Romeo & Juliet Premium Revision Notes
February 24, 2017
Romeo & Juliet Premium Revision Notes
Act 1, 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.
Act 1, Scene 1
Enter Sampson and Gregory, 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. Sampson 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 as 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 and Lady Capulet enter, followed shortly by Lord and Lady Montague, who are followed quickly by Prince Escalus.
Prince Escalus quickly commands the fighting to cease, 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 how the brawl had begun. Lady Montague asks whether or not he has seen his cousin, her son, Romeo; “O, where is Romeo? Saw you him today? / Right glad am I he was not at this fray” (A1.S1.L101-2).
Benvolio replies to her worried questions, informing her that he saw Romeo pacing underneath the grove of sycamores outside the city that morning. Since he had seemed troubled, he had not gone to speak him. Lord Montague confesses that they too think Romeo is troubled and that he has been suffering from melancholia. They had tried to discover the cause for his troubles, but to no avail. Benvolio, seeing Romeo approaching, promises to find out the reason for his distress and the Montagues depart.
Benvolio approaches his cousin cheerfully, contrasting starkly with Romeo’s sadness. Romeo tells Benvolio of his love for Rosaline and how it is unrequited, for she has sworn a life of chastity. Benvolio counsels his cousin to forget her by “giving liberty unto thine eyes: / Examine other beauties” (A1.S1.L217-8). They exit, Romeo assuring his cousin that he cannot forget his love, while Benvolio resolves to help him do so; “I’ll pay that doctrine, or else die in debt” (A1.S1.L229).
Act 1, Scene 2
In another area of the city, Capulet walks with young Paris, a noble kinsman of the Prince, who is a suitor for Capulet’s daughter, Juliet. Capulet is overjoyed that Paris wishes to marry is daughter, but states that, at only fourteen, she is much too young to be a bride. He asks Paris to wait two more years, assuring Paris that he is the favoured suitor.
To keep Paris sweet and allow him to begin wooing, he invites him to his annual masquerade ball he is holding that night. Capulet dispatches his manservant to invite a list of people to the masquerade. The servant, alone after the two men leave, laments that he cannot read and will not be able to accomplish his task.