The tragedy “Romeo and Juliet” is one of the most famous plays written by the English author, William Shakespeare. It’s one of the most famous love-themed tragedies ever. It was the first tragedy ever written by Shakespeare. He wrote it in 1593 after completing his two comedies, which are less known nowadays. The piece was written during the first phase of his career as a writer. It was inspired by a commonly known legend about two lovers from Verona, who ended their lives tragically because of love. Even Dante mentioned the tragedy of the families Montague and Capulet in his Divine Comedy, in part referring to the Purgatory. Additionally, there are records pointing to the fact that it was a historical event from 1303. Also, the love story was mentioned in work called “History of Verona,” which was printed in the period around 1595. Several authors used the motif of a tragic couple of Verona in their works before Shakespeare; however, Shakespeare’s version remained the most famous one.
The tragedy tells the story about two young people that fall in love with each other, despite the animosity between their families that are consumed by hatred and rivalry. Their love seems impossible at first, but they get married secretly. In the course of various conflicts occurring between the two families, Romeo murders Juliet’s cousin and thus has to leave the country. However, he remains in hiding, not to leave Juliet behind.
Juliet’s parents want to marry her to a prominent nobleman, but she would rather die than violate her love and marriage with Romeo. She receives help again from the priest who married them. He gives Juliet a potion that would put her to sleep but not kill her, so that her family would think she is dead, setting her free. The priest sends the message to Romeo, telling him that Juliet is alive.
However, the message never reaches him. After hearing about Juliet’s death, Romeo arrives at her tomb, where he takes his life by drinking poison because he sees no sense in living a life without Juliet. Upon that, Juliet wakes up and tries to drink the last drops of poison from Romeo’s lips to die, but when she sees that it is not enough, she takes a dagger and commits suicide.
Both families then realize that their irrational hatred took the lives of young people, but it failed to stop true love, which is the sole morality of the story.
This tragedy is the source of several timeless sentences that remain quoted to this day. Among them is the most famous one: “O Romeo, o Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” It is as if Juliet almost curses her fate for falling in love with Romeo, yet it does not stop her from loving him. The balcony scenes in which Romeo declares his love to Juliet have remained a synonym to romantic declarations of love to this day, and all love stories are compared to this very one, known as the greatest love story ever.
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet was written in pentameter. The introduction was written in the form of the Shakespearean sonnet, comprised of 14 lines.
Time: 14th century
Place: Verona, Italy
Theme: Forbidden love of young lovers
Morality: Nothing can stand in the path of pure love, especially irrational hatred and revenge.
The story starts on one warm night in July, when Sampson and Gregory, Capulet’s servants, roam the city in search of a brawl.
An ideal opportunity for that opens up for them at the moment when they meet the servants from the other, rival, family – the Montagues. Soon enough, a fight of fists and swords breaks out and eventually grows, as the heads of the feuding families of Verona join in. The fight is interrupted by the arrival of Prince Escalus, as he warns them that they will be punished if the disorder occurs again.
Father and mother Montague are happy that their son Romeo did not take part in the quarrel. However, they are concerned about his weird behavior lately. He was seen roaming the woods, and he is avoiding company, locking himself in his room. The worried parents try to find out the real truth from Romeo’s cousin Benvolio.
Benvolio is not only Romeo’s cousin, but also his best friend. He soon finds out the truth and the real reason for Romeo’s unusual behavior. Romeo is unhappily in love because the lovely Rosaline does not care for him. To cheer him up again, Benvolio suggests that they secretly go the ball at the Capulets’, persuading him that he shall find a cure for his disease there. Though finding that suggestion odd, Romeo accepts it.
In the meantime, there is a lot going on in the House of Capulet and excitement grows by the hour. Not only does the ball occupy their thoughts – count Paris came to ask for the hand of Capulet’s daughter Juliet. Although the old Capulet thinks that Juliet is too young for marriage, he does not hide the satisfaction about a young count showing interest for his daughter. Juliet is a young girl at the age of thirteen and unexperienced in love, but she gives her father her promise to try and make Paris like her when they meet at the ball.
However, at that very evening, Juliet meets Romeo, and Paris and Rosaline are immediately no longer in the picture. Unfortunately, the special moment between them does not last for long, since Tybalt, Lady Capulet’s nephew, recognizes Romeo under the mask and wants to fight him immediately. Although old Capulet manages to calm him down, his thirst for revenge is not quenched. Soon after the ball and that unwelcome event, Romeo finds himself under Juliet’s window and at that moment they declare eternal love to each other and decide to get married.
