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''Romeo and Juliet'' is a
tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ball ...
written by
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

William Shakespeare
early in his career about two young Italian
star-crossed "Star-crossed" or "star-crossed lovers" is a phrase describing a pair of lovers whose relationship Relationship most often refers to: * Interpersonal relationship The concept of interpersonal relationship involves social associations, c ...
lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with ''
Hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (litera ...

Hamlet
'', is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as
archetypal The concept of an archetype (; from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popu ...
young lovers. ''Romeo and Juliet'' belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts *Antiquities Antiquities are objects from antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or arti ...

antiquity
. The plot is based on an Italian tale translated into verse as ''
The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet ''The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet'' is a narrative poem, first published in 1562 by Arthur Brooke, which was a key source for William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English pla ...
'' by Arthur Brooke in 1562 and retold in prose in ''
Palace of Pleasure William Painter (or Paynter, c. 1540 – between 19 and 22 February 1595) was an English author and translator. As a clerk of the Ordnance in the Tower of London, he was accused of fraud aimed at amassing a personal fortune at public expense. Pe ...
'' by William Painter in 1567. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both but expanded the plot by developing a number of supporting characters, particularly
Mercutio Mercutio ( , ) is a fictional character in William Shakespeare's 1597 tragedy, ''Romeo and Juliet''. He is a close friend to Romeo Montague, Romeo and a blood relative to Prince Escalus and Count Paris. As such, Mercutio is one of the named cha ...
and
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...
. Believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a
quarto Quarto (abbreviated Qto, 4to or 4º) is the format of a book or pamphlet produced from full sheets printed with eight pages of text, four to a side, then folded twice to produce four leaves. The leaves are then trimmed along the folds to produc ...
version in 1597. The text of the first quarto version was of poor quality, however, and later editions corrected the text to conform more closely with Shakespeare's original. Shakespeare's use of his poetic
dramatic structure Dramatic structure is the structure of a drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, rad ...
(especially effects such as switching between comedy and tragedy to heighten tension, his expansion of minor characters, and his use of sub-plots to embellish the story) has been praised as an early sign of his dramatic skill. The play ascribes different poetic forms to different characters, sometimes changing the form as the character develops. Romeo, for example, grows more adept at the
sonnet A sonnet is a poetic form Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located ...
over the course of the play. ''Romeo and Juliet'' has been adapted numerous times for stage, film, musical, and opera venues. During the
English Restoration The Restoration of the Stuart monarchy The House of Stuart, originally Stewart, was a dynasty, royal house of Kingdom of Scotland, Scotland, Kingdom of England, England, Kingdom of Ireland, Ireland and later Kingdom of Great Britain, Gre ...
, it was revived and heavily revised by
William Davenant Sir William Davenant (baptised 3 March 1606 – 7 April 1668), also spelled D'Avenant, was an English poet and playwright. Along with Thomas Killigrew Thomas Killigrew (7 February 1612 – 19 March 1683) was an English dramatist and theat ...

William Davenant
.
David Garrick David Garrick (19 February 1717 – 20 January 1779) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early med ...
's 18th-century version also modified several scenes, removing material then considered indecent, and
Georg Benda Georg Anton Benda ( cz, Jiří Antonín Benda, italic=no, link=no; 30 June 17226 November 1795) was a composer, violinist and Kapellmeister of the Classical period (music), classical period from the Kingdom of Bohemia. Biography Born into a Bend ...

Georg Benda
's ''
Romeo und Julie Romeo Montague () is the male protagonist of William Shakespeare's tragedy, ''Romeo and Juliet''. The son of Characters in Romeo and Juliet, Lord Characters in Romeo and Juliet#Lord Montague, Montague and his wife, Characters in Romeo and Juliet# ...
'' omitted much of the action and used a happy ending. Performances in the 19th century, including
Charlotte Cushman Charlotte Saunders Cushman (July 23, 1816 – February 18, 1876) was an American stage actress. Her voice was noted for its full contralto register, and she was able to play both male and female parts. She lived intermittently in Rome, in an expa ...

Charlotte Cushman
's, restored the original text and focused on greater
realism Realism, Realistic, or Realists may refer to: In the arts *Realism (arts), the general attempt to depict subjects truthfully in different forms of the arts Arts movements related to realism include: *Classical Realism *Literary realism, a movem ...
.
John Gielgud Sir Arthur John Gielgud, (; 14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) was an English actor and theatre director whose career spanned eight decades. With Ralph Richardson Sir Ralph David Richardson (19 December 1902 – 10 October 1983) wa ...

John Gielgud
's 1935 version kept very close to Shakespeare's text and used Elizabethan costumes and staging to enhance the drama. In the 20th and into the 21st century, the play has been adapted in versions as diverse as
George Cukor George Dewey Cukor (; July 7, 1899 – January 24, 1983) was an American film director A film director controls a 's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the (or script) while guiding the and s in the fulfilment of that . The ...
's 1936 film ''
Romeo and Juliet ''Romeo and Juliet'' is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performanc ...
'',
Franco Zeffirelli Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli (12 February 1923 – 15 June 2019), commonly known as Franco Zeffirelli (), was an Italian director and producer of operas Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of per ...
's 1968 version ''
Romeo and Juliet ''Romeo and Juliet'' is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performanc ...
'', and
Baz Luhrmann Bazmark "Baz" Luhrmann (born Mark Anthony Luhrmann, 17 September 1962) is an Australian director, writer, and producer with projects spanning film, television, opera, theatre, music, and recording industries. He is regarded by many as a contemp ...

Baz Luhrmann
's 1996 MTV-inspired ''
Romeo + Juliet ''William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet'' (often shortened to ''Romeo + Juliet'') is a 1996 romance film, romantic crime film, crime tragedy film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. It is a modernized adaptation of William ...
''.


Characters

;Ruling house of Verona *
Prince Escalus William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often cal ...
is the ruling Prince of
Verona Verona ( , ; vec, Verona or ''Veròna'') is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia' ...

Verona
. *
Count Paris Count Paris () or County Paris is a fictional character in William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English ...
is a kinsman of Escalus who wishes to marry Juliet. *
Mercutio Mercutio ( , ) is a fictional character in William Shakespeare's 1597 tragedy, ''Romeo and Juliet''. He is a close friend to Romeo Montague, Romeo and a blood relative to Prince Escalus and Count Paris. As such, Mercutio is one of the named cha ...
is another kinsman of Escalus, a friend of Romeo. ;House of Capulet *
Capulet William Shakespeare's play ''Romeo and Juliet'' contains a relatively distinctive cast of characters. In addition to the play's eponymous protagonists, Romeo, Romeo Montague and Juliet, Juliet Capulet, the play, which is set in Verona, Italy, co ...
is the patriarch of the house of Capulet. *
Lady Capulet William Shakespeare's play ''Romeo and Juliet'' contains a relatively distinctive cast of characters. In addition to the play's eponymous protagonists, Romeo, Romeo Montague and Juliet, Juliet Capulet, the play, which is set in Verona, Italy, co ...
is the matriarch of the house of Capulet. *
Juliet Capulet Juliet Capulet () is the female protagonist in William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy ''Romeo and Juliet''. A 13-year-old girl, Juliet is the only daughter of the patriarch of the House of Capulet. She falls in love with the male protagonist Ro ...
is the 13-year-old daughter of Capulet, the play's female protagonist. *
Tybalt Tybalt is a character in William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest ...
is a cousin of Juliet, the nephew of Lady Capulet. * The Nurse is Juliet's personal attendant and confidante. *
Rosaline Rosaline () is a fictional character mentioned in William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language ...
is Lord Capulet's niece, Romeo's love in the beginning of the story. * Peter, Sampson, and Gregory are servants of the Capulet household. ;House of Montague * Montague is the patriarch of the house of Montague. *
Lady Montague William Shakespeare's play ''Romeo and Juliet'' contains a relatively distinctive cast of characters. In addition to the play's eponymous protagonists, Romeo, Romeo Montague and Juliet, Juliet Capulet, the play, which is set in Verona, Italy, co ...
is the matriarch of the house of Montague. *
Romeo Montague Romeo Montague () is the male protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, translit=prōtagōnistḗs, lit=one who plays the fi ...
, the son of Montague, is the play's male protagonist. *
Benvolio Benvolio is a fictional character in William Shakespeare, Shakespeare's drama ''Romeo and Juliet''. He is Lord Montague's nephew and Romeo's cousin. Benvolio serves as an unsuccessful peacemaker in the play, attempting to prevent violence between ...
is Romeo's cousin and best friend. * Abram and Balthasar are servants of the Montague household. ;Others *
Friar Laurence Friar Laurence or Friar Lawrence is a character in William Shakespeare's play ''Romeo and Juliet''. Role in the play Friar Laurence is a friar who plays the part of a wise adviser to Romeo and Juliet, along with aiding in major plot developments ...
is a
Franciscan , image = FrancescoCoA PioM.svg , image_size = 250px , caption = A cross, Christ's arm and Saint Francis's arm, a universal symbol of the Franciscans , abbreviation = OFM , predecessor = , ...
friar and Romeo's confidant. * Friar John is sent to deliver Friar Laurence's letter to Romeo. * An Apothecary who reluctantly sells Romeo poison. * A Chorus reads a
prologue A prologue or prolog (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population ...

prologue
to each of the first two acts.


Synopsis

The play, set in
Verona Verona ( , ; vec, Verona or ''Veròna'') is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia' ...

Verona
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
, begins with a street brawl between Montague and
Capulet William Shakespeare's play ''Romeo and Juliet'' contains a relatively distinctive cast of characters. In addition to the play's eponymous protagonists, Romeo, Romeo Montague and Juliet, Juliet Capulet, the play, which is set in Verona, Italy, co ...
servants who, like their masters, are sworn enemies. Prince Escalus of Verona intervenes and declares that further breach of the peace will be punishable by death. Later,
Count Paris Count Paris () or County Paris is a fictional character in William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English ...
talks to Capulet about marrying his daughter
Juliet Juliet Capulet () is the female protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, translit=prōtagōnistḗs, lit=one who plays th ...

Juliet
, but Capulet asks Paris to wait another two years and invites him to attend a planned Capulet
ball A ball is a round object (usually spherical of a sphere A sphere (from Greek language, Greek —, "globe, ball") is a geometrical object in three-dimensional space Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional s ...
. Lady Capulet and Juliet's Nurse try to persuade Juliet to accept Paris's courtship. Meanwhile,
Benvolio Benvolio is a fictional character in William Shakespeare, Shakespeare's drama ''Romeo and Juliet''. He is Lord Montague's nephew and Romeo's cousin. Benvolio serves as an unsuccessful peacemaker in the play, attempting to prevent violence between ...
talks with his cousin
Romeo Romeo Montague () is the male protagonist of William Shakespeare's tragedy, ''Romeo and Juliet''. The son of Characters in Romeo and Juliet, Lord Characters in Romeo and Juliet#Lord Montague, Montague and his wife, Characters in Romeo and Juliet# ...

