Examples of Dramatic Conventions in Romeo and Juliet

tragedy Romeo and Juliet’s hamartia leads to their deaths as well as the deaths of Mercutio, Tybalt, and Paris. Fate plays a role in the outcome of the play.
hamartia Tragic heroes make fatal errors in judgment that contribute to their downfall. This flaw is often an admirable quality that is excessive (such as a loving temperament or sensitivity)
hamartia Romeo and Juliet, as the tragic hero and heroine of the play, both suffer from ________, which leads to their downfall. They are both too passionate and quick to respond. Friar Lawrence observes this and cautions Romeo to “love moderately. Long love doth so./ Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow” (2.6.14-15).
catharsis A healthy purging of emotion
catharsis The audience is able to experience _________ when the Montagues and Capulets reconcile after Romeo and Juliet commit suicide because their love cannot exist while the animosity between the Capulets and Montagues persists
catharsis Friar Lawrence reviews the events of the play, thereby allowing the audience to reflect on the tragedy: “I will be brief, for my short date of breath/ Is not so long as is a tedious tale./ Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet;/ And she, there dead, that Romeo’s faithful wife./ I married them; and their stol’n marriage-day/ Was Tybalt’s doomsday, whose untimely death/ Banish’d the new-made bridegroom from the city,/ For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pined” (5.229-236).
foil Two characters who have many things in common but at least one major difference, which serves to emphasize each other
foil Peace-loving Benvolio serves as a ________ to Tybalt who loves to fight.
foil Cold and elegant Lady Capulet serves as a ________ to the Nurse who dearly loves Juliet and constantly makes a fool of herself.
prologue introduces a play or other literary work
prologue the Chorus’s ___________ at the very beginning of Romeo & Juliet that spoils the ending
soliloquy a long speech in which a character reveals his thoughts to the audience but not to other characters (a lengthy type of aside)
soliloquy Juliet’s “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” speech delivered from her balcony (even though Romeo can actually hear her, she doesn’t know this) (2.2.36)
soliloquy Romeo believes himself to be the only living person in Juliet’s tomb when he reflects on her beauty: “Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,/ Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty…” (5.3.74-115)
soliloquy Friar Lawrence is alone in the fields as he reflects on the dual nature of plants and humanity: “The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night… For naught so vile on the earth doth live/ But to the earth some special good doth give” (2.3.1-23).
monologue an extended uninterrupted speech by a character in a drama
monologue Prince Escalus’s decree following the street brawl at the beginning of the play (1.1.83-105)
monologue Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech (1.5.58-100)
aside aside when an actor speaks to the audience (either directly or as a voiced thought) and the other present characters cannot hear
aside Romeo’s “Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?” thoughts while listening to Juliet’s soliloquy out of sight from under her balcony (he debates with himself whether or not he should reveal his presence) (2.2.40)
pun using a word that sounds like another word but has a different meaning
pun Mercutio plays on the two meanings of discord when he says, “What, dost thou make us min/ strels? An thou make minstrels of us, look to hear/ nothing by discords. Here’s my fiddlestick; here’s/ that shall make you dance” (3.1.48-50)
malapropism A type of pun that employs the use of a ridiculous or inappropriate word in place of a similar sounding one.
malapropism Benvolio intentionally replaces “invite” with “indite” in order to mock the Nurse, saying, “She will indite him to some supper” (2.4.131). The Nurse unintentionally uses this dramatic device as well.
oxymoron combining contradictory words to create a new idea (a form of paradox)
oxymoron friendly fire, jumbo shrimp, Quiet Riot, acute dullness, sweet sorrow, heavy lightness, bright smoke
paradox a statement that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies logic
paradox Benvolio tries to cheer up Romeo at the beginning of the play by saying, “One fire burns out another’s burning, / One pain is lessen’d by another’s anguish” (1.2.47-48). (Benvolio is metaphorically suggesting that fire acts as a fire extinguisher and pain acts as a comforter.)
paradox As he sentences Romeo to banishment, the Prince says, “Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill” (3.1.207), meaning that showing mercy to murderers only causes more murder.
paradox “The earth that’s nature’s mother is her tomb;/ What is her burying grave, that is her womb” (2.3.9-10)
apostrophe when a character addresses a thing or idea as though it were a person or when a character talks to a character who is not present
apostrophe Juliet addressing the dagger before killing herself: “O happy dagger!/ This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die” (5.3.174-175)
apostrophe Juliet speaks to Friar Lawrence’s potion: “Come, vial” (4.3.21)
apostrophe Any time Juliet talks to Romeo when he is not actually there.
Shakespearean sonnet Poetic form composed of 14 lines divided into three quatrains (four-line stanzas) and one rhyming couplet (two-line stanza) with a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG; written in iambic pentameter
Shakespearean sonnet The prologue is written as a _____________: “Two households, both alike in dignity A/ (In fair Verona, where we lay our scene) B, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, A/ Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean… B”
Shakespearean sonnet The first time Romeo and Juliet meet, they share a _________: “If I profane with my unworthiest hand A/ This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this: B/ My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand A/ To smooth this rough touch with a tender kiss… B” (1.5.104-117)
copulet Two-line stanza in poetry (the last two lines of a Shakespearean sonnet rhyme – GG)
foreshadowing the use of indicative words/phrases and hints that set the stage for a story to unfold and give the reader a hint of something that is going to happen without revealing the story or spoiling the suspense; used to suggest an upcoming outcome to the story
foreshadowing Before going to the Capulet’s party, Romeo feels that an event will occur that will ultimately lead to his death: “My mind misgives/ Some consequence yet hanging in the stars/ shall bitterly begin his fearful date/ with this night’s revels, and expire the term/ Of a despised life closed in my breast/ By some vile forefeit of untimely death” (1.4.113-118)
foreshadowing “This days black fate on more days doth depend./ This but begins the woe others must end” (3.1.124-125)
dramatic irony when the audience grasps the truth of a situation before the character does
dramatic irony After learning of Romeo killing her cousin Tybalt, Juliet exclaims to her mother, “Indeed I never shall be satisfied/ with Romeo till I behold him—dead—/ is my poor heart so for a kinsman vexed” (3.5.98-100). This statement has a double meaning. Lady Capulet likely thought Juliet wanted to “behold Romeo dead” for killing Tybalt. However, the audience knows that Juliet loves Romeo and is really saying “I never shall be satisfied til I behold him; dead is my heart…”
dramatic irony The audience knows Juliet is not really dead, yet Romeo does not: “Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,/ Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty…” (5.3.74-115).
verbal irony when a character says the opposite of what is meant (sarcasm is a form of verbal irony)
verbal irony After Mercutio has been mortally wounded by Tybalt, he says that the cut is “a scratch, a scratch” (3.1.97).
situational irony when the result of something is the opposite of what is logically expected or desired (sometimes seemingly perverse in its inappropriateness)
situational irony In 4.1 Juliet meets soon-to-be husband Paris at Friar Lawrence’s cell, but does not say that she loves Paris despite being repeatedly prompted to do so and threatens suicide as soon as he leaves: “I long to die” (4.1.67). ¬¬¬_______________ is present here as she does not behave as the audience would expect a young woman about to be married to behave at all.

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