Friar Lawrence, who accepted to marry them, is concerned about the love that happened so suddenly. Despite his concern about the love that the two young people share, he hopes that the wedding between them would end the long-lasting dispute between the two families. Unfortunately, destiny took care that things get complicated, and Romeo, who just married Juliet, finds his friends, Mercutio and Benvolio, fighting with Tybalt, who came to seek revenge.
Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel, but Romeo does not accept it. He admits to loving the Capulets as much as his family. The said confession was met with a shock of all present. Mercutio accepts Tybalt’s challenge, and Tybalt stabs him. Romeo, feeling guilt and anger for causing his friend’s death, attacks Tybalt. In a life-or-death battle, Romeo wins and must run away. Juliet is waiting excited for their first wedding night when the nanny comes with terrible news about Tybalt’s death and tells her that the prince banished Romeo out of town. Devastated Juliet reveals to her nanny that Romeo is hiding at Friar Lawrence’s.
The old Capulet cannot believe that Tybalt is dead and is even more upset by the suffering of his daughter Juliet. Therefore, he decides to hurry her marriage with Count Paris. Juliet refuses to marry the count, thus making the old Capulet angry. Since she is neither understood nor helped by anyone, Juliet visits Friar Lawrence to think of a destructive plan.
Juliet is supposed to drink a potion that would stop her breathing for 42 hours, causing everyone to think she is dead. In the meantime, Friar Lawrence will send a messenger to Romeo, who is now already located in Mantua. After that, both Romeo and Lawrence will hide in the tomb and wait until Juliet wakes up. Romeo will then take her with him, and when Friar Lawrence announces that they are married, they will be able to return to Verona. Finally, Juliet drinks the potion.
The nanny comes next morning to prepare the bride for the wedding and is shocked when she realizes that Juliet is not breathing. Sorrow pervades the house of the Capulets. According to the plan, Friar Lawrence sends the message to Romeo, but the messenger fails to arrive in Mantua. Romeo’s servant Balthasar arrives first and tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Distraught by the shocking news, Romeo purchases poison and heads to Verona. There he finds the mourning Paris, after which there is a battle between them and Paris is killed.
Paris’ last wish was to be buried next to Juliet, and Romeo promises to fulfill it before he dies himself. When he sees Juliet lying, Romeo thinks that she is dead, so he drinks poison and dies. Friar Lawrence hastens to the tomb, only to find Paris and Romeo lying dead. The potion that Juliet drank stops working, and she wakes up. When she notices that Romeo is dead, she refuses to leave the tomb, takes a knife and ends her life. In the end, the tragic death reunites the two families and breaks the long-lasting hatred.
Characters: Romeo, Juliet, the Montagues, the Capulets, Paris, Tybalt, Friar Lawrence
Juliet Capulet – a young and beautiful girl. She is only fourteen years old. During the narrative that happened in the timeframe of five days, she encounters great changes in her life. She falls in love with Romeo right after meeting him for the first time. As a result, she changes from a little girl that lives with her parents and caretaker into a young woman, capable of making big life decisions. She is a practical person and idealizes life. Even though she is aware of the many life obstacles, she is still convinced that love wins.
Romeo Montague – a smart and likable young man, who possesses many noble virtues. He is passionate and sometimes lives in the world of imagination, dreaming about great love. His best friends are Mercutio and Benvolio. At the beginning of the story, he is in love with Rosaline, but she does not notice him in the least. He does not know what real love is until he meets Juliet. Romeo is romantic and very emotional. Emotions lead him through his live and represent the most important part of life to him. When he met Juliet, he was overcome by love and passion, eventually resulting in tragedy.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was one of the greatest authors in England, but also throughout the world.
He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. Michelangelo died that same year in Rome. Shakespeare was the oldest of eight children and lived in a wealthy family.
Little is known about his life. He married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than him. Soon after that, they had a daughter, Susan, and twins, Judith and Hamlet.
It is not known what he did till 1592 because all traces of him were lost. Afterward, he was engaged in writing and acting in London. Soon after, his poems “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece” were published.
He wrote much, and his dramas were gladly performed. He also became co-owner of the Globe Theater.
In the final years of his life, he decided to return to Stratford, where he died in 1616.
Shakespeare wrote 37 dramas, which are categorized into romantic plays, royal dramas and historical tragedies and comedies.
His most famous pieces are “Henry IV”, “Richard III”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Taming of the Shrew”, “The Comedy of Errors”, “Two Gentlemen of Verona”, “Love’s Labours Lost”, “The Merchant of Venice”, “Hamlet”, “Othello”, “King Lear”, “Measure for Measure”, “Winter’s Tale”, “The Tempest”.