romeo and juliet background information

[146], In the 19th and 20th century, Romeo and Juliet has often been the choice of Shakespeare plays to open a classical theatre company, beginning with Edwin Booth's inaugural production of that play in his theatre in 1869, the newly re-formed company of the Old Vic in 1929 with John Gielgud, Martita Hunt, and Margaret Webster,[147] 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's production as its inspiration. The performers also make use of other media sites such as YouTube for pictures and video. [131] 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. [20], In his 1562 narrative poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, Arthur Brooke translated Boaistuau faithfully but adjusted it to reflect parts of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. At the same time, emerging 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. [65], Time is also connected to the theme of light and dark. But whatever it was, when I was playing Romeo I was carrying a torch, I was trying to sell realism in Shakespeare. The premise of the young hero and heroine whose families are enemies is so appealing that Romeo and Juliet have become, in the modern popular imagination, the representative type of star-crossed lovers. [72] 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. Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity. 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. [31], The First Folio text of 1623 was based primarily on Q3, with clarifications and corrections possibly coming from a theatrical prompt book or Q1. This can be helpful even if you are only working with a short extract from the play. [79] Other forms in the play include an epithalamium by Juliet, a rhapsody in Mercutio's Queen Mab speech, and an elegy by Paris. Shakespeare’s principal source for the plot of Romeo and Juliet was The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet, a long narrative poem written in 1562 by the English poet Arthur Brooke, who had based his poem on a French translation of a tale by the Italian writer Matteo Bandello. "[68] Criticism of the play in the 18th century was less sparse but no less divided. [151], 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. For example, when Romeo talks about Rosaline earlier in the play, he attempts to use the Petrarchan sonnet form. This sonnet form is used by Lady Capulet to describe Count Paris to Juliet as a handsome man. The plot is based on an Italian tale translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562 and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1567. [21], It is unknown when exactly Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. [175] In Harold Bloom's words, Shakespeare "invented the formula that the sexual becomes the erotic when crossed by the shadow of death". [104] The word, balcone, did not exist in the English language until two years after Shakespeare's death. Performances in the 19th century, including Charlotte Cushman's, restored the original text and focused on greater realism. Persuaded by Benvolio and Mercutio, Romeo attends the ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline. Fully annotated editions first appeared in the Victorian period and continue to be produced today, printing the text of the play with footnotes describing the sources and culture behind the play. Da Porto gave Romeo and Juliet most of its modern form, including the names of the lovers, the rival families of Montecchi and Capuleti, and the location in Verona. Before then, romance had not even been viewed as a worthy topic for tragedy. The appeal of the young hero and heroine—whose families, the Montagues and the Capulets, respectively, are implacable enemies—is such that they have become, in the popular imagination, the representative type of star-crossed lovers. 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. Levenson defines "star-cross'd" as "thwarted by a malign star". [47] John W. Draper points out the parallels between the Elizabethan belief in the four humours and the main characters of the play (for example, Tybalt as a choleric). [96] Jonathan Goldberg examined the sexuality of Mercutio and Romeo utilising queer theory in Queering the Renaissance (1994), comparing their friendship with sexual love. Shakespeare borrowed from other famous tales written earlier in the sixteenth century but expanded upon the plot and characters to create his own version of the famous st… "[57][58] This contrast of light and dark can be expanded as symbols—contrasting love and hate, youth and age in a metaphoric way. Pope began a tradition of editing the play to add information such as stage directions missing in Q2 by locating them in Q1. [27], The superior Q2 called the play The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet. [112] Another version closely followed Davenant's adaptation and was also regularly performed by the Duke's Company. It has been more than 400 years since William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. 