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Romeo & Juliet - Analysis (Part1) (By: Hussein Ghunaim)

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Romeo & Juliet - Analysis (Part1) (By: Hussein Ghunaim) Empty Romeo & Juliet - Analysis (Part1) (By: Hussein Ghunaim)

Post by Admin Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:38 pm

Romeo & Juliet
Shakespeare, William

Plot Summary

.......Romeo Montague absolutely adores Juliet Capulet. Juliet Capulet absolutely adores Romeo Montague. However, the Montague family absolutely despises the Capulet family, and vice versa, because of an old grudge. How is it possible for Romeo and Juliet to love and live happily in so poisonous an atmosphere? That is the central issue of this play.
.......In a prologue to Act I, an actor called “the chorus” recites a sonnet in which he describes the bitter hatred separating the Montagues and Capulets (residents of Verona, a city in northern Italy about 65 miles west of Venice and the Adriatic coast) and identifies Romeo and Juliet as lovers who had the misfortune to be born into warring families: “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes [the Montagues and the Capulets] / A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life" (Lines 5-6). Take their life appears to have a double-meaning: first, that they come into existence; second, in a foreshadowing of events to come, that they go out of existence by taking their own lives.
.......So it is that, from the very beginning of their existence as human beings within the wombs of their mothers, Romeo and Juliet are doomed by Fate as children of hatred.
.......So deep is the enmity between the two families that the friends of the Montagues and the friends of the Capulets are also enemies. In the first scene of Act I, two servants of the Capulets, Sampson and Gregory, encounter two servants of the Montagues, Abraham and Balthasar, on a street. Sampson places his thumb between his teeth, then flicks it forward at the Montague servants. This insulting gesture carries the same meaning as an upturned middle finger in modern America. Verbal insults follow and swords cross. Tybalt, a belligerent Capulet ally, lashes out at Benvolio, a friend of Romeo Montague, for attempting to make peace, saying: “. . . Peace! I hate the word, / As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee" (Scene 1, Lines 52-53). The ruckus attracts citizens, peace officers, supporters of the Montagues and Capulets, and eventually Lord and Lady Capulet and Lord and Lady Montague. A brawl ensues. The Prince of Verona, Escalus, intervenes and ends the fray with these stern words: “If ever you disturb our streets again, / Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace" (Line 83).
.......Romeo is not among the street brawlers, for he has been off brooding in a sycamore grove and nearby woods over a young lady who is his heart’s delight, a young lady who denies him her affections. But her name is Rosaline, not Juliet. Rosaline, Lord Capulet's niece, is so fair, Romeo says, that when she dies, all that is beautiful in the world will die with her. However, Rosaline vows to live a life of chastity. "She'll not be hit with Cupid's arrow" (200-201), Romeo says, "nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes, nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold" (205-206).
.......When Lord Capulet holds a dinner party attended by everyone who is anyone in Verona–including the city's most winsome young ladies, Rosaline among them–Romeo attends to see Rosaline and measure her against the other comely maidens. Surely she will outshine them all. Because of the hatred dividing the Capulets and the Montagues, Romeo wears a mask. His friends Benvolio and Mercutio also attend, likewise disguised. Lord Capulet welcomes all the gentlemen attending the party, including the masqueraders, and invites them to dance, saying, "Ladies that have their toes / Unplagu'd with corns will have a bout with you" (Act I, Scene 5, Lines,11-12). And then Romeo notices Juliet. She is flawlessly exquisite; she is stunning, gorgeous, ravishing; she is beyond compare. All thoughts of Rosaline vanish. There is only Juliet. Unable to contain himself, Romeo declares:
..............O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
..............It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
..............Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear; [Ethiope: black African and resident of Ethiopia]
..............Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear! (Lines 41-44 )
.......Tybalt, Lord Capulet's nephew, recognizes Romeo's voice and threatens violence, asking a boy to bring him his rapier. But Lord Capulet, not wishing to ruin the party, steps in to keep the peace, noting that Romeo is behaving in a gentlemanly manner.
Juliet, meanwhile, has noticed Romeo–and fallen deeply in love. She and Romeo exchange beautiful words that seal their love.
..............ROMEO If I profane with my unworthiest hand
..............This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
..............My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
..............To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss. (Lines 93-96 )
..............JULIET Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
..............Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
..............For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
..............And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss. (Lines 97-100 ) [palmer: pilgrim visiting the Holy Land]

