full title The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
author William Shakespeare
type of work Play
genre Tragic drama
time and place written London, mid-1590s
date of first publication 1597 (in the First Quarto, which was likely an unauthorized incomplete edition); 1599 (in the Second Quarto, which was authorized)
publisher Thomas Creede (in the Second Quarto, using the title The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedie, of Romeo and Juliet)
climax The deaths of Romeo and Juliet in the Capulet tomb (5.3)
protagonists Romeo; Juliet
antagonists The feuding Montagues and Capulets; Tybalt; the Prince and citizens of Verona; fate
settings (time) Renaissance (fourteenth or fifteenth century)
settings (place) Verona and Mantua (cities in northern Italy)
point of view Insofar as a play has a point of view, that of Romeo and Juliet; occasionally the play uses the point of view of the Montague and Capulet servants to illuminate the actions of their masters.
falling action The end of Act 5, scene 3, when the Prince and the parents discover the bodies of Romeo and Juliet, and agree to put aside their feud in the interest of peace.
foreshadowing The Chorus’s first speech declaring that Romeo and Juliet are doomed to die and “star-crossed.” The lovers’ frequent thoughts of death: “My grave is like to be my wedding bed” (Juliet, 1.5.132). The lovers’ thoughts of suicide, as when Romeo threatens to kill himself after killing Tybalt. Friar Lawrence’s warnings to behave moderately if Romeo and Juliet wish to avoid tragedy: “These violent delights have violent ends . . . Therefore love moderately” (2.5.9–14). The lovers’ mutual impression that the other looks pale and deathlike after their wedding night (3.5). Juliet’s faked death by Friar Lawrence’s potion. Romeo’s dream-vision of Juliet kissing his lips while he is dead (5.1). Romeo’s outbursts against fate: “O, I am fortune’s fool!” (3.1.131) and “Then I defy you, stars” (5.1.24).
tones Passionate, romantic, intense, rhapsodic, violent, prone to extremes of emotion (ecstasy, rage, misery, etc.)
themes The forcefulness of love; love as a cause of violence; the individual versus society; the inevitability of fate
motifs Light/dark imagery; opposite points of view
symbols Poison; thumb-biting; Queen Mab