Romeo
, Montague's son, about Romeo's recent depression. Benvolio discovers that it stems from unrequited infatuation for a girl named
Rosaline Rosaline () is a fictional character mentioned in William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language ...
, one of Capulet's nieces. Persuaded by Benvolio and
Mercutio Mercutio ( , ) is a fictional character in William Shakespeare's 1597 tragedy, ''Romeo and Juliet''. He is a close friend to Romeo Montague, Romeo and a blood relative to Prince Escalus and Count Paris. As such, Mercutio is one of the named cha ...
, Romeo attends the ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline. However, Romeo instead meets and falls in love with Juliet. Juliet's cousin,
Tybalt Tybalt is a character in William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest ...
, is enraged at Romeo for sneaking into the ball but is only stopped from killing Romeo by Juliet's father, who does not wish to shed blood in his house. After the ball, in what is now called the "balcony scene", Romeo sneaks into the Capulet orchard and overhears Juliet at her window vowing her love to him in spite of her family's hatred of the Montagues. Romeo makes himself known to her, and they agree to be married. With the help of
Friar Laurence Friar Laurence or Friar Lawrence is a character in William Shakespeare's play ''Romeo and Juliet''. Role in the play Friar Laurence is a friar who plays the part of a wise adviser to Romeo and Juliet, along with aiding in major plot developments ...
, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children's union, they are secretly married the next day. Tybalt, meanwhile, still incensed that Romeo had sneaked into the Capulet ball, challenges him to a duel. Romeo, now considering Tybalt his kinsman, refuses to fight. Mercutio is offended by Tybalt's insolence, as well as Romeo's "vile submission", and accepts the duel on Romeo's behalf. Mercutio is fatally wounded when Romeo attempts to break up the fight. Grief-stricken and racked with guilt, Romeo confronts and slays Tybalt. Benvolio argues that Romeo has justly executed Tybalt for the murder of Mercutio. The Prince, now having lost a kinsman in the warring families' feud, exiles Romeo from Verona, under penalty of death if he ever returns. Romeo secretly spends the night in Juliet's chamber, where they
consummate In many traditions and statutes of civil or religious law, the consummation of a marriage, often called simply ''consummation'', is the first (or first officially credited) act of sexual intercourse between two people, either following their marr ...
their marriage. Capulet, misinterpreting Juliet's grief, agrees to marry her to Count Paris and threatens to disown her when she refuses to become Paris's "joyful bride". When she then pleads for the marriage to be delayed, her mother rejects her. Juliet visits Friar Laurence for help, and he offers her a potion that will put her into a deathlike coma or
catalepsy Catalepsy (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ...
for "two and forty hours". The Friar promises to send a messenger to inform Romeo of the plan so that he can rejoin her when she awakens. On the night before the wedding, she takes the drug and, when discovered apparently dead, she is laid in the family crypt. The messenger, however, does not reach Romeo and, instead, Romeo learns of Juliet's apparent death from his servant, Balthasar. Heartbroken, Romeo buys poison from an
apothecary :''"Apothecary" may also refer to Pharmacy (shop) A pharmacy (also called "drugstore" in American English or "community pharmacy" or "chemist" in Commonwealth English, or rarely, apothecary) is a retail shop which provides pharmaceutical drugs ...

apothecary
and goes to the Capulet
crypt A crypt (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in r ...

crypt
. He encounters Paris who has come to mourn Juliet privately. Believing Romeo to be a vandal, Paris confronts him and, in the ensuing battle, Romeo kills Paris. Still believing Juliet to be dead, he drinks the poison. Juliet then awakens and, discovering that Romeo is dead, stabs herself with his dagger and joins him in death. The feuding families and the Prince meet at the tomb to find all three dead. Friar Laurence recounts the story of the two "star-cross'd lovers". The families are reconciled by their children's deaths and agree to end their violent feud. The play ends with the Prince's elegy for the lovers: "For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."


Sources

''Romeo and Juliet'' borrows from a tradition of tragic love stories dating back to antiquity. One of these is
Pyramus and Thisbe Pyramus and Thisbe are a pair of ill-fated lovers whose story forms part of Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Roman poet who lived during th ...
, from
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom ...

Ovid
's ''
Metamorphoses The ''Metamorphoses'' ( la, Metamorphōsēs, from grc, μεταμορφώσεις: "Transformations") is an 8 AD Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured syste ...
'', which contains parallels to Shakespeare's story: the lovers' parents despise each other, and Pyramus falsely believes his lover Thisbe is dead. The ''
Ephesiaca The ''Ephesian Tale of Anthia and Habrocomes'' ( el, Ἐφεσιακά or Τὰ κατὰ Ἀνθίαν καὶ Ἁβροκόμην) by Xenophon of Ephesus is an Ancient Greek novel written before the late 2nd century AD. translation, Translator ...
'' of
Xenophon of Ephesus Xenophon of Ephesus ( el, Ξενοφῶν ὁ Εφέσιος; fl. 2nd century – 3rd century AD) was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially t ...
, written in the 3rd century, also contains several similarities to the play, including the separation of the lovers, and a potion that induces a deathlike sleep. One of the earliest references to the names ''Montague'' and ''Capulet'' is from
Dante Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to Mononymous person, simply as Dante (, also ; – 14 September 1321), was an Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Co ...

Dante
's ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aes ...

Divine Comedy
'', who mentions the Montecchi (''Montagues'') and the Cappelletti (''Capulets'') in canto six of ''
Purgatorio 250px, Elevation of Mount Purgatory. As with Paradise, the structure is of the form 10, with one of the ten regions different in nature from the other nine ''Purgatorio'' (; Italian for "Purgatory Purgatory (, via Anglo-Norman language, ...

Purgatorio
'': However, the reference is part of a polemic against the moral decay of
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central-Northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Al ...

Florence
,
Lombardy (man), (woman) lmo, lombard, links=no (man), (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = ...
, and the
Italian Peninsula The Italian Peninsula (Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Reg ...
as a whole; Dante, through his characters, chastises
German King King of the Romans ( la, Rex Romanorum; german: König der Römer) was the title used by the German king following his election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple i ...
Albert I Albert I may refer to: People Born before 1300 *Albert I, Count of Vermandois (917–987), Count of Vermandois *Albert I, Count of Namur (c. 950–1011) *Albert I of Brandenburg (c. 1100–1170), first Margrave of Brandenburg *Albert I of Käfernbu ...

Albert I
for neglecting his responsibilities towards Italy ("you who are negligent"), and successive
pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

pope
s for their encroachment from purely spiritual affairs, thus leading to a climate of incessant bickering and warfare between rival political parties in Lombardy. History records the name of the family ''Montague'' as being lent to such a political party in
Verona Verona ( , ; vec, Verona or ''Veròna'') is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia' ...

Verona
, but that of the ''Capulets'' as from a
Cremonese Cremona (, also ; ; lmo, label=Cremunés, Cremùna; egl, Carmona) is a city and ''comune'' in northern Italy, situated in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po (river), Po river in the middle of the ''Pianura Padana'' (Po Valley). It is the capi ...

Cremonese
family, both of whom play out their conflict in Lombardy as a whole rather than within the confines of Verona. Allied to rival political factions, the parties are grieving ("One lot already grieving") because their endless warfare has led to the destruction of both parties, rather than a grief from the loss of their ill-fated offspring as the play sets forth, which appears to be a solely poetic creation within this context. The earliest known version of the ''Romeo and Juliet'' tale akin to Shakespeare's play is the story of Mariotto and Ganozza by
Masuccio Salernitano Masuccio Salernitano (1410–1475), born Tommaso Guardati, was an Italy, Italian poet. Born in Salerno or Sorrento, Italy, Sorrento, he is best known today for ''Il Novellino'', a collection of 50 "novelle" or short stories, each prefaced by a le ...

Masuccio Salernitano
, in the 33rd novel of his ''Il Novellino'' published in 1476. Salernitano sets the story in
Siena Siena ( , ; in English sometimes spelled Sienna; lat, Sena Iulia) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The S ...

Siena
and insists its events took place in his own lifetime. His version of the story includes the secret marriage, the colluding friar, the fray where a prominent citizen is killed, Mariotto's exile, Ganozza's forced marriage, the potion plot, and the crucial message that goes astray. In this version, Mariotto is caught and beheaded and Ganozza dies of grief.
Luigi da Porto #REDIRECT Luigi Da Porto Luigi Da Porto (1485 in Vicenza – May 10, 1529) was an Italy, Italian writer and storiographer, better known as the author of the novel ''Novella novamente ritrovata'' with the story of Romeo and Juliet, later reprised by ...
(1485–1529) adapted the story as ''Giulietta e Romeo'' and included it in his ''Historia novellamente ritrovata di due nobili amanti'' ''(A Newly-Discovered History of two Noble Lovers''), written in 1524 and published posthumously in 1531 in Venice. Da Porto drew on ''Pyramus and Thisbe'',
Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (, , ; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglici ...

Boccaccio
's ''
Decameron ''The Decameron'' (; it, label=Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language * ...

Decameron
'', and Salernitano's ''Mariotto e Ganozza'', but it is likely that his story is also autobiographical: He was a soldier present at a ball on 26 February 1511, at a residence of the pro-
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...
Savorgnan clan in
Udine Udine ( , ; fur, Udin; la, Utinum) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides ...

Udine
, following a peace ceremony attended by the opposing pro-
Imperial Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imperial, California * Imperial, Missouri * Imperial, Nebraska * Imperial, Pennsylvania * Imperial, Texas * ...
Strumieri clan. There, Da Porto fell in love with Lucina, a Savorgnan daughter, but the family feud frustrated their courtship. The next morning, the Savorgnans led an attack on the city, and many members of the Strumieri were murdered. Years later, still half-paralyzed from a battle-wound, Luigi wrote ''Giulietta e Romeo'' in
Montorso Vicentino Montorso Vicentino is a town and ''comune'' in the province of Vicenza, Veneto, Italy. It is south of SP31 provincial road. References Sources(Google Maps)
Cities and towns in Veneto {{Veneto-geo-stub ...
(from which he could see the "castles" of Verona), dedicating the ''novella'' to the ''bellisima e leggiadra'' (the beautiful and graceful) Lucina Savorgnan. Da Porto presented his tale as historically factual and claimed it took place at least a century earlier than Salernitano had it, in the days Verona was ruled by Bartolomeo della Scala (anglicized as
Prince Escalus William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often cal ...
). Da Porto presented the narrative in close to its modern form, including the names of the lovers, the rival families of Montecchi and Capuleti (Cappelletti) and the location in Verona. He named the
friar Laurence Friar Laurence or Friar Lawrence is a character in William Shakespeare's play ''Romeo and Juliet''. Role in the play Friar Laurence is a friar who plays the part of a wise adviser to Romeo and Juliet, along with aiding in major plot developments ...
(''frate Lorenzo'') and introduced the characters
Mercutio Mercutio ( , ) is a fictional character in William Shakespeare's 1597 tragedy, ''Romeo and Juliet''. He is a close friend to Romeo Montague, Romeo and a blood relative to Prince Escalus and Count Paris. As such, Mercutio is one of the named cha ...
(''Marcuccio Guertio''),
Tybalt Tybalt is a character in William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest ...
(''Tebaldo Cappelletti''),
Count Paris Count Paris () or County Paris is a fictional character in William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English ...
(''conte (Paride) di Lodrone''), the faithful servant, and Giulietta's nurse. Da Porto originated the remaining basic elements of the story: the feuding families, Romeo—left by his mistress—meeting Giulietta at a dance at her house, the love scenes (including the balcony scene), the periods of despair, Romeo killing Giulietta's cousin (Tebaldo), and the families' reconciliation after the lovers' suicides. In da Porto's version, Romeo takes poison and Giulietta keeps her breath until she dies. In 1554,
Matteo Bandello Matteo Bandello ( 1480 – 1562) was an Italian writer, soldier, monk, and, later, a Bishop mostly known for his novellas. His collection of 214 novels made him the most popular short-story writer of his day. Biography Matteo Bandello was ...

