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A plague on both your houses…

What is the first thing that comes to mind when

you think of William Shakespeare, or Romeo
and Juliet?
…old and boring …tragic love story
…hard to understand …stuck up
..two feuding families …romance
…Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
….play with old costumes …who? Huh?
So about this Shakespeare..

• William Shakespeare was an unknown man from

Stratford on Avon, who ended up becoming a
famous playwright in London
• When he was 18 he married 26 year old Anne
Hathaway, their daughter Susanna was born 6th
months later. They also had twins, Judith and
Hamnet, but he died at age 11
• He spent much of his life in London, as an actor and
author, at the Globe theater, and when he died he
left his wife the 2nd best bed in his will
He wrote his own epitath…

"Good Friends, for Jesus'

sake forbear,
To dig the bones enclosed
Blest be the man that
spares these stones,
And curst be he that
Elizabethan Theater…all the world’s a stage

• In Shakespeare’s time, theaters were on the south

side of London, along with bearbaiting, taverns,
and some very friendly women
• Theaters were sometimes closed to try to stop the
threat of plague, or because they were “immoral”
• All of the actors were men, it was illegal for
women to be onstage…so Juliet was being played
by a teenage boy in a dress…there’s a reason
Shakespeare’s plays have lots of talking, but not
too much kissing onstage
• You could get into the Globe theater for a
penny, and stand during the whole play, or pay
a bit more for a seat, most stood, and were
called “groundlings”
• Food was sold, and if the play wasn’t good or
exciting, the audience would heckle or throw
things at the actors
Theater Terms
• Monologue- When one person is talking, for a
long time
Ex. Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech
• Aside- When a character is talking to the
audience, and all the other characters pretend
not to hear
• Suspension of disbelief- When the audience
pretends not to notice all the stuff that is fake
or unrealistic
A way with words
• Shakespeare added over 2,000 words to the
English language in his plays, if he needed a new
word, he made one up, you may recognize…
Eyeball, dwindle, watchdog, gloomy, hobnob,
swagger, rant, moonbeam, fashionable
• There are also expressions he coined that are very
common today, like “a heart of gold,” “wild goose
chase,” “vanish into thin air,” “good riddance,”
“break the ice,” “a laughing stock,” “clothes make
the man,” “dead as a doornail”
• He also wrote some pretty good insults
When we are acting…
• You will sit in your character’s seat
• Keep your folder in order
• When you are onstage (in the middle) you will:
- Speak loud enough to be heard
- Not have conversations with the audience
- Move if it fits in the scene, not wander around
- Stay until you are supposed to exit, then sit down
- Pay attention to the script, so you know your line is coming up
• When you are the audience you will:
- be silent so we can hear the actors and know what’s going on
- follow along with the script, and go onstage when it is your turn
If you cannot follow these expectations, you will start completing
extra questions, be assigned detention, or written up
Match the quote with the
1. “What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the
word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and
thee! Have at thee, coward!”
2. Did my heart love till now? Forswear it,
sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this
3. “Wisely and slow, they stumble that run
A. Friar Lawrence B. Tybalt C. Romeo
Romeo and Juliet Sources
• Guess what? Shakespeare didn’t come up with
the story of Romeo and Juliet all on his own!
• He borrowed ideas and characters from other
stories that already existed, especially a poem
in 1562 by Arthur Brooke called The Tragical
History of Romeus and Juliet
• The poem is probably Shakespeare’s main
source, but the poem is based on several
different Italian stories
• There’s also a story by Ovid, an ancient Roman writer,
called Pyramus and Thisbe, in which two lovers from
rival families plan to meet in secret, but through a
misunderstanding (who hasn’t thought their
girlfriend was devoured by a lion?) end up killing
• Shakespeare was definitely aware of the story,
because he used a version of it in one of his plays
• So the moral is, you don’t need the most original
idea, just to have the best, most dramatic version of it
• And just as Shakespeare borrowed ideas to
come up with Romeo and Juliet, people have
borrowed the play’s ideas to create new
• A well-known example is West Side Story, a
musical with two different gangs replacing the
feuding families
Other examples:
• Romeo + Juliet (Baz Luherman’s update)
• “Love Story” (Taylor Swift)
• Pretty much any story with lovers from two
different worlds (yes, Twilight),
• Gnomeo and Juliet
• Shakespeare in Love
• Warm Bodies
Themes, Symbols and Motifs
• A theme is a main idea, or the moral or lesson of
the story…themes in Romeo and Juliet include the
power of love, passion and violence, individuals
versus society, and that you can’t fight fate
• A symbol is something that stands for more than
itself…symbols in Romeo and Juliet include
poison, roses, fire, stars, and masks
• A motif is an idea or subject that occurs over and
over …motifs in Romeo and Juliet include
opposites such as light vs dark, and youth vs age
• Power of love:
Obviously, love is important to the story: it’s
why everything happens. Romeo and Juliet’s
love is so powerful it’s more important to them
than their families, their loyalties, or even their
• Passion and Violence:
Of course the same violent passion leads to
violence, from Tybalt’s death to the lovers’
suicide. As strong as the love in the play is, the
families’ hate and anger is equally forceful
• Individual against society:
In the play, what the lovers want as individuals
is in conflict with what their families and
society wants. Juliet doesn’t want to marry
Paris, but her dad is telling her she has to, and
society would back him up. (“An you are mine,
I’ll give you to my friend”) Romeo can’t just
change his name and never have to deal with
his family again. The Capulets, Montagues,
and the townspeople don’t want to stop
feuding or seem dishonored just because two
teenagers like each other. It takes a horrible
tragedy to get them to change.
• Can you fight fate?
At the beginning of the play, we’re told Romeo and
Juliet are “star-crossed” lovers, meaning it’s already
decided their love will end badly. During the play,
both lovers have bad feelings about what is going
to happen, Romeo before the party, Juliet when he
leaves for Mantua. When Romeo thinks Juliet is
dead he cries “I defy you, stars!” challenging fate,
and planning to kill himself so he can be with Juliet,
who isn’t dead. There are many near-misses and
points where things could have so easily gone
another way and ended happily, but didn’t, that it
seems like their fate or destiny has already been
decided for Romeo and Juliet, and no matter what
they try, they can’t change it. But still, you have to
• Poison- the hate that is tearing apart two families,
the poisons and potions that Friar Lawrence makes
and gave to Juliet, the poison Romeo bought from
the apothecary, and money, which corrupts
• Rose- Love and sweetness, gentleness, associated
with Juliet and Paris, also death
• Fire- consuming passion, such as love, that is also
destructive, associated with Romeo and Juliet, anger
• Stars- fate, fear of what will happen, beauty and
purity of the love between Romeo and Juliet
• Masks- insincerity, hidden love, helps people break
the rules, reason Romeo and Juliet could meet, but
why they didn’t tell their families
Stars I defy you stars!

