Romeo and Juliet context

  • Created by: holly6901
  • Created on: 14-11-18 17:53
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  • Context in Romeo and Juliet
    • Tragedy
      • Sometimes it is villains who cause tragedy.Tybalt causes further tragedy as he tried to get vengeance (revenge) on Romeo and kills Mercutio.By doing this, he causes Romeo to take revenge on him.
      • Sometimes, the wider forces in the world cause tragedy. This includes things like chance.In this play, fate causes a lot of the tragedy – Romeo and Juliet were fated to fall in love and die to end the fighting of their families.
      • Often, tragic characters bring about their own downfall.They have a flaw (an error) in their character, such as ambition or immorality, which makes them make mistakes of judgement. Do Romeo and Juliet bring about their own downfall?Their decision to get married could be considered an error in judgement – they do not really think about the consequences of their actions in terms of their families’ reactions.Other errors in judgement could be their individual decisions to commit suicide without thinking it through.
      • Romeo and Juliet suffer because of bad luck, but also their own bad judgements.Romeo’s rash decision to fight Tybalt and Juliet’s decision to take the potion has negative outcomes.
    • Setting
      • During the Elizabethan era, very few English people would have been able to visit Italy. They would have had very little knowledge or understanding of life in Italy, especially Verona.Italy was a great place to set a story like Romeo and Juliet.Because of the Romans, Italy is linked to many classical stories and myths. This means it is a very effective setting for stories of dramatic romance and violence.Italy was a Catholic country during this period, while England was in religious turmoil (a state of uncertainty or disruption). There was lots of fighting between Catholics and Protestants in England.Social setting
      • The social setting is central to the story – the two families are rich and powerful but don’t abide by (stick to) the law with regards to feuding (arguing over a long period of time).
      • The play was set in Verona in Italy for the most part, with Romeo banished to Mantua later in the story.A range of settings are present in the text, from marketplaces to large family houses and tombs.
    • Relationships
      • Parents arranged marriages.Children did not always have the freedom to choose who they would spend their lives with, who they would marry, or who they would have children with.
      • Adults chaperoned (accompanied and supervised) children at all times.
      • People got married at much younger ages than they do nowadays – girls could get married at 12 years old and could have children soon afterwards.
    • Relationships between parents and children
      • Children were seen as their father’s property. Fathers could marry their children off to any partner they thought suitable.Fathers often chose partners for political or financial reasons, or to make sure that the family retained (kept) its wealth.It was not unusual for fathers to promise their children in marriage at a young age, or for children to marry at a young age
      • Fathers were the undisputed (not questioned) head of the household. All family members had to do as their father (or husband) said.
      • In upper-class families, ‘nurses’ often raised children. Nurses were women who breastfed the children and raised them from babies to adolescents.This meant that these children often didn't have strong bonds with their own parents.
      • People thought going against your family was like betraying God.
    • Gender
      • Women had no rights or authority in the many laws.
      • Women could not own property or money.
    • Religion
      • Italy was a Catholic country at this time. There was a strong belief in damnation and mortal sin
      • People thought suicide and bigamy (marrying someone when you're already married) were mortal sins.Juliet would have been terrified of being condemned to hell for marrying Paris after she had secretly married Romeo.Romeo and Juliet must have felt that there was no other option for them besides committing suicide – they would have known that they risked being condemned to hell for this act.
      • People thought going against parents was very sinful.Romeo and Juliet both disobey their parents so they can be together:They both get married without parental consent (permission).They also marry people they know their parents will hate.Juliet’s father had already picked a fiancé for her (Paris) and she refused to marry him.
      • People were very scared of committing a sin and going against God, even in England.Contemporary audiences (those watching in Shakespeare’s time) may have felt some sympathy for Romeo and Juliet, but may have also judged them for committing a number of sins throughout the play.
    • Fate
      • In tragedy, fate is often seen as a cruel force that brings about misery for the characters.
      • In Romeo and Juliet, the story revolves around fate, destiny and the stars. :Romeo and Juliet are destined to be together – their love is written in the stars and is shown as something that was decided for them long before they were born.In Act 1, Romeo has a feeling that going to the Capulet party will cause his downfall (loss of power or status) and his death.In Act 2, Juliet foresees (sees before it happens) Romeo’s death.
      • Even though science was advancing during this period (called The Renaissance period), astronomy and astrology were still closely linked because scientists were exploring the relationship between the Earth and the Stars.
      • In Act 1, Romeo has a feeling that going to the Capulet party will cause his downfall (loss of power or status) and his death.


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