Part B question – How has love been presented in Act One and Act Two of ‘Romeo and Juliet’?The majority of your marks come from context and critical style so aim to have an argument, as opposed to lots of random points. Point EvidenceExplanationZoom – what techniques can you identify in the quote you’ve used? You can comment on words/techniques or punctuation/stage directions. Use SUBJECT TERMINOLOGY. Audience Response – how did the Elizabethan audience react? Base this on contextWriter’s Intention – What is Shakespeare’s aim with this portrayal – is he shocking/teaching/entertaining us? Why?William Shakespeare chose to present love in many different ways within his play, ‘Romeo and Juliet’. This is a key theme explored within the play and is particularly travelled by the overriding plot of the play and its protagonists.One way in which William Shakespeare chose to present love within this play is as being very sexual and about physical attraction over an emotional bond. In 16th century England, premarital sex was widespread, and the upper classes often engaged in prostitution and illicit activity at gatherings like masquerade parties. This can be seen within this play through the character of Mercutio, Romeo’s comedic best friend who uses a lot of bawdy language to share his thoughts with Romeo and Benvolio. In A1S4, the three friends are seen discussing the invite to Capulet’s masquerade party and Mercutio refers to ‘Queen Mab’. ‘Queen Mab’ is seen as having double meaning in this monologue and refers to the midwife of fairies who makes dreams come true. However, at the time, ‘Queen’ and ‘Mab’ were slang words for prostitute, allowing us to understand how he feels about the situation with Rosaline. Furthermore, Mercutio is seen emphasising this idea of sexual love throughout the rest of this act and the next. This is done by Shakespeare as it contrasts this take in love that he has created for Romeo and as Mercutio acts as a foil for Romeo’s character this means that he highlights this alternate perception on love that Romeo has. Subsequently, the Nurse similarly uses oversexualised language within the first two acts for the same purpose but as a foil towards Juliet. The late Elizabethan/ early Jacobean audience would have been Christian, so would have been shocked at the heresy presented by these two characters but the upper-class majority may have shared a similar view to these characters, the same view that Shakespeare was mocking through his exhibition of these two characters.William Shakespeare also presents love as virtue against evil and does this using a lot of imagery. Shakespeare uses images of light and dark whenever Romeo and Juliet interact, accentuating the night time at their meetings. A good example was at the Masquerade party, when Romeo describes Juliet as someone who ‘doth teach the torches to burn bright’ exemplifies this association with the sun whilst Romeo being referred to as ‘bescreened in night’ associates him with the everlasting darkness. This can help illustrate the conflict between the Montagues and the Capulets as night and day can never mix, just as the two opposing sides. Light reveals and exposes truths and realities and their inability to coexist symbolises how it can never survive in reality. This stands as a metaphor for the importance of family in Elizabethan England and how a families stature would be seen as what should be most valued. Shakespeare can be understood to be criticising this ideology by wedding Romeo and Juliet and allowing this forbidden love to coexist even though the families can’t. The 16th century audience would have seen this idea of forbidden love as against their family ideals and would have looked down on them disobeying their kinship. This would mean that they would be shocked at the affair of the ‘star-crossed lovers’.There is also a key prominence on the relationship between love and fate within the play. Shakespeare portrays Romeo and Juliet’s love as something that has been decided by fate and something that is forever ‘hanging in the stars’. He does this through heavy practice of foreshadowing and prefiguration. One very good example of this is seen in the prologue where their love is described as ‘death-marked’. Another good example is A1S4, where Romeo senses that there would be catastrophic consequences if they attended Capulet’s feast. Romeo and Juliet rely heavily on fate to end up together and this demonstrates their love as too passionate and powerful to be broken. This helps explain this idea of their distorted perception of reality as their idea to elope acts as a metaphor for the strength of their love being too immense for the real world, meaning that Shakespeare uses fate to illustrate the flaws of young love and its unconventionality. The audience would have see this is quite humorous as the lovers were breaking typical ideas of courtly love and their death would have been seen as punishment for their impulsiveness and rash behaviour.
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