4 Scene3)O true apothecary. Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die (Romeo,Act 5 Scene 3)O happy dagger. This is thy sheath: there rust and let me die (Juliet, Act5 Scene 3)For never was a story of more woe, Than this is Juliet and her Romeo(Prince, Act 5 Scene 3)Did you know? The first words of Romeo and Julietare in the form of a sonnet. This prologue reveals the ending to the audience before the play has properly begun.
The play can be considered as a companion piece to that staged by the Mechanicals at the end of A Midsummer Nights Dream. Here the young lovers take their lives in earnest, but in A Midsummer Nights Dream the story of Pyramus and Thisbe becomes comic entertainment for three sets of newly-weds. 90% of the play is in verse, with only 10% in prose. It contains some of Shakespeares most beautiful poetry, including the sonnet Romeo and Juliet share when they first meet. Although a story of passionate first love, the play is also full of puns. Even in death, Mercutio manages to joke: ask for me tomorrow and you will find me a grave man. Juliet is only 13 at the time she meets and marries Romeo, but we never learn exactly how old he is. Like King Lear, the play was adapted by Nahum Tate, changing the story to give it a happy ending. In 1748, the famous David Garrick staged a version which did not include any mention of Romeos love for Rosaline, because Garrick felt this made the tragic hero appear too fickle. In March 1662, Mary Saunderson became almost certainly the first woman to play Juliet on the professional stage. Until the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, women were not allowed to perform in public. Romeo and Juliet, alongside Hamlet, is probably Shakespeares most performed play and has also been adapted in many forms. The musical West Side Story is probably the most famous adaptation, while BazLehrmanns Romeo+ Juliet brought Shakespeares play to the MTV generation.Key MomentsEvery director will choose their own key moments in Romeo and Julietdepending on how they are interpreting the play.Here weve listed some important moments in the order in which theyappear in the play.The scene is set (Act 1 Scene 1)Montague and Capulet servants clash in the street, the Prince threatensdire punishment if another such brawl should take place, and Romeo tellshis friend, Benvolio, of his obsession with Rosaline.
The lovers meet for the first time (Act 1 Scene 4)Romeo is persuaded to attend a masked party at the Capulet household.Not knowing who she is, he falls in love with Juliet the moment he seesher, and she, equally ignorant that he is a Montague, falls just asinstantly for him.Romeo risks death to meet his loveJuliet again (Act 2 Scene 1)When everyone has left the party, Romeo creeps into the Capulet gardenand sees Juliet on her balcony. They reveal their mutual love and Romeoleaves, promising to arrange a secret marriage and let Juliets messenger,her old Nurse, have the details the following morning.The wedding is held in secret (Act 2 Scene 5)Juliet tells her parents she is going to make her confession to FriarLaurence, meets Romeo there and, despite some personal misgivings, thefriar marries them immediately.Romeo angrily kills Juliets cousin, Tybalt (Act 3 Scene 1)Romeo meets Tybalt in the street, and is challenged by him to a duel.Romeo refuses to fight and his friend Mercutio is so disgusted by thiscowardice that the takes up the challenge instead. As Romeo tries tobreak up the fight, Tybalt manages to killkillsMercutio and, enraged,Romeo then kills Tybalt. The Prince arrives and, on hearing the full story,banishes Romeo rather than have him executed.The unhappy couple are parted (Act 3 Scene 5)Arranged by the Friar and the Nurse, Romeo and Juliet have spent theirwedding night together. They are immediately parted though, as Romeomust leave for banishment in Mantua or die if he is found in Verona.Believing her grief to be for the death of her cousin, Juliets father tries tocheer Juliet by arranging her immediate marriage to Paris. He threatensto disown her when she asks for the marriage to be at least postponed,and she runs to the Friar for advice and help.
