Romeo and Juliet

By william shakespeare, romeo and juliet essay questions.

In what way do Romeo and Juliet break gender conventions? How do these roles fluctuate throughout the play?

At the beginning of the play, the young lovers' behavior reverses common gender conventions – Romeo acts in a way that his friends call feminine, while Juliet exhibits masculine qualities. Romeo is by no means an archetypal Elizabethan man; he is disinterested in asserting his physical power like the other male characters in the play. Instead, Romeo chooses to stew in his pensive melancholy. On several instances, Romeo's companions suggest that his introspective behavior is effeminate. On the other hand, Juliet exhibits a more pronounced sense of agency than most female characters in Shakespeare's time. While the women around her, like her mother, blindly act in accordance with Lord Capulet's wishes, Juliet proudly expresses her opinion. Even when she has lost a battle (like when Lord Capulet insists she consider marrying Paris), she demonstrates a shrewd ability to deflect attention without committing to anything. In her relationship with Romeo, Juliet clearly takes the lead by insisting on marriage and proposing the plan to unite them. As the play progresses, Romeo starts to break out of his pensive inaction to the point that Mercutio notices this change. Romeo also makes a great shift from his cowardly attempt at suicide in Act III to his willful decision in Act V. Overall, Romeo and Juliet are arguably a good match because they are so distinct. Juliet is headstrong, while Romeo is passive until passion strikes and inspires him to action.

Contrast Romeo's attempted suicide in Act 3 with his actual suicide in Act 5. How do these two events reveal changes in his character and an evolving view of death?

Romeo considers suicide in both Act 3 and Act 5. In Act 3, Romeo's desire to take his own life is a cowardly response to his grief over killing Tybalt. He is afraid of the consequences of his actions and would rather escape the world entirely than face losing Juliet. Both Friar Laurence and the Nurse criticize Romeo for his weakness and lack of responsibility - taking the knife from his hands. In contrast, Romeo actually does commit suicide in Act V because he sees no other option. He plans for it, seeking out the Apothecary before leaving Mantua, and kills himself out of solidarity with Juliet, not because he is afraid. While suicide is hardly a defensible action, Romeo's dual attempts to take his life reveal his growing maturity and his strengthened moral resolve.

Several characters criticize Romeo for falling in love too quickly. Do you believe this is true? Does his tendency towards infatuation give the audience occasion to question Romeo's affection for Juliet?

This question obviously asks for a student opinion, but there is evidence to support both sides of the argument. In Act 2, Friar Laurence states his opinion that Romeo does indeed fall in love too quickly. Romeo is arguably in love with being in love more than he is in love with any particular woman. The speed with which his affections shift from Rosaline to Juliet – all before he ever exchanges a word with the latter – suggests that Romeo's feelings of 'love' are closer to lust than commitment. This interpretation is supported by the numerous sexual references in the play, which are even interwoven with religious imagery in Romeo and Juliet's first conversation. However, it also possible to argue that Romeo's lust does not invalidate the purity of his love. Romeo and Juliet celebrates young, passionate love, which includes physical lust. Furthermore, whereas Romeo was content to pine for Rosaline from afar, his love for Juliet forces him to spring into action. He is melancholy over Rosaline, but he is willing to die for Juliet. Therefore, a possible reading is that Romeo and Juliet's relationship might have been sparked by physical attraction, but it grew into a deep, spiritual connection.

Examine the contrast between order and disorder in Romeo and Juliet . How does Shakespeare express this dichotomy through symbols, and how do those motifs help to underline the other major themes in the play?

The contrast between order and disorder appears from the Prologue, where the Chorus tells a tragic story using the ordered sonnet form. From that point onwards, the separation between order and disorder is a common theme. Ironically, violence and disorder occurs in bright daylight, while the serenity of love emerges at night. The relationship between Romeo and Juliet is uncomplicated without the disorderly feud between their families, which has taken over the streets of Verona. The contrast between order and disorder underscores the way that Shakespeare presents love - a safe cocoon in which the lovers can separate themselves from the unpredictable world around them. At the end of the play, it becomes clear that a relationship based on pure love cannot co-exist with human weaknesses like greed and jealousy.

Many critics note a tonal inconsistency in Romeo and Juliet . Do you find the shift in tone that occurs after Mercutio's death to be problematic? Does this shift correspond to an established structural tradition or is it simply one of Shakespeare's whims?

