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Romeo and Juliet (Vol. 33) - Essay

Pagination

❶Lawlor thus sees the play as one which 'does not minimize, much less cancel, Fortune's power, but which denies her an entire victory' p. In the Prologue to Romeo and Juliet, the Chorus tells us of an "ancient grudge" between two households of equal dignity that has broken out into a "new mutiny" that will cause blood to flow in the streets of Verona and will ultimately result in the deaths of the "star-cross'd lovers.

Introduction

The Capulet - Montague Feud
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Cox claims that neither Juliet's mother nor the Nurse are fully adult—a station in life which Juliet reaches through her relationship with Romeo—because they were denied the adolescence through which Juliet passes. The general type of story represented by Romeo and Juliet has its roots in folklore and mythology. Best described as a separation-romance, it shows obvious analogies with the stories of Hero and Leander, Pyramus and Thisbe, Tristan and Isolde, and with later medieval works like Floris and Blanchefleur and Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.

The earlier history of the Romeo and Juliet story has been treated in detail by a number of critics, 2 but since there is no persuasive evidence that Shakespeare knew the Italian or French versions at first hand, 3 we may limit our discussion to the two English versions: Shakespeare worked directly with Brooke's Romeus, for verbal echoes resound throughout the play; that he knew Painter's prose version is highly probable, but, except for four or five suggestive and scattered details, 8 Painter's influence remains shadowy, though we may surmise that at least Shakespeare's use of Romeo' instead of Brooke's 'Romeus' was due to Painter's title.

Painter's translation of Boaistuau's version is close and generally accurate, but Brooke's much longer verse narrative, lines in poulter's measure, 10 gives essentially everything in Boaistuau and hence in Painter , and makes substantial additions and slighter alterations that considerably enhance the dramatic potentialities of the story.

In all of these additions, except the description of Romeo's sorrow in exile, Shakespeare found viable dramatic material, which he put to memorable use in parts of 2. Brooke also sometimes converts narrative statement in Boaistuau into direct speech, expands speeches already present, or adds extra bits of short dialogue apart from the larger additions already noticed , which give the poem more life and movement.

Finally, Brooke occasionally showed some flair for inventing new detail in description and character, particularly in his presentation of the Nurse, who under his hand emerges as the only character Shakespeare inherited from the source story that offered more than a romance stereotype.

Despite Brooke's virtues, however, the poem is pedestrian, long-winded, overdecorated with 'poetic' commonplaces, and written in a lumbering pseudo-high style. The miracle is what Shakespeare was able to make from it. Shakespeare's treatment of Brooke's poem has been discussed many times.

The story as it existed in Brooke and in Painter already offered both a public and a private dimension: But unlike Brooke, Shakespeare establishes this important underlying duality in the first scene, opening with the cautious sparring of the Capulet and Montague servants—a comic beginning that quickly turns serious as they are jointed first by Benvolio a Montague , then by Tybalt a Capulet , followed immediately by Officers of the Watch, Capulet and his wife, Montague and his wife, and finally by the Prince as the voice of authority.

The play, then, begins on a note of threat and public discord, resolved for the moment by an imposed and uneasy truce. In contrast, Brooke, though mentioning the Capulet-Montague feud early in the poem and suggesting that it is still smouldering, only allows it to erupt in violence after Romeus and Juliet's marriage , thus losing the immediate potential conflict which Shakespeare sets up between the public and private worlds of the play. The formal, almost mechanical patterning of the first scene through line 94 13 is essentially repeated twice more, at the crisis 3.

This formality may be seen as Shakespeare's mode of distinguishing and distancing the public from the private voice, the characters here speaking less as individuals and more as spokesmen for the contending parties and the arbitration of law, a role from which the Prince never escapes. With the exit of the Prince in 1. At this point the play moves onto a different level, one that sounds the note of personal emotion and establishes the emergence of individual character, catching us up into the smaller, more intimate and intense sphere of human relations.

These dual modes, the public and the private, interrelated but carefully distinguished, set up the larger dimensions of the play, in which the concerns of individual lives their love and hate, joy and grief will be played out against the muted but inescapable demands of convention and society—'Here's much to do with hate, but more with love' 1.