The Friar suggests a dangerous solution to the problem (Act 4 Scene 1)Juliet arrives at the Friars to be met by Paris, who is busy discussing theirwedding plans. She is so desperate that she threatens suicide, and theFriar instead suggests that she takes a potion that will make her appearto be dead. He promises to send a message to Romeo, asking him toreturn secretly and be with Juliet when she wakes, once her body hasbeen taken to the family crypt.Juliet is found dead (Act 4 Scene 4)The Nurse discovers Juliet s body dead when she goes to wake her forher marriage Paris. Friar Laurence is called, counsels the family to accepttheir grief, and arranges for Juliet to be buried immediately.Romeo learns of the tragedy and plans his own suicide (Act 5 Scene 1)Romeos servant, Balthasar, reaches Mantua before the Friars messengerand tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Romeo buys poison and leaves forVerona, planning to die alongside Juliets body.The tragic conclusion (Act 5 Scene 3)Trying to break into the Capulet crypt, Romeo is disturbed by Paris andthey fight. Romeo kills Paris and reaches Juliets body. He drinks thepoison, kisses his wife for the last time, and dies. Having learned thatRomeo never received his message, the Friar comes to the crypt to bewith Juliet when she wakes. He finds Pariss body and reaches Juliet justas she revives. He cannot persuade her to leave her dead husband, andruns away in fear. Juliet realises what has happened, takes Romeos knifeand stabs herself to death with it. The watchmen discover the gruesomesight and call the Prince, to whom the Friar confesses everything. Havingheard the full story, the Montagues and Capulets are reconciled. Peacehas been achieved, but the price has been the lives of two innocent younglovers.Article: Love and Hatred
Psychologist Dorothy Rowe examines how our strongest emotions areintertwined.This article first appeared in the show programme for the RSCs 2008production of Romeo and Juliet.Love and hatred are not opposites but two sides of the one coin. The coinis attachment. We are attached to those we love and those we hate. Theopposite of attachment, and thus the opposite of love and hatred, isindifference. We want nothing, neither approval or disapproval, fromthose to whom we are indifferent. However, we cannot be indifferent tothose we love or those we hate because they can fulfil our greatest needor inspire our greatest fear.The people we love are those who can affirm that we are the person weknow ourselves to be, and do so. The people we hate are those who candisconfirm the person we know ourselves to be, and are prepared to dodisconfirmed can override our love, often with tragic circumstances.Our greatest need is to become and be the person that we knowourselves to be. When we are young like Romeo and Juliet, our heartoften feels that it will burst with our longing to be the person we knowourselves to be, and to have all the people who matter to us - those welove and those we hate - recognise the extraordinary individual that weare. Alas, at that age we do not know how to be ourselves. We have notgained the confidence we need both to be ourselves and to face thehazards and uncertainties of life. The person we know ourselves to be isour most important possession.In extreme situations we will choose to let our body die, either in an actof heroism or suicide, in order to die in the truth of who we are ratherthan live the lie of who we are not. Juliet chose not to live the lie of beingPariss wife; Romeo knew he could not continue as the empty vessel hewas. He needed to be filled by Juliets courage and her love which wasboundless as the sea.Knowing yourself to be a person is both a wonderful and a terrible thing.Wonderful because we not only live but know ourselves to be alive:terrible because our I is no more than a structure of ideas which are theguesses our brain has constructed about who we are, what the world is,what our past was, our present is, and our future will be. When ourguesses are being proved to be right, we feel confident and secure, butwhen our guesses have been shown to be wrong we begin to feel that Iis falling apart, and we are terrified.When we were children, our explanations to ourselves about what wasgoing on, and our predictions about what was going to happen, wereoften wrong and we gave vent to our terror as we fell apart in what adults
called temper tantrums and bad dreams. In deliberatelymisunderstanding what a child is experiencing, adults try to hide fromthemselves their own fear of falling apart. They do not recognise thatmuch of what they do is, at least in part, a defence against the fear ofbeing annihilated as a person. This fear is far worse than the fear ofdeath. We can tell ourselves that, when we die, the most important partof ourselves will continue on as a soul, or a spirit, or in our children, or inour work, or in the memories of those who knew us, but, when we areannihilated as a person, it will be that we disappear like a wisp of smokein the wind, never to have existed.Every moment of our life, we are monitoring how safe we are as a person.The measures of our degree of safety or danger are our emotions, that is,our interpretations of how safe we are as a person in our presentsituation. When we are content, or happy, or joyful, or ecstatic we feelsafe in ourselves because the world is what we want it to be, and whenwe are in love we are in the glorious safety where we can be truly andcompletely ourselves. Anxiety warns us of the first hint of danger, whilefear tells us that we are in danger. Our pride tries to rescue us fromdanger with anger which says, How dare this happen to me! We measurethe kind of danger we are in in many ways - hate, envy, jealousy, guilt,shame, and despair. We can be ruthless in trying to preserve our