Romeo and Juliet Study Guide. From Forth the Fatal Loins of These Two Foes

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1 From Forth the Fatal Loins of These Two Foes In the most famous love story of all time, two teenagers from feuding families meet and fall in love on the streets of Verona. Romeo, the son of Montague, and Juliet, the daughter of Capulet, fight against history, feuds, and family for the sake of their love. With the world against them, will Romeo and Juliet find a way to be together forever? Be a Better Reader As you work through the study guide for Romeo and Juliet, you will also practice these skills, which will help you when you read plays in the future, for school assignments or just for fun. 1. Describe how characters in a play are developed. 2. Describe the plot development and structure of a play. 3. Describe and analyze the role of setting in a play. 4. Identify and analyze the themes in a play. 5. Identify and analyze an author s purpose and perspective. 6. Explain how historical context affects readers understanding and appreciation of a play. Behind the Scenes English poet and playwright William Shakespeare ( ) is often heralded as the best writer to have ever lived. His works have withstood the test of time, and are as popular now, if not more so, than when they were first published at the requests of Queen Elizabeth I (ruled ) and King James I (ruled ). Interestingly, Shakespeare did not originate the now archetypal characters of Romeo and Juliet. In fact, he lifted the idea of the star-crossed lovers from an epic poem Romeus and Juliet, which itself was an adaptation of centuries-long adaptations. Although Shakespeare s teenage lovers weren t original, he added the drama, the pace, and of course the language, that made the love story legendary.

2 The Plot When Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet at as masquerade ball, it is love at first sight. Over the next four frenetic days, a variety of obstacles stand in the way of their pursuit of true love. Will the two lovers find a way of staying together forever? As you read Romeo and Juliet, fill in the boxes for each element of the play s plot.

3 The Characters In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a vivid world of two families battling through a generations-long feud. In the middle of the violence, two teenagers, one Capulet and one Montague, meet and fall in love. Use the diagram below to note the characteristics and descriptions Shakespeare gives to each member of the feuding families, as well as the secondary characters that influence Romeo and Juliet s relationship. Be sure to include at least one direct quote from the play as evidence to support your description of that character. Montagues Romeo Montague Montague Lady Montague Benvolio Character Traits Capulets Juliet Capulet Capulet Lady Capulet Tybalt Character Traits Secondary Characters Friar Lawrence Mercutio Nurse Paris Prince Escalus Character Traits

4 The Setting Romeo and Juliet fall in love on the streets of Verona. Their Renaissance world, lived almost six centuries before our own, was very different from today. The Renaissance affected everything in the teenagers lives, from their family drama, education, hopes for the future, and even their love, was keenly affected by the times. Use the spaces below to describe the setting for the teenagers meeting and the dramatic events that follow. In the first column, type or write direct quotes from the play phrases and sentences that are used to show what Renaissance life was like. In the second column, explain in your own words what these details show or suggest about Romeo and Juliet s lives, death, and love. Direct Quote Related to Setting Your Explanation

5 Tracking Themes What is William Shakespeare trying to say about love through the tragic relationship between Romeo and Juliet? The main themes in Romeo and Juliet are related to love and loyalty. See if you can identify and analyze those themes. Step 1: What parts of the plot seem related to a possible theme in the play? (Think about the main conflict and how it get resolved or worked out.) Step 2: Which characters seem related to a possible theme? Which characters change, and what do those changes suggest about the cruelty of the world, or true friendship? Step 3: How does William Shakespeare utilize symbols to hint at the play s themes? What objects, people, or places stand for something bigger in the story? Step 4: What does the play s title suggest about the play s theme? Why do you think Shakespeare named his play The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet? Step 5: Write about one or two of the play s main themes in your own words.

6 Talk About It What do you think about Shakespeare s tragic play Romeo and Juliet? Does the ending leave you feeling depressed or hopeful? In the space below each question, write an answer based on your own experiences and your own understanding of the plot. Include some textual evidence or examples that helped you arrive at your answer. 1. The entire plot of Romeo and Juliet takes place over a brief four-day period. How does the short time frame affect the drama of the play? In real life, would it be possible for a grand love story like this to take place in such a short time span? Why or why not? How does Shakespeare successfully combat the time constraints while making the story believable? Textual Evidence: 2. Compare / contrast the characters of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. How does each teenager develop and change throughout the course of the play? What aspects of the teenagers characters draw them together? Finally, do you think the pair understands the gravity of their actions? Why or why not? Textual Evidence:

7 Represent! Show what you know about Romeo and Juliet and its message about loyalty and love. Choose one of these projects to complete and share with your teacher, classmates, and others. Choice 1: Bring it to the Stage! The famous play Romeo and Juliet has inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of adapted rewrites for film, stage, and television. The producers at Verona Playhouse believe in the importance of reaching new audiences, and would like to produce a revamped version of Romeo and Juliet specifically for your community. Since you ve just finished reading Romeo and Juliet, you re in a good position to advise the Verona Playhouse on how to adapt the collection in a way that speaks to your personal community the same way the original play spoke to Renaissance England. For this project, write a script for a play based on the plot and characters of Romeo and Juliet. Include suggestions for how to design the stage and how characters should behave. The story in your script can be simpler and shorter, but the collection s themes should come through in the play. You can deliver your script as a text document, or record and upload a video of you and your friends performing the play. Choice 2: Modernizing Shakespeare. Shakespearean language can be difficult to understand. The Modern Shakespearean League fears that because of the difficulty in the language, modern teenagers will ignore Shakespeare s legendary work in favor of literature that easier to digest. They hope to rewrite Romeo and Juliet in easy-to-understand language so that all readers can enjoy the beauty of Shakespeare s stories. As The Modern Shakespearean League sees it, you re a young person and you ve just read Romeo and Juliet, which makes you the perfect person to write a hip new version of Shakespeare s story in modern language. The audience for your updated version will be other modern teenagers, so vernacular and slang are encouraged (just as they were in Shakespeare s day). Your updated, edited version of Romeo and Juliet will be simpler and shorter, but the play s message and meaning should be just as clear. You can deliver your script as a text document, or record and upload a video of you and your friends performing the updated play.

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