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Romeo and Juliet A Teacher’s Crib Sheet Background information Written around 1595 and probably performed straight away. Published in the first folio in 1623 after Shakespeare’s death. The story is Italian and Shakespeare probably read it in an English version of the story by Arthur Brooke’s published in 1562. It wasn’t unusual for playwrights to ‘borrow’ stories from other writers; it is what they DID with the stories that mattered. There were no copyright laws! Brief summary of story In the city or Verona, Italy, two families, Montague and Capulet, are at war. Juliet Capulet is only 13 but expected to marry soon (as was the tradition). Paris want to marry her. Juliet meets and falls in love with Romeo (from the enemy Montague family) at a ball at her own house. The Friar secretly marries them. Romeo kills Tybalt in a duel. He has to flee the city Juliet is due to be married and takes a drug to make her seem dead to avoid marriage. Romeo hears she is dead and returns from exile. After killing Paris he takes poison to kill himself Juliet wakes and sees Romeo dead. The kills herself with his dagger. Main Characters Romeo and Juliet: The young lovers from opposing families. Lord and Lady Capulet: Juliet’s parents. Forcing her to marry Lord and Lady Montague: Romeo’s parents. Mercutio: Romeo’s cousin and friend Benvolio: Friend of Romeo Tybalt Juliet’s hot-headed cousin. Killed by Romeo. Paris: Becomes engaged to Juliet. Killed by Romeo in the tomb. The Nurse: Juliet’s nurse and maid who has brought her up since birth Friar Lawrence: A local religious man who marries Romeo and Juliet and provides drugs for Juliet. Other things In Shakespeare’s day Italy was probably thought of as a wild, passionate place by the ordinary people of England. England had split from the Catholic Church under Elizabeth’s father (Henry 8th)…. and ITALY was where the now hated pope lived. They were perhaps seen as a dangerous enemy to many people in England. Some say Romeo and Juliet were real people who died in 1303. Others not. The story of Romeo and Juliet is similar to the ancient story of Pyramus and Phisbe which appears in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a play written at around the same time. People of Verona, even today, reply to letters addressed to Juliet and sent to their city; they call themselves The Secretaries of Juliet.
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