CLIFFSCOMPLETE Shakespeare’s Romeoand Juliet Edited by Sidney Lamb Associate Professor of English Sir George Williams University, MontrealComplete Text + Commentary + Glossary Commentary by Karin Jacobson, Ph.D. Best-Selling Books • Digital Downloads • e-Books • Answer Networks • e-Newsletters • Branded Web Sites • e-Learning New York, NY • Cleveland, OH • Indianapolis, IN
CLIFFSCOMPLETEShakespeare’sRomeo and JulietTABLE OF CONTENTSShakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Introduction to William Shakespeare. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Introduction to Early Modern England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Introduction to Romeo and Juliet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Character Map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24Romeo and Juliet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Act I Prologue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Scene 1 Verona, a public place. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Scene 2 The same. A street. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Scene 3 A room in Capulet’s house. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Scene 4 The same. A street. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Scene 5 The same. A hall in Capulet’s house. . . . . . . . 57 Act II Prologue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Scene 1 Verona. A lane by the wall of Capulet’s orchard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Scene 2 The same. Capulet’s orchard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Scene 3 The same. Friar Laurence’s cell. . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Scene 4 The same. A street. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Scene 5 The same. Capulet’s garden. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Scene 6 The same. Friar Laurence’s cell. . . . . . . . . . . 102 Act III Scene 1 Verona. A public place. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 Scene 2 The same. Capulet’s orchard. . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Scene 3 The same. Friar Laurence’s cell. . . . . . . . . . . 126 Scene 4 The same. A room in Capulet’s house. . . . . . . 134 Scene 5 The same. Juliet’s chamber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
viii CliffsComplete Romeo and Juliet Act IV Scene 1 Verona. Friar Laurence’s cell. . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Scene 2 The same. Hall in Capulet’s house. . . . . . . . . 157 Scene 3 The same. Juliet’s chamber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160 Scene 4 The same. Hall in Capulet’s house. . . . . . . . . 163 Scene 5 The same. Juliet’s chamber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 Act V Scene 1 Mantua. A street. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177 Scene 2 Verona. Friar Laurence’s cell. . . . . . . . . . . . . 182 Scene 3 The same. A churchyard; in it a monument belonging to the Capulets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184 CliffsComplete Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201 CliffsComplete Resource Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210 CliffsComplete Reading Group Discussion Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
Shakespeare’sROMEO AND JULIETINTRODUCTION TO Anti-Stratfordians — modern scholars whoWILLIAM SHAKESPEARE question the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays — have used this lack of information to argue thatWilliam Shakespeare, or the “Bard” as people fondly William Shakespeare either never existed or, if he didcall him, permeates almost all aspects of our society. exist, did not write any of the plays we attribute toHe can be found in our classrooms, on our televisions, him. They believe that another historical ﬁgure, suchin our theatres, and in our cinemas. Speaking to us as Francis Bacon or Queen Elizabeth I, used thethrough his plays, Shakespeare comments on his life name as a cover. Whether or not a man namedand culture, as well as our own. Actors still regularly William Shakespeare ever actually existed is ulti-perform his plays on the modern stage and screen. The mately secondary to the recognition that the group1990s, for example, saw the release of cinematic ver- of plays bound together by that name does exist andsions of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, A Mid- continues to educate, enlighten, and entertain us.summer Night’s Dream, and many more of his works. In addition to the popularity of Shakespeare’splays as he wrote them, other writers have modern-ized his works to attract new audiences. For exam-ple, West Side Story places Romeo and Juliet in NewYork City, and A Thousand Acres sets King Lear inIowa corn country. Beyond adaptations and pro-ductions, his life and works have captured our cul-tural imagination. The twentieth century witnessedthe production of a play and ﬁlm about two minorcharacters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Rosencrantzand Guildenstern are Dead and a fictional movieabout Shakespeare’s early life and poetic inspirationin Shakespeare in Love. Despite his monumental presence in our culture,Shakespeare remains enigmatic. He does not tell uswhich plays he wrote alone, on which plays he col-laborated with other playwrights, or which versionsof his plays to read and perform. Furthermore, withonly a handful of documents available about his life,he does not tell us much about Shakespeare the per- An engraved portrait of Shakespeare by an unknown artist, ca. 1607.son, forcing critics and scholars to look to historical Culver Pictures, Inc./SuperStockreferences to uncover the true-life great dramatist.
2 CliffsComplete Romeo and JulietFamily lifeThough scholars are unsure of the exact date of Shake-speare’s birth, records indicate that his parents —Mary and John Shakespeare — baptized him on April26, 1564, in the small provincial town of Stratford-upon-Avon — so named because it sat on the banksof the Avon river. Because common practice was tobaptize infants a few days after they were born, schol-ars generally recognize April 23, 1564 as Shakespeare’sbirthday. Coincidentally, April 23 is the day of St.George, the patron saint of England, as well as the dayupon which Shakespeare would die 52 years later. Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. SuperStockWilliam was the third of Mary and John’s eight chil-dren and the ﬁrst of four sons. The house in which Puritans) lost their posts due to their religion. What-scholars believe Shakespeare was born stands on Hen- ever the cause of his decline, John did regain someley Street and, despite many modiﬁcations over the prosperity toward the end of his life. In 1597, the Her-years, you can still visit it today. ald’s Ofﬁce granted the Shakespeare family a coat of arms at the petition of William, by now a successfulShakespeare’s father playwright in London. And John, prior to his death inPrior to William Shakespeare’s birth, John Shake- 1601, regained his seat on Stratford’s town council.speare lived in Snitterﬁeld, where he married MaryArden, the daughter of his landlord. After moving to Childhood and educationStratford in 1552, he worked as a glover, a money- Our understanding of William Shakespeare’s childhoodlender, and a dealer in agricultural products such as in Stratford is primarily speculative because childrenwool and grain. He also pursued public office and do not often appear in the legal records from whichachieved a variety of posts including bailiff, Strat- many scholars attempt to reconstruct Shakespeare’s life.ford’s highest elected position — equivalent to a Based on his father’s local prominence, scholars spec-small town’s mayor. At the height of his career, some- ulate that Shakespeare most likely attended King’s Newtime near 1576, he petitioned the Herald’s Ofﬁce for School, a school that usually employed Oxford grad-a coat of arms and thus the right to be a gentleman. uates and was generally well respected. ShakespeareBut the rise from the middle class to the gentry did would have started petty school — the rough equivalentnot come right away, and the costly petition expired to modern preschool — at the age of four or ﬁve. Hewithout being granted. would have learned to read on a hornbook, which was About this time, John Shakespeare mysteriously a sheet of parchment or paper on which the alphabetfell into ﬁnancial difﬁculty. He became involved in seri- and the Lord’s Prayer were written. This sheet wasous litigation, was assessed heavy ﬁnes, and even lost framed in wood and covered with a transparent piecehis seat on the town council. Some scholars suggest of horn for durability. After two years in petty school,that this decline could have resulted from religious dis- he would have transferred to grammar school, wherecrimination. The Shakespeare family may have sup- his school day would have probably lasted fromported Catholicism, the practice of which was illegal 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning (depending on the timein England. However, other scholars point out that not of year) until 5 o’clock in the evening, with only aall religious dissenters (both Catholics and radical handful of holidays.