After the Prologue until the point where Mercutio dies in Act III, Romeo and Juliet is mostly a comic romance. After Mercutio dies, the nature of the play suddenly shifts into tragedy. It is possible that this extreme shift is merely the product of Shakespeare's whims, especially because the play has many other asides that are uncharacteristic of either comedy or tragedy. For example, Mercutio's Queen Mab speech is dreamy and poetic, while the Nurse's colorful personality gives her more dimension than functional characters generally require. However, it is also possible to see the parallels between this tonal shift and the play's thematic contrast between order and disorder. Shakespeare frequently explored the human potential for both comedy and tragedy in his plays, and it is possible that in Romeo and Juliet , he wanted to explore the transition from youthful whimsy into the complications of adulthood. From this perspective, the play's unusual structure could represent a journey to maturity. Romeo grows from a petulant teenager who believes he can ignore the world around him to a man who accepts the fact that his actions have consequences.

Eminent literary critic Harold Bloom considers Mercutio to be one of Shakespeare's greatest inventions in Romeo and Juliet . Why do you agree or disagree with him? What sets Mercutio apart?

One of Shakespeare's great dramatic talents is his ability to portray functional characters as multi-faceted individuals. Mercutio, for example, could have served a simple dramatic function, helping the audience get to know Romeo in the early acts. Then, his death in Act 3 is a crucial plot point in the play, heightening the stakes and forcing Romeo to make a life-changing decision. Mercutio barely appears in Arthur Brooke's Romeus and Juliet , which Romeo and Juliet is based on. Therefore, Shakespeare made a point of fleshing out the character. In Mercutio's Queen Mab speech, Shakespeare has the opportunity to truly delve into the bizarre and often dangerous sexual nature of love. Further, Mercutio's insight as he dies truly expresses the horrors of revenge, as he declares a plague on both the Montague and Capulet families. He is the first casualty of their feud - and because he transcends functionality, the audience mourns his untimely death and can relate to Romeo's capricious revenge.

How does Shakespeare use symbols of gold and silver throughout the play? What does each element represent?

Shakespeare uses gold and silver as symbols to criticize human folly. He often invokes the image of silver to symbolize pure love and innocent beauty. On the other hand, he uses gold as a sign of greed or desire. For example, Shakespeare describes Rosaline as immune to showers of gold, an image that symbolizes the selfishness of bribery. Later, when Romeo is banished, he comments that banishment is a "golden axe," meaning that banishment is merely a shiny euphemism for death. Finally, the erection of the golden statues at the end of the play is a sign of the fact that neither Lord Capulet nor Lord Montague has really learned anything from the loss of their children. They are still competing to claim the higher level of grief. Romeo, however, recognizes the power of gold and rejects it - through him, Shakespeare suggests a distinction between a world governed by wealth and the cocoon of true love.

Do a character analysis of Friar Laurence. What motivates him? In what ways does this motivation complicate his character?

Friar Laurence is yet another character who transcends his functional purpose. When Romeo first approaches the Friar to plan his marriage to Juliet, the older man questions the young man's sincerity, since Romeo openly pined for Rosaline only a few days before. However, the Friar shows a willingness to compromise by agreeing to marry the young lovers nevertheless. What ultimately motivates Friar Laurence is his desire to end the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues, and he sees Romeo and Juliet's marriage as a means to that end. While his peaceful intentions are admirable, his devious actions to achieve them – conducting a marriage that he explicitly questions – suggests he is more driven by politics than by an internal moral compass. The fact that a religious figure would compromise one of the Church's sacraments (marriage) further suggests that the Friar wants his power to extend beyond the confines of his Chapel. He also displays his hubris by helping Juliet to fake her death, rather than simply helping her get to Mantua to be with Romeo. While Friar Laurence is not an explicit villain, his internal contradictions speak to Shakespeare's ability to create multi-faceted characters.

Should Romeo and Juliet be considered a classical tragedy (in which fate destroys individuals)? Or is it more a tragedy of circumstance and personality? Moreover, could the tragic ending of Romeo and Juliet have been avoided?