Matteo Bandello
published the second volume of his ''Novelle'', which included his version of ''Giuletta e Romeo'', probably written between 1531 and 1545. Bandello lengthened and weighed down the plot while leaving the storyline basically unchanged (though he did introduce
Benvolio Benvolio is a fictional character in William Shakespeare, Shakespeare's drama ''Romeo and Juliet''. He is Lord Montague's nephew and Romeo's cousin. Benvolio serves as an unsuccessful peacemaker in the play, attempting to prevent violence between ...
). Bandello's story was translated into French by
Pierre Boaistuau Pierre Boaistuau, also known as Pierre Launay or Sieur de Launay (c. 1517, Nantes – 1566, Paris), was a French Renaissance humanist writer, author of a number of popularizing compilations and discourses on various subjects. Beside his many popul ...
in 1559 in the first volume of his ''Histories Tragiques''. Boaistuau adds much moralising and sentiment, and the characters indulge in rhetorical outbursts. In his 1562
narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry that tells a story, often using the voices of both a narrator and characters; the entire story is usually written in Metre_(poetry), metred verse. Narrative poems do not need rhyme. The poems that make up this ...
''
The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet ''The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet'' is a narrative poem, first published in 1562 by Arthur Brooke, which was a key source for William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English pla ...
'', Arthur Brooke translated Boaistuau faithfully but adjusted it to reflect parts of Chaucer's ''
Troilus and Criseyde ''Troilus and Criseyde'' () is an epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthe ...
''. There was a trend among writers and playwrights to publish works based on Italian ''novelle''—Italian tales were very popular among theatre-goers—and Shakespeare may well have been familiar with William Painter's 1567 collection of Italian tales titled ''Palace of Pleasure''. This collection included a version in prose of the ''Romeo and Juliet'' story named ''"The goodly History of the true and constant love of Romeo and Juliett"''. Shakespeare took advantage of this popularity: ''
The Merchant of Venice ''The Merchant of Venice'' is a 16th-century play written by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Engl ...
'', ''
Much Ado About Nothing ''Much Ado About Nothing'' is a Shakespearean comedy, comedy by William Shakespeare thought to have been written in 1598 and 1599.See textual notes to ''Much Ado About Nothing'' in ''The Norton Shakespeare'' (W. W. Norton & Company, 1997 ) p. ...
'', ''
All's Well That Ends Well ''All's Well That Ends Well'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the wo ...

All's Well That Ends Well
'', ''
Measure for Measure ''Measure for Measure'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world ...
'', and ''Romeo and Juliet'' are all from Italian ''novelle''. ''Romeo and Juliet'' is a dramatization of Brooke's translation, and Shakespeare follows the poem closely but adds detail to several major and minor characters (the Nurse and Mercutio in particular).
Christopher Marlowe Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe (; baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost ...

Christopher Marlowe
's ''
Hero and Leander Hero and Leander is the Greek myth Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmology#Metaphysical c ...
'' and '' Dido, Queen of Carthage'', both similar stories written in Shakespeare's day, are thought to be less of a direct influence, although they may have helped create an atmosphere in which tragic love stories could thrive.


Date and text

It is unknown when exactly Shakespeare wrote ''Romeo and Juliet''. Juliet's Nurse refers to an earthquake she says occurred 11 years ago. This may refer to the Dover Straits earthquake of 1580, which would date that particular line to 1591. Other earthquakes—both in England and in Verona—have been proposed in support of the different dates. But the play's stylistic similarities with ''
A Midsummer Night's Dream ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' is a comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of the Eng ...

A Midsummer Night's Dream
'' and other plays conventionally dated around 1594–95, place its composition sometime between 1591 and 1595. One conjecture is that Shakespeare may have begun a draft in 1591, which he completed in 1595. Shakespeare's ''Romeo and Juliet'' was published in two
quarto Quarto (abbreviated Qto, 4to or 4º) is the format of a book or pamphlet produced from full sheets printed with eight pages of text, four to a side, then folded twice to produce four leaves. The leaves are then trimmed along the folds to produc ...
editions prior to the publication of the
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
of 1623. These are referred to as Q1 and Q2. The first printed edition, Q1, appeared in early 1597, printed by John Danter. Because its text contains numerous differences from the later editions, it is labelled a so-called '
bad quarto A bad quarto, in Shakespearean scholarship, is a book size, quarto-sized printed edition of one of Shakespeare's plays that is considered to be unauthorised, and is theorised to have been pirated from a theatrical performance without permission by ...
'; the 20th-century editor T. J. B. Spencer described it as "a detestable text, probably a reconstruction of the play from the imperfect memories of one or two of the actors", suggesting that it had been pirated for publication. An alternative explanation for Q1's shortcomings is that the play (like many others of the time) may have been heavily edited before performance by the playing company. However, "the theory, formulated by lfredPollard," that the 'bad quarto' was "reconstructed from memory by some of the actors is now under attack. Alternative theories are that some or all of 'the bad quartos' are early versions by Shakespeare or abbreviations made either for Shakespeare's company or for other companies." In any event, its appearance in early 1597 makes 1596 the latest possible date for the play's composition. The superior Q2 called the play ''The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet''. It was printed in 1599 by
Thomas Creede Thomas Creede (Floruit, fl. 1593 – 1617) was a printer of the Elizabethan era, Elizabethan and Jacobean era, Jacobean eras, rated as "one of the best of his time." Based in London, he conducted his business under the sign of the Catherine Wh ...
and published by
Cuthbert Burby Cuthbert Burby (died 1607) was a London bookseller and publisher of the Elizabethan era, Elizabethan and early Jacobean era, Jacobean eras. He is known for publishing a series of significant volumes of English Renaissance theatre, English Renaissa ...
. Q2 is about 800 lines longer than Q1. Its title page describes it as "Newly corrected, augmented and amended". Scholars believe that Q2 was based on Shakespeare's pre-performance draft (called his
foul papers Foul papers are an author's working drafts. The term is most often used in the study of the plays of Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the g ...
) since there are textual oddities such as variable tags for characters and "false starts" for speeches that were presumably struck through by the author but erroneously preserved by the typesetter. It is a much more complete and reliable text and was reprinted in 1609 (Q3), 1622 (Q4) and 1637 (Q5). In effect, all later Quartos and Folios of ''Romeo and Juliet'' are based on Q2, as are all modern editions since editors believe that any deviations from Q2 in the later editions (whether good or bad) are likely to have arisen from editors or compositors, not from Shakespeare. The First Folio text of 1623 was based primarily on Q3, with clarifications and corrections possibly coming from a theatrical prompt book or Q1. Other Folio editions of the play were printed in 1632 (F2), 1664 (F3), and 1685 (F4). Modern versions—that take into account several of the Folios and Quartos—first appeared with Nicholas Rowe's 1709 edition, followed by
Alexander Pope Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is seen as one of the greatest English poets and the foremost poet of the early 18th century. He is best known for satirical and discursive poetry, including ''The Rape of the Lock ''The Rape o ...

Alexander Pope
's 1723 version. Pope began a tradition of editing the play to add information such as stage directions missing in Q2 by locating them in Q1. This tradition continued late into the
Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of that era ** Romantic poetry, of that era ** Romanticism in science, of that er ...
period. Fully annotated editions first appeared in the
Victorian period In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the wikt:period, period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian era, Georgian period and preceded the Edwa ...
and continue to be produced today, printing the text of the play with footnotes describing the sources and culture behind the play.


Themes and motifs

Scholars have found it extremely difficult to assign one specific, overarching
theme Theme or themes may refer to: * Theme (arts) In contemporary literary studies Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation Evaluation is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated eleme ...
to the play. Proposals for a main theme include a discovery by the characters that human beings are neither wholly good nor wholly evil, but instead are more or less alike, awaking out of a dream and into reality, the danger of hasty action, or the power of tragic fate. None of these have widespread support. However, even if an overall theme cannot be found it is clear that the play is full of several small thematic elements that intertwine in complex ways. Several of those most often debated by scholars are discussed below.


Love

''Romeo and Juliet'' is sometimes considered to have no unifying theme, save that of young love. Romeo and Juliet have become emblematic of young lovers and doomed love. Since it is such an obvious subject of the play, several scholars have explored the language and historical context behind the romance of the play. On their first meeting, Romeo and Juliet use a form of communication recommended by many etiquette authors in Shakespeare's day: metaphor. By using metaphors of saints and sins, Romeo was able to test Juliet's feelings for him in a non-threatening way. This method was recommended by
Baldassare Castiglione Baldassare Castiglione (; December 6, 1478 – February 2, 1529),Dates of birth and death, and cause of the latter, fro, ''Italica'', Rai International online. count of Casatico, was an Italy, Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier and a prominent Ren ...
(whose works had been translated into English by this time). He pointed out that if a man used a metaphor as an invitation, the woman could pretend she did not understand him, and he could retreat without losing honour. Juliet, however, participates in the metaphor and expands on it. The religious metaphors of "shrine", "pilgrim", and "saint" were fashionable in the poetry of the time and more likely to be understood as romantic rather than blasphemous, as the concept of sainthood was associated with the Catholicism of an earlier age. Later in the play, Shakespeare removes the more daring allusions to Christ's resurrection in the tomb he found in his source work: Brooke's '' Romeus and Juliet''. In the later balcony scene, Shakespeare has Romeo overhear Juliet's soliloquy, but in Brooke's version of the story, her declaration is done alone. By bringing Romeo into the scene to eavesdrop, Shakespeare breaks from the normal sequence of courtship. Usually, a woman was required to be modest and shy to make sure that her suitor was sincere, but breaking this rule serves to speed along the plot. The lovers are able to skip courting and move on to plain talk about their relationship—agreeing to be married after knowing each other for only one night. In the final suicide scene, there is a contradiction in the message—in the Catholic religion, suicides were often thought to be condemned to Hell, whereas people who die to be with their loves under the " Religion of Love" are joined with their loves in Paradise. Romeo and Juliet's love seems to be expressing the "Religion of Love" view rather than the Catholic view. Another point is that, although their love is passionate, it is only consummated in marriage, which keeps them from losing the audience's sympathy. The play arguably equates love and sex with death. Throughout the story, both Romeo and Juliet, along with the other characters, fantasise about it as a dark being, often equating it with a lover. Capulet, for example, when he first discovers Juliet's (faked) death, describes it as having
deflowered ''Deflowered'' is the second studio album by American queercore band Pansy Division, released in 1994 on Lookout! Records. The cover features a photograph of Mark Ewert (left) and Moon Trent (right), taken by Marc Gellar. The two men also appear ...
his daughter. Juliet later erotically compares Romeo and death. Right before her suicide, she grabs Romeo's dagger, saying "O happy dagger! This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die."