Introduction to William Shakespeare 3 While in grammar school, Shakespeare would For seven years after the twins’ baptism, thehave studied primarily Latin, reciting and reading records remain silent on Shakespeare. At some point,the works of classical Roman authors such as Plau- he traveled to London and became involved with thetus, Ovid, Seneca, and Horace. Traces of these theatre, but he could have been anywhere betweenauthors’ works can be seen in his dramatic texts. 21 and 28 years old when he did. Though some haveToward his last years in grammar school, Shakespeare suggested that he may have served as an assistant towould have acquired some basic skills in Greek as a schoolmaster at a provincial school, it seems likelywell. Thus the remark made by Ben Jonson, Shake- that he went to London to become an actor, gradu-speare’s well-educated friend and contemporary play- ally becoming a playwright and gaining attention.wright, that Shakespeare knew “small Latin and lessGreek” is accurate. Jonson is not saying that whenShakespeare left grammar school he was only semi- The plays: On stage and in printliterate; he merely indicates that Shakespeare did not The next mention of Shakespeare comes in 1592 byattend University, where he would have gained more a University wit named Robert Greene when Shake-Latin and Greek instruction. speare apparently was already a rising actor and play- wright for the London stage. Greene, no longer aWife and children successful playwright, tried to warn other UniversityWhen Shakespeare became an adult, the historical wits about Shakespeare. He wrote:records documenting his existence began to increase.In November 1582, at the age of 18, he married 26- For there is an upstart crow, beautiﬁed with our feathers,year-old Anne Hathaway from the nearby village of that with his “Tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’sShottery. The disparity in their ages, coupled with hide” supposes he is as well able to bombast out athe fact that they baptized their first daughter, blank verse as the best of you, and, being an absoluteSusanna, only six months later in May 1583, has Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the onlycaused a great deal of modern speculation about the Shake-scene in a country.nature of their relationship. However, sixteenth-cen-tury conceptions of marriage differed slightly from This statement comes at a point in time whenour modern notions. Though all marriages needed men without a university education, like Shake-to be performed before a member of the clergy, many speare, were starting to compete as dramatists withof Shakespeare’s contemporaries believed that a cou- the University wits. As many critics have pointed out,ple could establish a relationship through a premar- Greene’s statement recalls a line from 3 Henry VI,ital contract by exchanging vows in front of which reads, “O tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’switnesses. This contract removed the social stigma hide!” (I.4.137). Greene’s remark does not indicateof pregnancy before marriage. (Shakespeare’s plays that Shakespeare was generally disliked. On the con-contain instances of marriage prompted by preg- trary, another University wit, Thomas Nashe, wrotenancy, and Measure for Measure includes this kind of of the great theatrical success of Henry VI, and Henrypremarital contract.) Two years later, in February Chettle, Greene’s publisher, later printed a ﬂattering1585, Shakespeare baptized his twins Hamnet and apology to Shakespeare. What Greene’s statementJudith. Hamnet would die at the age of 11 when does show us is that Shakespeare’s reputation forShakespeare was primarily living away from his poetry had achieved enough prominence to provokefamily in London. the envy of a failing competitor.
4 CliffsComplete Romeo and Juliet In the following year,1593, the government closedLondon’s theatres due to anoutbreak of the bubonicplague. Publication historysuggests that during this clo-sure, Shakespeare may havewritten his two narrativepoems, Venus and Adonis,published in 1593, and TheRape of Lucrece, published in1594. These are the onlytwo works that Shakespeareseems to have helped intoprint; each carries a dedica-tion by Shakespeare toHenry Wriothesley, Earl ofSouthampton. A ground plan of London after the ﬁre of 1666, drawn by Marcus Willemsz Doornik. Guildhall Library, London/AKG, Berlin/SuperStockStage successWhen the theatres reopened in 1594, Shakespeare Recent scholars suggest that Shakespeare’s greatjoined the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, an acting com- tragedy, Julius Caesar, may have been the first ofpany. Though uncertain about the history of his early Shakespeare’s plays performed in the original Globedramatic works, scholars believe that by this point theatre. When this open-air theatre on the Thameshe had written The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The River opened, financial papers list Shakespeare’sTaming of the Shrew, the Henry VI trilogy, and Titus name as one of the principal investors. Already anAndronicus. During his early years in the theatre, he actor and a playwright, Shakespeare was now becom-primarily wrote history plays, with his romantic ing a “Company Man.” This new status allowed himcomedies emerging in the 1590s. Even at this early to share in the profits of the theatre rather thanstage in his career, Shakespeare was a success. In merely getting paid for his plays, some of which pub-1597, he was able to purchase New Place, one of the lishers were beginning to release in quarto format.two largest houses in Stratford, and secure a coat ofarms for his family. Publications In 1597, the lease expired on the Lord Cham- A quarto was a small, inexpensive book typically usedberlain’s playhouse, called The Theatre. Because the for leisure books such as plays; the term itself indi-owner of The Theatre refused to renew the lease, the cates that the printer folded the paper four times.acting company was forced to perform at various The modern day equivalent of a quarto would be aplayhouses until the 1599 opening of the now paperback. In contrast, the first collected works offamous Globe theatre, which was literally built with Shakespeare were in folio format, which means thatlumber from The Theatre. (The Globe, later the printer folded each sheet only once. Scholars calldestroyed by ﬁre, recently has been reconstructed in the collected edition of Shakespeare’s works the FirstLondon and can be visited today.) Folio. A folio was a larger and more prestigious book
