May 21, Act 1.notebook. Romeo and Juliet. Act 1, scene i

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1 Romeo and Juliet Act 1, scene i Throughout Romeo and Juliet, I would like for you to keep somewhat of a "writer's notebook" where you will write responses, thoughts etc. over the next couple of weeks. I will be collecting these responses every now and then. Response #1: Summarize the prologue 1

2 In the beautiful city of Verona, where our story takes place, a longstanding hatred between two families erupts into new violence, and citizens stain their hands with the blood of their fellow citizens. Two unlucky children of these enemy families become lovers and commit suicide. Their unfortunate deaths put an end to their parents' feud. For the next two hours, we will watch the story of their doomed love and their parents' anger, which nothing but the children s deaths could stop. If you listen to us patiently, we ll make up for everything we ve left out in this prologue onstage. 2

3 The play begins with the appearance of the chorus, who introduces the work with a prologue in the form of a sonnet. The prologue informs the audience that this play is about two wealthy families in the city of Verona, Italy (date is unspecified), who are engaged in a bitter feud. A son and a daughter from the two families fall in love, meet with ill fortune, commit suicide, and "with their death bury their parents' strife." The sad story line is repeated, and the chorus apologizes in advance for any deficiencies in the performance. Act I. scene i Setting: Verona, Italy Sunday Morning Conflict: House of Capulet & House of Montague are fighting for little reason Characters: Sampson & Gregory house of Capulet Abraham house of Montague Balthasar house of Montague; Romeo's servant Lord & Lady Montague Lord & Lady Capulet Benvolio tries to keep the peace I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword, Or manage it to part these men with me (I.i.66 67) friend to Romeo; tries to lift his spirits by pushing him to look at others Tybalt doesn t believe in peace What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word/ as I hate hell, all Montagues and thee. / Have thee, coward! (I.i.58 59). Prince rules over the town. He s tired of their fighting. Warning: If ever you disturb our streets again/ Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace (I.i.84 85). 3

4 The violence and the persistence of the Montague Capulet feud, emphasized by the prologue, is immediately demonstrated in Act I, scene i, of the play. Two servants of the Capulets, Sampson and Gregory, walk through the streets of Verona armed with swords and small shields. In the conversation it becomes clear that they are seeking to brawl with some of the Montagues. Their motivation seems somewhat vague, and their conversation is pugnacious and vulgar; Sampson in particular brags that he will beat all of the Montague men and rape all of the Montague women. Benvolio enters, draws his sword and attempts to make peace. At that moment, the fiery Capulet kinsman Tybalt enters. When he sees Benvolio's sword drawn, he needs no other excuse to attack. Many citizens become involved and there is a full out brawl. The heads of the two feuding families arrive with their wives. Instead of calming the scene, they want to attack one another but their wives intervene. Prince Escalus, who is in charge of law and order in Verona, enters and orders everyone to throw down their weapons and stop fighting. He declares that the feud between the families has gone on too long and pronounces a death sentence for anyone who further disturbs the peace. 4

5 Introduced to Romeo Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still, Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will! Where shall we dine? O me! What fray was here? Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all. Here's much to do with hate, but more with love: Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate! O anything, of nothing first create! O heavy lightness! serious vanity! Mis shapen chaos of well seeming forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health! Still waking sleep, that is not what it is! this love feel I, that feel no love in this. Dost thou not laugh? (I.i ) Any figures of speech used here? 5

6 What s sad is that love is supposed to be blind, but it can still make you do whatever it wants. So, where should we eat? (seeing blood) Oh my! What fight happened here? No, don t tell me I know all about it. This fight has a lot to do with hatred, but it has more to do with love. O brawling love! O loving hate! Love that comes from nothing! Sad happiness! Serious foolishness! Beautiful things muddled together into an ugly mess! Love is heavy and light, bright and dark, hot and cold, sick and healthy, asleep and awake it s everything except what it is! This is the love I feel, though no one loves me back. Are you laughing? Response #2 What's the deal with Romeo? What do we learn about him in Act I, scene 1? 6

7 Tut, I have lost myself; I am not here. This is not Romeo; he s some other where (Act 1, Scene 1) Romeo is hopelessly in love with Rosaline in the beginning of the play. While talking to Benvolio, his good friend, he admits to feeling not himself. Romeo gives the impression that he is a dreamer and emotionally unstable when in the state of love. This foreshadows the downfall of Romeo and Juliet. Significance of Romeo's introduction: When Romeo enters at the end of the scene, the plays' focus switches from hate to love. Expecting talk of Romeo's love for Juliet, the audience is shocked to find out he is in love with Rosaline! At this point in the play, Romeo is shown as a young man who is more in love with the idea of love than with an actual person. He even speaks in a youthful manner, which changes to more mature verse as he falls in love with Juliet. Romeo also speaks of love in military terms, stressing Shakespeare's idea of how close love and hate can be. 7

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