Other structural departures from Brooke's narrative are equally significant. Tybalt and Paris appear in Brooke only when events demand them. Tybalt is unheard of until he is needed as the ringleader of the Capulet faction in the street brawl, which breaks out some months after Romeus and Juliet have been secretly married , and he no sooner appears than he is slain by Romeus.

Shakespeare, however, introduces Tybalt in the first scene in his self-appointed role as leader of the younger Capulets and then underscores this by showing him as a troublemaker at the Capulet feast 1. Shakespeare can thus draw on an already sharply defined character at the moment of crisis in 3. In the same way, Shakespeare introduces Paris in 1.

Brooke again delays any mention of Paris ff. As the final block in this expository structure Shakespeare also shows us Juliet with her mother and the Nurse in 1. With the opening of 1. Whereas Brooke describes first the consummation of Romeo and Juliet's marriage , followed by the killing of Tybalt a month or two later, with the resulting sentence of banishment , and then the lovers' last night together , Shakespeare telescopes these meetings, reducing the lovers' period of happiness to a single night after the fateful killing of Tybalt.

Not only does this heighten the sense of the overwhelming pressure of events and increase the emotional tension by forcing the lovers to consummate their marriage under the shadow of immediate separation, 14 but, as Mark Rose notes, 15 it enables Shakespeare structurally to balance 'the two lovers' scenes [2.

Even in this single example, we can glimpse how Shakespeare, by a slight rearrangement of Brooke, concentrates the time-scheme, establishes firmly the relations of the key points in the play's structure, and achieves a more powerful emotional impact. This brings us to a consideration of the larger implications of Shakespeare's use of time in the play. Brooke's story develops slowly over a period of at least nine months.

He turns it into a powerful dramatic instrument. Instead of Brooke's months, Shakespeare, setting the season around the middle of July, two weeks before Lammas-tide 1. An intense and driving tension is thus set up that results in our heightened understanding of and sympathy for the headlong actions of the lovers. The audience, like Romeo and Juliet, is swept along by the apparently overwhelming rush and pressure of events, even though some of those events are, in fact, not beyond the lovers' rational control.

Shakespeare achieves part of this effect not by ignoring actual or clock time, but by stressing it. The play is unusually full, perhaps more so than any other Shakespearean play, of words like time, day, night, today, tomorrow, years, hours, minutes and specific days of the week, giving us a sense of events moving steadily and inexorably in a tight temporal framework.

But Shakespeare can also, when he wishes, concentrate and speed the action by annihilating time in favour of what Granville-Barker calls 'tempo'. Apart from Brooke and perhaps Painter a number of other, comparatively minor influences on Romeo and Juliet have been pointed out: Except for Daniel, and possibly Sidney and Nashe, none of these minor nonShakespearean sources did more than contribute a passing phrase or image, but one aspect of the play, its debt to the sonnet tradition and to Shakespeare's own Sonnets, warrants further comment.

Coleridge, forgetting or not knowing Brooke's Romeus, particularly praises Shakespeare for opening the play with Brooke, with a Romeo who is already 'love-bewildered'. But Coleridge is quite correct in one important respect. Even though Brooke may have furnished the hint, the development of the idea is very much Shakespeare's own.

It is Shakespeare, not Brooke, who first introduces us to a Romeo who is undergoing all the delicious pangs and enjoyed agonies of a young man fashionably 'in love' or, as Coleridge puts it, 'in love only with his own idea'. As practised by most sonnet writers Watson is the perfect example it is a language compounded of hyperbole, more or less witty conceits, word-play, oxymorons and endless repetition, usually focused on the versifier's unrequited love real or imagined for a disdainful or otherwise unattainable mistress.

A Sidney, Spenser or Shakespeare in his own sonnets could, and usually did, rise above the conventional techniques of the sonnet tradition, but they were conscious of its dangers and limitations, and Shakespeare, before he wrote Romeo, had already exposed its hollowness in Love's Labour's Lost, where the four would-be lovers are finally forced to abjure.