In classical tragedy, an individual is defeated by Fate, despite his or her best efforts to change a pre-determined course of events. A classical tragedy both celebrates an individual's willpower while lamenting the fact that the universe cannot be bested by mankind. The tragic elements in Romeo and Juliet are undeniable - two young lovers want nothing more than to be together and fall victim to an ancient feud and rigid societal conventions. However, while Romeo and Juliet's deaths result from human folly, the immovable power of fate also has a hand in sealing their destinies. For instance, Romeo and Juliet had many opportunities to simply run away together instead of being separated after Romeo is banished from Verona. Furthermore, many of the tragic occurrences are contingent on antagonistic characters running into one another, and then choosing to pursue vengeance rather than simply walk away. Based on this evidence, it is possible to read Shakespeare's intent as suggesting that behavioral adjustment can often prevent tragic events.

How is Romeo and Juliet a criticism of organized religion? Examine the play's secularism to develop your answer.

While Romeo and Juliet does not present explicit attacks against religion, Shakespeare reveals his skepticism of Christianity in subtle ways. In many ways, Romeo and Juliet must reject the tenets of Christianity in order to be together. In their first meeting, they banter, using religious imagery to share their sexual feelings. In this exchange, the lovers acknowledge the omnipresence of Christianity, but cheekily use religious images in an unexpected context. Further, Christian tradition would have required Juliet to submit to her father's desire, but instead, she manipulates his expectations to distract him from her real agenda. Even Friar Laurence, an explicitly religious figure, uses Christianity as a tool towards his own ends. In this way, the play implicitly suggests that the rigid rules of religion often work in opposition to the desires of the heart - and to pursue true happiness, one must throw off the shackles of organized faith.

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Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Romeo and Juliet is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Can you find verbal irony in the play? Where?

One example of verbal irony would be Romeo's reference to the poison he has purchased as a "sweet medicine". A cordial is a sweet liquor or medicine.

Come, cordial and not poison, go with me To Juliet's grave; for there must I use thee.

What do we learn about Mercutio in queen man speech?

The whole speech is based on pagan Celtic mythology. Mercutio’s speech is laced with sexual innuendo. The words “queen” and “mab” refer to whores in Elizabethan England. As his speech goes on we notice the subtext get increasingly sexual...

What does Romeo fear as he approaches Capulet house? What literary device would this be an example of?

Romeo feels something bad is going to happen.

I fear too early, for my mind misgives Some consequence yet hanging in the stars

Looks like foreshadowing to me!

Study Guide for Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Romeo and Juliet
  • Romeo and Juliet Summary
  • Romeo and Juliet Video
  • Character List

Essays for Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

  • Unity in Shakespeare's Tragedies
  • Fate in Romeo and Juliet
  • Romeo and Juliet: Under the Guise of Love
  • The Apothecary's Greater Significance in Romeo and Juliet
  • Romeo and Juliet: Two Worlds

Lesson Plan for Romeo and Juliet

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Romeo and Juliet
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Romeo and Juliet Bibliography

E-Text of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet e-text contains the full text of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

  • List of Characters

Wikipedia Entries for Romeo and Juliet

  • Introduction
  • Date and text

year 10 romeo and juliet essay questions

Romeo and Juliet

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Student Prompt: Write a short (1-3 paragraph) response using one of the below bulleted outlines. Cite details from the play over the course of your response that serve as examples and support.

1. Mercutio has many clever and joking lines. He often wants to cheer up Romeo and make others laugh.

  • How does the tone of the play change when Mercutio is killed? ( topic sentence )
  • How do events in the rest of the play show that Mercutio’s death is an important turning point in the plot? Name at least three events and use details from the text to support your ideas.
  • Finally, discuss in your concluding sentence or sentences how Mercutio’s death connects to the theme of feuds and rivalry .

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2. Consider the setting of the famous balcony scene and the placement and movement of the characters throughout it.

  • What might Shakespeare have been suggesting with the use of the balcony, symbolically? ( topic sentence )

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year 10 romeo and juliet essay questions

  • Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare

  • Literature Notes
  • Essay Questions
  • Romeo and Juliet at a Glance
  • Play Summary
  • About Romeo and Juliet
  • Character List
  • Summary and Analysis
  • Act I: Prologue
  • Act I: Scene 1
  • Act I: Scene 2
  • Act I: Scene 3
  • Act I: Scene 4
  • Act I: Scene 5
  • Act II: Prologue
  • Act II: Scene 1
  • Act II: Scene 2
  • Act II: Scene 3
  • Act II: Scene 4
  • Act II: Scene 5
  • Act II: Scene 6
  • Act III: Scene 1
  • Act III: Scene 2
  • Act III: Scene 3
  • Act III: Scene 4
  • Act III: Scene 5
  • Act IV: Scene 1
  • Act IV: Scene 2
  • Act IV: Scene 3
  • Act IV: Scene 4
  • Act IV: Scene 5
  • Act V: Scene 1
  • Act V: Scene 2
  • Act V: Scene 3
  • Character Analysis
  • Friar Laurence
  • Character Map
  • William Shakespeare Biography
  • Critical Essays
  • Major Themes
  • Major Symbols and Motifs
  • The Role of Comic Characters in a Tragedy
  • Analysis of Setting in the Opening Scenes of Luhrmann's Film, Romeo + Juliet
  • Top 7 Quotes Explained
  • Film Versions
  • Full Glossary
  • Cite this Literature Note