Introduction to William Shakespeare 5than a quarto, and printers generally reserved the for- of this transition in the English monarchy, themat for works such as the Bible. famous tragedy Othello (1603–1604) was most likely written and performed, followed closely by King Lear No evidence exists that Shakespeare participated (1605–1606), Antony and Cleopatra (1606), andin the publication of any of his plays. Members of Macbeth (1606) in the next two years.Shakespeare’s acting company printed the First Folioseven years after Shakespeare’s death. Generally, play- Shakespeare’s name also appears as a majorwrights wrote their works to be performed on stage, investor in the 1609 acquisition of an indoor theatreand publishing them was an innovation at the time. known as the Blackfriars. This last period of Shake-Shakespeare probably would not have thought of speare’s career, which includes plays that consideredthem as books in the way we do. In fact, as a princi- the acting conditions both at the Blackfriars and thepal investor in the acting company (which purchased open-air Globe theatre, consists primarily ofthe play as well as the exclusive right to perform it), romances or tragicomedies such as The Winter’s Talehe may not have even thought of them as his own. and The Tempest. On June 29, 1613, during a per-He probably would have thought of his plays as formance of All is True, or Henry VIII, the thatchingbelonging to the company. on top of The Globe caught ﬁre and the playhouse burned to the ground. After this incident, the King’s For this reason, scholars generally have charac- Men moved solely into the indoor Blackfriars theatre.terized most quartos printed before the Folio as“bad” by arguing that printers pirated the plays andpublished them illegally. How would a printer have Final daysreceived a pirated copy of a play? The theories range During the last years of his career, Shakespeare col-from someone stealing a copy to an actor (or actors) laborated on a couple of plays with contemporaryselling the play by relating it from memory to a dramatist John Fletcher, even possibly coming outprinter. Many times, major differences exist between of retirement — which scholars believe began some-a quarto version of the play and a folio version, caus- time in 1613 — to work on The Two Noble Kinsmening uncertainty about which is Shakespeare’s true cre- (1613–1614). Three years later, Shakespeare died onation. Hamlet, for example, is almost twice as long April 23, 1616. Though the exact cause of deathin the Folio as in quarto versions. Recently, scholars remains unknown, a vicar from Stratford in the mid-have come to realize the value of the different ver- seventeenth-century wrote in his diary that Shake-sions. The Norton Shakespeare, for example, includes speare, perhaps celebrating the marriage of hisall three versions of King Lear — the quarto, the daughter, Judith, contracted a fever during a nightfolio, and the conﬂated version (the combination of of revelry with fellow literary ﬁgures Ben Jonson andthe quarto and folio). Michael Drayton. Regardless, Shakespeare may have felt his death was imminent in March of that yearProliﬁc productions because he altered his will. Interestingly, his will men- tions no book or theatrical manuscripts, perhapsThe ﬁrst decade of the 1600s witnessed the publica- indicating the lack of value that he put on printedtion of additional quartos as well as the production versions of his dramatic works and their status asof most of Shakespeare’s great tragedies, with Julius company property.Caesar appearing in 1599 and Hamlet in 1600–1601.After the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, the Seven years after Shakespeare’s death, JohnLord Chamberlain’s Men became the King’s Men Heminge and Henry Condell, fellow members of theunder James I, Elizabeth’s successor. Around the time King’s Men, published his collected works. In their
6 CliffsComplete Romeo and Julietpreface, they claim that they are publishing the true 1599–1600 As You Like Itversions of Shakespeare’s plays partially as a response 1600–1601 Hamletto the previous quarto printings of 18 of his plays, 1601 Twelfth Night, or What You Willmost of these with multiple printings. This Folio 1602 Troilus and Cressidacontains 36 plays to which scholars generally add 1593–1603 SonnetsPericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen. This volume of 1603 Measure for MeasureShakespeare’s plays began the process of construct- 1603–1604 A Lover’s Complainting Shakespeare not only as England’s national poet Othellobut also as a monumental ﬁgure whose plays would 1604–1605 All’s Well That Ends Wellcontinue to captivate imaginations at the end of the 1605 Timon of Athenssecond millenium with no signs of stopping. Ben 1605–1606 King LearJonson’s prophetic line about Shakespeare in the First 1606 MacbethFolio — “He was not of an age, but for all time!” — Antony and Cleopatracertainly holds true. 1607 Pericles 1608 Coriolanus 1609 The Winter’s TaleChronology of Shakespeare’s plays 1610 Cymbeline 1611 The Tempest1590–1591 The Two Gentlemen of Verona 1612–1613 Cardenio (with John Fletcher; The Taming of the Shrew this manuscript was lost.)1591 2 Henry VI 1613 All is True (Henry VIII) 3 Henry VI 1613–1614 The Two Noble Kinsman1592 1 Henry VI (with John Fletcher) Titus Andronicus This chronology is derived from Stanley Wells’1592–1593 Richard III and Gary Taylor’s William Shakespeare: A Textual Venus and Adonis Companion, which is listed in the “Works consulted”1593–1594 The Rape of Lucrece section later.1594 The Comedy of Errors1594–1595 Love’s Labour’s Lost1595 Richard II A note on Shakespeare’s language Romeo and Juliet Readers encountering Shakespeare for the ﬁrst time A Midsummer Night’s Dream usually ﬁnd Early Modern English difﬁcult to under-1595–1596 Love’s Labour’s Won stand. Yet, rather than serving as a barrier to Shake- (This manuscript was lost.) speare, the richness of this language should form part1596 King John of our appreciation of the Bard.1596–1597 The Merchant of Venice 1 Henry IV One of the first things readers usually notice1597–1598 The Merry Wives of Windsor about the language is the use of pronouns. Like the 2 Henry IV King James Version of the Bible, Shakespeare’s pro-1598 Much Ado About Nothing nouns are slightly different from our own and can1598–1599 Henry V cause confusion. Words like “thou” (you), “thee” and1599 Julius Caesar “ye” (objective cases of you), and “thy” and “thine” (your/yours) appear throughout Shakespeare’s plays.
