English 241: Shakespeare's Plays
ROMEO AND JULIET QUESTIONS
What is the principal function of the sonnet delivered by the Chorus at the
beginning of the play?
What might the fact that the servants of the Capulet family are the ones who
start the fight indicate about the Capulets as opposed to the Montagues?
How is Tybalt characterized in this first scene? What about Benvolio?
Why would a play that is supposed to be about the innocence of young love
open with so much violence and so many coarse sexual references?
Why does Lord Capulet want Count Paris to woo his daughter before he will
consent to their marriage?
What does the Zeffirelli film suggest about the relationship between Lord and
Lady Capulet? How does it do it?
Who seems to have the more loving relationship with Juliet in this scene, her
Mother or her Nurse?
How is Lady Capulet characterized in the Zeffirelli film? In the Luhrman film?
Why does Juliet's mother have to call the Nurse back before she can begin to
talk of marriage with her daughter?
According to Romeo's friend Mercutio, what is the effect of the fairy queen Mab
In what way might Mercutio's name be descriptive of his personality? How do
the two films (Zeffirelli's and Luhrman's) emphasize Mercutio’s dominant
What iterated image does Romeo uses to characterize Juliet when he first
sees her, and what view of Juliet does this image seem to suggest?
What is the function of the religious imagery of the sonnet within which Romeo
and Juliet first meet?
How might a modern stage designer use lighting to motivate Romeo's words
when he first spies Juliet?
Why does Romeo prefer to think of Juliet as the sun rather than the moon?
How is Juliet rationalizing when she talks of Romeo's name?
What are two indications in this scene that Juliet may be slightly more mature
How might the fact that the herb that Friar Lawrence is picking contains both
medicine and poison be a comment on the quality of the relationship between
Romeo and Juliet? Or on Romeo and Juliet themselves? Or on the nature of
others in the play?
Since he agrees to marry them so quickly, isn't Friar Lawrence as guilty of
being hasty as are Romeo and Juliet? What vivid hint does Zifferilli give us that
the Friar is being too hasty?
How would you stage the scene in which Mercutio jokes with Juliet's nurse:
Would this be done all in fun or would it perhaps get more serious, more
What is the function of the bawdy language that Mercutio uses in this scene?
Why won't Juliet's Nurse give her Romeo's message as soon as she returns
from her mission?
Who is really to blame for Mercutio's death?
Why does Romeo feel he has to avenge his friend's death? Is he right?
When Romeo calls himself "fortune’s fool," what is he blaming Mercutio’s
death on? When he refers to his "stained reputation" and to his being made
"effeminate" by Juliet’s beauty, what does this reveal about Romeo?
Why would Shakespeare put this scene, in which the newly married Juliet
eagerly awaits the night so she may consummate her relationship to Romeo,
right after the scene in which Romeo ruins everything for them by killing
How do Romeo's words and actions with the Friar suggest his immaturity?
Why does Shakespeare have Juliet's father now become impatient and
demand that she marry Count Paris immediately?
What must Juliet be feeling as the Nurse cynically advises her to forget Romeo
and marry Paris?
Just before she takes the potion prepared by the Friar, Juliet seems fearful;
what is she afraid of?
Did the tragic outcome of this play result from accident, from fate, or from
character? Or from some combination of the three?