Romeo and Juliet: A Digital Folio

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1 Romeo and Juliet: A Digital Folio March 28,2014 Volume 1, Issue 1 Othello Academy Publishing, 6524 E. MacBeth Ave., Denmark, AZ Inside this Issue 1. Background on the Bard 2. Everything Elizabethan 3. Cast of Characters 4. Preview 5. A Reader s Review

2 Background on the Bard An English poet, actor, and playwright, William Shakespeare was and still is regarded as the most influential writer of the English language; his works have contributed to more words being added to the English dictionary than any human being living or dead. Shakespeare is known to have written approximately 38 plays during his career as a writer. His plays have been translated into every major language and they are more widely performed than any other historical or modern playwright. In addition to his plays, Shakespeare also wrote two narrative poems and 154 sonnets. Shakespeare was borne in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. The small town of Stratford was given this name because it was settled along the River Avon. No one knows for sure the exact date of Shakespeare s birth, only that his baptism was recorded on April 26, At the time of his birth it was a requirement, listed in The Book of Common Prayer, that parents were to baptize their children on the nearest Sunday or holy day following the child s birth. For this reason, many people believe the date of Shakespeare s birth to be April 23, Those who want to err on the side of caution use the verifiable date of his baptism as recorded in the register of the Holy Trinity parish church in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. During Shakespeare s time, London was an exciting city. Queen Elizabeth I was in power. The Navy of England, both the Royal and private branches, ruled the seas. English Explorers sailed to the distant lands of America and the Far East claiming territories for England. Shakespeare followed the exciting events of his time and included the exhilaration, mystery, adventure, and even trepidation of the unknown in his works. His ability to capture these emotions and activities in his work is akin to a primary document or an accounting of life in the times. 2

3 Cast of Characters Mercutio: Mercutio is intelligent, eccentric, and a unique young man who is related to Prince Escalus. He is Romeo s best friend and loyal confidante. He is always ready with a witty remark or story to lift Romeo from one of his moods or depression. Mercutio is also hot-headed and ready and willing to fight for what he thinks is right. Friar Laurence: Friar Laurence is a Franciscan friar, and an amateur apothecary, who resides in Verona and provides services to both the Capulets and Montagues. He is a peaceful man who is distressed by the continued rivalry between the two families. He hopes for peace in Verona. Juliet: Juliet is the daughter of Lord and Lady Capulet. She is a courageous, loyal, and beautiful young girl around 13 years old. Her beliefs about love and life are against the societal expectations of her time. Romeo: Romeo is the son and heir of Montague. He is 16 years old. Romeo s attitude, temper, and mood changes quickly to match his circumstances; he can shift from depression to joy in an instant. Romeo is impetuous, dedicated, and often brooding. He falls in love with Juliet and shows passion and dedication toward their love throughout the play. Tybalt: Tybalt is Lady Capulet s nephew and Juliet s cousin. He is quicktempered and exceedingly eager to fight and defend the Capulet name. He, too, dislikes the Montagues on his Capulet family s behalf. 3

4 Preview Plot Summary The play Romeo and Juliet is about a feud between two families (the Capulets and the Montagues). Act 1 begins with a couple of Capulet servants looking to stir up some trouble with their arch nemeses, the Montague men. Bawdy comments, insults, and threats are exchanged, and eventually the mischief turns into an all-out brawl. Afterward, a brooding Romeo appears, sulking because he s just been totally dissed by his girlfriend Rosaline. Depressed, he can t seem to shake his cloud of woe, even though his buds Benvolio and Mercutio try to joke with him, and tell him to forget about her. Meanwhile, the Capulets plan to throw a huge bash at their place, inviting Count Paris (the cousin of the Prince of Verona) to meet their daughter Juliet, whom he has his eye on. Romeo and Juliet meet at the Capulet ball and because they are both wearing masks, don t know that each is of a rival family. However, they fall in love with each other instantly. In the first scenes of act 2, Romeo ditches his buds, Mercutio and Benvolio, to get a better glimpse of Juliet as she s sorting out her feelings for him on the balcony. The two profess their love for each other (in crazy beautiful lines of poetry) and make a plan to get hitched. They wed in secret at Friar Laurence s church in the hopes that this act of love will end their families feud. Later that day, Mercutio picks a fight with Tybalt and ends up getting himself killed. Romeo, in turn, kills Tybalt to avenge Mercutio s death. When Benvolio explains to the Prince of Verona everything that went down, Romeo ends up banished from the city for his deeds. In order to help his household overcome their grief over Tybalt s death, Lord Capulet decides to promise his daughter in marriage to Count Paris (which leads to much freaking out by the already-wed Juliet.) She threatens to kill herself if Friar Laurence doesn t help her get to Romeo. By drinking a sleeping potion, she fakes her own death and wakes up two days later in the family tomb. Too late, Romeo has already heard of Juliet s death and buys a suicide cocktail of his own. He kills himself at Juliet s side, a few minutes before she wakes up. Distraught, Juliet uses Romeo s dagger and takes her own life. Friar Laurence has some splainin to do and tells both families the whole story. Everyone ends up realizing that they were wrong, and the family feud ends, but not before the Prince of Verona promises some to be pardoned and some to be punished. 4

5 Review Critique It could be argued that most people have read, or at least seen some kind of rendition of, Romeo and Juliet. Despite being over 400 years old, society continues to be entranced by the story of these two perhaps foolish, perhaps passionate teenagers who are crazy in love for each other. How does this story continue to endure even in this day and age? To answer this question, ask yourself a few other questions. Have you or your friends ever: Faced difficulties or bouts of bad luck? Been trapped in a situation that felt like you had no control over? Had to live with your parents and follow their rules? Then totally disobeyed them anyways? Experienced love at first sight? (Or what you thought was love at first sight.) If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you ve gone through some of the same challenges that Romeo and Juliet had to endure. And who doesn t want to read a story that relates to the human experience? Perhaps you ve been part of a relationship that took on the same passionate importance as in this tragedy. Or perhaps your biggest wish is for something like Romeo and Juliet to happen to you. (Minus the end the ending could be slightly modified.) The sparks of rivalry that drive the story of poor Romeo and poor Juliet is often a familiar theme in conflicts found throughout history. Certain differences age, income, race, and religion can create a tension with life or death consequences. These destructive consequences are a compelling element in this story about two lovers who only seek one thing: happiness in each other. How s that for some passion? If anything, most of us can relate to the tragedy of reaching for something a friendship, an academic success, a romantic relationship and then failing. The story of Romeo and Juliet is particularly poignant in that its lead characters attempt to find happiness, but are unfortunately met with tragedy in the end. What s more interesting is that the audience knows the characters fate from the very start of the play, making us spectators to an outcome that we have no control over. This story really envelopes you, to say the least. Over the past 400 years, the richness of this tragedy has inspired dance, film, theatrical parodies, orchestral interpretations, and even a rock musical. Romeo and Juliet are truly a testament of society s intrigue as well as our own personal journey with life, love, and death. 5

6 Photo Credits William Shakespeare: Taylor, John. William Shakespeare. National Portrait Gallery, London. Web. Mercutio: Jennifer Okamoto/Fogstock/Thinkstock Friar Laurence: SlowRunning/iStock/Thinkstock Romeo: Alin Dragulin/Fogstock/Thinkstock Juliet: molishnka1988/istock/thinkstock Tybalt: samer chand/istock/thinkstock 6

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