Introduction to Early Modern England 7You may need a little time to get used to these to period as well as from line to line. Althoughchanges. You can nd the deÞnitions for other wor ds Þ ShakespeareÕ s language can be difficult at first, thethat commonly cause confusion in the glossary col- rewards of immersing yourself in the richness andumn on the right side of each page in this edition. uidity of the lines ar e immeasurable. ßIambic pentameterThough Shakespeare sometimes wrote in prose, he Works consultedwrote most of his plays in poetry, specically blank Þ For more information on ShakespeareÕ s life andverse. Blank verse consists of lines in unrhymed works, see the following:iambic pentameter. Iambic refers to the stress patternsof the line. An iamb is an element of sound that con- Bevington, David, ed. The Complete Works of Shakespeare.sists of two beats Ñ the rst unstr Þ essed (da) and the New York: Longman, 1997.second stressed (DA). A good example of an iambic Evans, G.Blakemore, ed. The Riverside Shakespeare.line is HamletÕ s famous line Ò To be or not to be,Ó in Boston: Houghton Mifßin Co ., 1997.which you do not stress Ò to,Ó Ò or,Ó and Ò to,Ó but y ou Greenblatt, Stephen, ed. The Norton Shakespeare. Newdo stress be,Ó Ò not,Ó and be.Ó Pentameter refers to Ò Ò York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1997.the meter or number of stressed syllables in a line.Penta-meter has v e stressed syllables. Thus, RomeoÕ s Þ Kastan, David Scott, ed. A Companion to Shakespeare.line ÒB ut soft, what light through yonder window Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.breaks?Ó (II.2.2) is a good example of an iambic pen- McDonald, Russ. The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare:tameter line. An Introduction with Documents. Boston: Bedford- St. MartinÕ s Press, 1996.Wordplay Wells, Stanley and Gary Taylor. William Shakespeare: AShakespeareÕ s language is also verbally rich as he, Textual Companion. New York: W.W. Norton andalong with many dramatists of his period, had a Co., 1997.fondness for wordplay. This wordplay often takes the INTRODUCTION TO EARLYforms of double meanings, called puns, where a wordcan mean more than one thing in a given context. MODERN ENGLANDShakespeare often employs these puns as a way of William Shakespeare (1564Ð1616) liv ed during aillustrating the distance between what is on the sur- period in EnglandÕ s history that people have gener-face Ñ apparent meanings Ñ and what meanings lie ally referred to as the English Renaissance. The termunderneath. Though recognizing these puns may be renaissance, meaning rebirth, was applied to thisdifficult at first, the glosses (definitions) in the far period of English history as a way of celebrating whatright column point many of them out to you. was perceived as the rapid development of art, liter- ature, science, and politics: in many ways, the rebirth If you are encountering ShakespeareÕ s plays for of classical Rome.the first time, the following reading tips may helpease you into the plays. ShakespeareÕ s lines were Recently, scholars have challenged the namemeant to be spoken; therefore, reading them aloud ÒE nglish RenaissanceÓ on two gr ounds. First, someor speaking them should help with comprehension. scholars argue that the term should not be usedAlso, though most of the lines are poetic, do not for- because women did not share in the advancementsget to read complete sentences Ñ mo ve from period of English culture during this time period; their legal
8 CliffsComplete Romeo and Julietstatus was still below that of men. Second, other during Shakespeare’s time as lacking in intelligencescholars have challenged the basic notion that this or education. Discoveries made during the Earlyperiod saw a sudden explosion of culture. A rebirth Modern period concerning the universe and theof civilization suggests that the previous period of human body provide the basis of modern science.time was not civilized. This second group of schol-ars sees a much more gradual transition between the CosmologyMiddle Ages and Shakespeare’s time. One subject we view very differently than Early Some people use the terms Elizabethan and Modern thinkers is cosmology. Shakespeare’s con-Jacobean when referring to periods of the sixteenth temporaries believed in the astronomy of Ptolemy,and seventeenth centuries, respectively. These terms an intellectual from Alexandria in the second cen-correspond to the reigns of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) tury A.D. Ptolemy thought that the earth stood atand James I (1603–1625). The problem with these the center of the universe, surrounded by nine con-terms is that they do not cover large spans of time; centric rings. The celestial bodies circled the earth infor example, Shakespeare’s life and career spans both the following order: the moon, Mercury, Venus, themonarchies. sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the stars. The entire system was controlled by the primum mobile, or Scholars are now beginning to replace Renais- Prime Mover, which initiated and maintained thesance with the term Early Modern when referring to movement of the celestial bodies. No one had yetthis time period, but people still use both terms discovered the last three planets in our solar system,interchangeably. The term Early Modern recognizes Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.that this period established many of the foundationsof our modern culture. Though critics still disagree In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus published his the-about the exact dates of the period, in general, the ory of a sun-based solar system, in which the sundates range from 1450 to 1750. Thus, Shakespeare’s stood at the center and the planets revolved aroundlife clearly falls within the Early Modern period. it. Though this theory appeared prior to Shake- speare’s birth, people didn’t really start to change Shakespeare’s plays live on in our culture, but we their minds until 1610, when Galileo used his tele-must remember that Shakespeare’s culture differed scope to confirm Copernicus’s theory. David Bev-greatly from our own. Though his understanding of ington asserts in the general introduction to hishuman nature and relationships seems to apply to our edition of Shakespeare’s works that during most ofmodern lives, we must try to understand the world Shakespeare’s writing career, the cosmology of thehe lived in so we can better understand his plays. This universe was in question, and this sense of uncer-introduction helps you do just that. It examines the tainty inﬂuences some of his plays.intellectual, religious, political, and social contexts ofShakespeare’s work before turning to the importanceof the theatre and the printing press. Universal hierarchy Closely related to Ptolemy’s hierarchical view of the universe is a hierarchical conception of the EarthIntellectual context (sometimes referred to as the Chain of Being). Dur- ing the Early Modern period, many people believedIn general, people in Early Modern England looked that all of creation was organized hierarchically. Godat the universe, the human body, and science very existed at the top, followed by the angels, men,differently from the way we do. But while we do not women, animals, plants, and rocks. (Because allshare their same beliefs, we must not think of people
Introduction to Early Modern England 9women were thought to exist below all men on the dominance of phlegm led a person to be dull andchain, we can easily imagine the confusion that Eliz- kind. And if black bile prevailed, he was melancholyabeth I caused when she became Queen of England. or sad. Thus, people of Early Modern England oftenShe was literally “out of order,” an expression that used the humors to explain behavior and emotionalstill exists in our society.) Though the concept of this outbursts. Throughout Shakespeare’s plays, he useshierarchy is a useful one when beginning to study the concept of the humors to deﬁne and explain var-Shakespeare, keep in mind that distinctions in this ious characters.hierarchical view were not always clear and that weshould not reduce all Early Modern thinking to asimple chain. Religious context Shakespeare lived in an England full of religiousElements and humors uncertainty and dispute. From the Protestant Refor-The belief in a hierarchical scheme of existence cre- mation to the translation of the Bible into English,ated a comforting sense of order and balance that the Early Modern era is punctuated with events thatcarried over into science as well. Shakespeare’s con- have greatly inﬂuenced modern religious beliefs.temporaries generally accepted that four different ele-ments composed everything in the universe: earth, The Reformationair, water, and ﬁre. People associated these four ele- Until the Protestant Reformation, the only Christ-ments with four qualities of being. These qualities — ian church in Western Europe was the Catholic, orhot, cold, moist, and dry — appeared in different “universal,” church. Beginning in the early sixteenthcombinations in