Fate and chance

Scholars are divided on the role of fate in the play. No consensus exists on whether the characters are truly fated to die together or whether the events take place by a series of unlucky chances. Arguments in favour of fate often refer to the description of the lovers as " star-cross'd". This phrase seems to hint that the stars have predetermined the lovers' future. John W. Draper points out the parallels between the Elizabethan belief in
the four humours Humorism, the humoral theory, or humoralism, was a system of medicine detailing a supposed makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Mo ...

the four humours
and the main characters of the play (for example, Tybalt as a choleric). Interpreting the text in the light of humours reduces the amount of plot attributed to chance by modern audiences. Still, other scholars see the play as a series of unlucky chances—many to such a degree that they do not see it as a tragedy at all, but an emotional
melodrama A modern melodrama is a dramatic work wherein the plot, typically sensationalized and for a strong emotional appeal, takes precedence over detailed characterization. Melodramas typically concentrate on dialogue that is often bombastic or excess ...
. Ruth Nevo believes the high degree to which chance is stressed in the narrative makes ''Romeo and Juliet'' a "lesser tragedy" of happenstance, not of character. For example, Romeo's challenging Tybalt is not impulsive; it is, after Mercutio's death, the expected action to take. In this scene, Nevo reads Romeo as being aware of the dangers of flouting
social norms Social norms are shared standards of acceptable Acceptability is the characteristic of a thing being subject to acceptance for some purpose. A thing is acceptable if it is sufficient to serve the purpose for which it is provided, even if it is f ...
, identity, and commitments. He makes the choice to kill, not because of a
tragic flaw The term ''hamartia'' derives from the Greek , from ''hamartánein'', which means "to miss the mark" or "to err". It is most often associated with Greek tragedy Greek tragedy is a form of theatre from Ancient Greece and Anatolia. It reache ...
, but because of circumstance.


Duality (light and dark)

Scholars have long noted Shakespeare's widespread use of light and dark
imagery Imagery is visual The visual system comprises the sensory organ A sense is a biological system A biological system is a complex network which connects several biologically relevant entities. Biological organization spans several scales a ...
throughout the play.
Caroline Spurgeon Caroline Frances Eleanor Spurgeon (24 October 1869, India – 24 October 1942, Tucson, Arizona) was an English literary critic. In 1913, she was appointed Hildred Carlisle Professor of English at the University of London and became head of the D ...
considers the theme of light as "symbolic of the natural beauty of young love" and later critics have expanded on this interpretation. For example, both Romeo and Juliet see the other as light in a surrounding darkness. Romeo describes Juliet as being like the sun, brighter than a torch, a jewel sparkling in the night, and a bright angel among dark clouds. Even when she lies apparently dead in the tomb, he says her "beauty makes / This vault a feasting presence full of light." Juliet describes Romeo as "day in night" and "Whiter than snow upon a raven's back." This contrast of light and dark can be expanded as symbols—contrasting love and hate, youth and age in a metaphoric way. Sometimes these intertwining metaphors create
dramatic irony Irony (), in its broadest sense, is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or event in which what on the surface appears to be the case or to be expected differs radically from what is actually the case. Irony can be categorized into diffe ...

dramatic irony
. For example, Romeo and Juliet's love is a light in the midst of the darkness of the hate around them, but all of their activity together is done in night and darkness while all of the feuding is done in broad daylight. This paradox of imagery adds atmosphere to the
moral dilemma In philosophy, ethical dilemmas, also called ethical paradoxes or moral dilemmas, are situations in which an agent stands under two (or more) ''conflicting moral requirements'', none of which ''overrides'' the other. A closely related definition ch ...
facing the two lovers: loyalty to family or loyalty to love. At the end of the story, when the morning is gloomy and the sun hiding its face for sorrow, light and dark have returned to their proper places, the outward darkness reflecting the true, inner darkness of the family feud out of sorrow for the lovers. All characters now recognise their folly in light of recent events, and things return to the natural order, thanks to the love and death of Romeo and Juliet. The "light" theme in the play is also heavily connected to the theme of time since light was a convenient way for Shakespeare to express the passage of time through descriptions of the sun, moon, and stars.


Time

Time plays an important role in the language and plot of the play. Both Romeo and Juliet struggle to maintain an imaginary world void of time in the face of the harsh realities that surround them. For instance, when Romeo swears his love to Juliet by the moon, she protests "O swear not by the moon, th'inconstant moon, / That monthly changes in her circled orb, / Lest that thy love prove likewise variable." From the very beginning, the lovers are designated as "star-cross'd" referring to an astrologic belief associated with time. Stars were thought to control the fates of humanity, and as time passed, stars would move along their course in the sky, also charting the course of human lives below. Romeo speaks of a foreboding he feels in the stars' movements early in the play, and when he learns of Juliet's death, he defies the stars' course for him. Another central theme is haste: Shakespeare's ''Romeo and Juliet'' spans a period of four to six days, in contrast to Brooke's poems spanning nine months. Scholars such as G. Thomas Tanselle believe that time was "especially important to Shakespeare" in this play, as he used references to "short-time" for the young lovers as opposed to references to "long-time" for the "older generation" to highlight "a headlong rush towards doom". Romeo and Juliet fight time to make their love last forever. In the end, the only way they seem to defeat time is through a death that makes them immortal through art. Time is also connected to the theme of light and dark. In Shakespeare's day, plays were most often performed at noon or in the afternoon in broad daylight. This forced the playwright to use words to create the illusion of day and night in his plays. Shakespeare uses references to the night and day, the stars, the moon, and the sun to create this illusion. He also has characters frequently refer to days of the week and specific hours to help the audience understand that time has passed in the story. All in all, no fewer than 103 references to time are found in the play, adding to the illusion of its passage.


Criticism and interpretation


Critical history

The earliest known critic of the play was diarist
Samuel Pepys Samuel Pepys ( ; 23 February 1633 – 26 May 1703) was an English diarist and naval administrator. He served as administrator of the Navy of England and Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people ...

Samuel Pepys
, who wrote in 1662: "it is a play of itself the worst that I ever heard in my life." Poet
John Dryden '' John Dryden (; – ) was an English poet, literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which i ...

John Dryden
wrote 10 years later in praise of the play and its comic character Mercutio: "Shakespear show'd the best of his skill in his ''Mercutio'', and he said himself, that he was forc'd to kill him in the third Act, to prevent being killed by him." Criticism of the play in the 18th century was less sparse but no less divided. Publisher Nicholas Rowe was the first critic to ponder the theme of the play, which he saw as the just punishment of the two feuding families. In mid-century, writer
Charles Gildon Charles Gildon (c. 1665 – 1 January 1724), was an English hack writer A ''hack writer'' is a pejorative A pejorative or slur is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that ...
and philosopher
Lord Kames Henry Home, Lord Kames (169627 December 1782) was a Scottish writer, philosopher, advocate, judge, and Scottish Agricultural Revolution, agricultural improver. A central figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, a founding member of the Philosoph ...
argued that the play was a failure in that it did not follow the classical rules of drama: the tragedy must occur because of some
character flaw In the creation and criticism of fictional works, a character flaw or heroic flaw is a bias, limitation, imperfection, problem, personality disorder, vice, phobia, prejudice, or deficiency present in a character who may be otherwise very functiona ...
, not an accident of fate. Writer and critic
Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709  – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic A critic is a person who communicates an asse ...
, however, considered it one of Shakespeare's "most pleasing" plays. In the later part of the 18th and through the 19th century, criticism centred on debates over the moral message of the play. Actor and playwright
David Garrick David Garrick (19 February 1717 – 20 January 1779) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early med ...
's 1748 adaptation excluded Rosaline: Romeo abandoning her for Juliet was seen as fickle and reckless. Critics such as
Charles Dibdin Charles Dibdin (before 4 March 1745 – 25 July 1814) was an English composer, musician, dramatist, novelist, singer and actor. With over 600 songs to his name, for many of which he wrote both the lyrics and the music and performed them himself, ...
argued that Rosaline had been included in the play in order to show how reckless the hero was and that this was the reason for his tragic end. Others argued that Friar Laurence might be Shakespeare's spokesman in his warnings against undue haste. At the beginning of the 20th century, these moral arguments were disputed by critics such as
Richard Green Moulton Richard Green Moulton (1849 – 15 August 1924) was an English professor, author, and lawyer. Biography Richard Green Moulton was born in England in 1849. He was the brother of William Fiddian Moulton, John Fletcher Moulton John Fletcher M ...

Richard Green Moulton
: he argued that accident, and not some character flaw, led to the lovers' deaths.


Dramatic structure

In ''Romeo and Juliet'', Shakespeare employs several dramatic techniques that have garnered praise from critics, most notably the abrupt shifts from comedy to tragedy (an example is the
punning The pun, also known as paronomasia, is a form of word play that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of Homophon ...
exchange between Benvolio and Mercutio just before Tybalt arrives). Before Mercutio's death in Act III, the play is largely a comedy. After his accidental demise, the play suddenly becomes serious and takes on a tragic tone. When Romeo is banished, rather than executed, and Friar Laurence offers Juliet a plan to reunite her with Romeo, the audience can still hope that all will end well. They are in a "breathless state of suspense" by the opening of the last scene in the tomb: If Romeo is delayed long enough for the Friar to arrive, he and Juliet may yet be saved. These shifts from hope to despair, reprieve, and new hope serve to emphasise the tragedy when the final hope fails and both the lovers die at the end. Shakespeare also uses sub-plots to offer a clearer view of the actions of the main characters. For example, when the play begins, Romeo is in love with Rosaline, who has refused all of his advances. Romeo's infatuation with her stands in obvious contrast to his later love for Juliet. This provides a comparison through which the audience can see the seriousness of Romeo and Juliet's love and marriage. Paris' love for Juliet also sets up a contrast between Juliet's feelings for him and her feelings for Romeo. The formal language she uses around Paris, as well as the way she talks about him to her Nurse, show that her feelings clearly lie with Romeo. Beyond this, the
sub-plot In fiction Fiction is any creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art), dance, writing (litera ...
of the Montague–Capulet feud overarches the whole play, providing an atmosphere of hate that is the main contributor to the play's tragic end.


