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Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare

Prologue

Themes, Motifs & Symbols

Act 1, scene 1

Summary

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life. . . .

As a prologue to the play, the Chorus enters. In a fourteen-line sonnet, the Chorus describes two noble households (called “houses”) in the city of Verona. The houses hold an “ancient grudge” (Prologue.2) against each other that remains a source of violent and bloody conflict. The Chorus states that from these two houses, two “star-crossed” (Prologue.6) lovers will appear. These lovers will mend the quarrel between their families by dying. The story of these two lovers, and of the terrible strife between their families, will be the topic of this play.

Analysis

This opening speech by the Chorus serves as an introduction to Romeo and Juliet. We are provided with information about where the play takes place, and given some background information about its principal characters.

The obvious function of the Prologue as introduction to the Verona of Romeo and Juliet can obscure its deeper, more important function. The Prologue does not merely set the scene of Romeo and Juliet, it tells the audience exactly what is going to happen in the play. The Prologue refers to an ill-fated couple with its use of the word “star-crossed,” which means, literally, against the stars. Stars were thought to control people’s destinies. But the Prologue itself creates this sense of fate by providing the audience with the knowledge that Romeo and Juliet will die even before the play has begun. The audience therefore watches the play with the expectation that it must fulfill the terms set in the Prologue. The structure of the play itself is the fate from which Romeo and Juliet cannot escape.

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Translation

by DenerioWillis19, October 18, 2012

I really like how they translated the quotes into modern day time.

Thanks.

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130 out of 172 people found this helpful

Dramatic Irony

by Shookie219, December 18, 2012

This site is wonderful but it doesn't point out some literary elements I think it should such as dramatic irony. In Act IV Scene I one of the first occurrences of dramatic irony is that Paris believes Juliet is weeping over Tybalt's death but she is weeping over Romeo which the audience knows.

It would be nice to have dramatic irony's pointed out a little!

9 Comments

135 out of 172 people found this helpful

Owen's Eternal Love for Brooklynn

by cameronwelch12, February 15, 2013

Hey guys, it's Cameron again, my poor friend Owen is having issues getting a girlfriend. His true love is Brooklynn Smithington AKA Brian Smithington's daughter. Owen is 4 years old and was born on a leap year. He also enjoys making sandwiches for his love's father Brian Smithington. Please help him get a date with Brooklynn and I will give you 3 wishes. - By the way, I am a Genie

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