the elements. For example, air was century, religious thinkers such as Martin Luther andhot and moist; water was cold and moist; earth was John Calvin, who claimed that the Roman Catholiccold and dry; and ﬁre was hot and dry. Church had become corrupt and was no longer fol- In addition, people believed that the human lowing the word of God, began what has becomebody contained all four elements in the form of known as the Protestant Reformation. The Protes-humors — blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black tants (“protestors”) believed in salvation by faithbile — each of which corresponded to an element. rather than works. They also believed in the primacyBlood corresponded to air (hot and moist), phlegm of the Bible and advocated giving all people accessto water (cold and moist), yellow bile to ﬁre (hot and to reading the Bible.dry), and black bile to earth (cold and dry). When Many English people initially resisted Protestantsomeone was sick, physicians generally believed that ideas. However, the Reformation in England beganthe patient’s humors were not in the proper balance. in 1527 during the reign of Henry VIII, prior toFor example, if someone were diagnosed with an Shakespeare’s birth. In that year, Henry VIII decidedabundance of blood, the physician would bleed the to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, for her fail-patient (by using leeches or cutting the skin) in order ure to produce a male heir. (Only one of their chil-to restore the balance. dren, Mary, survived past infancy.) Rome denied Shakespeare’s contemporaries also believed that Henry’s petitions for a divorce, forcing him tothe humors determined personality and tempera- divorce Catherine without the Church’s approval,ment. If a person’s dominant humor was blood, he which he did in 1533.was considered light-hearted. If dominated by yel-low bile (or choler), that person was irritable. The
10 CliffsComplete Romeo and Juliet Prayer, adopted in 1549, which was the ofﬁcial text for worship services in England. Bloody Mary Catholics continued to be persecuted until 1553, when the sickly Edward VI died and was succeeded by Mary, his half-sister and the Catholic daughter of Catherine of Aragon. The reign of Mary witnessed the reversal of religion in England through the restoration of Catholic authority and obedience to Rome. Protestants were executed in large numbers, which earned the monarch the nickname Bloody Mary. Many Protestants fled to Europe to escape persecution. Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, outwardly complied with the mandated Catholicism during her half-sister Mary’s reign, but she restored Protestantism when she took the throne in 1558 after Mary’s death. Thus, in the space of a single decade, England’s throne passed from Protes- tant to Catholic to Protestant, with each change car-A portrait of King Henry VIII, artist unknown, ca. 1542. rying serious and deadly consequences.National Portrait Gallery, London/SuperStock Though Elizabeth reigned in relative peace fromThe Act of Supremacy 1558 to her death in 1603, religion was still a seriousThe following year, the Pope excommunicated concern for her subjects. During Shakespeare’s life, aHenry VIII while Parliament conﬁrmed his divorce great deal of religious dissent existed in England.and the legitimacy of his new marriage through the Many Catholics, who remained loyal to Rome andAct of Succession. Later in 1534, Parliament passed their church, were persecuted for their beliefs. At thethe Act of Supremacy, naming Henry the “Supreme other end of the spectrum, the Puritans were perse-Head of the Church in England.” Henry persecuted cuted for their belief that the Reformation was notboth radical Protestant reformers and Catholics who complete. (The English pejoratively applied the termremained loyal to Rome. Puritan to religious groups that wanted to continue Henry VIII’s death in 1547 brought Edward VI, purifying the English church by such measures ashis 10-year-old son by Jane Seymour (the king’s third removing the episcopacy, or the structure of bishops.)wife), to the throne. This succession gave Protestantreformers the chance to solidify their break with the The Great BibleCatholic Church. During Edward’s reign, Arch- One thing agreed upon by both the Anglicans andbishop Thomas Cranmer established the foundation Puritans was the importance of a Bible written infor the Anglican Church through his 42 articles of English. Translated by William Tyndale in 1525, thereligion. He also wrote the first Book of Common ﬁrst authorized Bible in English, published in 1539, was known as the Great Bible. This Bible was later
Introduction to Early Modern England 11revised during Elizabeth’s reign into what was known even to a tyrannical monarch because God hadas the Bishop’s Bible. As Stephen Greenblatt points appointed the king or queen for reasons unknownout in his introduction to the Norton Shakespeare, to His subjects on earth. However, as BevingtonShakespeare probably would have been familiar with notes, Elizabeth’s power was not as absolute as herboth the Bishop’s Bible, heard aloud in Mass, and rhetoric suggested. Parliament, already well estab-the Geneva Bible, which was written by English lished in England, reserved some power, such as theexiles in Geneva. The last authorized Bible produced authority to levy taxes, for itself.during Shakespeare’s lifetime came within the last Elizabeth I lived in a society that restricteddecade of his life when James I’s commissioned edi- women from possessing any political or personaltion, known as the King James Bible, appeared autonomy and power. As queen, Elizabeth violatedin 1611. and called into question many of the prejudices and practices against women. In a way, her society forced her to “overcome” her sex in order to rule effectively.Political context However, her position did nothing to increase thePolitics and religion were closely related in Shake- status of women in England.speare’s England. Both of the monarchs under whom One of the rhetorical strategies that ElizabethShakespeare lived had to deal with religious and adopted in order to rule effectively was to separatepolitical dissenters. her position as monarch of England from her natu- ral body — to separate her body politic from her bodyElizabeth I natural. In addition, throughout her reign, ElizabethDespite being a Protestant, brilliantly negotiatedElizabeth I tried to take a between domestic andmiddle road on the ques- foreign factions — some oftion of religion. She whom were anxious aboutallowed Catholics to prac- a female monarch andtice their religion in private wanted her to marry —as long as they outwardly appeasing both sides with-appeared Anglican and out ever committing to one.remained loyal to the She remained unmar-throne. ried throughout her 45-year Elizabeth’s monarchy reign, partially by stylingwas one of absolute herself as the Virginsupremacy. Believing in Queen whose purity repre-the divine right of kings, sented England herself. Hershe styled herself as being refusal to marry and herappointed by God to rule habit of hinting andEngland. To oppose the promising marriage withQueen’s will was the equiv- suitors — both foreign andalent of opposing God’s domestic — helped Eliza-will. Known as passive obe- beth maintain internal anddience, this doctrine did A portrait of Elizabeth I by George Gower, ca. 1588. external peace. Not marry-not allow any opposition National Portrait Gallery, London/SuperStock ing allowed her to retain
12 CliffsComplete Romeo and Juliether independence, but it left the succession of the Social contextEnglish throne in question. In 1603, on her Shakespeare’s England divided itself roughly into twodeathbed, she named James VI, King of Scotland social classes: the aristocrats (or nobility) and every-and son of her cousin Mary, as her successor. one else. The primary distinctions between these two classes were ancestry, wealth, and power. Simply put,James I the aristocrats were the only ones who possessed allWhen he assumed the English crown, James VI of three.Scotland became James I of England. (Some histo- Aristocrats were born with their wealth, but therians refer to him as James VI and I.) Like Elizabeth, growth of trade and the development of skilled pro-James was a strong believer in the divine right of fessions began to provide wealth for those not bornkings and their absolute authority. with it. Although the notion of a middle class did Upon his arrival in London to claim the English not begin to develop until after Shakespeare’s death,throne, James made his plans to unite Scotland and the possibility of some social mobility did exist inEngland clear. However, a long-standing history of Early Modern England. Shakespeare himself used theenmity existed between the two countries. Partially wealth gained from the theatre to move into theas a result of this history and the inﬂux of Scottish lower ranks of the aristocracy by securing a coat ofcourtiers into English society, anti-Scottish prejudice arms for his family.abounded in England. When James