Taffata phrases, silken terms precise, Three-pil'd hyperboles, spruce affection, Figures pedantical …. When, therefore, Romeo appears in 1. His first substantial speech puts the authentic verbal seal on this role:. Here's much to do with hate, but more with love: Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate, O any thing of nothing first create!

O heavy lightness, serious vanity, Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms, Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! As Mercurio later says 2. Thus Shakespeare employs Romeo's role as the lover in love with love hence largely with himself as a clearly realised foil to set off the new Romeo who begins to emerge after he meets Juliet and who loses his heart in a real love, the kind of love that is beyond the posturing of what may be expressed through the facile medium of mere sonnetese.

But Shakespeare goes beyond this simple contrast, using Romeo's verbal acrobatics to foreshadow one of the central themes of the play—the ambiguous and frighteningly fragile nature of love itself, 'A choking gall, and a preserving sweet' For nought so vile, that on the earth doth live, But to the earth some special good doth give; Nor ought so good but, strained from that fair use, Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.

Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied, And vice sometime by action dignified. Nor is it accidental that sonnet form, tone and situation seem so strongly marked and dominant in the first part of the play. The sonnet choruses to Act 1 preside over a structure that seems to reflect a typical sonnet situation a cold-hearted lady rejects her suitor; a family feud separates two lovers. Thus it is fitting that Romeo and Juliet first address each other in a highly patterned and figurative sonnet in antiphonal form.

Finally, we may notice Shakespeare's debt to Chaucer, which, in Romeo and Juliet, may be considered large or small 25 depending on the extent to which we are willing to allow direct influence from Troilus and Criseyde.

The evidence for such influence remains suggestive rather than substantive and is complicated by Brooke's own considerable borrowings from Chaucer's poem in his Romeus, a debt that tends to confuse the actual genesis of points in common between Chaucer and Shakespeare, and by the lack of identifiable verbal echoes of Chaucer's Troilus.

Among these we may note the interplay not always clearly realised of Fate or Fortune and free will a tension in Romeo that will have to be considered in some detail later ; the infusion of comedy which enables both writers 'to maintain a comic or affirmative tone much of the time', allowing us to forget for the moment the tragic outcome announced at the beginning of Troilus and by the opening Chorus in Shakespeare; and the presentation of Criseyde and Juliet as psychologically mature compared with Troilus and Romeo.

Critical opinion of Romeo and Juliet has ranged from simple adulation to measured disapproval, raising a number of interrelated and vexing questions. Two may be considered here. Is Romeo and Juliet in the usually accepted sense a successful tragedy or an experiment that fails to come off? Is the play a tragedy of Fate or a tragedy of character? Or is it both? That is, does Shakespeare succeed here in creating the paradox that has long been felt to lie at the heart of great tragedy, the mysterious interaction and fusion of Fate and free will?

Some critics, of whom the most influential is H. Charlton, 30 admit the powerfully moving quality of the love story, but find the play a failed tragedy, an experiment which does not quite succeed, or which, so far as it succeeds at all, does so, in Charlton's words, 'by a trick'.

He considers the feud as 'a bribe' used by Shakespeare 'to exonerate himself from all complicity in their [the lovers'] murder … disown[ing] responsibility and throw[ing] it on Destiny, Fate … the feud [being] the means by which Fate acts' p. But neither Fate nor feud, he finds, is strongly enough handled by Shakespeare to carry the weight of the tragedy, and Shakespeare's 'achievement is due to the magic of [his] poetic genius and to the intermittent force of his dramatic power rather than to his grasp of the foundations of tragedy' p.

An older and more popular view, most recently supported by Bertrand Evans, 31 treats the play as a pure tragedy of Fate, in which not only every action of Romeo and Juliet themselves but every action of all the other characters is dictated by the Prologue's reference to 'star-crossed lovers' and 'death-marked love'. If this seems simplistic, it is no more so than the opposite extreme embraced by, among others, Franklin M. More recently, John Lawlor 33 has examined Romeo and Juliet in the light of medieval conceptions of tragedy which he distinguishes by the spelling tragedie , of which, of course, Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is the supreme example in English.

