By Moya McQueen
The play 'Romeo and Juliet' was written by William Shakespeare in the Elizabethan period of 1595, set in the city of Verona, Italy. In the play Shakespeare tells the tragic story of an ongoing dispute between two families; the Montagues and the Capulets, and their sons and daughters, Romeo and Juliet who are unfortunately destined to fatality and eventually both die as they fall in love.
This effectively expresses the theme of whole play, as it revolves strongly around two opposite emotions, love and hate, which both have a widely astonishing effect on the play, developing it into a tragedy. This was firstly indicated in the prologue where it says ‘A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life.’
The two lovers, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet firstly meet when Romeo gatecrashes a lavish party at the Capulet mansion. The two characters elope and consequently fall in love during the party, not realising until later on that they both come from ever-feuding families, condemning their passion from the beginning. Tybalt, one of the younger members of the Capulet families, realises Romeo is an intruder at the party and after recognising the sound of Romeo’s voice, claims he will seek revenge on Romeo’s preposterous behaviour. Romeo and Juliet meet for the second time and vow they will marry on the morrow. Romeo’s close friend, Mercutio is killed after the pair are wed, after being questioned by Tybalt and engaging in a fight. This leads to Romeo’s banishment to Mantua from the town of Verona, as he subsequently kills Tybalt for murdering his friend, however as he has to leave the town in the morning, he spends his only night with Juliet. We then learn that Juliet Capulet is being forced into marriage by her powerful parents, which is not within her desire. She locates a sleeping drug which conveniently will allow her to appear dead for a few hours in the Capulet tomb. She aims to alert Romeo of the situation by sending him a message, but this backfires and the pair take their own lives. Romeo does not receive the message at the appropriate time, which is the element of the story that titles it as a ‘tragedy’; they both die as a result of their love.
Romeo and Juliet firstly meet during act 1 scene 5 of the story, at the Capulet party held at the Capulet mansion. Tybalt, an enemy of Romeo, sees Romeo appear in the building, and as a Capulet, he pledges to have his intrusion punished. During the party, Romeo and Juliet kiss after seeing eachother, but it is only after the kiss that they question eachother’s affection, as they come from two families that traditionally are enemies. This is the initial start of the dramatic effectiveness of the play, as it introduces the two ‘star cross’d lovers’ presenting the element of love in the story, which contrasts with hate as we meet Tybalt who aims to seek revenge on Romeo.
During act 1 scene 5, Shakespeare effectively engages the audience in the events and conflicts of the tragedy, using many technological devices, and we learn that the initial expectations we may have had, may or may not be what we thought. The party held at the Capulet mansion had a strict guestlist, and Romeo’s name was not on it, therefore he was not supposed to have made an appearance at the party. He was not on the guestlist as he is part of the Montague family, who has rivalled the Capulets for many centuries and are sworn enemies. This builds up anticipation in the audience as they begin to worry if Romeo’s identity will be recognised by the guests at the party. The prologue, as i mentioned before, highlights the fate of ‘two star cross’d lovers’ (Romeo and Juliet), building up yet more anticipation in the audience. Part of this anticipation is whether Rosaline, a girl predicted to fall in love with Romeo in the first instance, will be at the party. Wonder and anxiety builds up by this point as the