asked Parliament Shakespeare was not unique in this movement,for the title of “King of Great Britain,” he was but not all people received the opportunity todenied. increase their social status. Members of the aristoc- As scholars such as Bevington have pointed out, racy feared this social movement and, as a result, pro-James was less successful than Elizabeth was in nego- moted harsh laws of apprenticeship and fashion,tiating between the different religious and political restricting certain styles of dress and material. Thesefactions in England. Although he was a Protestant, laws dictated that only the aristocracy could wear cer-he began to have problems with the Puritan sect of tain articles of clothing, colors, and materials.the House of Commons, which ultimately led to a Though enforcement was a difﬁcult task, the Earlyrift between the court (which also started to have Modern aristocracy considered dressing above one’sCatholic sympathies) and the Parliament. This rift station a moral and ethical violation.between the monarchy and Parliament eventuallyescalated into the civil war that would erupt during The status of womenthe reign of James’s son, Charles I. The legal status of women did not allow them much In spite of its difﬁculties with Parliament, James’s public or private autonomy. English society func-court was a site of wealth, luxury, and extravagance. tioned on a system of patriarchy and hierarchy (seeJames I commissioned elaborate feasts, masques, and “Universal Hierarchy” earlier in this introduction),pageants, and in doing so he more than doubled the which means that men controlled society, beginningroyal debt. Stephen Greenblatt suggests that Shake- with the individual family. In fact, the familyspeare’s The Tempest may reflect this extravagance metaphorically corresponded to the state. For exam-through Prospero’s magniﬁcent banquet and accom- ple, the husband was the king of his family. Hispanying masque. Reigning from 1603 to 1625, authority to control his family was absolute andJames I remained the King of England throughout based on divine right, similar to that of the country’sthe last years of Shakespeare’s life. king. People also saw the family itself differently than
Introduction to Early Modern England 13today, considering apprentices and servants part of did not realize the need for antiseptics and sterilethe whole family. equipment. As a result, communicable diseases often spread very rapidly in cities, particularly London. The practice of primogeniture — a system ofinheritance that passed all of a family’s wealth In addition, the bubonic plague frequently rav-through the ﬁrst male child — accompanied this sys- aged England, with two major outbreaks — fromtem of patriarchy. Thus, women did not generally 1592–1594 and in 1603 — occurring during Shake-inherit their family’s wealth and titles. In the absence speare’s lifetime. People did not understand theof a male heir, some women, such as Queen Eliza- plague and generally perceived it as God’s punish-beth, did. But after women married, they lost almost ment. (We now know that the plague was spread byall of their already limited legal rights, such as the ﬂeas and could not be spread directly from humanright to inherit, to own property, and to sign con- to human.) Without a cure or an understanding oftracts. In all likelihood, Elizabeth I would have lost what transmitted the disease, physicians could domuch of her power and authority if she married. nothing to stop the thousands of deaths that resulted from each outbreak. These outbreaks had a direct Furthermore, women did not generally receive effect on Shakespeare’s career, because the govern-an education and could not enter certain professions, ment often closed the theatres in an effort to impedeincluding acting. Instead, society relegated women the spread of the disease.to the domestic sphere of the home. London lifeDaily life In the sixteenth century, London, though smallDaily life in Early Modern England began before compared to modern cities, was the largest city ofsunup — exactly how early depended on one’s sta- Europe, with a population of about 200,000 inhab-tion in life. A servant’s responsibilities usually itants in the city and surrounding suburbs. Londonincluded preparing the house for the day. Families was a crowded city without a sewer system, whichusually possessed limited living space; even among facilitated epidemics such as the plague. In addition,wealthy families, multiple family members tended to crime rates were high in the city due to inefficientshare a small number of rooms, suggesting that pri- law enforcement and the lack of street lighting.vacy may not have been important or practical. Despite these drawbacks, London was the cul- Working through the morning, Elizabethans usu- tural, political, and social heart of England. As theally had lunch about noon. This midday meal was the home of the monarch and most of England’s trade,primary meal of the day, much like dinner is for mod- London was a bustling metropolis. Not surprisingly,ern families. The workday usually ended around sun- a young Shakespeare moved to London to begin hisdown or 5 p.m., depending on the season. Before an professional career.early bedtime, Elizabethans usually ate a light repastand then settled in for a couple of hours of reading(if the family members were literate and could bearthe high cost of books) or socializing. The theatre Most theatres were not actually located within theMortality rates city of London. Rather, theatre owners built them on the south bank of the Thames River (in South-Mortality rates in Early Modern England were high wark) across from the city in order to avoid the strictcompared to our standards, especially among infants. regulations that applied within the city’s walls. TheseInfection and disease ran rampant because physicians
14 CliffsComplete Romeo and Julietrestrictions stemmed from a mistrust of public per- was the cheaper option. People of wealth could pur-formances as locations of plague and riotous behav- chase a seat in one of the three covered tiers of seatsior. Furthermore, because theatre performances took that ringed the pit. At full capacity, a public theatreplace during the day, they took laborers away from in Early Modern England could hold between 2,000their jobs. Opposition to the theatres also came from and 3,000 people.Puritans, who believed that they fostered immoral- The stage, which projected into the pit and wasity. Therefore, theatres moved out of the city, to areas raised about ﬁve feet above it, had a covered portionnear other sites of restricted activities, such as dog called the heavens. The heavens enclosed theatricalﬁghting, bear- and bull-baiting, and prostitution. equipment for lowering and raising actors to and Despite the move, the theatre was not free from from the stage. A trapdoor in the middle of stagecensorship or regulation. In fact, a branch of the gov- provided theatrical graves for characters such asernment known as the Office of the Revels Ophelia and also allowed ghosts, such as Banquo inattempted to ensure that plays did not present polit- Macbeth, to rise from the earth. A wall separated theically or socially sensitive material. Prior to each per- back of the stage from the actors’ dressing room,formance, the Master of the Revels would read a known as the tiring house. At each end of the wallcomplete text of each play, cutting out offending sec- stood a door for major entrances and exits. Abovetions or, in some cases, not approving the play for the wall and doors stood a gallery directly above thepublic performance. stage, reserved for the wealthiest spectators. Actors occasionally used this area when a performance calledPerformance spaces for a difference in height — for example, to repre- sent Juliet’s balcony or the walls of a besieged city. ATheatres in Early Modern England were quite dif- good example of this type of theatre was the originalferent from our modern facilities. They were usually Globe Theatre in London in which Shakespeare’sopen-air, relying heavily on natural light and good company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later theweather. The rectangular stage extended out into an King’s Men), staged its plays. However, indoor the-area that people called the pit — a circular, uncov- atres, such as the Blackfriars, differed slightly becauseered area about 70 feet in diameter. Audience mem- the pit was ﬁlled with chairs that faced a rectangularbers had two choices when purchasing admission to stage. Because only the wealthy could afford the costa theatre. Admission to the pit, where the lower of admission, the public generally considered theseclasses (or groundlings) stood for the performances, theatres private. Actors and staging Performances in Shakespeare’s England do not appear to have employed scenery. However, theatre companies developed their costumes with great care and expense. In fact, a playing company’s costumes were its most valuable items. These extravagant cos- tumes were the object of much controversy because some aristocrats feared that the actors could use them to disguise their social status on the streets of London.The recently reconstructed Globe theatre.Chris Parker/PAL