Study Help Essay Questions

1.  Love manifests itself in a multitude of ways in the play. Compare and contrast Romeo's love for Rosaline with Romeo's love for Juliet. Consider love as it exists in the Capulet household. How does love operate between Lord and Lady Capulet, Juliet, the Nurse, and Tybalt?

2.  Some readers consider the final scene in which both Romeo and Juliet die to be triumphant. In addition to the families being reconciled, how is the final scene triumphant?

3.  Consider Lord Capulet's personality. How do his moods change and why? How does these mood swings affect Juliet, and how do they affect the course of the play?

4.  Compare and contrast Romeo's reaction to the news of his banishment with Juliet's reaction.

5.  Examine the role of Escalus, the Prince, as the play's figure of authority. How far is he to blame for what happens?

6.  Some critics have said that Shakespeare had to kill Mercutio as he was becoming such a compelling characters that he detracted from Romeo and Juliet. Do you agree? Why or why not?

7.  Light in its various forms recurrs throughout the play. How does light mirror the action? How does the author use light to describe the characters and the changes they undergo?

8.  As the Friar picks his herbs, he tells us that nature's tomb is also her womb and that what dies gives birth to new life. How do the Friar's words anticipate upcoming events? Do you think that the Friar proactively creates events that follow, or does he react to situations that are beyond his control? Explain.

9.  Juliet is a very young girl; however, she shoulders a great deal of responsibility and manages a series of very difficult situations. Discuss Juliet's maturity level and compare it to Romeo's. Compare Juliet early in the play with Juliet later in the play. How has she changed? When did she change? Why did those changes occur?

10.  The first Prologue describes Romeo and Juliet as, "A pair of star-cross'd lovers." Examine the way Shakespeare uses cosmic imagery in the play to emphasize the connection between Romeo and Juliet and their tragic deaths.

11.  Shakespeare makes the plot of  Romeo and Juliet  rely on the delivery of crucial messages. Explain the importance of these various messages and the problems with the messengers.

12.  Dreams often play an important part in Shakespearean dramas. At several points in the play, the characters have dreams. Sometimes they interpret them correctly, and other times they don't. Discuss these instances and how the characters' reactions to those dreams affect the action in the play. How do the characters interpret or misinterpret their dreams?

13.  The feud between the families seems to be an ever-present concern for the characters. How does the feud drive the action of the play. How do the various characters manifest the feud?

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Romeo and juliet.

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World Book Online

Website resources.

  • Litcharts This LitChart study guide for Romeo and Juliet includes a detailed summary and analysis, themes, characters, symbols and quotes.
  • Spark Notes No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare's language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.
  • ABC Splash One of the most famous love scenes of all time is when Romeo and Juliet pledge their love for each other. Shakespeare's imagery evocatively captures the passion of two young lovers torn apart by their feuding families. Explore this pivotal scene as it is brought to life by Miranda Tapsell and Damien Strouthos of Bell Shakespeare. more... less... ABC Splash. (Producer). (2014). Romeo and Juliet: true love's passion [Video broadcast]. Retrieved from!/media/1575321/-romeo-and-juliet-true-love-s-passion
  • Cliff's Notes Explore the different themes within Shakespeare's tragic play, Romeo and Juliet. Themes are central to understanding Romeo and Juliet as a play and identifying Shakespeare's social and political commentary.
  • English Works Romeo and Juliet is as much a story of hate as it is of love
  • Universal Teacher A general interest study guide for students of Romeo and Juliet.

Values, Attitudes and Beliefs

  • Elizabethan Era/Shakespeare/Romeo + Juliet
  • Romeo and Juliet: the social and historical context


In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a long feud between the Montague and Capulet families disrupts the city of Verona and causes tragic results for Romeo and Juliet. Revenge, love, and a secret marriage force the young star-crossed lovers to grow up quickly — and fate causes them to commit suicide in despair. Contrast and conflict are running themes throughout Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet — one of the Bard's most popular romantic tragedies.

