Romeo and Juliet Unit
Romeo and Juliet Unit

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Romeo and Juliet Objectives Identify characters such as foils static or dynamic and flat or round in particular Romeo Juliet Tybalt and Mercutio Trace the development of Romeos character from his first mention in the play until his last noting how and why he changes ID: 540024 Download Presentation

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Romeo and Juliet UnitSlide2

Romeo and Juliet


Identify characters such as foils, static or dynamic, and flat or round, in particular Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, and Mercutio.

Trace the development of Romeo’s character from his first mention in the play until his last, noting how and why he changes.

Trace the mental and emotional maturity of Juliet from the first time she appears in the play until after her death.

Discuss the techniques Shakespeare uses to convey character and character relationships to his audience.Slide3

Objectives (continued)

Discuss the dramatic development of the play in terms of exposition, rising action, conflict, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Analyze the importance of literary elements like dramatic irony and foreshadowing on the development of the play.

Analyze Shakespeare’s use of language (verse, prose, rhythm, rhyme) and its importance in setting mood and establishing character.

Identify and analyze the use of comic relief.Slide4

Objectives (continued)

Define by example the terms



tragic hero


Respond to multiple choice questions similar to those that will appear on the Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition exam.

Respond to writing prompts similar to those that will appear on the Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition exam.

Offer a close reading of

Romeo and Juliet

and support all assertions and interpretations with direct evidence from the text, from authoritative critical knowledge of the genre, or from authoritative criticism of the play.Slide5

Mini Lessons

To be successful with these objectives, the beginning of each class will deal with a

mini lesson

—a short lesson to help you better understand

Romeo and Juliet


At the beginning of each class, take notes for each mini lesson. Terms in




important, so make sure you take notes and truly understand them!

These mini lessons will help you with the

study guide


multiple choice questions


writing prompts

, and


that go along with the play.Slide6

I. Shakespeare and His Times

William Shakespeare

(1564-1616) was born to a fairly wealthy, prominent family in Stratford-on-Avon during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He was the third of eight children and lived the expected life for a child of his social standing, attending primary or “petty” school and then a Latin grammar school.

At age eighteen, Shakespeare wed Anne Hathaway, a woman six years his senior. The couple had three children: Susanna, and twins Judith and Hamnet. Little is known about Shakespeare’s life between the years 1585 and 1592, but it is known that Shakespeare traveled to London some time between the ages of eighteen and twenty-eight and joined the theater. He debuted as a playwright with his first performance in 1590.Slide7

Cultural Beliefs

Shakespeare’s world was a very different one from that of today, and the differences are reflected clearly in his plays. For example,

children in Shakespeare’s day had no rights

except those allowed by their parents. Teenagers had to obey their parents’ every whim until they married. Marriages were commonly arranged by the parents for the purposes other than love and affection between the parties involved. Daughters married young for the most part, often as early as fourteen or fifteen years of age. A father had a God-given obligation to choose for his daughter who would be able to support her materially and protect her physically. The father’s right was not contingent upon the daughter’s agreement or approval, though certainly a father would want his daughter to be


as well as provided for.

Wives, just like children, were obliged to obey their husbands.

These cultural tenets—pushed to extremes for dramatic purposes—can be witnessed in

Romeo and Juliet


Courtly Love

Other ideas of the time that are evident in

Romeo and Juliet

are that of courtly love and Petrarchan conceit.

Courtly love

is a code and philosophy of love that flourished first in France and later in England and other countries. According to this philosophy, falling in love was by necessity accompanied by extreme emotional distress—helplessness, confusion, agitation sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and a general agony over the situation. The lover engages in interminable reflections on the nature of love and his own part of the state. This code is seen clearly in Romeo’s afflicted state of being in love

with Rosaline


Petrarchan Conceit

Petrarchan conceit

was a type of conceit—an overblown, almost ridiculous metaphor comparing two almost incompatible different things—used by Petrarch in his Italian love sonnets. Conceits are characterized by the use of oxymoron and paradox. Romeo utilizes this in his descriptions of his forlorn state to his friends.

What’s the difference between a Petrarchan sonnet and a Shakespearean sonnet?Slide10

II. Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare composed

Romeo and Juliet

between 1591 and 1595. As were most of his plays,

Romeo and Juliet

is based on older tales, most notably Arthur Brooke’s

The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet.