Language

Shakespeare uses a variety of poetic forms throughout the play. He begins with a 14-line
prologue A prologue or prolog (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population ...

prologue
in the form of a
Shakespearean sonnet A sonnet is a poetic form which originated in the Italian poetry composed at the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II in Palermo, Sicily. The 13th-century poet and notary Giacomo da Lentini is credited ...
, spoken by a Chorus. Most of ''Romeo and Juliet'' is, however, written in
blank verse Blank verse is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in So ...
, and much of it in strict
iambic pentameter Iambic pentameter () is a type of metric line used in traditional English poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of ...
, with less rhythmic variation than in most of Shakespeare's later plays. In choosing forms, Shakespeare matches the poetry to the character who uses it. Friar Laurence, for example, uses
sermon A sermon is an oration Public speaking (also called oratory or oration) is giving speech face to face to a live audience An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art A work o ...

sermon
and
sententiae ''Sententiae'', the nominative plural of the Latin word wikt:sententia, ''sententia'', are brief moral sayings, such as proverbs, adages, aphorisms, Maxim (philosophy), maxims, or apophthegms taken from ancient or popular or other sources, often qu ...
forms and the Nurse uses a unique
blank verse Blank verse is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in So ...
form that closely matches
colloquial speech Colloquialism or colloquial language is the linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Eur ...
. Each of these forms is also moulded and matched to the emotion of the scene the character occupies. For example, when Romeo talks about Rosaline earlier in the play, he attempts to use the
Petrarchan sonnet The Petrarchan sonnet, also known as the Italian sonnet, is a sonnet A sonnet is a poetic form Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written ...
form. Petrarchan sonnets were often used by men to exaggerate the beauty of women who were impossible for them to attain, as in Romeo's situation with Rosaline. This sonnet form is used by Lady Capulet to describe Count Paris to Juliet as a handsome man. When Romeo and Juliet meet, the poetic form changes from the Petrarchan (which was becoming archaic in Shakespeare's day) to a then more contemporary sonnet form, using "pilgrims" and "saints" as metaphors. Finally, when the two meet on the balcony, Romeo attempts to use the sonnet form to pledge his love, but Juliet breaks it by saying "Dost thou love me?" By doing this, she searches for true expression, rather than a poetic exaggeration of their love. Juliet uses monosyllabic words with Romeo but uses formal language with Paris. Other forms in the play include an
epithalamium An epithalamium (; Latin form of Greek ἐπιθαλάμιον ''epithalamion'' from ἐπί ''epi'' "upon," and θάλαμος ''thalamos'' nuptial chamber) is a poem written specifically for the bride on the way to her marital chamber. This form ...
by Juliet, a rhapsody in Mercutio's
Queen Mab Queen Mab is a fairy referred to in William Shakespeare's play ''Romeo and Juliet'', where "she is the fairies' midwife". Later she appears in other poetry and literature, and in various guises in drama and cinema. In the play, her activity is ...
speech, and an
elegy In English literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, usually a lament for the dead. However, according to ''The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy'', "for all of its pervasiveness ... the 'elegy' remains remarkably ill defined: sometimes us ...
by Paris. Shakespeare saves his prose style most often for the common people in the play, though at times he uses it for other characters, such as Mercutio. Humour, also, is important: scholar
Molly Mahood Molly Maureen Mahood (17 June 1919 – 14 February 2017) was a British literary scholar Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by l ...
identifies at least 175 puns and wordplays in the text. Many of these jokes are sexual in nature, especially those involving Mercutio and the Nurse.


Psychoanalytic criticism

Early psychoanalytic critics saw the problem of ''Romeo and Juliet'' in terms of Romeo's impulsiveness, deriving from "ill-controlled, partially disguised aggression", which leads both to Mercutio's death and to the double suicide. ''Romeo and Juliet'' is not considered to be exceedingly psychologically complex, and sympathetic psychoanalytic readings of the play make the tragic male experience equivalent with sicknesses. Norman Holland, writing in 1966, considers Romeo's dream as a realistic "wish fulfilling fantasy both in terms of Romeo's adult world and his hypothetical childhood at stages oral, phallic and oedipal" – while acknowledging that a dramatic character is not a human being with mental processes separate from those of the author. Critics such as
Julia Kristeva Julia Kristeva (; born Yuliya Stoyanova Krasteva, bg, Юлия Стоянова Кръстева; on 24 June 1941) is a Bulgarians in France, Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, semiotics, semiotician, psychoanalysis, psychoanalyst, ...

Julia Kristeva
focus on the hatred between the families, arguing that this hatred is the cause of Romeo and Juliet's passion for each other. That hatred manifests itself directly in the lovers' language: Juliet, for example, speaks of "my only love sprung from my only hate" and often expresses her passion through an anticipation of Romeo's death. This leads on to speculation as to the playwright's psychology, in particular to a consideration of Shakespeare's grief for the death of his son, Hamnet.


Feminist criticism

Feminist literary critics argue that the blame for the family feud lies in Verona's
patriarchal society Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. Some patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property an ...
. For Coppélia Kahn, for example, the strict, masculine code of violence imposed on Romeo is the main force driving the tragedy to its end. When Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo shifts into this violent mode, regretting that Juliet has made him so "effeminate". In this view, the younger males "become men" by engaging in violence on behalf of their fathers, or in the case of the servants, their masters. The feud is also linked to male virility, as the numerous jokes about maidenheads aptly demonstrate. Juliet also submits to a female code of docility by allowing others, such as the Friar, to solve her problems for her. Other critics, such as Dympna Callaghan, look at the play's feminism from a
historicist Historicism is an approach to Explanation, explaining the existence of Phenomenon, phenomena, especially social and cultural practices (including ideas and beliefs), by studying their history, that is, by studying the process by which they came abo ...
angle, stressing that when the play was written the feudal order was being challenged by increasingly centralised government and the advent of capitalism. At the same time, emerging
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of J ...

Puritan
ideas about marriage were less concerned with the "evils of female sexuality" than those of earlier eras and more sympathetic towards love-matches: when Juliet dodges her father's attempt to force her to marry a man she has no feeling for, she is challenging the patriarchal order in a way that would not have been possible at an earlier time.


Queer theory

A number of critics have found the character of Mercutio to have unacknowledged homoerotic desire for Romeo. Jonathan Goldberg examined the sexuality of Mercutio and Romeo utilising
queer theory Queer theory is a field of critical theory that emerged in the early 1990s out of queer studies Queer studies, sexual diversity studies, or LGBT studies is the study of issues relating to sexual orientation Sexual orientation is an enduring ...
in ''Queering the Renaissance'' (1994), comparing their friendship with sexual love. Mercutio, in friendly conversation, mentions Romeo's
phallus A phallus is a penis A penis (plural ''penises'' or ''penes'' () is the primary sexual organ A sex organ (or reproductive organ) is any part of an animal or plant that is involved in sexual reproduction. The reproductive organs together ...

phallus
, suggesting traces of
homoeroticism Homoeroticism is sexual attraction between members of the same sex, either male–male or female–female. The concept differs from the concept of homosexuality: it refers specifically to the desire itself, which can be temporary, whereas "homose ...
. An example is his joking wish "To raise a spirit in his mistress' circle ... letting it there stand / Till she had laid it and conjured it down." Romeo's homoeroticism can also be found in his attitude to Rosaline, a woman who is distant and unavailable and brings no hope of offspring. As Benvolio argues, she is best replaced by someone who will reciprocate. Shakespeare's
procreation sonnets The procreation sonnets are Shakespeare's sonnets Shakespeare's sonnets are poems written by William Shakespeare on a variety of themes. When discussing or referring to Shakespeare's sonnets, it is almost always a reference to the 154 sonnets ...
describe another young man who, like Romeo, is having trouble creating offspring and who may be seen as being a homosexual. Goldberg believes that Shakespeare may have used Rosaline as a way to express homosexual problems of procreation in an acceptable way. In this view, when Juliet says "...that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet", she may be raising the question of whether there is any difference between the beauty of a man and the beauty of a woman.


The balcony scene

The balcony scene was introduced by Da Porto in 1524. He had Romeo walk frequently by her house, "sometimes climbing to her chamber window", and wrote, "It happened one night, as love ordained, when the moon shone unusually bright, that whilst Romeo was climbing the balcony, the young lady ... opened the window, and looking out saw him". After this they have a conversation in which they declare eternal love to each other. A few decades later, Bandello greatly expanded this scene, diverging from the familiar one: Julia has her nurse deliver a letter asking Romeo to come to her window with a rope ladder, and he climbs the balcony with the help of his servant, Julia and the nurse (the servants discreetly withdraw after this). Nevertheless, in October 2014, Lois Leveen pointed out in ''
The Atlantic ''The Atlantic'' is an American magazine and multi-platform publisher. It was founded in 1857 in Boston, as ''The Atlantic Monthly'', a literary and cultural magazine that published leading writers' commentary on education, the abolition of sl ...

The Atlantic
'' that the original Shakespeare play did not contain a balcony, it just says that Juliet appears at a window. The word, ''balcone'', is not known to have existed in the English language until two years after Shakespeare's death. The balcony was certainly used in
Thomas Otway Thomas Otway (3 March 165214 April 1685) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England ...
's 1679 play, '' The History and Fall of Caius Marius'', which had borrowed much of its story from ''Romeo and Juliet'' and placed the two lovers in a balcony reciting a speech similar to that between Romeo and Juliet. Leveen suggested that during the 18th century,
David Garrick David Garrick (19 February 1717 – 20 January 1779) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early med ...
chose to use a balcony in his adaptation and revival of ''Romeo and Juliet'' and modern adaptations have continued this tradition.


Legacy


Shakespeare's day

''Romeo and Juliet'' ranks with ''
Hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (litera ...

Hamlet
'' as one of Shakespeare's most performed plays. Its many adaptations have made it one of his most enduring and famous stories. Even in Shakespeare's lifetime, it was extremely popular. Scholar Gary Taylor measures it as the sixth most popular of Shakespeare's plays, in the period after the death of
Christopher Marlowe Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe (; baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost ...

Christopher Marlowe
and
Thomas Kyd Thomas Kyd (baptised 6 November 1558; buried 15 August 1594) was an English playwright A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), ...
but before the ascendancy of
Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours The comedy of humours is a ge ...
during which Shakespeare was London's dominant playwright. The date of the first performance is unknown. The First Quarto, printed in 1597, reads "it hath been often (and with great applause) plaid publiquely", setting the first performance before that date. The
Lord Chamberlain's Men The Lord Chamberlain's Men was a company of actors, or a "playing company" (as it then would likely have been described), for which Shakespeare wrote during most of his career. Richard Burbage played most of the lead roles, including Prince Hamlet ...
were certainly the first to perform it. Besides their strong connections with Shakespeare, the
Second Quarto The earliest texts of William Shakespeare's works were published during the 16th and 17th centuries in quarto or folio format. Folios are large, tall volumes; quartos are smaller, roughly half the size. The publications of the latter are usually a ...
actually names one of its actors, Will Kemp, instead of Peter, in a line in Act V.
Richard Burbage Richard Burbage (c. 1567 – 13 March 1619) was an English stage actor, widely considered to have been one of the most famous actors of the Globe Theatre The Globe Theatre was a theatre in London associated with William Shakespeare ...
was probably the first Romeo, being the company's actor; and Master Robert Goffe (a boy), the first Juliet. The premiere is likely to have been at
The Theatre The Theatre was an Elizabethan playhouse in Shoreditch Shoreditch is a district in the East End of London that forms the southern part of the London Borough of Hackney. Neighbouring parts of Tower Hamlets are sometimes also perceived as ...

The Theatre
, with other early productions at the
Curtain A curtain is a piece of cloth A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibre Fiber or fibre (from la, fibra, links=no) is a natural ...

Curtain
. ''Romeo and Juliet'' is one of the first Shakespeare plays to have been performed outside England: a shortened and simplified version was performed in
Nördlingen Nördlingen () is a Town#Germany, town in the Donau-Ries district, in Swabia (Bavaria), Swabia, Bavaria, Germany, with a population of approximately 19,190. It is located approximately east of Stuttgart, and northwest of Munich. It was built in ...
in 1604.


Restoration and 18th-century theatre

All theatres were closed down by the
puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of J ...

puritan
government on 6 September 1642. Upon the
restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * The Restoration (1909 film), ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a ...
of the monarchy in 1660, two patent companies (the
King's Company The King's Company was one of two enterprises granted the rights to mount theatrical productions in London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction betw ...
and the
Duke's Company The Duke's Company was a theatre company chartered by King Charles II of England, Charles II at the start of the Restoration (England), Restoration era, 1660. William Davenant, Sir William Davenant was manager of the company under James II of Eng ...
) were established, and the existing theatrical repertoire was divided between them. Sir
William Davenant Sir William Davenant (baptised 3 March 1606 – 7 April 1668), also spelled D'Avenant, was an English poet and playwright. Along with Thomas Killigrew Thomas Killigrew (7 February 1612 – 19 March 1683) was an English dramatist and theat ...