Shakespeare's Life and Times

  • William Shakespeare, often called the English national poet, is widely considered the greatest dramatist of all time.
  • Shakespeare's Life and Times introduces you to the world Shakespeare lived and worked in. This section of the Internet Shakespeare Editions is like a shelf of books, each of which is listed in the navigational bar beneath the page header. Each book, in turn, is divided into chapters dealing with related topics.

What Shakespeare sounded like to Shakespeare

  •!/media/28566/ In 'Lingua Franca' the linguist David Crystal talks about mounting a production of 'Romeo and Juliet' using Shakespeare's original pronunciation.

John Green (author of The fault in our stars ) examines Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare. John delves into the world of Bill Shakespeare's famous star-crossed lovers and examines what the play is about, its structure, and the context in which it was written.

Movie Adaptations

Library Resources

year 10 romeo and juliet essay questions

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Romeo And Juliet Essay for Students and Children

500+ words essay on romeo and juliet.

Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love tragedy written by William Shakespeare. This is a story of love and fate. Furthermore, the basis of this tragic love story is the Old Italian tale translated into English in the sixteenth century. The story is about two young star-crossed lovers whose death results in reconcile between their feuding families. Moreover, Romeo and Juliet is among the most frequently performed plays by Shakespeare .

Romeo and Juliet Essay

Lessons of Love from Romeo and Juliet

First of all, Romeo and Juliet teach us that love is blind. Romeo and Juliet belonged to two influential families. Furthermore, these two families were engaged in a big feud among themselves. However, against all odds, Romeo and Juliet find each other and fall in love. Most noteworthy, they are blind to the fact that they are from rival families. They strive to be together in spite of the threat of hate between their families.

Another important lesson is that love brings out the best in us. Most noteworthy, Romeo and Juliet were very different characters by the end of the story than in the beginning. Romeo was suffering from depression before he met Juliet. Furthermore, Juliet was an innocent timid girl. Juliet was forced into marriage against her will by her parents. After falling in love, the personalities of these characters changed in positive ways. Romeo becomes a deeply passionate lover and Juliet becomes a confident woman.

Life without love is certainly not worth living. Later in the story, Romeo learns that his beloved Juliet is dead. At this moment Romeo felt a heart-shattering moment. Romeo then gets extremely sad and drinks poison. However, Juliet was alive and wakes up to see Romeo dead. Juliet then immediately decides to kill herself due to this massive heartbreak. Hence, both lovers believed that life without love is not worth living.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Legacy of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. Furthermore, the play was very popular even in Shakespeare’s lifetime. Scholar Gary Taylor believes it as the sixth most popular of Shakespeare’s plays. Moreover, Sir William Davenant of the Duke’s Company staged Romeo and Juliet in 1662. The earliest production of Romeo and Juliet was in North America on 23 March 1730.

There were professional performances of Romeo and Juliet in the mid-19th century. In 19th century America, probably the most elaborate productions of Romeo and Juliet took place. The first professional performance of the play in Japan seems to be George Crichton Miln’s company’s production in 1890. In the 20th century, Romeo and Juliet became the second most popular play behind Hamlet.

There have been at least 24 operas based on Romeo and Juliet. The best-known ballet version of this play is Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Most noteworthy, Romeo and Juliet have a huge impact on literature. Romeo and Juliet made romance as a worthy topic for tragedy. Before Romeo and Juliet, romantic tragedy was certainly unthinkable.

Romeo and Juliet are probably the most popular romantic fictional characters. They have been an inspiration for lovers around the world for centuries. Most noteworthy, the story depicts the struggle of the couple against a patriarchal society. People will always consider Romeo and Juliet as archetypal young lovers.

Q1 State any one lesson of love from Romeo and Juliet?

A1 One lesson of love from Romeo and Juliet is that love brings out the best in us.

Q2 What makes Romeo and Juliet unique in literature?

A2 Romeo and Juliet made romance as a worthy topic for tragedy. This is what makes it unique.

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Mr Salles Teaches English

Romeo and juliet prediction aqa 2024.

year 10 romeo and juliet essay questions

My predictions historically are 50% accurate.

To make them even more useful, I make videos where I apply my prediction and essay plan to any question that could come up.