And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars , From this world-wearied flesh

Give me my
Romeo; and,
…my mind when he shall
misgives die, Take him
some and cut him out
consequence in little stars,
yet hanging And he will
in the stars… make the face
of heaven so
fine That all the
world will be in
love with night

A pair of Two of the fairest stars in all of heaven

sed love Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light
This bud of love…may prove a beauteous flower

Symbol of love and passion

"What's in a name? That
which we call a rose By any
other name would smell as

Verona’s summer hath not such a flo

Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corpse

Sweet flower, with

flowers thy bridal
bed I strew
The roses in thy cheeks and lips shall fade
Masks JULIET: Thou knowest the
mask of night is on my face;
Else would a maiden blush
bepaint my cheek
Give me a case to put my
visage in:
A visor for a visor! what care I
What curious eye doth quote
dares the beetle
the slave brows
come hither, cover’d shall
with an antic face? - Tybalt
blush for me.
My fan Peter! Good Peter, to hide her
face, for her fan’s the fairer face of
the two -Mercutio
This distilled liquor drink thou off: through all thy veins
shall run a cold and drowsy humour; for no pulse shall keep his native progress

A dram of poison Poison, I see, hath been his timeless e

if it be a poison which the friar subtilly hath ministr’

ve me dead? Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua’s law
is death to any he that utters them
There is thy gold- worse poison to men’s souls, doing
more murder in this loathsome world than these poor
Compounds that thou mayest not sell. I sell thee
poison, Thou hast sold me none

With baleful weeds and precious-juiced fl

Poison hath residence
doth teach the torches to burn bright
Love is a smoke raised with the fume
“These violent delights have of sighs; Being purged, a fire
violent ends, And in their sparkling in lovers' eyes;

triump die, like fire and

powder Which, as they kiss, And fire-ey’d
consume” fury be my
PRINCE conduct
What, ho! you men, you now…
beasts, Now Tybalt,
That quench the fire of your take the
pernicious rage, With purple “villain” back
fountains issuing from your again!
veins, On pain of torture, from
those bloody hands Throw
your mistemper'd weapons to

• In Romeo and Juliet it’s all about the

opposites: life and death, love and hate,
dark and light, Montagues and Capulets, high
and low, peace and fighting, young and old
• It’s full of imagery with darkness and
light: ex. in the balcony scene Juliet’s at a
lighted window, with Romeo in the dark
garden, comparing her to the sun. Throughout
the play there are references to darkness and
light, night and day ex. “O come gentle
night..” or the darkness of the Capulet tomb
• Youth and age is another motif: Romeo and Juliet
have a passionate, teenage love (that may not be
very mature), they fall violently in love at first sight,
and won’t live without each other, and feel that adults
don’t understand (Juliet says “old folks feign as they
were dead, unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead”)
• Meanwhile Friar Lawrence is trying to tell them to love
moderately, Romeo’s parents are worried about him,
and Juliet’s dad wants her to marry a ‘safe’ guy he
• But at the same time, the adults are in large part to
blame for the tragic ending: they were trying to use
the lovers for political advantage, the friar comes up
with the convoluted poison idea, and the hatred and
feuding between the adults in the families means the
lovers are afraid to tell their parents the truth
Graffiti Activity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…
Somewhere, in the town of Romeo and
Juliet’s Verona is a graffiti wall, a place
where the characters have been
carving, drawing and writing about
what’s important to them. You are one
of the citizens of Verona, and after the
tragedy, you are showing it to a visitor,
and explaining what all the messages
mean. Then, you are going to add three
messages of your own. (54 points)
Cliff Notes Recap

Trivia Quizzes

True and False Quiz Practice Quiz