Romeo and Juliet: Week 5
Session 1-4: Note Taking
In these sessions we will go back to the text and work on our note taking. For your final exam in year 10, you will have to use quotes from the text "Romeo and Juliet" to prove contentions in your text essay tasks. This involves making a library of quotes that you will have to be familiar with when you take your final exam. During this time we will work in teams to gather quotes that correspond to the major themes of "Romeo and Juliet".
What are the major themes from "Romeo and Juliet"?
Here are some of the major themes described at Litchart.com.
You can go to this site and get a PDF chart to help you with your studies.
Love in Romeo and Juliet is not some pretty, idealized emotion. Yes, the love Romeo and Juliet share is beautiful and passionate. It is pure, exhilarating, and transformative, and they are willing to give everything to it. But it is also chaotic and destructive, bringing death to friends, family, and to themselves. Over and over in the play, Romeo and Juliet's love is mentioned in connection with death and violence, and finds it's greatest expression in their suicide.
The theme of love in Romeo and Juliet also extends beyond the love that Romeo and Juliet feel for each other. All the characters in the play constantly talk about love. Mercutio thinks love is little more than an excuse to pursue sexual pleasure and that it makes a man weak and dumb. Lady Capulet thinks love is based on material things: Paris is handsome and wealthy; therefore Lady Capulet believes Juliet will love him. Lord Capulet sees love as obedience and duty. Friar Laurence knows that love may be passionate, but argues that it's also a responsibility. Parisseems to think that love is at his command, since he tells Juliet that she loves him. In short, love is everywhere in Romeo and Juliet, and everyone sees it differently.
From the opening prologue when the Chorus summarizes Romeo and Juliet and says that the "star-crossed lovers" will die, Romeo and Juliet are trapped by fate. No matter what the lovers do, what plans they make, or how much they love each other, their struggles against fate only help fulfill it. But defeating or escaping fate is not the point. No one escapes fate. It is Romeo and Juliet's determination to struggle against fate in order to be together, whether in life or death, that shows the fiery passion of their love, and which makes that love eternal.
Fate is not just a force felt by the characters in Romeo and Juliet. The audience also senses it through Shakespeare's use of foreshadowing. Time and again, both Romeo and Juliet unknowingly reference their imminent deaths, as when Juliet says after first meeting Romeo: "If he be married / My grave is like to be my wedding bed." She means that if Romeo is already married she'll be miserable. But the audience knows that Juliet's grave actually will be her wedding bed. In Romeo and Juliet, fate is a force that neither the characters nor the audience can escape, and so every word and gesture gains in power, becomes fateful.
Individuals vs. Society:
Because of their forbidden love, Romeo and Juliet are forced into conflict with the social world around them: family, friends, political authority, and even religion. The lovers try to avoid this conflict by hiding, by escaping from it. They prefer the privacy of nighttime to the public world of day. They volunteer to give up their names, their social identities, in order to be together. They begin to keep secrets and speak in puns so that they can publicly say one thing while meaning another. On the morning after their marriage, they even go so far as to pretend that day is night so they won't have to part.
But no one can stop day from dawning, and in the end Romeo and Juliet can't escape the responsibilities of the public world. Romeo tries to stop being a Montague and avoid fighting Tybalt, but fails. Juliet tries to stop being a Capulet and to stand up to her father when he tries to marry her off to Paris, but is abandoned by her mother and the Nurse. Romeo is banished from Verona by Prince Escalus, who embodies political law. Finally, to preserve their love, Romeo and Juliet are forced to the ultimate act of independence and privacy: suicide.
Language and Word Play:
Romeo and Juliet constantly play with language. They pun, rhyme, and speak in double entendres. All these word games may seem like mere fun, and they are fun. The characters that pun and play with language have fun doing it. But word play in Romeo and Juliet has a deeper purpose: rebellion. Romeo and Juliet play with language to escape the world. They claim they are not a Montague and a Capulet; they use words to try to transform day, for a moment, into night; they hide their love even while secretly admitting it. Other characters play with language too. In particular, Mercutio and the Nurse make constant sexual puns implying that while everyone is running around talking about high ideals like honor and love, sex and other base desires are at the root of human existence.
So language in Romeo and Juliet serves two opposing purposes. It allows some characters to escape the world into intense love, while it allows other characters to reveal that the world of love, honor, and high ideals are just masks people use to cover their animal instincts.
Here is a video on the themes of Romeo and Juliet:
Here is a worksheet that you will need to complete on Romeo and Juliet DOWNLOAD HERE!
Quote Gathering Activity:
During this week we will work as a class to gather quotes on this sheets DOWNLOAD HERE!
In this exercise we will be gathering quotes based on the many themes of Romeo and Juliet. We'll focus on "Love", "Fate", "Hate" and "Individuals Versus Society". You will each be asked to come up with 10 quotes from the play. You'll have to detail them with the following information:
Point in the Play.
Act and Scene.
Who is speaking.
What the quote means.
Explain what what the quote says in relation to the play.
We will work in groups of three. You have to gather 10 DIFFERENT quotes each. At the end of the exercise, all those that finish will recieve a library of all quotes for use in their final exam.
Here's a lovely video full of quotes from the major characters to help you!!!