William Davenant
of the Duke's Company staged a 1662 adaptation in which Henry Harris played Romeo,
Thomas Betterton Thomas Patrick Betterton (August 1635 – 28 April 1710), the leading male actor and Actor-manager, theatre manager during Restoration England, son of an under-cook to Charles I of England, King Charles I, was born in London. Apprentice and a ...

Thomas Betterton
Mercutio, and Betterton's wife
Mary Saunderson Mary Saunderson (1637–1712), later known as Mary Saunderson Betterton after her marriage to Thomas Betterton Thomas Patrick Betterton (August 1635 – 28 April 1710), the leading male actor and theatre manager during Restoration England, s ...

Mary Saunderson
Juliet: she was probably the first woman to play the role professionally. Another version closely followed Davenant's adaptation and was also regularly performed by the Duke's Company. This was a tragicomedy by James Howard, in which the two lovers survive.
Thomas Otway Thomas Otway (3 March 165214 April 1685) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England ...
's ''The History and Fall of Caius Marius'', one of the more extreme of the Restoration adaptations of Shakespeare, debuted in 1680. The scene is shifted from Renaissance Verona to
ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
; Romeo is Marius, Juliet is Lavinia, the feud is between patricians and plebeians; Juliet/Lavinia wakes from her potion before Romeo/Marius dies. Otway's version was a hit, and was acted for the next seventy years. His innovation in the closing scene was even more enduring, and was used in adaptations throughout the next 200 years:
Theophilus Cibber Theophilus Cibber (25 or 26 November 1703 – October 1758) was an English actor, playwright, author, and son of the actor-manager Colley Cibber. He began acting at an early age, and followed his father into theatrical management. In 1727, Alex ...
's adaptation of 1744, and
David Garrick David Garrick (19 February 1717 – 20 January 1779) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early med ...
's of 1748 both used variations on it. These versions also eliminated elements deemed inappropriate at the time. For example, Garrick's version transferred all language describing Rosaline to Juliet, to heighten the idea of faithfulness and downplay the love-at-first-sight theme. In 1750, a "Battle of the Romeos" began, with
Spranger Barry Spranger Barry (23 November 1719 – 10 January 1777) was an Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island ...
and
Susannah Maria Arne Susannah Maria Cibber (née Arne; February 1714 – 30 January 1766) was a celebrated English singing, singer and actress. She was the sister of the composer Thomas Arne. Although she began her career as a soprano, her voice lowered in the early ...
(Mrs. Theophilus Cibber) at
Covent Garden Covent Garden is a district in London, on the eastern fringes of the West End West End most commonly refers to: * West End of London, an area of central London, England * West End theatre, a popular term for mainstream professional theatre st ...

Covent Garden
versus
David Garrick David Garrick (19 February 1717 – 20 January 1779) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early med ...
and
George Anne Bellamy George Anne Bellamy (''née'' O'Hara; 23 April 173116 February 1788) was an Irish people, Irish actress. She took leading roles at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane Her success was rapid, participating in the rivalry for popular favor in ''Romeo and Juliet ...
at
Drury Lane Drury Lane is a street on the eastern boundary of the Covent Garden area of London, running between Aldwych and High Holborn. The northern part is in the borough of London Borough of Camden, Camden and the southern part in the City of Westmins ...
. The earliest known production in North America was an amateur one: on 23 March 1730, a physician named Joachimus Bertrand placed an advertisement in the ''Gazette'' newspaper in New York, promoting a production in which he would play the apothecary. The first professional performances of the play in North America were those of the Hallam Company.


19th-century theatre

Garrick's altered version of the play was very popular, and ran for nearly a century. Not until 1845 did Shakespeare's original return to the stage in the United States with the sisters
Susan Susan is a feminine given name, from Persian "Susan" (lily flower), from Egyptian '' sšn'' and Coptic ''shoshen'' meaning "lotus flower", from Hebrew ''Shoshana'' meaning "lily" (in modern Hebrew this also means "rose" and a flower in general), ...
and
Charlotte Cushman Charlotte Saunders Cushman (July 23, 1816 – February 18, 1876) was an American stage actress. Her voice was noted for its full contralto register, and she was able to play both male and female parts. She lived intermittently in Rome, in an expa ...

Charlotte Cushman
as Juliet and Romeo, respectively, and then in 1847 in Britain with
Samuel Phelps Samuel Phelps (born 13 February 1804, Plymouth Dock (now Devonport, Devon, Devonport), Plymouth, Devon, died 6 November 1878, Anson's Farm, Coopersale, near Epping, Essex, Epping, Essex) was an English actor and Actor-manager, theatre manager. ...

Samuel Phelps
at
Sadler's Wells Theatre Sadler's Wells Theatre is a performing arts venue in Clerkenwell Clerkenwell () is an area of central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the Capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the Unite ...
. Cushman adhered to Shakespeare's version, beginning a string of eighty-four performances. Her portrayal of Romeo was considered genius by many. ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' wrote: "For a long time Romeo has been a convention. Miss Cushman's Romeo is a creative, a living, breathing, animated, ardent human being."
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
wrote in her journal that "no-one would ever have imagined she was a woman". Cushman's success broke the Garrick tradition and paved the way for later performances to return to the original storyline. Professional performances of Shakespeare in the mid-19th century had two particular features: firstly, they were generally
star vehicle In the motion picture industry, a star vehicle (or simply vehicle) is a film written or produced for a specific star, regardless of whether the motive is to further their career or simply to profit from their current popularity. It is designed to ...
s, with supporting roles cut or marginalised to give greater prominence to the central characters. Secondly, they were "pictorial", placing the action on spectacular and elaborate sets (requiring lengthy pauses for scene changes) and with the frequent use of tableaux.
Henry Irving Sir Henry Irving (6 February 1838 – 13 October 1905), born John Henry Brodribb, sometimes known as J. H. Irving, was an English stage actor in the Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the ...

Henry Irving
's 1882 production at the Lyceum Theatre (with himself as Romeo and
Ellen Terry Dame Alice Ellen Terry, (27 February 184721 July 1928), known professionally as Ellen Terry, was a renowned English actress of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born into a family of actors, Terry began performing as a child, acting in ...

Ellen Terry
as Juliet) is considered an archetype of the pictorial style. In 1895, Sir
Johnston Forbes-Robertson Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson (16 January 1853 – 6 November 1937''Sir Johnston Forbes Robertson, Beauty And Grace in Acting'', Obituaries, ''The Times'', 8 November 1937.) was an England, English actor and theatre manager and husband of actres ...
took over from Irving and laid the groundwork for a more natural portrayal of Shakespeare that remains popular today. Forbes-Robertson avoided the showiness of Irving and instead portrayed a down-to-earth Romeo, expressing the poetic dialogue as realistic prose and avoiding melodramatic flourish. American actors began to rival their British counterparts.
Edwin Booth Edwin Thomas Booth (November 13, 1833 – June 7, 1893) was an American actor who toured throughout the United States and the major capitals of Europe, performing Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was ...
(brother to
John Wilkes Booth John Wilkes Booth (May 10, 1838 – April 26, 1865) was an American stage actor who assassinated Assassination is the act of murder, deliberately killing a prominent or important person, such as heads of state, head of government, heads of g ...

John Wilkes Booth
) and Mary McVicker (soon to be Edwin's wife) opened as Romeo and Juliet at the sumptuous
Booth's Theatre Booth's Theatre was a theatre in New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York ...
(with its European-style
stage machinery Stage machinery, also known as stage mechanics, comprises the mechanical devices used to create special effects in theatrical productions. See also * Scenic design References

Scenic design {{stagecraft-stub ...
, and an air conditioning system unique in New York) on 3 February 1869. Some reports said it was one of the most elaborate productions of ''Romeo and Juliet'' ever seen in America; it was certainly the most popular, running for over six weeks and earning over $60,000 (). The programme noted that: "The tragedy will be produced in strict accordance with historical propriety, in every respect, following closely the text of Shakespeare." The first professional performance of the play in Japan may have been George Crichton Miln's company's production, which toured to
Yokohama is the second-largest city in Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an in . It is situated in the northwest , and is bordered on the west by the , while extending from the in the north toward the and in the south. Ja ...

Yokohama
in 1890. Throughout the 19th century, ''Romeo and Juliet'' had been Shakespeare's most popular play, measured by the number of professional performances. In the 20th century it would become the second most popular, behind ''
Hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (litera ...

Hamlet
''.


20th-century theatre

In 1933, the play was revived by actress
Katharine Cornell Katharine Cornell (February 16, 1893June 9, 1974) was an American stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer Producer or producers may refer to: Occupations *Producer (agriculture), a farm operator *Film producer, oversees the making of ...

Katharine Cornell
and her director husband
Guthrie McClintic Guthrie McClintic (August 6, 1893 – October 29, 1961) was a successful theatre director, film director, and producer based in New York. Life and career McClintic was born in Seattle, attended Washington University and New York's American Academy ...
and was taken on a seven-month nationwide tour throughout the United States. It starred
Orson Welles George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American director, actor, screenwriter, and producer who is remembered for his innovative work in radio, theatre and film. He is considered to be among the greatest and most in ...

Orson Welles
,
Brian Aherne William Brian de Lacy Aherne (2 May 190210 February 1986) was an English actor of stage, screen, radio and television, who enjoyed a long and varied career in Britain and the US. His first Broadway appearance in ''The Barretts of Wimpole Stre ...
and
Basil Rathbone Philip St. John Basil Rathbone Military Cross, MC (13 June 1892 – 21 July 1967) was an English actor. He rose to prominence in the United Kingdom as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in more than 70 films, primarily costume dra ...
. The production was a modest success, and so upon the return to New York, Cornell and McClintic revised it, and for the first time the play was presented with almost all the scenes intact, including the Prologue. The new production opened on Broadway in December 1934. Critics wrote that Cornell was "the greatest Juliet of her time", "endlessly haunting", and "the most lovely and enchanting Juliet our present-day theatre has seen".
John Gielgud Sir Arthur John Gielgud, (; 14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) was an English actor and theatre director whose career spanned eight decades. With Ralph Richardson Sir Ralph David Richardson (19 December 1902 – 10 October 1983) wa ...