Brooke’s version was an adaptation of a still older folktale, and was Shakespeare’s primary inspiration. Brooke’s 3,000-line poem has a highly moral tone: disobedience, in addition to fate, is what brings about the deaths of the two lovers.Slide11

Shakespeare’s Version

Shakespeare altered previous versions of

Romeo and Juliet

in order to create his own unique version. For example, he condensed Brooke’s version from a nine-month span to a period of just five days. He also decreased Juliet’s age from sixteen to thirteen, probably to emphasize her youth and to create

shock value

. Perhaps most significantly, Shakespeare increased the roles of minor characters such as Mercutio and the nurse in order to emphasize the audience’s

understanding of character

. The impulsive, mercurial (lively, unpredictable) Mercutio became a


for the quiet, peace-loving Benvolio. The nurse’s bawdiness emphasized Juliet’s gracious refinement.Slide12

III. Features of Shakespeare’s Use of Language


Characterized by Contrast

1. Lyric, beautiful language is seen in such scenes as the first meeting between Romeo and Juliet at the party—in which they converse in sonnet form—and the balcony scene.

2. Colloquial, sometimes vulgar, speech sets common characters apart from those of a higher station, such as the bawdy jesting of the Capulet servants in Act I, Scene I, or the nurse’s description of Juliet.Slide13

III. Features of Shakespeare’s Use of Language (continued)


Characterized by Ambiguity

1. Shakespeare uses double entendres freely, letting the audience interpret the words in one way while the characters interpret them differently. A key example of this would be the conversation between Juliet and her mother in Act II, Scene v, in which Juliet expresses her love for Romeo and her desire for his safety while outwardly seeming to hate him and wish him harm.

2. Puns are utilized for the sake of witty wordplay and comic belief, such as in the first Scene and the ribald jests of the Capulet servants, or Mercutio’s dying jest, “Ask for me tomorrow, / and you shall find me a grave man” (Act III, Scene i). The entire opening scene is a series of puns playing on words like collier (coal miner), coal-carrier, choler (bad temper), and collar.Slide14

III. Features of Shakespeare’s Use of Language (continued)


Characterized by Structured Verse

1. Shakespeare uses an essential pattern of blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter, throughout the play. Usually important or aristocratic characters speak in blank verse, while lesser characters do not.

2. When the pattern changes, it’s for a reason—There are times when a character’s speech shifts from blank verse to couplets. Note the rhyme schemes in dialogues between certain pairs of characters. Notice how servants speak in prose while the “higher born” characters speak in verse.Slide15

III. Features of Shakespeare’s Use of Language (continued)


Characterized by Figurative Language

Shakespeare’s characters often use figurative language to elaborate upon ideas and amplify imagery.



: a comparison between two different things using







: a comparison of two things that are basically dissimilar in which one is described in terms of the other.



III. Features of Shakespeare’s Use of Language (continued)



: a figure of speech in which an object, abstract idea, or animal is given human characteristics.



: exaggeration for emphasis; overstatement



: the opposite of a hyperbole, to make little of something important


IV. Dramatic Conventions and Literary Devices

A. A


is a speech in which a character reveals his or her thoughts to the audience, but not to the other characters; it is usually longer than an aside and not directed at the audience.

B. The


is spoken by an actor in order to be heard by the audience but supposedly not by the other actors. These lines—much shorter than the soliloquy—usually represent the inner thoughts of the speaker.

C. A


is a character whose qualities or actions usually serve to emphasize the actions of qualities of the main character (the protagonist) by providing a strong contrast. On occasion, the foil is used as a contrast to a character other than the main one.



IV. Dramatic Conventions and Literary Devices (continued)



are indirect references to a person, place, poem, book, event, etc., which is not part of the story, that the author expects the reader will recognize.



—many different types are found in

Romeo and Juliet

, among them:

Verbal Irony

: a difference between what is literally stated and what is implied

Dramatic Irony

: a contradiction between what a character thinks or says and what the audience knows to be true

Situational Irony

: when the result of an action creates an unexpected/unwanted effect.

Cosmic Irony

: the suggestion that a god or fate controls and meddles with human lives, creating an unexpected/unwanted effect.



IV. Dramatic Conventions and Literary Devices (continued)



is an address to someone who is absent and cannot hear the speaker, or to something nonhuman that cannot understand. An apostrophe allows the speaker to think aloud, and reveals those thoughts to the audience.Slide20

V. Dynamic and Static Characters

A. Romeo is an example of a

dynamic character

. At the beginning of the play, he is immature, reckless, fickle, and melodramatic. He begins to change a bit toward the middle of the play, when, out of love for his new bride, he refused to fight Tybalt, even at the expense of his reputation. At the play’s end, the audience can clearly see that he has matured as a result of his true love for Juliet, even as he does give in to his despair and kills himself.