86), Svendsen (Romeo og Julie, 1876), Delius (A Village Romeo and Juliet, 1899–1901), Stenhammar (Romeo och Julia, 1922), and Kabalevsky (Incidental Music to Romeo and Juliet, Op. The new production opened on Broadway in December 1934. [174], Romeo and Juliet had a profound influence on subsequent literature. [210][n] The conceit of dramatising Shakespeare writing Romeo and Juliet has been used several times,[211][212] including John Madden's 1998 Shakespeare in Love, in which Shakespeare writes the play against the backdrop of his own doomed love affair. O heavy lightness, serious vanity, 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. This version updated the setting to mid-20th-century New York City and the warring families to ethnic gangs. "[133], Peter Brook's 1947 version was the beginning of a different style of Romeo and Juliet performances. Baz Luhrmann's 1996 Romeo + Juliet and its accompanying soundtrack successfully targeted the "MTV Generation": a young audience of similar age to the story's characters. The play, set in Verona, Italy, begins with a street brawl between Montague and Capulet servants who, like their masters, are sworn enemies. "[32] In any event, its appearance in early 1597 makes 1596 the latest possible date for the play's composition. Miss Cushman's Romeo is a creative, a living, breathing, animated, ardent human being. [27] But the play's stylistic similarities with A Midsummer Night's Dream and other plays conventionally dated around 1594–95, place its composition sometime between 1591 and 1595. [66][67], The earliest known critic of the play was diarist Samuel Pepys, who wrote in 1662: "it is a play of itself the worst that I ever heard in my life. Romeo describes Juliet as being like the sun,[52] brighter than a torch,[53] a jewel sparkling in the night,[54] and a bright angel among dark clouds. 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. Juliet Impelled by a code of honour among men, Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished to Mantua by the Prince of Verona, who has been insistent that the family feuding cease. Corrections? 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. When Juliet’s father, unaware that Juliet is already secretly married, arranges a marriage with the eminently eligible Count Paris, the young bride seeks out Friar Laurence for assistance in her desperate situation. [112] Not until 1845 did Shakespeare's original return to the stage in the United States with the sisters Susan and Charlotte Cushman as Juliet and Romeo, respectively,[120] and then in 1847 in Britain with Samuel Phelps at Sadler's Wells Theatre. [112] His innovation in the closing scene was even more enduring, and was used in adaptations throughout the next 200 years: Theophilus Cibber's adaptation of 1744, and David Garrick's of 1748 both used variations on it. [121] Cushman adhered to Shakespeare's version, beginning a string of eighty-four performances. [31] However, "the theory, formulated by [Alfred] Pollard," that the 'bad quarto' was "reconstructed from memory by some of the actors is now under attack. [183] 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. In Shakespeare's day, plays were most often performed at noon or in the afternoon in broad daylight. [d] This forced the playwright to use words to create the illusion of day and night in his plays. The Times wrote: "For a long time Romeo has been a convention. [215][216] In February 2014, BroadwayHD released a filmed version of the 2013 Broadway Revival of Romeo and Juliet. Other critics, such as Dympna Callaghan, look at the play's feminism from a historicist angle, stressing that when the play was written the feudal order was being challenged by increasingly centralised government and the advent of capitalism. By using metaphors of saints and sins, Romeo was able to test Juliet's feelings for him in a non-threatening way. The scene is shifted from Renaissance Verona to ancient Rome; Romeo is Marius, Juliet is Lavinia, the feud is between patricians and plebeians; Juliet/Lavinia wakes from her potion before Romeo/Marius dies. Neither critics nor the public responded enthusiastically. An authorized quarto appeared in 1599, substantially longer and more reliable. Switchblades replaced swords, feasts and balls became drug-laden rock parties, and Romeo committed suicide by hypodermic needle. One of these is Pyramus and Thisbe, from Ovid's Metamorphoses, which contains parallels to Shakespeare's story: the lovers' parents despise each other, and Pyramus falsely believes his lover Thisbe is dead. Upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, two patent companies (the King's Company and the Duke's Company) were established, and the existing theatrical repertoire was divided between them. [157][158] 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 by Nicola Vaccai—rather than directly adapting Shakespeare's play. This is why it is crucial to know something about its historical context. William Shakespeare - William Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet: Apart from the early Titus Andronicus, the only other play that Shakespeare wrote prior to 1599 that is classified as a tragedy is Romeo and Juliet (c. 1594–96), which is quite untypical of the tragedies that are to follow. [70], 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 exchange between Benvolio and Mercutio just before Tybalt arrives). [92] 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. Some of the most distinct film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet are Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version of the same name, which notably cast actors similar in age to the play’s young protagonists; Baz Luhrmann’s visually vibrant 1996 Romeo + Juliet; and the 2013 zombie romantic comedy Warm Bodies.

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