Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers

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Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare

Study Questions


What effect
does the accelerated time scheme have on
the play’s development? Is it plausible that a love story of this
magnitude could take place so quickly? Does the
play seem to take place over as little time as it
actually occupies?

Because of the intensity of the relationship
between Romeo and Juliet and the complex development of events during
the few days of the play’s action, the story can certainly seem
to take place over a time span much longer than the one it actually
occupies. By compressing all the events of the love story into just
a few days, Shakespeare adds weight to every moment, and gives the
sense that the action is happening so quickly that characters barely
have time to react, and, by the end, that matters are careening
out of control. This rush heightens the sense of pressure that hangs
in the atmosphere of the play. While it may not seem plausible for
a story such as Romeo and Juliet to take place over a span of only
four days in the real world, this abbreviated time scheme makes
sense in the universe of the play.


Compare and
contrast the characters of Romeo and Juliet. How do they develop
throughout the play? What makes them fall in love with one another?

Romeo is a passionate, extreme, excitable,
intelligent, and moody young man, well-liked and admired throughout
Verona. He is loyal to his friends, but his behavior is somewhat
unpredictable. At the beginning of the play, he mopes over his hopeless
unrequited love for Rosaline. In Juliet, Romeo finds a legitimate
object for the extraordinary passion that he is capable of feeling,
and his unyielding love for her takes control of him.

Juliet, on the other hand, is an innocent girl, a child
at the beginning of the play, and is startled by the sudden power
of her love for Romeo. Guided by her feelings for him, she develops
very quickly into a determined, capable, mature, and loyal woman
who tempers her extreme feelings of love with sober-mindedness.

The attraction between Romeo and Juliet is immediate and
overwhelming, and neither of the young lovers comments on or pretends to
understand its cause. Each mentions the other’s beauty, but it seems
that destiny, rather than any particular character trait, has drawn
them together. Their love for one another is so undeniable that
neither they nor the audience feels the need to question or explain


Compare and
contrast the characters of Tybalt and Mercutio. Why does Mercutio
hate Tybalt?

As Mercutio tells Benvolio, he hates Tybalt
for being a slave to fashion and vanity, one of “such antic, lisping,
affecting phantas- / ims, these new tuners of accent! . . . these
fashionmongers, these ‘pardon-me’s’ ” (2.3.25–29).
Mercutio is so insistent that the reader feels compelled to accept
this description of Tybalt’s character as definitive. Tybalt does
prove Mercutio’s words true: he demonstrates himself to be as witty,
vain, and prone to violence as he is fashionable, easily insulted,
and defensive. To the self-possessed Mercutio, Tybalt seems a caricature;
to Tybalt, the brilliant, earthy, and unconventional Mercutio is
probably incomprehensible. (It might be interesting to compare Mercutio’s
comments about Tybalt to Hamlet’s description of the foppish Osric
in Act 5, scene 2 of Hamlet, lines 140–146.)


Themes Motifs and Symbols Quick Quiz

Suggestions for Further Reading

More Help

  • No Fear Romeo and Juliet

  • Character List

  • Romeo: Character Analysis

  • Plot Analysis

  • Are Romeo and Juliet really in love?

  • Quotes by Theme

  • Themes

  • Review Quiz


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