.......Later that night, Romeo climbs the wall behind the Capulet house and enters an orchard on the Capulet property. Benvolio and Mercutio, following behind, call out for him, but Romeo does not respond. Mercutio, sensing that Romeo's sudden obsession with Juliet will go amiss, says: "If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark" (Act II, Scene II, Line 38). His words foreshadow the tragic events that follow. When Juliet appears alone at a window overlooking the Capulet orchard, Romeo, observing her from below, says:
..............But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
..............It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
..............Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
..............Who is already sick and pale with grief,
..............That thou her maid art far more fair than she. (Lines 4-8)
Juliet then unburdens the weight of her thoughts:
..............O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? [wherefore means why or for what reason]
..............Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
..............Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
..............And I'll no longer be a Capulet. (Lines 37-40)
.......After Romeo announces himself to her, they vow undying love. Romeo visits a priest, Friar Laurence, the next day to tell him of his love for Juliet, and the good Franciscan approves of the relationship, believing it will be the key to ending the Montague-Capulet feud. Later, Juliet sends her nurse to Romeo to sound him out on his intentions, and he tells her that Juliet should come to Friar Laurence's cell to confess her sins, then marry Romeo. After the nurse reports back to Juliet, all goes according to plan, and Romeo and Juliet become husband and wife, although they make no public announcement of their marriage.
.......On his way back from the wedding, Romeo encounters his friend Mercutio quarreling with Tybalt. Romeo tries to pacify them, to no avail, and Tybalt mortally wounds Mercutio. Mercutio–who understands the stupidity and folly of the Montague-Capulet feud–curses the two families, saying, "A plague o' [on] both your houses!" (Act III, Scene I, Line 61). He repeats these words three times before dying. Romeo, in turn, kills Tybalt. The fighting has attracted citizens of Verona, including the prince; he banishes Romeo.
.......When Juliet asks her nurse for news of Romeo, the nurse says, "Ah, well-a-day! he's dead, he's dead, he's dead!" (Act III, Scene II, Line 37). She is referring to Tybalt, her good friend; Juliet thinks she is speaking of Romeo and wonders whether he has killed himself. The nurse then recounts the events of the violent encounter: Romeo killed Tybalt, Juliet's kin. At first, Juliet criticizes Romeo for committing such a deed but moments later scolds herself for speaking harsh words about her beloved husband.
.......Before leaving the city, Romeo returns to Juliet and spends the night with her. At dawn, as the lovers gaze out the window, Romeo says,
..............Look, love, what envious streaks
..............Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east:
..............Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
..............Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
..............I must be gone and live, or stay and die." (Act III, Scene V, Lines 9-13)
Juliet replies,
..............Yon light is not daylight, I know it,
..............It is some meteor that the sun exhales,
..............To be to thee this night a torch-bearer,
..............And light thee on thy way to Mantua:
..............Therefore stay yet; thou need’st not to be gone. (Lines 14-18)

Romeo tarries awhile longer, then flees to Mantua, a city in Italy's Lombardy region to the west. Meanwhile, Juliet's mother announces that her daughter must marry Paris, a nobleman. Desperate for help, Juliet asks Friar Laurence for advice. He tells her to consent to the wedding, then drink a potion that will make her appear dead. After the Capulets lay her to rest in the family burial vault, the friar tells her, he and Romeo will rescue her. Juliet agrees to the plan, and Friar Laurence sends Friar John to deliver a message to Romeo that will inform him of the scheme. But, by accident, the message goes undelivered.
.......In her bed chamber, Juliet takes out the vial containing the potion. She is fearful that it may not work. Overcoming that fear, she then worries that the potion may actually be a poison that Friar Laurence had prepared for her so that he will not have to be dishonored by marrying her to Paris while she is already married to Romeo. However, she overcomes this fear as well, then takes the drug and collapses onto the bed. When wedding preparations are under way in the Capulet household, Lord Capulet tells the nurse to awaken Juliet. But the nurse discovers her lying lifeless and stiff. Lord Capulet observes that "Death lies on her like an untimely frost" (Act IV, Scene IV, Line 55).
.......When news of Juliet's "death" reaches Romeo, he purchases a potion of his own–a deadly one–from an apothecary and returns to Verona to die alongside Juliet. At the burial vault, he encounters Paris and his page. Paris is there to lay flowers at Juliet's grave. The adversaries quarrel, exchanging insults, then fight. While the page runs out for help, Romeo slays Paris, then takes a last, longing look at Juliet, saying,
..............O my love! my wife!
..............Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath,
..............Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty:
..............Thou art not conquer’d; beauty’s ensign yet
..............Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
..............And death’s pale flag is not advanced there. (Act V, Scene III, Lines 94-99)

.......Romeo then swallows the poison and dies. After Juliet awakens and discovers the bodies, grief overwhelms her and she kills herself, using Romeo's dagger. When the page returns with three watchmen, they discover the bloody scene and one of the watchmen fetches the Montague and Capulet families and the Prince of Verona. Others come running to the scene. Lord Montague arrives alone, telling the prince that his wife died during the night of grief brought on by Romeo’s exile. When everyone sees the bodies, the prince calls for quiet and calm while he inquires about the cause of the deaths. Friar Laurence comes forth and explains in detail the plot he conceived to feign Juliet’s death. Next, Romeo’s servant, Balthasar, says he conveyed news of Juliet’s apparent demise to Romeo, who then returned from Mantua. Finally, the page of Paris recounts what he saw at the tomb. The prince reproaches the Montagues and the Capulets, saying, "See what a scourge is laid upon your hate, / That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love" (291-292). The feuding families then reconcile, and the prince observes:
..............A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
..............The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head: 328
..............Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things:
..............Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:
..............For never was a story of more woe
..............Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
====> Continue to the next Part

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Romeo & Juliet - Analysis (Part1) (By: Hussein Ghunaim) Graduation


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