sense ofbeing a person.Tybalt tries to preserve himself by using his anger and his swordsmanshipto inspire fear in other men, even to the extreme of killing Mercutio andthus bringing about his own death. As much as Capulet loves his daughterJuliet, he is prepared to use her or to destroy her in order to pursue anancient grudge between his family and that of Montague. He sees avictory over Montague as the measure of his value as a person.Accordingly, he wants to give Juliet in marriage to Paris, a kinsman ofEscalus, Prince of Verona. When she refuses, he tells her she can: hang,beg, starve, die in the streets, / For, by my soul, Ill neer acknowledgethee. Lady Capulet, whose identity depends on that of her husband, seesher daughter as a threat, and rejects her, saying: Talk not to me, for Illnot speak a word: / Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is not just that of the star-crossd loversbut of the two old men who failed to realise that their hatred and pridetied them to one another as securely as Juliet and Romeo were tied bytheir love.Written by Dorothy Rowe, psychologist and author of What should Ibelieve?(Routledge) and Why we lie (HarperCollins)Article: Sweet Sorrow
This article first appeared in the show programme for the RSCs 2008production of Romeo and Juliet.Half way through rehearsals for the RSCs 2008 production of Romeo andJuliet, director Neil Bartlett pauses for thought.Why is Romeo and Juliet still such good box office? And why (perhaps amore interesting question) is this particular play, with its foul-mouthed,testosterone-drenched young men, its vivid portrayal of a sexually-charged teenage heroine and her wayward, immature, impulsive andfinally murderous lover, considered the ideal introduction to the glories ofShakespeare for impressionable young school students?No matter how much audiences and producers want to see the storythrough the rose-tinted glasses of sentiment, the fact remains that its apretty brutal piece. Half way through rehearsals as I am as I write this, Ithink the clues to the answers may lie not just in the iconic story itself,but in the way it is told.Consider the way it begins. The first scene is a masterpiece ofscenography - in barely 50 lines, a potentially murderous street brawlescalates from a few moronic insults into a freeze-frame portrayal of anentire city trapped in a vicious circle of patriarchal pride, aggression andfacesaving. So far, so good - a full-company crowd scene never goesamiss at the top of the show, theres not too much blank verse, andtheres some sexy knife-work - no chance of anyone getting bored so far,and if the choreography is noisy enough, hopefully they wont notice thatthe insults are in fact all pretty impenetrable late sixteenth centurydoubles entendres.But the real impact (the real brilliance) of the opening comes from thefact that this famously hot-tempered and fast-paced play doesnt actuallystart with this crowd scene at all. It starts with something much cooler,much more singular - and more challenging. The actors stand in front ofthe audience and, in the words of the famous prologue, do exactly whatyoure never supposed to do in the theatre: tell everyone how the storyends. As soon as those famous lines are over (Two households, both alikein dignity…) the telling of the story is set up to work in a very particularway. Having heard the words of the prologue means that all the timewere getting carried away by the heat of the story-telling, by the Italiansetting, by the poetry, we cant avoid the fact that we, the audience,already know what the characters dont, namely that the way theyrebehaving is going to lead, step by deliberate or accidental step, to themutilation and violent deaths of the two young people whose beautifulfaces and bodies are splashed across the poster as the main attraction ofthe evening.Imagine for a moment what watching the play would be like ifwe didnt know they were going to die; it would be entirely different.
Were set up to get involved in the story not just for the pleasures ofits what, but for the challenges of its howand its why.I think theres another clue to the enduring appeal of the play buried inthose opening lines. The two households (pace West Side Story and allthe other versions that have situated the Capulets and the Montagues onopposite sides of various cultural or racial tracks) are enemies, but theyare precisely not different; the two households are both alike in dignity.Their childrens problem is not that they are trapped in a divided world,but that theyre growing up in one of stifling uniformity. Verona is a citywith very rigid definitions of how young men and women should behave -boys must first obey and then turn into their violent fathers, and girlsmust do as theyre told.Anyone who has ever felt as a teenager that the world is conspiringagainst them to limit their choices (ie: more or less everyone) can identifywith the first appearances of the hero or heroine (with either gleefulimmediacy or rueful hindsight, depending on what age they are whenthey see the play).Romeo, an only son, has stopped talking to his father and is desperatelytrying to shrug off the crushing weight of his familys expectations bystaying out all night, refusing to get involved in the hypermasculineposturing of the vendetta and instead pouring all his energy into luridpoetic fantasies about an inappropriate girlfriend.Juliet, an only daughter, is so busy getting ready for a party that she doesnot at first realise that her mother is grooming her to receive some verybad news, namely that a month short of her fourteenth birthday herparents are ready to hand her over to the richer, older man they havedecided she should marry.This is the tragedy of two children who, in extremis, instinctively glimpsein each other a possible escape route from otherwise