Englishsaviours Romeo and Juliet – Prologue

We learn in the Prologue that the two feuding families are of equally high status, ‘Two households, both …’ ‘alike in dignity’
A long-standing quarrel ‘ancient grudge’
Conceived by deadly enemies ‘From forth the fatal loins of these two foes’
Even the stars are are against the lovers: they are … ‘star-crossed’ – this shows that the Elizabethan audience were superstitious and believed in astrology
What buries the ‘strife’ of their parents? The ‘death’ of the couple.
What is striking about the structure of the Prologue? It is written as a sonnet.
Which technique is used in the Prologue that is evident in such as ‘ancient grudge’ and ‘new mutiny’, ‘foes’ and ‘lovers’? This technique is antithesis. This was a popular technique in Shakespeare’s time.
Complete the following, ‘The fearful passage of their …-… love’. ‘death-marked’ – Their love is marred from the outset.
How is rhyme being used in the linking of words like ‘dignity’ and ‘mutiny’? The similarity in the rhyme emphasises the fact that the behaviour of the families does not befit their status – there is a mismatch between their supposed ‘dignity’ and the way they cause trouble, ‘mutiny’.
The ‘strife’ between the two feuding families goes against which beliefs, popular during Shakespeare’s time? The fact they cannot love their neighbours, goes against one of the central Christian laws. In addition, Elizabethans believed that God’s universe was a place of order – and here we have the families creating disorder and ‘strife’.
Why does Shakespeare give the story away in the Prologue? It raises interest in how and why the young lovers have to die. We are curious to find out more.
What is the genre of Shakespeare’s play? Tragedy
Shakespearian tragedy deals with a reversal of fortune. How is this the case in ‘Romeo and Juliet’? Though Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love, there is too much enmity between the families to enable this love to come to fruition.
Shakespeare’s great tragedies often involve a male figure who has a tragic flaw or fault in his character. Is this the case with Romeo? It could be argued that Romeo is impetuous and overly romantic, but it is hard to see this as a tragic flaw – the tragedy seems to stem more from the negative forces of fate.
Where is the play set? Verona – a suitably exotic, distant and intriguing place for the story to unfold.
How does the fact that the lovers are ‘death-mark’d’ affect the audience’s response? In spite of knowing how the play will end, members of the audience still hope that somehow things will turn out right for the couple. This creates a powerful sense of empathy.
Which sound imagery is evident in the line ‘civil blood makes civil hands unclean’? This is sibilance: the harsh sound reminds us of the vicious enmity between the families.

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