William Shakespeare is a famous playwright/ poet from the Tudor period during the Elizabethan era. He has written many plays but one off the most popular one has to be Romeo and Juliet, which was written in1599. This is a play with many themes and the 3 main ones to me are: Family feuds, young love and pride/ power to remain dignity.
Romeo and Juliet starts off with one off his famous sonnets, the prologue.
The prologue has a special form with many features to contrast the play before it has begun, this is because in the theater globe where his plays were set, were some anti-social people stood and if they did not like the play they would throw tomatoes, therefore by letting the audience know what is going to happen he captures their interest and attention. He censors the bad bits of his play by only showing the good moments. The sonnet is made of 14 lines, which then are divided in 3 quatrains and 1 couplet. The 3 quatrains contain clashing lines (ABAB rhyme scheme) which contain mainly 10 syllables. I think the 2 clashing lines each represent a household, the way they clash shows that there is most definitely some conflict there. The fact that each line has 10 syllables may suggest that they are yet very similar.
Each line in the prologue is conveyed with meaningful and deep words to show a point. The fact that I have said that the 3 main themes are: family feuds, young love and pride/power is also shown and written in the prologue. In the first quatrain Shakespeare talks about Family feuds: “from ancient grudge break to new mutiny” the family feuds that are in involved in this play are not made clear because the real cause has been forgotten and Shakespeare is trying to tell this through the prologue. In the 2nd quatrain it is talking about young love: “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life” talking about ‘star-crossed’ it means that they were never destined for each other, but actually cross over, this implies that they will meet at one point but then eventually will go their own way.The 3rd quatrain is talking about pride and power but exactly the opposite of how trying to remain their pride has brought nothing but problems and the conflict which summed up this play: ” And the continuance of their parents rage, which but their children’s end nought could remove” Their parents feuds have caused nothing besides the end of their children’s life. The couplet at the end suggests a happy ending as far as happy could come.
Act 1 scene 1 starts of with 2 servants of the Capulet household: Gregory and Sampson in a public place, where they are showing of to each other in a battle of words. In line 5 Sampson misinterpreted Gregory’s comment and is actually literally inviting him to fight, because his battle of words literally turned out as a battle. “I strike quickly being moved”. He then calms down and starts ‘slagging’ of the montagues. Sampson calls them a ‘dog’ which during that period was a filthy animal who lived on the street. “A dog of the house of Montagues moves me”. Shakespeare did this to add a thrill to his play. Both Gregory and Sampson use innuendo which is saying something but meaning something else. Like today’s teenagers will say ‘melon’ but will mean something else, they are referring to the female’s anatomy same when Gregory and Sampson’s use of innuendo:” Me they shall feel im able to stand and tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh”.
They are referring to the anatomy of a male. One thing I have noticed is Sampson is taking the lead up until the point where he offers to let Gregory do the fighting whilst he will help when necessary:” My naked weapon is out. Quarrel I will back thee” Gregory then gets mad for him acting as such a coward so for Sampson to remain his pride he bites his thumb:” Nay as they dare I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them if they bear it” Biting your thumb is a filthy gesture which is equivalent to today’s middle finger. In line 42 he realizes that by biting his thumb the law wont take his side, where he then starts denying the fact he did it , because his master, Lord Capulet will not take it if the law takes the opposing side, the Montague’s. During the fight Benvolio enters the scene and stops the fight, acting as a real peacekeeper, He says the famous words which were said by Jesus:” you know not what you do” This represents a great impact because Jesus was all about peace, Everyone in England during this time was Christian so everyone would recognize this ‘catch phrase’.
The fight stops until tybalt comes in and gives a speech about hate; his name is very similar to the word tyrant which may be a description of his character. He then winds the servants up saying they don’t have courage:” art thou drawn among these heartless hinds” He is referring again to animals, because animals were seen nothing more than food, they were worthless. He is completely the opposite of Benvolio and hates the word ‘peace’ he sees this as a competition, where winning is a matter of life and death, which it is for Romeo and Juliet. After the 2nd fight the Prince comes in and threatens to cut their heads of because their fights have made the streets unsafe. After being held back by the prince (today’s police) Lord Capulet response is quite vicious:” give me my long sword” Lord Capulet is offering to fight as well. The Montague’s response is calm compared to that of the Capulet:” Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach” he is just wondering what is happening. The problems may be the same from the monarchy; the Montague’s may be the more peaceful ones like Elisabeth I and the Capulets Mary I, Queen of Scots. Queen Mary was very violent and has attempted to assassinate Queen Elisabeth I, to put her on the throne. In 1567 she was executed.
Romeo & Juliet may have been an inspiration to this play, but has been published later, because if it was published earlier he might have been executed too. The idea to bring the play out 30 years would work, because most people would have forgotten about the conflict and cause in the monarchy, same as the real cause is forgotten in Romeo & Juliet.
I think overall the Montague’s are a more peaceful household, because Abram and Balthasar did not cause much trouble, Benvolio attempted to keep the peace, by using strong reference to the bible the most holy book to England. And Lord Montague’s response to the riot is not immense. The Capulets are more violent, because Gregory and Sampson are the ones who start to insult the Montague’s and Tybalt is very visicious and hates peace, Lord Capulet is offering to fight himself, to defend his pride and honor. This does not indicate a difference in power and dignity but in characteristics. Same as in the monarchy because Mary I queen of Scots wasn’t more powerful but was more violent and visicous like the Capulet family, she was different to queen Elisabeth I in characteristics not power.