Introduction to Early Modern England 15 Costumes also disguiseda player’s gender. All actorson the stage during Shake-speare’s lifetime were men.Young boys whose voiceshad not reached maturityplayed female parts. Thispractice no doubt influ-enced Shakespeare’s and hiscontemporary playwrights’thematic explorations ofcross-dressing. Though historians havemanaged to reconstruct theappearance of the earlymodern theatre, such as therecent construction of the A scene from Shakespeare in Love shows how the interior of the Globe would have appeared.Globe in London, much of Everett Collectionthe information regardinghow plays were performed during this era has been In order to estimate what section of the textlost. Scholars of Early Modern theatre have turned would be on each page, the printer would cast offto the scant external and internal stage directions in copy. After the printer made these estimates, com-manuscripts in an effort to ﬁnd these answers. While positors would set the type upside down, letter by let-a hindrance for modern critics and scholars, the lack ter. This process of setting type produced textualof detail about Early Modern performances has errors, some of which a proofreader would catch.allowed modern directors and actors a great deal of When a proofreader found an error, the compositorsﬂexibility and room to be creative. would ﬁx the piece or pieces of type. Printers called corrections made after printing began stop-press cor- rections because they literally had to stop the press to fix the error. Because of the high cost of paper,The printing press printers would still sell the sheets printed before theyIf not for the printing press, many Early Modern made the correction.plays may not have survived until today. In Shake-speare’s time, printers produced all books by sheet — Printers placed frames of text in the bed of thea single, large piece of paper that the printer would printing press and used them to imprint the paper.fold in order to produce the desired book size. For They then folded and grouped the sheets of paperexample, a folio required folding the sheet once, a into gatherings, after which the pages were ready forquarto four times, an octavo eight, and so on. Sheets sale. The buyer had the option of getting the newwould be printed one side at a time; thus, printers play bound.had to simultaneously print multiple nonconsecu- The printing process was crucial to the preser-tive pages. vation of Shakespeare’s works, but the printing of
16 CliffsComplete Romeo and Julietdrama in Early Modern England was not a stan- printer used the author’s version, the modiﬁed the-dardized practice. Many of the first editions of atrical version, the censored version, or a combina-Shakespeare’s plays appear in quarto format and, tion when printing a given play. Refer to theuntil recently, scholars regarded them as “corrupt.” “Publications” section of the “Introduction toIn fact, scholars still debate how close a relationship William Shakespeare” for further discussion of theexists between what appeared on the stage in the six- impact printing practices has on our understandingteenth and seventeenth centuries and what appears of Shakespeare’s works.on the printed page. The inconsistent and scantappearance of stage directions, for example, makes itdifﬁcult to determine how close this relationship was. Works cited We know that the practice of the theatre allowed For more information regarding Early Modern Eng-the alteration of plays by a variety of hands other land, consult the following works:than the author’s. This practice further complicatedany efforts to extract what a playwright wrote and Bevington, David. “General Introduction.” The Completewhat was changed by either the players, the printers, Works of William Shakespeare. Updated Fourth edi-or the government censors. Theatre was a collabora- tion. New York: Longman, 1997.tive environment. Rather than lament our inability Greenblatt, Stephen. “Shakespeare’s World.” Nortonto determine authorship and what exactly Shake- Shakespeare. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1997.speare wrote, we should work to understand this col- Kastan, David Scott, ed. A Companion to Shakespeare.laborative nature and learn from it. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999. Shakespeare wrote his plays for the stage, and the McDonald, Russ. The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare:existing published texts reﬂect the collaborative nature An Introduction with Documents. Boston: Bedford-St.of the theater as well as the unavoidable changes made Martin’s Press, 1996.during the printing process. A play’s ﬁrst written ver-sion would have been the author’s foul papers, which INTRODUCTION TO ROMEOinvariably consisted of blotted lines and revised text. AND JULIETFrom there, a scribe would recopy the play and pro- In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Holdenduce a fair copy. The theatre manager would then Caulfield, the infamous spotter of phoniness, sayscopy out and annotate this copy into a playbook that he likes Romeo and Juliet “a lot,” but he has a(what people today call a promptbook). few problems with the play. For example, Romeo At this point, scrolls of individual parts were and Juliet get “pretty annoying,” and he doesn’t likecopied out for actors to memorize. (Due to the high the fact that “smart, entertaining” Mercutio dies.cost of paper, theatre companies could not afford to Holden’s comments remind us that Romeo and Julietprovide their actors with a complete copy of the isn’t just a play about love, nor is it a pure tragedy.play.) The government required the company to send Romeo may be romantic and meditative, but wittythe playbook to the Master of the Revels, the gov- Mercutio is full of humor and vigor. The play is ﬁlledernment official who would make any necessary with contrasts like these: Tragedy mixes with com-changes or mark any passages considered unaccept- edy, love with hate, and death with life.able for performance. Although the names Romeo and Juliet will Printers could have used any one of these copies always be synonymous with deep and tragic love,to print a play. We cannot determine whether a Shakespeare’s play is also about life itself. Romeo and
Introduction to Romeo and Juliet 17 The story of Romeo and Juliet has a long history, but each author remade the tale in his own way. For example, although Brooke is faithful to his source, he also makes many additions that are influenced by Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. Following Chaucer, for example, Brooke’s story emphasizes the powers of fate in shaping the tragedy. Another direct source of Shakespeare’s play is a novella written by William Painter, The goodly History of the trueLeonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s 1998 ﬁlm version, Romeo + Juliet. and constant love betweeneEverett Collection Romeo and Julietta, published in 1567. Finally, in the prefaceJuliet is about the crazy, exciting, mixed-up world we to his poem, Brooke mentions a play version of thelive in, where we sometimes ﬁght with our parents, story that was performed in England. The play iswe aren’t always nice to our friends, we get bored and lost, but many critics argue that Shakespeare maylook for a fight, and we fall in love and it doesn’t have referred to it when writing his drama.work out. The play also happens to be a well-crafted,poetically beautiful drama. Shakespeare chose to develop the story of Romeo and Juliet not only because of its popularity, but because he was interested in its themes, such as the idea of the star-crossed love. While the story ofSources of the story Romeo and Juliet did not originate with Shake-Like most of Shakespeare’s plays, the story in Romeo speare, he changed Brooke’s version significantlyand Juliet doesn’t originate with Shakespeare. Rather, enough to make the story his own.the play is based on a folktale, which was developedinto a series of novellas (short novels) in the ﬁfteenth Shakespeare’s variationsand sixteenth centuries. How did Shakespeare change Brooke’s story? To In 1562, a famous version of the story was pub- begin, he cut the time frame of the story from ninelished in England: Arthur Brooke’s The Tragical His- months to ﬁve days. Romeo and Juliet meet on Sun-tory of Romeus and Juliet. Brooke’s work was day, marry on Monday, and die early on FridayShakespeare’s primary source for his play. Brooke’s morning. One reason for this change is that Shake-poem is a translation of a French version of the tale speare wanted to emphasize the quick passage ofby Pierre Boaistuau (1559), whose version was an time, adding to the intensity of his drama. Shake-adaptation of Bandello (1554), based on Luigi da speare also decreases Juliet’s age from 16 to 13 toPorto’s (1525) translation of a tale by Masuccio Sal- emphasize her youth and to show that she is tooternitano (1476). young for marriage.