But her activities are not, in the end, inscrutable; for those who are minded to learn, a greater good is in prospect' p. Lawlor thus sees the play as one which 'does not minimize, much less cancel, Fortune's power, but which denies her an entire victory' p. Choosing to die for their love, Romeo and Juliet may be seen as shaking off the yoke of inauspicious stars in an assertion of personal will and sealing a triumphant and dateless bargain to eternity.

Another medieval concept, that 'sexual love is a manifestation of the all-pervading love of God, through which the universe is governed', has been brought to bear on the play by Paul Siegel. Like Lawlor, Siegel finds the lovers entering triumphantly upon a new and better existence, adding, however, specific reference to the medieval and Renaissance conception of the 'paradise of lovers' pp. Cribb has sought to find the 'ordering principle' in Romeo and Juliet by suggesting that we should see the play as a dramatic expression of the neo-Platonic concept of love as it was interpreted by Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Leone Ebreo, a revaluation in which passional love, 'love of another, not for another, eros not caritas ', is a new key element.

Tybalt thus becomes 'an agent not merely of the stars, but of the metaphysical paradoxes which present the lovers both as star-crossed by "misadventur'd pittious overthrowes" Prologue, 7 and as heroes of love who triumph over the stars through love itself'. His argument, therefore, views the play 'at a poetic level' and he is refreshingly honest in admitting that such a reading 'may not be fully appreciable on the stage' and that 'in this play poet and playwright are not perfectly united'.

These are, in brief, the principal more recent approaches to Romeo and Juliet. That any of them solves all the problems of the play may be doubted. They are after all simply ways of looking at or ignoring some of these problems in an attempt to explain the one incontrovertible fact—the universal appeal which the play has exercised on generations of readers and theatre-goers.

One of the principal stumbling blocks to seeing the play as an organic whole is, as we have already noted, the confusion which many critics see in Shakespeare's treatment of the concepts of Fate and free will. Virgil Whitaker's statement may be taken as typical:. The metaphysics of the play is not particularly sophisticated, and it is nowhere clear whether the stars symbolize blind fate or chance or whether they indicate, as in Julius Caesar and other later plays, the operation of natural forces which may be resisted or modified by human will.

The comment is a fair one, but what is not generally asked is what the effect on the play would have been if Shakespeare had decided to concentrate on only one or the other as some critics, in fact, believe he essentially did. May it not perhaps be argued that his handling of these two paradoxically opposed concepts, confused though it may be, is nevertheless an effective cause of Romeo and Juliet's success as a tragedy? By thus playing, occasionally a bit fast and loose perhaps, with the dual ideas of Fate and free will, does he not achieve an otherwise unobtainable effect in the final impact?

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Romeo and Juliet Essay

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Blame for the Deaths of Romeo and Juliet Introduction Romeo and Juliet the ‘star crossed lovers’ seem to be doomed the first day they meet each other. The play concludes with Romeo and Juliet taking their lives just days after meeting.

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SOURCE: An introduction to Romeo and Juliet, Cambridge University Press, , pp. [ In the following excerpt, Evans provides an overview of the play's sources, structure, style, characters, and tragic qualities with an emphasis on the theme of love.

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Romeo And Juliet Essay Examples. 1, total results. The World of True Love in William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" words. The Differences Between True Love and Infatuation in Romeo and Juliet, a Play by William Shakespeare. 1, words. 3 pages. An Analysis of the Only Theme That Tragedy Reveals as the Noble and . May 22,  · 9. Romeo and Juliet Essay Introduction Romeo: Romeo and Juliet and Juliet. Juliet’s fate is the result of the culture of hate and violence created by the feud, and the reactions of some characters to key events. EXAMPLE: Writing an Introduction.

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Introduction to Essay on Romeo and Juliet 'Romeo and Juliet' is an play written by Willian Shakespeare about two lovers who are on both ends of feud between families that started many years as an simple grudge. The story ends after the two families decide to end their feuds after two young star crossed lovers take their life for one another.2/5(1). % FREE Papers on Romeo and juliet essays. Sample topics, paragraph introduction help, research & more. Class , high school & college. -.