John Gielgud
's New Theatre production in 1935 featured Gielgud and
Laurence Olivier Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, (; 22 May 1907 – 11 July 1989) was an English actor and director who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, was one of a trio of male actors who dominated the British stage ...
as Romeo and Mercutio, exchanging roles six weeks into the run, with
Peggy Ashcroft Dame Edith Margaret Emily Ashcroft (22 December 1907 – 14 June 1991), known professionally as Peggy Ashcroft, was an English actress whose career spanned more than 60 years. Born to a comfortable middle-class family, Ashcroft was determ ...
as Juliet. Gielgud used a scholarly combination of Q1 and Q2 texts and organised the set and costumes to match as closely as possible the
Elizabethan period The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period of the history of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Historians often depict it as the Golden age (metaphor), golden age in English history. The symbol of Britannia ...
. His efforts were a huge success at the box office, and set the stage for increased
historical realismHistorical realism is a writing style or subgenre of realistic fiction centered on historical events and periods. External links Historical Realism as a worldview
Literary realism Theories of history {{lit-genre-stub ...
in later productions. Olivier later compared his performance and Gielgud's: "John, all spiritual, all spirituality, all beauty, all abstract things; and myself as all earth, blood, humanity ... I've always felt that John missed the lower half and that made me go for the other ... But whatever it was, when I was playing Romeo I was carrying a torch, I was trying to sell realism in Shakespeare."
Peter Brook Peter Stephen Paul Brook (born 21 March 1925) is an English theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined ...
's 1947 version was the beginning of a different style of ''Romeo and Juliet'' performances. Brook was less concerned with realism, and more concerned with translating the play into a form that could communicate with the modern world. He argued, "A production is only correct at the moment of its correctness, and only good at the moment of its success." Brook excluded the final reconciliation of the families from his performance text. Throughout the century, audiences, influenced by the cinema, became less willing to accept actors distinctly older than the teenage characters they were playing. A significant example of more youthful casting was in
Franco Zeffirelli Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli (12 February 1923 – 15 June 2019), commonly known as Franco Zeffirelli (), was an Italian director and producer of operas Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of per ...
's
Old Vic Old or OLD may refer to: Places *Old, Baranya Old () is a village in Baranya (county), Baranya county, Hungary. Populated places in Baranya County {{Baranya-geo-stub ..., Hungary *Old, Northamptonshire Old (previously Wold and be ...

Old Vic
production in 1960, with
John Stride John Edward Stride (11 July 1936 – 20 April 2018) was an English actor best known for his television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by ...
and
Judi Dench Dame Judith Olivia Dench, (born 9 December 1934) is an English actress. Regarded as one of the best actresses in British history, she is seen as a "peerless performer" with roles ranging from the James Bond (film series), James Bond films to S ...
, which would serve as the basis for his
1968 film The year 1968 in film involved some significant events, with the release of Stanley Kubrick Stanley Kubrick (; July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and photographer. He is frequentl ...
. Zeffirelli borrowed from Brook's ideas, altogether removing around a third of the play's text to make it more accessible. In an interview with ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'', he stated that the play's "twin themes of love and the total breakdown of understanding between two generations" had contemporary relevance. Recent performances often set the play in the contemporary world. For example, in 1986, the
Royal Shakespeare Company The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a major British theatre Theatre of United Kingdom plays an important part in British culture, and the Countries of the United Kingdom, countries that constitute the UK have had a vibrant tradition of thea ...
set the play in modern
Verona Verona ( , ; vec, Verona or ''Veròna'') is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia' ...

Verona
. Switchblades replaced swords, feasts and balls became drug-laden rock parties, and Romeo committed suicide by
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. Neil Bartlett's production of Romeo and Juliet themed the play very contemporary with a cinematic look which started its life at the Lyric Hammersmith, London then went to West Yorkshire Playhouse for an exclusive run in 1995. The cast included Emily Woof as Juliet, Stuart Bunce as Romeo, Sebastian Harcombe as Mercutio, Ashley Artus as Tybalt, Souad Faress as Lady Capulet and Silas Carson as Paris. In 1997, the
Folger Shakespeare Theatre
Folger Shakespeare Theatre
produced a version set in a typical suburban world. Romeo sneaks into the Capulet barbecue to meet Juliet, and Juliet discovers Tybalt's death while in class at school. The play is sometimes given a historical setting, enabling audiences to reflect on the underlying conflicts. For example, adaptations have been set in the midst of the
Israeli–Palestinian conflict The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is one of the world's most enduring conflicts, with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reaching years of conflict. Various attempts have been made to resolve the conflict as part of th ...
, in the
apartheid Apartheid (South African English South African English (SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA) is the set of English language dialects native to South Africans. History British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * B ...

apartheid
era in South Africa, and in the aftermath of the
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. Similarly,
Peter Ustinov Sir Peter Alexander von Ustinov (; 16 April 192128 March 2004) was a British actor, filmmaker and writer. He was a fixture on television talk show A talk show (or chat show in British English British English (BrE) is the standard ...

Peter Ustinov
's 1956 comic adaptation, '' Romanoff and Juliet'', is set in a fictional mid-European country in the depths of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
. A mock-Victorian revisionist version of ''Romeo and Juliet'' final scene (with a happy ending, Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, and Paris restored to life, and Benvolio revealing that he is Paris's love, Benvolia, in disguise) forms part of the 1980 stage-play ''The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (play), The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby''. ''Shakespeare's R&J'', by Joe Calarco, spins the classic in a modern tale of gay teenage awakening. A recent comedic musical adaptation was ''The Second City's Romeo and Juliet Musical: The People vs. Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet'', set in modern times. In the 19th and 20th centuries, ''Romeo and Juliet'' has often been the choice of Shakespeare plays to open a classical theatre company, beginning with
Edwin Booth Edwin Thomas Booth (November 13, 1833 – June 7, 1893) was an American actor who toured throughout the United States and the major capitals of Europe, performing Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was ...
's inaugural production of that play in his theatre in 1869, the newly re-formed company of the
Old Vic Old or OLD may refer to: Places *Old, Baranya Old () is a village in Baranya (county), Baranya county, Hungary. Populated places in Baranya County {{Baranya-geo-stub ..., Hungary *Old, Northamptonshire Old (previously Wold and be ...

Old Vic
in 1929 with
John Gielgud Sir Arthur John Gielgud, (; 14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) was an English actor and theatre director whose career spanned eight decades. With Ralph Richardson Sir Ralph David Richardson (19 December 1902 – 10 October 1983) wa ...

John Gielgud
, Martita Hunt, and Margaret Webster, as well as the Riverside Shakespeare Company in its founding production in New York City in 1977, which used the 1968 film of
Franco Zeffirelli Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli (12 February 1923 – 15 June 2019), commonly known as Franco Zeffirelli (), was an Italian director and producer of operas Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of per ...
's production as its inspiration. In 2013, ''Romeo and Juliet (2013 Broadway play), Romeo and Juliet'' ran on Broadway at Richard Rodgers Theatre from 19 September to 8 December for 93 regular performances after 27 previews starting on 24 August with Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad in the starring roles.


Ballet

The best-known ballet version is Sergei Prokofiev, Prokofiev's ''Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev), Romeo and Juliet''. Originally commissioned by the Mariinsky Ballet, Kirov Ballet, it was rejected by them when Prokofiev attempted a happy ending and was rejected again for the experimental nature of its music. It has subsequently attained an "immense" reputation, and has been choreographed by Romeo and Juliet (Cranko), John Cranko (1962) and Kenneth MacMillan (1965) among others. In 1977, Michael Smuin's production of one of the play's most dramatic and impassioned dance interpretations was debuted in its entirety by San Francisco Ballet. This production was the first full-length ballet to be broadcast by the PBS series "Great Performances: Dance in America"; it aired in 1978. Dada Masilo, a South African dancer and choreographer, reinterpreted Romeo and Juliet in a new modern light. She introduced changes to the story, notably that of presenting the two families as multiracial.


Music

At least 24 operas have been based on Romeo and Juliet. The earliest, ''
Romeo und Julie Romeo Montague () is the male protagonist of William Shakespeare's tragedy, ''Romeo and Juliet''. The son of Characters in Romeo and Juliet, Lord Characters in Romeo and Juliet#Lord Montague, Montague and his wife, Characters in Romeo and Juliet# ...
'' in 1776, a Singspiel by
Georg Benda Georg Anton Benda ( cz, Jiří Antonín Benda, italic=no, link=no; 30 June 17226 November 1795) was a composer, violinist and Kapellmeister of the Classical period (music), classical period from the Kingdom of Bohemia. Biography Born into a Bend ...

Georg Benda
, omits much of the action of the play and most of its characters and has a happy ending. It is occasionally revived. The best-known is Charles Gounod, Gounod's 1867 ''Roméo et Juliette'' (libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré), a critical triumph when first performed and frequently revived today. Vincenzo Bellini, Bellini's ''I Capuleti e i Montecchi'' is also revived from time to time, but has sometimes been judged unfavourably because of its perceived liberties with Shakespeare; however, Bellini and his librettist, Felice Romani, worked from Italian sources—principally Romani's libretto for ''Giulietta e Romeo (Vaccai), Giulietta e Romeo'' by Nicola Vaccai—rather than directly adapting Shakespeare's play. Among later operas, there is Heinrich Sutermeister's 1940 work ''Romeo und Julia''. ''Roméo et Juliette (symphony), Roméo et Juliette'' by Hector Berlioz, Berlioz is a "symphonie dramatique", a large-scale work in three parts for mixed voices, chorus, and orchestra, which premiered in 1839. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet (Tchaikovsky), ''Romeo and Juliet'' Fantasy-Overture (1869, revised 1870 and 1880) is a 15-minute symphonic poem, containing the famous melody known as the "love theme". Tchaikovsky's device of repeating the same musical theme at the ball, in the balcony scene, in Juliet's bedroom and in the tomb has been used by subsequent directors: for example, Nino Rota's love theme is used in a similar way in the 1968 film of the play, as is Des'ree's "Kissing You (Des'ree song), Kissing You" in the 1996 film. Other classical composers influenced by the play include Henry Hugh Pearson (''Romeo and Juliet, overture for orchestra'', Op. 86), Johan Svendsen, Svendsen (''Romeo og Julie'', 1876), Frederick Delius, Delius (''A Village Romeo and Juliet'', 1899–1901), Wilhelm Stenhammar, Stenhammar (''Romeo och Julia'', 1922), and Dmitri Kabalevsky, Kabalevsky (''Incidental Music to Romeo and Juliet'', Op. 56, 1956). The play influenced several jazz works, including Peggy Lee's "Fever (1956 song), Fever". Duke Ellington's ''Such Sweet Thunder'' contains a piece entitled "The Star-Crossed Lovers" in which the pair are represented by tenor and alto saxophones: critics noted that Juliet's sax dominates the piece, rather than offering an image of equality. The play has frequently influenced popular music, including works by The Supremes, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Lou Reed, and Taylor Swift. The most famous such track is Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits song), Romeo and Juliet". The most famous musical theatre adaptation is ''West Side Story'' with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It débuted on Broadway in 1957 and in the West End in 1958 and was twice adapted as popular films in West Side Story (1961 film), 1961 and in West Side Story (2021 film), 2021. This version updated the setting to mid-20th-century New York City and the warring families to ethnic gangs. Other musical adaptations include Terrence Mann's 1999 rock musical ''William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet'', co-written with Jerome Korman; Gérard Presgurvic's 2001 ''Roméo et Juliette, de la Haine à l'Amour''; Riccardo Cocciante's 2007 ''Giulietta e Romeo (musical), Giulietta & Romeo'' and Johan Christher Schütz; and Johan Petterssons's 2013 adaptation ''Carnival Tale (:sv:Tivolisaga, Tivolisaga)'', which takes place at a travelling carnival.


