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Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare

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Act 1, scene 1

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Act 1, scene 1

Act 1, scene 1

Act 1, scene 1

Act 1, scene 1

In the figures of the civil watch and the Prince, the brawl introduces the audience to a different aspect of the social world of Verona that exists beyond the Montagues and Capulets. This social world stands in constant contrast to the passions inherent in the Capulets and Montagues. The give-and-take between the demands of the social world and individuals’ private passions is another powerful theme in the play. For example, look at how the servants try to attain their desire while remaining on the right side of the law. Note how careful Samson is to ask, “Is the law on our side, if I say ‘Ay,’” before insulting the Montagues (1.1.42). After the Prince institutes the death penalty for any who disturb the peace again, the stakes for letting private passions overwhelm public sobriety are raised to a new level.

Finally, this first scene also introduces us to Romeo the lover. But that introduction comes with a bit of a shock. In a play called Romeo and Juliet we would expect the forlorn Romeo to be lovesick over Juliet. But instead he is in love with Rosaline. Who is Rosaline? The question lingers through the play. She never appears onstage, but many of Romeo’s friends, unaware that he has fallen in love with and married Juliet, believe he is in love with Rosaline for the entirety of the play. And Friar Lawrence, for one, expresses shock that Romeo’s affections could shift so quickly from Rosaline to Juliet. In this way, Rosaline haunts Romeo and Juliet. One can argue that Rosaline exists in the play only to demonstrate Romeo’s passionate nature, his love of love. For example, in the clichés he spouts about his love for Rosaline: “Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health” (1.1.173). It seems that Romeo’s love for chaste Rosaline stems almost entirely from the reading of bad love poetry. Romeo’s love for Rosaline, then, seems an immature love, more a statement that he is ready to be in love than actual love. An alternative argument holds that Romeo’s love for Rosaline shows him to be desirous of love with anyone who is beautiful and willing to share his feelings, thereby sullying our understanding of Romeo’s love with Juliet. Over the course of the play, the purity and power of Romeo’s love for Juliet seems to outweigh any concerns about the origin of that love, and therefore any concerns about Rosaline, but the question of Rosaline’s role in the play does offer an important point for consideration.

The tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet... told in text messages

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ACT 1, SCENE 1 QUIZ

Which gesture starts the fight between the Montagues and the Capulets at the beginning of the play
The finger
Chin-flicking
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Wrong!!!!!!!!

by ConorD98, February 18, 2013

In act 2 scene 5 Nurse appears to be tired and sore and tell Romeo the news NOT in act 2 scene 4 as sparknotes have written down.

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62 out of 180 people found this helpful

Thanks :)

by SingitforJesus, April 09, 2013

We are reading Romeo and Juliet in my class and it is so confusing because of the way they talked back then. Sparknotes has been a great help.

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20 out of 33 people found this helpful

Petrarch... Balcony Scene.

by marnie94, April 13, 2013

http://marnielangeroodiblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/romeo-and-juliet-is-the-balcony-scene-bull/

This essay (written in my first year at uni) focuses on the balcony scene but should help with thinking about the development of the characters and their relationship. If you're talking about Petrarchan conceit, this should help a lot.

Good luck!! Please follow.

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17 out of 34 people found this helpful

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Romeo and Juliet (No Fear Shakespeare)

Romeo and Juliet (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series)

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