This year I think it will be a theme question. In the past this has involved the feud, violence and masculinity. These are all the same question. The answer would be exactly the same - except you would keep using the theme key word in each paragraph.

The only theme AQA haven’t asked is fate.

You could treat this as the same question. For example -

Shakespeare shows that the lovers cannot escape their fate. This is because society is the tragic hero of the play. Society’s hamartia is that it is patriarchal. It is dominated by violence because men are raised to solve problems through violence.

And now I’d use everything I wanted to write about masculinity, or violence, or the feud, and show how these contribute to the tragic fate of the lovers.

See? The same essay, with very minor tweaks.

I am writing a guide to essay writing on Romeo and Juliet. Here is a grade 7 essay that will help you:

Response 13 (June 2020 Question about the feud)

Shakespeare shows that the feud leads to severe consequences which are just as damaging as the Prince’s punishment for the feud . This emphasises how severe the violence is because the Elizabethan audience loved violence on stage. This is CONTRASTED with Romeo and Juliet’s passionate love, which leads to the tragic end of the feud.

“ Enemies to peace ” implies that Shakespeare portrays the feud as pointless but necessary to end in peace . The Prince tells the families that they are “ you men, you beasts ”, which dehumanises them . The Prince represents the law and justice , and emphasises that those who cause bloodshed are no more than animals.

Another possibility is that Shakespeare is mocking the Elizabethan’s desire for bloodshed on stage, as they would be used to characters like Tybalt being the main protagonist. Tybalt continually calls Romeo a “ villain ”. Romeo contradicts this, emphasising his feelings of love: “ Good Capulet, a name I tender as dearly as my own, be satisfied ”. This CONTRASTS the themes of love and conflict. Shakespeare USES Tybalt as a foil to Romeo . He wants to show that love can triumph over conflict . This offers a hopeful ending to the family feud .

However, Shakespeare decides that the feud has to end in tragedy . This can only be alleviated by love . The tragedy is emphasised when Romeo kills Tybalt and is then banished to Mantua . This was a result of the killing of Mercutio, who Shakespeare portrays as a perceptive and witty character : “ A plague o’ both your houses ”.

Shakespeare also emphasises the role of fate . He shows the effect of the feud is inevitable . He shows that the conflict is destined to end in death . Juliet FORESHADOWS this death , “ Me thinks I see thee … in the bottom of a tomb ”.

The final tragedy is brought about by Romeo , who refuses to accept his banishment, “ Ha, banishment! Be merciful, say death ”. He is desperate to be with Juliet. The tragedy is therefore caused by Romeo trying to escape his fate, rather than by a sense of natural justice . Romeo fears life without Juliet more than he fears death .

Shakespeare might have thought his audience would be uninterested in a plot where the lovers escape their fate . Or he might think that his fellow Elizabethans are simply excited by violence.

In conclusion, Shakespeare portrays love as holding hands with conflict. Love is therefore linked to violence. This is why Romeo and Juliet’s love begins at the Capulet party, in parallel with the cause of Tybalt’s rage. Tybalt points out the symbiotic relationship between the two, stating “ Now seeming sweet, convert to bitterest gall ”. He refers to Romeo and Juliet as “ now seeming sweet ”, but ends with Tybalt’s threat which shapes the rest of the tragedy so that it ends with “ bitterest gall ”.

Original 528 words

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Examiner Comments

The student writes about methods at the start

They write about the effect of beginning the play with violence

And how that might influence how the play develops

And how the audience will react

The student focuses on individual words, like “beasts” to explain the effect of vocabulary choice

As well as explaining the effect of characterisation

So, word choice and characterisation are methods

The explanations about fate move the essay into Level 5

The explanations about Shakespeare’s ideas are also Level 5

The student has chosen a range of references

And the way these have been sequenced into an argument is also Level 5

To get higher marks, the student should explain the effects of more methods

Or explain more effects of the existing methods.

My Comments

Explanations 27

Patriarchal 0

Thesis Statement Yes

Conclusion Yes

Another way of reading the examiner’s comments is this:

Well done. This is pretty damn good. So, you only wrote 528 words. I wonder if you might, I mean if it is ok with you, and I don’t want to sound biased or unhelpful in this, but it’s just, WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST WRITE FASTER? You understand everything about the play, and nothing about life.

Life is not fair. But you will always stack the odds in your favour if you work out what it takes to succeed in anything, and then do that to the best of your ability.

Just write, you fool, and you can get grade 9.