18 CliffsComplete Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare also changes the time of year from StructureChristmas to July, but he occasionally forgets that In addition to shortening the time frame of the playhe’s made this change. The feast scenes, for example, signiﬁcantly, Shakespeare tightened Brooke’s versionseem to take place in winter, because Capulet tells of the story in many other ways. By increasing thehis servants to “quench the ﬁre, the room is grown roles of minor characters, creating tight structuraltoo hot” (I.5.28). A warm fire probably wouldn’t parallels, and juxtaposing scenes of opposite emo-have been necessary in July in Italy. tion, Shakespeare put his personal stamp on this Shakespeare enjoyed setting his plays in exotic well-known story.locations, and he creates the spirited atmosphere andbrilliant detail of an Italian city in this play, although The roles of minor characterscritics argue that the domestic life represented in the Shakespeare increased the importance of minor char-play resembles the English merchant class more than acters to emphasize oppositions and similaritiesRenaissance Italian nobility. between various characters in the play. In doing so, he made his main characters’ personalities moreThe birth of the play vivid.Shakespeare probably wrote Romeo and Juliet Most significantly, Shakespeare developed thebetween 1594 and 1596. Although the play has been Nurse and Mercutio, who were only names inpopular from the time Shakespeare wrote it, the ﬁrst Brooke’s poem. Mercutio contrasts with Romeo, andrecorded performance of the play was on March 1, the Nurse contrasts with Juliet. While Mercutio is1662. Two primary versions, or quartos, of the play fiery, witty, belligerent, and humorous, his friendexist. The ﬁrst was published in 1597, and the sec- Romeo is dreamy, harmonious, meditative, and lit-ond in 1599. erary. Similarly, Juliet’s Nurse is earthy and vulgar, As explained in the “Introduction to William while Juliet is spiritual, light, and poetic. Paris isShakespeare,” the first quartos of most of Shake- another character that Shakespeare ﬂeshes out; Parisspeare’s dramas are considered corrupt, neither becomes essentially Romeo’s double. At the end ofauthorized nor written by Shakespeare. Often, actors the play, the differences between Romeo and Parisor reporters constructed these ﬁrst versions to make show how completely Romeo has changed. Just asextra money. Romeo and Juliet is no exception. Crit- Romeo is stilted and literary at the beginning of theics believe that the ﬁrst quarto of this play was pub- drama, Paris follows convention to the letter evenlished as a money-maker by arrangement with when expressing grief for Juliet’s death. In contrast,Shakespeare’s company, when the play was still being by the play’s end, Romeo develops into an honestshown on stage. The first version is significantly and authentic lover.shorter than the second, probably because it wasbased on a staged version, perhaps one performed by Structural parallelsa group of travelling players working in rural areas. Besides creating oppositions and similarities between(Travelling players would have wanted a short ver- characters, Shakespeare also creates structural paral-sion to ensure that their audience didn’t get bored.) lels between scenes that make his drama cohesive. The scenes in which the Capulets prepare for the ball (I.5) and Juliet’s marriage to Paris (IV.4), for example,
Introduction to Romeo and Juliet 19are structurally similar. The lovers’ three duets — Dramatic tensiontheir meeting at the masquerade, their interaction While the structurally parallel scenes of this dramaduring the balcony scene, and their ﬁnal conversa- create cohesion, the juxtaposition of scenes that havetion the morning after the consummation of their different emotional impact increases the play’s inten-marriage — are also structurally similar. All three sity. Shakespeare weaves together tragic and comicscenes end at dawn and all are interrupted by Juliet’s moments throughout the play to increase dramaticNurse. tension. For example, Act IV, Scene 5 begins with Dawn is repeatedly used as a structuring device the Capulets mourning Juliet’s supposed death andin the play. When we’re ﬁrst introduced to Romeo, ends with a comic conversation between the musi-he wanders through the woods at dawn dreaming of cians who were scheduled to play at Juliet and Paris’sRosaline. Romeo and Juliet spend most of their time wedding.together at dawn. In addition, the Nurse discovers Glaring structural and thematic dichotomiesJuliet’s seemingly dead body at dawn on Thursday abound in this play: society versus the lovers, age ver-morning, and the lovers die at dawn on Friday. This sus youth, hate versus love, death versus life, loveemphasis on exact temporal moments gives the play poetry versus vulgar and bawdy language. For exam-a solid structure. ple, Romeo walks directly from his quiet marriage to Shakespeare also carefully structures the Prince’s Juliet into the street brawl in which Mercutio andappearances in the play. The Prince enters the action Tybalt are killed. None of these oppositions are foundthree times: at the opening, middle, and closing of in Shakespeare’s source. He added them to increasethe play. All of his appearances are in response to acts the dramatic tension of the story, maintaining theof violence, including the Montague-Capulet street audience’s sympathies for the lovers and giving theirbrawl (I.1), Mercutio and Tybalt’s deaths (III.1), and deaths a ritual feeling. The juxtapositions emphasizethe deaths of Romeo, Juliet,and Paris (V.3). Likewise, allof the Prince’s appearancesinvolve the entire commu-nity, and all of his appear-ances result in his judgmenton the community. The par-allel structure of the Prince’sactions in the play givesthem a ritual or mythic tone.The Prince seems to be avoice of order, renderingjudgment on Verona’schaotic society. His finalspeech has the effect of ritu-ally purging Verona of itssins after the sacrificialdeaths of Romeo and Juliet. Leontina Vadura plays Juliet in a 1994 Royal Opera House production. Clive Barda/PAL