dead-end lives. Thismay seem a harsh perspective from which to view a play that goes on toflower into some of the most immediate and effective evocations of desirein the language (current favourite sexy line: Spread thy close curtain,love-performing night…), but the life of the play lies as much in itsruthless and swift-as-an-oncoming-truck depiction of a dysfunctionalculture as it does in its famous love scenes.If these 400- and-something year-old pages of blank verse still havesomething to tell us (and the box office figures rather indicate that theydo) then it is not that love makes the world go round, or that parting issuch sweet sorrow, or that standing sighing on a balcony in a nightie isthe meaning of romance, or that playing with knives is sexy, but ratherthat the patriarchy works by stifling young lives and, if necessary, bytaking them, and that the fight to escape from its clutches is sometimes afight to the death. Now that is a story worth telling to an audience ofschoolchildren…
Written by author and director Neil Bartlett. Neil directed Romeo andJuliet for the RSCs 2008 production in the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon which then continued on a major British tour.Article: OppositesThe earth, thats natures mother, is her tomb.What is her burying, grave that is her womb...Within the infant rind of this small flowerPoison hath residence and medicine power.(Friar Lawrence, Act 2 Scene 3)Day and night, the earth as both womb and tomb, herbs and flowers thatare simultaneously poisonous and medicinal, virtue and vice, Gods graceand our own desires:such opposèd kings encamp them stillIn man as well as herbs.Give Shakespeare an idea and he is equally interested in its opposite.Opposition is indeed the key to Romeo and Juliet: the lovers are doomedbecause they are from the two opposed houses of Capulet and Montague.In a violent world, violent delights have violent ends. Youthful passionsboil over not only into poetry and embraces, but also into insult andsword-fight.Friar Laurences soliloquy cuts to the quick of the plays double vision. Itis structured around the rhetorical figure of oxymoron, the paradoxwhereby opposites are held together. Versions of the figure recurthroughout the play, from Romeos heavy lightness, serious vanity to theduet of nightingale and lark in the great scene of lovers parting at dawn.At the beginning of the play, Romeo is in love with Rosaline. Or rather, heis in love with the idea of being in love. We never actually see Rosaline:she exists solely as the idealised love-object of Romeo. She is nothingmore than a literary type, the beautiful but unavailable mistress of thesonnet tradition that goes back to the Italian Renaissance poet Petrarch.The Petrarchan lover thrives on artifice and paradox. The fire in his heartis dependent on his ladys icy maidenhoodFeather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!Still-waking sleep that is not what it is!As the Friar recognies, this is mere doting, not true loving. And so longas Mercutio is around, the bubble of poetic language keeps on beingpricked - is it not just a matter of rhyming love with dove? Romeo stillpoeticises on seeing Juliet, though he speaks in more richly texturedimagery:It seems she hangs upon the cheek of nightAs a rich jewel in an Ethiops ear.
When the lovers meet at the Capulet ball, they weave a verbal dance thatanswers to the motions of their bodies and hands: their initial dialogue iswrapped into the form of a sonnet. But over the next few scenes theirlanguage evolves into something more fluid and more natural. You canhear Shakespeare growing as a poet even as you see the love betweenJuliet and Romeo growing from infatuation at first sight to the convictionthat each has found the others soul-mate.Love is a chemistry that begins from a physiological transformation -Romeo is bewitched by the charm of looks - but it becomes a discoveryof the very core of human being:Can I go forward when my heart is here?Turn back, dull earth, and find thy centre out.What haunts the lover is the suspicion that it might all be a dream.Mercutio spins a tale of how love is but the mischief of Queen Mab,midwife of illusion. Romeo blesses the night, but then acknowledges hisfear that:Being in night, all this is but a dream,Too flattering-sweet to be substantial.Juliet has to deal with another fear. For a girl in Shakespeares time,chastity was a priceless commodity. To lose her virtue without theprospect of marriage would be to lose herself. In the speech that beginsThou knowest the mask of night is on my face, Juliet reveals quiteremarkable self-understanding. She is acutely aware that in love thestakes for a woman are far higher than those for a man. HereShakespeares poetic language becomes the vehicle of both argument andemotion. The artifice of rhyme is replaced by blank verse that moves withthe suppleness of thought itself.In the original production, the lines would have been spoken by a youngmale actor of perhaps around the same 13 years as the character ofJuliet. By highlighting extreme youthfulness (in the source, Juliet is 16),Shakespeare makes a bold implicit claim for his poetic drama. Both actorand character are speaking with maturity far beyond their years: such,the dramatist implies, is the metamorphic potency of the mingled fire andpowder of love and art.Though younger than Romeo, Juliet is more knowing. She senses thedanger in his talk of idolatry. In the soaring love-duet that is their finalscene together before Romeos exile, she wills the song to be that of thenightingale rather than the lark because she knows that the break of daywill mean the end of their night of love and the dawn of a harsh reality inwhich she will be reduced to the status of a bargaining chip in thenegotiations between Veronas powerful families.