Literature and art

''Romeo and Juliet'' had a profound influence on subsequent literature. Before then, romance had not even been viewed as a worthy topic for tragedy. In Harold Bloom's words, Shakespeare "invented the formula that the sexual becomes the erotic when crossed by the shadow of death". Of Shakespeare's works, ''Romeo and Juliet'' has generated the most—and the most varied—adaptations, including prose and verse narratives, drama, opera, orchestral and choral music, ballet, film, television, and painting. The word "Romeo" has even become synonymous with "male lover" in English. ''Romeo and Juliet'' was parodied in Shakespeare's own lifetime: Henry Porter (playwright), Henry Porter's ''Two Angry Women of Abingdon'' (1598) and Thomas Dekker (writer), Thomas Dekker's ''Blurt, Master Constable'' (1607) both contain balcony scenes in which a virginal heroine engages in bawdy wordplay. The play directly influenced later Literature, literary works. For example, the preparations for a performance form a major plot in Charles Dickens' ''Nicholas Nickleby''. ''Romeo and Juliet'' is one of Shakespeare's most-illustrated works. The first known illustration was a woodcut of the tomb scene, thought to be created by Elisha Kirkall, which appeared in Nicholas Rowe's 1709 edition of Shakespeare's plays. Five paintings of the play were commissioned for the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery in the late 18th century, one representing each of the five acts of the play. Early in the 19th century, Henry Thomson (painter), Henry Thomson painted ''Juliet after the Masquerade'', an of which was published in The Literary Souvenir, 1828, with an accompanying poem by Letitia Elizabeth Landon. The 19th-century fashion for "pictorial" performances led to directors' drawing on paintings for their inspiration, which, in turn, influenced painters to depict actors and scenes from the theatre. In the 20th century, the play's most iconic visual images have derived from its popular film versions. David Blixt's 2007 novel ''The Master Of Verona'' imagines the origins of the famous Capulet-Montague feud, combining the characters from Shakespeare's Italian plays with the historical figures of Dante's time. Blixt's subsequent novels ''Voice Of The Falconer'' (2010), ''Fortune's Fool'' (2012), and ''The Prince's Doom'' (2014) continue to explore the world, following the life of Mercutio as he comes of age. More tales from Blixt's ''Star-Cross'd'' series appear in ''Varnished Faces: Star-Cross'd Short Stories'' (2015) and the plague anthology, ''We All Fall Down'' (2020). Blixt also authored ''Shakespeare's Secrets: Romeo & Juliet'' (2018), a collection of essays on the history of Shakespeare's play in performance, in which Blixt asserts the play is structurally not a Tragedy, but a Comedy-Gone-Wrong. In 2014 Blixt and his wife, stage director Janice L Blixt, were guests of the city of Verona, Italy for the launch of the Italian language edition of ''The Master Of Verona'', staying with Dante's descendants and filmmaker Anna Lerario, with whom Blixt collaborated on a film about the life of Veronese prince Cangrande della Scala. Lois Leveen's 2014 novel ''Juliet's Nurse'' imagined the fourteen years leading up to the events in the play from the point of view of the nurse. The nurse has the third largest number of lines in the original play; only the eponymous characters have more lines. The play was the subject of a 2017 General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) question by the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations board that was administered to students. The board attracted widespread media criticism and derision after the question appeared to confuse the Capulets and the Montagues, with exams regulator Ofqual describing the error as unacceptable. ''Romeo and Juliet'' was adapted into manga format by publisher UDON Entertainment's Manga Classics imprint and was released in May 2018.


Screen

''Romeo and Juliet'' may be the most-filmed play of all time. The most notable theatrical releases were
George Cukor George Dewey Cukor (; July 7, 1899 – January 24, 1983) was an American film director A film director controls a 's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the (or script) while guiding the and s in the fulfilment of that . The ...
's multi-Academy Award, Oscar-nominated Romeo and Juliet (1936 film), 1936 production,
Franco Zeffirelli Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli (12 February 1923 – 15 June 2019), commonly known as Franco Zeffirelli (), was an Italian director and producer of operas Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of per ...
's Romeo and Juliet (1968 film), 1968 version, and
Baz Luhrmann Bazmark "Baz" Luhrmann (born Mark Anthony Luhrmann, 17 September 1962) is an Australian director, writer, and producer with projects spanning film, television, opera, theatre, music, and recording industries. He is regarded by many as a contemp ...

Baz Luhrmann
's 1996 MTV-inspired ''William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, Romeo + Juliet''. The latter two were both, in their time, the highest-grossing Shakespeare film ever. ''Romeo and Juliet'' was first filmed in the silent era, by Georges Méliès, although his film is now lost. The play was first heard on film in ''The Hollywood Revue of 1929'', in which John Gilbert (actor), John Gilbert recited the balcony scene opposite Norma Shearer. Shearer and Leslie Howard, with a combined age over 75, played the teenage lovers in
George Cukor George Dewey Cukor (; July 7, 1899 – January 24, 1983) was an American film director A film director controls a 's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the (or script) while guiding the and s in the fulfilment of that . The ...
's Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, MGM Romeo and Juliet (1936 film), 1936 film version. Neither critics nor the public responded enthusiastically. Cinema-goers considered the film too "arty", staying away as they had from Warner's ''A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935 film), A Midsummer Night's Dream'' a year before: leading to Hollywood abandoning the Bard for over a decade. Renato Castellani won the ''Golden Lion#Golden Lion, Grand Prix'' at the Venice Film Festival for his Romeo and Juliet (1954 film), 1954 film of ''Romeo and Juliet''. His Romeo, Laurence Harvey, was already an experienced screen actor. By contrast, Susan Shentall, as Juliet, was a secretarial student who was discovered by the director in a London pub and was cast for her "pale sweet skin and honey-blonde hair". Stephen Orgel describes
Franco Zeffirelli Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli (12 February 1923 – 15 June 2019), commonly known as Franco Zeffirelli (), was an Italian director and producer of operas Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of per ...
's Romeo and Juliet (1968 film), 1968 ''Romeo and Juliet'' as being "full of beautiful young people, and the camera and the lush technicolour make the most of their sexual energy and good looks". Zeffirelli's teenage leads, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, had virtually no previous acting experience but performed capably and with great maturity. Zeffirelli has been particularly praised, for his presentation of the duel scene as bravado getting out-of-control. The film courted controversy by including a nude wedding-night scene while Olivia Hussey was only fifteen.
Baz Luhrmann Bazmark "Baz" Luhrmann (born Mark Anthony Luhrmann, 17 September 1962) is an Australian director, writer, and producer with projects spanning film, television, opera, theatre, music, and recording industries. He is regarded by many as a contemp ...

Baz Luhrmann
's 1996 ''
Romeo + Juliet ''William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet'' (often shortened to ''Romeo + Juliet'') is a 1996 romance film, romantic crime film, crime tragedy film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. It is a modernized adaptation of William ...
'' and its Romeo + Juliet (soundtrack), accompanying soundtrack successfully targeted the "MTV Generation": a young audience of similar age to the story's characters. Far darker than Zeffirelli's version, the film is set in the "crass, violent and superficial society" of Verona Beach and Sycamore Grove. Leonardo DiCaprio was Romeo and Claire Danes was Juliet. The play has been widely adapted for TV and film. In 1960,
Peter Ustinov Sir Peter Alexander von Ustinov (; 16 April 192128 March 2004) was a British actor, filmmaker and writer. He was a fixture on television talk show A talk show (or chat show in British English British English (BrE) is the standard ...

Peter Ustinov
's cold-war stage parody, ''Romanoff and Juliet (1961 film), Romanoff and Juliet'' was filmed. The 1961 film ''West Side Story (1961 film), West Side Story''—set among New York gangs—featured the Jets as white youths, equivalent to Shakespeare's Montagues, while the Sharks, equivalent to the Capulets, are Puerto Rican. In 2006, Disney's ''High School Musical'' made use of ''Romeo and Juliet'' plot, placing the two young lovers in different high-school cliques instead of feuding families. Film-makers have frequently featured characters performing scenes from ''Romeo and Juliet''. The conceit of dramatising Shakespeare writing ''Romeo and Juliet'' has been used several times, including John Madden (director), John Madden's 1998 ''Shakespeare in Love'', in which Shakespeare writes the play against the backdrop of his own doomed love affair. An anime series produced by Gonzo (company), Gonzo and SKY Perfect Well Think, called ''Romeo x Juliet'', was made in 2007 and the Romeo and Juliet (2013 film), 2013 version is the latest English-language film based on the play. In 2013, Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed the Bollywood film ''Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela'', a contemporary version of the play which starred Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in leading roles. The film was a commercial and critical success. In February 2014, BroadwayHD released a filmed version of the Romeo and Juliet (2013 Broadway play), 2013 Broadway Revival of ''Romeo and Juliet''. The production starred Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad.


Modern social media and virtual world productions

In April and May 2010, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Mudlark Production Company presented a version of the play, entitled ''Such Tweet Sorrow'', as an improvised, real-time series of tweets on Twitter. The production used RSC actors who engaged with the audience as well each other, performing not from a traditional script but a "Grid" developed by the Mudlark production team and writers Tim Wright and Bethan Marlow. The performers also make use of other media sites such as YouTube for pictures and video.


Astronomy

Two of Uranus’s moons, Juliet (moon), Juliet and Mab (moon), Mab, are named for the play.


Scene by scene

Image:Romeo and Juliet Q2 Title Page-2.jpg, Title page of the
Second Quarto The earliest texts of William Shakespeare's works were published during the 16th and 17th centuries in quarto or folio format. Folios are large, tall volumes; quartos are smaller, roughly half the size. The publications of the latter are usually a ...
of ''Romeo and Juliet'' published in 1599 Image:Prologue.jpg, Act I prologue Image:Scene-1.jpg, Act I scene 1: Quarrel between Capulets and Montagues Image:Scene 2.jpg, Act I scene 2 Image:Scene 3.jpg, Act I scene 3 Image:Scene 4.jpg, Act I scene 4 Image:Act I scene 5.jpg, Act I scene 5 Image:Miller-RomeoJulietAct1.jpg, Act I scene 5: Romeo's first interview with Juliet Image:Act 2 prologue.jpg, Act II prologue Image:Act II Scene III.jpg, Act II scene 3 Image:Smirke-JulietNurse.jpg, Act II scene 5: Juliet intreats her nurse Image:Act II Scene VI.jpg, Act II scene 6 Image:Rigaud-RomeoJuliet.jpg, Act III scene 5: Romeo takes leave of Juliet Image:Opie-JulietsDeath.jpg, Act IV scene 5: Juliet's fake death Image:Romeo and Juliet (Act IV, scene V).jpg, Act IV scene 5: Another depiction Image:Northcote-JulietAwakes.jpg, Act V scene 3: Juliet awakes to find Romeo dead


See also

*
Pyramus and Thisbe Pyramus and Thisbe are a pair of ill-fated lovers whose story forms part of Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Roman poet who lived during th ...
*Lovers of Cluj-Napoca *Lovers of Teruel *''Antony and Cleopatra'' *Tristan and Iseult * ''Mem and Zin''


Notes and references


Notes


References

All references to ''Romeo and Juliet'', unless otherwise specified, are taken from the Arden Shakespeare second edition (Gibbons, 1980) based on the Q2 text of 1599, with elements from Q1 of 1597. Under its referencing system, which uses Roman numerals, II.ii.33 means act 2, scene 2, line 33, and a 0 in place of a scene number refers to the prologue to the act.


Sources


Editions of ''Romeo and Juliet''

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Secondary sources

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External links

* *
''Romeo and Juliet''
at the British Library
''Romeo and Juliet''
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Full text with portraits and location drawings to make the play easy to follow from the printed page. * {{Featured article Romeo and Juliet, 1590s plays British plays adapted into films English Renaissance plays Fictional couples Literary duos Love stories Plays about families Plays adapted into ballets Plays adapted into operas Plays adapted into radio programs Plays adapted into television shows Plays set in Italy Plays set in the 16th century Suicide in fiction