B. Mercutio and Tybalt are both examples of

static characters



are, throughout the play, temperamental, rash, and hotheaded. It is these traits, and the characters’ inability to control them, that ultimately cause their deaths.Slide21

VI. Tragedy and the Tragic Hero

In a


, the central figure meets with disaster or grave misfortune. In most tragedies, the tragic hero’s downfall is usually the result of fate’s intervention, or of a character flaw (also known as



tragic flaw

). Though flawed, the tragic figure is usually of noble stature and is basically good. The downfall, then, always seems to be worse than what the figure actually deserves. Aristotle defines a

tragic hero

by these basic tenets (principles), and state further that the tragic hero should suffer some recognition of his flaw and the reason for his downfall. The audience should experience a purging, or catharsis, through the experience of the hero’s suffering.Slide22

VI. Tragedy and the Tragic Hero (continued)

Romeo and Juliet

deviates from Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy in several ways:

Even in the Renaissance, the tragic hero was almost exclusively male, but Shakespeare contrives a play that seems to have


tragic heroes, male and female;

While the characters blame fate for the outcome, the audience can see that the outcome is the direct consequence of the characters’ own decisions and actions;

It is not the heroes who experience the recognition of their errors, but the characters around him—the Prince, the Montagues, and the Capulets.Slide23

VII. Motif and Imagery

Shakespeare uses several repeating themes, or


, to add richness to

Romeo and Juliet

and to create associations with various characters. Some examples of motifs seen in the play are:


Light and Darkness

1. Both lovers associate each other with light. Romeo, for example, compares Juliet to light throughout the play, such as when he exclaims that she teaches “the torches to burn bright” upon first seeing her. Juliet reflects fancifully that if she is to die, she would like Romeo to be cut “in little stars.”

2. Darkness is associated primarily with Romeo and Juliet’s love affair. Daylight works against them; their love can only be nourished with darkness.



VII. Motif and Imagery (continued)



The timing of situations in the play creates the drama and tragedy in the story. There are also

references to the passage of time, especially if it seems “rushed.”



Look for instances where events are blamed on “fate,” “destiny,” or “the stars.”



There are multiple instances of death throughout the play—Tybalt’s and Mercutio’s deaths among them.Slide25

Discussion Topics/Questions: Project

You will be given 10 discussion topics/questions throughout our reading of

Romeo and Juliet

. These 10 questions each count as 10 point to create a project score of 100.

This particular project grade will count


times in the grade book.

Remember: you are in Pre-AP, therefore be thorough and thoughtful with your answers.

Also, run-on sentences, fragmented sentences, spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc. will all affect the score you receive for each answer.Slide26

Discussion Topics/Questions

Do a detailed character analysis

for one

of the


characters. Indicate both their actions and their motives. Also, point out their state of mind and what significant actions of their own, or others, affected them.



Lord Capulet


Friar LaurenceSlide27

Discussion Topics/Questions

Prove or disprove the following statement by referring to incidents in the play: “Violence begets more violence.”Slide28

Discussion Topics/Questions

To what extent is Romeo and example of Aristotle’s tragic hero? Try to see both sides of the question. What qualit(ies) prevent him from being a prime example of such?Slide29

Discussion Topics/Questions

In many of his plays, Shakespeare presents the idea that “the course of true love never did run smooth” (from

A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

. This is true of Romeo and Juliet's love affair, as well. Examine the course of true love in

Romeo and Juliet

. How does it fail to run smoothly? What is ultimately responsible for this failure?Slide30

Discussion Topics/Questions

One theme present in

Romeo and Juliet

is that disobedience to recognized authorities invariably results in punishment. Discuss how this is the case in

Romeo and Juliet

. Which characters are rebellious to authority? What retribution do they pay?Slide31

Discussion Topics/Questions

Shakespeare deviates from Aristotle’s definition of the tragic hero in that it is not the hero who experiences recognition of the whole tragic situation, but other character, instead. Who are these characters? Explain their epiphany as it relates to the tragedy.Slide32

Discussion Topics/Questions

Revisit Juliet’s conversation with her mother concerning Romeo in Act III, Scene v, and discuss the dramatic irony that makes the scene so powerful. Choose another scene and do the same.Slide33

Discussion Topics/Questions

One motif developed throughout the play is the contrast between light and dark (or day and night). What do darkness and light represent? Consider, in your response, the many instances in which Romeo and Juliet seek to turn day to night, or shun the light in favor of darkness.Slide34

Discuss how Shakespeare’s writing reveals social class and develops character. Pay particular attention to the contrasting language styles of such characters as Juliet and the nurse, Mercutio, the friar, and the servants. Use specific passages to support your response.Slide35

Discuss Shakespeare’s use of humor in Act I, Scene I, with the Capulet and Montague servants. How does this scene heighten tension while providing comic relief at the same time?