How do the Prologue and Act 1, Scene 1 of “Romeo and Juliet” prepare the audience for the rest of the play Essay
One of Shakespeare’s classic plays is “Romeo and Juliet”. He is said to have written the play around 1595 in the Elizabethan Era. Shakespeare tells the tale of two star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, whose short romance is plagued with tragedy. The play focus’s on the popular themes such as romance, tragedy, death and violence. Shakespeare was inspired by a poem by Authur Brook called, “The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet”. The poem never got much acknowledgement or recognition but Shakespeare used it as the basis for writing a play about, who are now, the world’s most famous lovers.The prologue is written in the form of a sonnet and provides a clear, concise summary of the play. The prologue is in a fourteen-line sonnet with an A,B,A,B rhythm scheme and ends in a rhyming couplet. The Chorus starts by describing where it is set, “In fair Verona, where we lay our scene”. This shows us where the location of the play will be; Verona. It the describes two noble households in the city of Verona. The houses hold an “ancient grudge” against each other that remains a source of violent and bloody conflict. The Chorus states that from these two houses, two “star-crossed” lovers will appear. These lovers will mend the quarrel between their families by dying.Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet is a play with many themes. A theme is subject of discussion or composition and are used a lot through Romeo and Juliet. Love and hate is naturally the play’s most dominant and most important themes. Love is a violent, overpowering force that supersedes all other values and loyalities. There are other minor themes found within the action of the scenes which are not so easily identified without a closer reading. Among these are the stars and their metaphorical relation to fate, and how time effects events. Romeo and Juliet is more complex work than it appears to be on the surface.The theme of love is probably the most common theme in all literature and Romeo and Juliet is no exception. The theme of love is dominant throughout the entire of play of Romeo and Juliet. There are many different forms of love and Shakespeare incorporates many of them into his Romeo and Juliet play. The first two characters that the audience is introduced to are Sampson and Gregory. They make many sexual references.They do not see love as involving emotions or desires, but as a purely physical thing, sexual not emotional. “I wish push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.” This expresses both Sampson and Gregory have petty and narrow perceptions of ‘love’. Neither of them appears to have ever experienced true love and in my opinion they talk in a crude and coarse manner and see women as objects not people. True love, this love is the love that grows between Romeo and Juliet. The Prologue states two star cross lovers ; Romeo and Juliet.”A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life” This tells you from the beginning that two people are destine to be in love and they were each willing to die for each other. Their love was so strong that they were willing to go against years of hatred between their families and try to make things work. As the word “households” implies, many of the relationships in the play are based on the concept of extended families. The Montagues and Capulets are both loyal and faithful to their families. They are dependent on them and would of done anything to protect them and this is shown throughout the play by Shakespeare. In the beginning of the play, Romeo is pining for Rosaline, the object of his unrequited love. He spends most of his time sighing over his depressing and virtually nonexistent love life.According to his definition, love is painful “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.” This explains that he feels there is no point living if he can’t have Rosaline and locks himself in a darkened room. Finally there is romantic love. Despite Romeo’s great declarations of love for Rosaline, his feelings are actually fleeting, as shown by his behaviour when he spies young Juliet. He is smitten at first sight, describing her as “Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!”. This language is in direct contrast to how he speaks of Rosaline. Rather than objectifying Juliet as he does with Rosaline, he holds Juliet in reverent awe, “Did my heart love till now? For swear it, sight!/ For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night. With this, Rosaline is forgotten and Juliet becomes Romeo’s focal point. In the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet many types of love are shown and Shakespeare uses them all effectively.In the Elizabethan era, fate plays was an important role in people’s lives. In Romeo and Juliet, fate is one of the themes. Many people believed fate was written in stone and unchangeable. The prologue states that the dreadful passage course of their love was destined for death. “The fearful passage of their death marked love.” This shows us that the love of these two (Romeo and Juliet) was destined to end tragically. Later on in the play at the party there was another important aspect of fate. Romeo was wearing a mask and his face was hidden allowed Juliet to fall in love with him before she saw who it was. If Juliet had known who Romeo was she would probably have not fallen in love with him.It is the violence that make this play exciting and thrilling and violence is what became one of the main themes in this play. There were all kinds of examples of different types of disorder, brawls and fights between the two houses, the Montagues and Capulets. In the very first scene of the play and the peasants and soldiers get into a quarrel. This whole fight starts from a mere mentioning of a few words, which sets off a large reaction between the characters, ending in a large collision.As said by Samson, “a dog of the house of Montague moves me” This shows aggressive violence towards the other family and the rivalry of the other family are drawn into a quarrel. Shakespeare overall makes violent nature out to be a blanket over this world in the play, in which everything is underneath it and ruled by it and no matter who they are, or what they believe, it is still impossible to escape the violence or at least be affected by it in some way.Everywhere in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the theme of time. In the first scene after the Prologue, Romeo proclaims, “Ay me! sad hours seem long.” In this early scene, Romeo mourns his unrequited love of Rosaline, and the feeling is so intense that time is affected. Later on in the play Romeo and Juliet must work around a very difficult set of circumstances caused by the feud. It would be difficult enough for two lovers from rival groups to function in a romantic relationship in, without the added difficulties of racing against time.Light and darkness usually have very definitive meanings in human psychology. Traditionally, light is considered “good” because it allows us to perceive the world around us and to work within it. Conversely, dark is usually viewed as “evil” due to our inability to see and the fear that such a state brings. Day and night, which are distinguished by the amount of light available, have similar connotations. However, while typical notions of light and dark do appear in Romeo and Juliet, day and night are reversed.Night becomes good because it aids Romeo and Juliet, and day becomes bad because it stops Romeo and Juliet seeing each other. Later in the play Romeo’s lengthy meditation on the sun and the moon during the balcony scene, in which Juliet, metaphorically described as the sun, is seen as banishing the “envious moon” and transforming the night into day. A similar blurring of night and day occurs in the early morning hours after the lovers’ only night together. Romeo, forced to leave for exile in the morning, and Juliet, not wanting him to leave her room, both try to pretend that it is still night, and that the light is actually darkness: “More light and light, more dark and dark our woes”.The fact remains that none of these deadly circumstances would have occurred had it not been for the senseless feud; nor would a case of bad luck result in death had there been no feud. People do not usually die from having complicated plans go wrong. All probably would have worked out in the end, in a sort of comedy of errors, had it not been for the feud. So the feud is the real antagonist. Everyone else was its victim. As the Prince says at the end, “all are punished.” All of the themes, the major theme of love, the minor theme of conflict, and the subordinate themes of fate and speed, all revolve around the central tragedy of the senseless family feud. The complexity of the play can be observed by analyzing these themes and how they relate to one another.