Romeo and Juliet Themes in Act I Love • Look at the theme of love and analyze how different characters view love: Romeo, Juliet, Lord Capulet, Lady Capulet, Nurse, and Mercutio. • Look at the following scenes from Act I that reference love: – Prologue – Romeo and Benvolio’s discussion about Rosaline. – Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting at the party. Marriage • Examine how different characters view the sanctity of marriage: Juliet, Lord Capulet, Lady Capulet, Nurse and Paris. • Look at the following scenes in Act I: – Lord Capulet and Paris’ discussion regarding marriage. – Juliet, Nurse and Lady Capulet’s discussion involving Paris. Destiny • Romeo finds that destiny or fate is ruling he and Juliet’s outcome. Whenever you see references to the stars, Shakespeare is trying to show that fate is controlling the outcome. • For examples in Act I, look in the following places: – In the prologue where the two are introduced as “star-crossed” lovers. – Where Romeo is discussing his concern regarding going to the party. Light and Darkness • The theme of Light and Darkness permeates this love story. When looking at this theme, decide how Shakespeare using this theme to create a mood and better understanding of the characters. • In Act I, the following scenes are relative to this theme: – How Romeo behaves when saddened by his unrequited love for Rosaline. – How Romeo describes Juliet upon first seeing her at the party. Parental Power • During this time period (1500s), parents held great power over their children, more so over the daughters than the sons. How does the theme of Parental Power move the story? • In Act I, look at the following: – Lord Capulet’s discussion with Paris. – Lady Capulet’s discussion with Juliet. – Lord Capulet’s scolding of Tybalt at the party. Banishment versus Death • Which is worse? Banishment or death? Analyze the outcomes of when someone dies and when someone is banished. – Romeo is exiled by the Prince. – Tybalt and Mercutio are both murdered. *You may also choose to look at all the references to death in relationship to love rather than actual death. Youth and Age • The older generation and the younger generation see life from very different perspectives. How does this affect the story? – Romeo and Juliet’s rush to get married even after Friar Laurence’s warnings. – Tybalt and Mercutio’s untimely death. The youth can’t seem to keep the peace. Time and Death • You can analyze time and death together. In the beginning of Romeo and Juliet time is referred to as dragging until the two lovers meet and then time races. This leads to many deaths. – The rushed wedding is significant. – Time seems to be against R&J from the start in reference to their time together. Family Feuds • The family feud intensifies during the play. In the beginning, no one is harmed in the brawl. Analyze its development and how it ends. – The Montague and Capulets’ first encounter in the play. – R&J’s first encounter. – Mercutio and Tybalt’s death. Love and Hate • Analyze the many references to love and hate in the play. – R&J’s realization that they are enemies. – Romeo’s refusal to fight Tybalt. – The two families’ need to fight—a kind of love/hate relationship.