Romeo & Juliet, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare 5

Context 5

Summary 7

Characters 10

Romeo 10

Juliet 10

Friar Lawrence 10

Mercutio 10

The Nurse 11

Tybalt 11

Capulet 11

Lady Capulet 11

Montague 11

Lady Montague 11

Paris 12

Benvolio 12

Prince Escalus 12

Friar John 12

Balthasar 12

Sampson & Gregory 12

Abram 12

The Apothecary 12

Peter 12

Rosaline 13

The Chorus 13

Themes and Symbols 13

Themes 13

The Forcefulness of Love 13

Love as a Cause of Violence 14

The Individual Versus Society 14

The Inevitability of Fate 15

Symbols 16

Poison 16

Thumb-biting 16

Queen Mab 16

Important Quotations Explained 18

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Context

The most influential writer in all of English literature, William Shakespeare was born in 1564 to a successful middle-class glove-maker in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Shakespeare attended grammar school, but his formal education proceeded no further. In 1582 he married an older woman, Anne Hathaway, and had three children with her. Around 1590 he left his family behind and travelled to London to work as an actor and playwright. Public and critical success quickly followed, and Shakespeare eventually became the most popular playwright in England and part-owner of the Globe Theatre. His career bridged the reigns of Elizabeth I (ruled 1558–1603) and James I (ruled 1603–1625), and he was a favourite of both monarchs. Indeed, James granted Shakespeare’s company the greatest possible compliment by bestowing upon its members the title of King’s Men.

Wealthy and renowned, Shakespeare retired to Stratford and died in 1616 at the age of fifty-two. At the time of Shakespeare’s death, literary luminaries such as Ben Jonson hailed his works as timeless. Shakespeare’s works were collected and printed in various editions in the century following his death, and by the early eighteenth century his reputation as the greatest poet ever to write in English was well established. The unprece...

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