Romeo and Juliet - Context

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  • Romeo and Juliet - Context
    • The setting
      • It is generally believed that the play is based on a real Italian love story from the 3rd century.
        • The 'real' families were the Capeletti and the Montecci families.
        • Shakspeare wrote his version in which was based on Arthur Brooke's poem of 1562.
        • This period was the 'Elizabethan' era which was also known as the 'renaissance' - a period of significant change.
    • Religion
      • Romeo and Juliet was set during a very religious period.
        • It was a 'catholic' society with a strong belief in damnation for mortal sin.
          • Suicide and bigamy were both considered to be mortal sins.
            • Bigamy - marrying someone while your already married.
        • Society became more open and less oppressed (harsh).
    • Love
      • there was a difference between 'real' love and infatuation, it was admiration from afar.
        • Romeo refers to Juliet as 'a saint' + 'a goddess' she is neither - metaphor
        • Real love is in comparison to:
          • contact, passionate, physical, powerful, emotional, deep
    • Family
      • Many Shakespeare plays show conflict between parents and children.
        • the father was the disputed head of the household.
        • women had no rights or authority in law, they could not own property or money but could influence their husbands.
        • Children were regarded as property, they forced to get married to political or financial men to retain wealth.
        • It was not unusual to be married young - in high society children were raised by a west nurse and had no bonds with parents.


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