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Romeo and Juliet, Essential Revision Notes

Prologue

As a prologue to the play, like in ancient Greek plays, a chorus comes out. Their opening speech serves as an introduction to the play, giving the audience a brief background story and an idea of the play to come. The Prologue itself creates the first sense of Fate in the play, by telling the audience of these star-crossed lovers who will end conflict with their death. The audience then watches the play with the expectation of what the Prologue has told them.

Summary: Act 1

Scene 1

Enter two servants of Capulet, who talk to one another in a friendly jovial manner, they casually mock the house of Montague, their master’s rival. Seeing two servants of the Montagues enter, they consult with one another about the best way of provoking a fight without actually initiating violence. Samson bites his tongue at the Montagues – a very insulting gesture. A verbal conflict quickly escalates into a physical fight. Benvolio, a kinsmen of Montague, enters and tries to quell the fighting, drawing his sword so they would drop theirs. Tybalt, kinsmen of Capulet, enters and sees the servants of both houses, as well Benvolio, with drawn weapons.

Benvolio tries to explain that he was merely keeping the peace, while Tybalt replies that he hates the word [peace] as much as he hates Montagues, and the brawl quickly escalates further. The heads of both houses, Lord Capulet and Lord Montague enter, followed quickly by Prince Escalus, who quickly commands the fighting to cease. The Prince, proclaiming that the fighting and brawling between the two families has gone on for far too long; “Three civil broils, bred of an airy word, / By thee, Old Capulet, and Montague, / Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets,” (A1.S1.L74-6) and he declares a death sentence on anyone who disturbs the peace again; “on pain of death” (A1.S1.L88).

The Prince exits, followed by the Capulets and the brawlers, Lord and Lady Montague and Benvolio remain. Benvolio describes to his uncle what had happened and ...

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