Also, thanks for a good thesis statement and a proper conclusion, I enjoyed reading your ideas.

I love the way you link everything to Shakespeare’s purpose and the causes of the tragedy.

P.S. This just makes it all the more infuriating that you didn’t just write faster!

Points make prizes, and the fastest hand wins.

Thank you for reading Mr Salles Teaches English. This post is public so feel free to share it with someone else who wants top grades.

30/30 Essay About Masculinity

Response 19 june 2017.

An Elizabethan audience would have strong opinions about masculine behaviour . Sampson and Gregory portray a crude aspect of masculinity, treating their enemies and women with aggression . This desire for masculine power is linked to their desire to appear sexually dominant , which Shakespeare highlights through the line “ my naked weapon is out ”. Although this refers to the servant’s sword, it is also a METAPHOR for the penis.

Sampson equates his sexual desire with aggression. This patriarchal society causes men to see a place for violence in sex and relations with women . We can see how aggressive Sampson’s lust is, because he is excited by the violence he’ll use to “ thrust ” maids “ to the wall ”. He has no respect for women.

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Shakespeare also calls attention to the violence of male fantasies or attitude towards virginity, when Sampson speaks of “ the maids ”, saying he will “ cut off their heads ” which is his violent METAPHOR for attacking “ their maidenheads ”.

Shakespeare USES Romeo as a CONTRAST to this male stereotype . He lets us know that Romeo is frequently found “ with tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew ”. This softness and lack of aggression appears to be caused by love, and is a deliberate CONTRAST to Sampson’s violent sexuality.

However, Mercutio mocks Romeo’s character for this, asking him to “ speak but one rhyme ”, “ cry but ah me! ” and “ pronounce but ‘love’ and ‘dove’ ”. These jibes at Romeo reveal how unusual his behaviour is for a man. This suggests that Romeo has been influenced by the popularity of sonnets at the time.

Male aggression is not only directed at women. We see this in the extract where the servants want to encourage a violent fight. This is why Sampson decides to “ bite my thumb ” at his rivals, because this gesture was so offensive in the Elizabethan period . Shakespeare presents this provocation as a childish desire for a fight.

Shakespeare portrays this desire for dominance as comic, but it still promotes the feud. Because this scene follows on from the “ ancient grudge ” revealed in the prologue , we realise that this aggression will be very important to the plot.

Tybalt is a character who is deeply attracted to violence . His name was an allusion to cats, and this may portray him as violent and animalistic. It implies that his desire to dominate is animal like.

His language shows how he seeks out violence, exclaiming “ This intrusion shall, now seeming sweet, convert to bitt’rest gall ”. His attraction to the poisonous “ gall ” reveals that he is happy to display his aggressive desires. He rejects things which appear “ sweet ” in favour of the “ bitt’rest ” desire to fight . He tells us that he is even willing to murder: “ to strike him dead I hold it not a sin ”. He feels fully justified in this, as we see when he later murders Mercutio.

Original 687 words

Because there is no thesis statement, the answer only begins as ‘clear’

But it quickly becomes detailed and thoughtful in the way it analyses quotes

By the end the student’s thinking is very exploratory

And the references are very well chosen to help explain the student’s ideas

If the student knew more about the context, they could have explored Shakespeare’s use of the sonnet and the lover more effectively

But, although AO3 is not as strong as AO1 and AO2, it is on balance a full mark answer

Explanations 32

Patriarchal 1

Conclusion No

It seems odd that this candidate is not aware of the conventions of the Petrarchan lover which Mercutio is mocking. Perhaps they weren’t taught it.

The standards for getting a grade 9 with this text are very low. All you really need are as many explanations as possible about Shakespeare’s ideas and purpose.

They are another student who is simply wrong about thumb biting. We might say that this is relatively minor.

But they don’t have a thesis statement or a conclusion. This is practically a criminal offence!

So, what on earth has got 30/30?

A continual focus on Shakespeare’s ideas.

Writing about patriarchal society.

Looking at the structure of the play, explaining how and why Sampson and Gregory are a counterpoint to Romeo’s version of masculinity.

The way it touches on the CONTRAST in genres, between comedy and tragedy.

But, let’s not beat about the bush. It is much easier to get full marks, or indeed any mark, with Romeo and Juliet compared to Macbeth.

Oh, and did you notice any quotes being analysed in detail?

You should have noticed an argument about Shakespeare’s ideas.

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