William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare's great love tragedy, 'Romeo and Juliet', is set
in Verona, Italy in the Sixteenth Century. The play is about two
star-crossed lovers, on different sides of a family feud between the
Montague household and the Capulet household, though through this
constant and deathly quarrelling, 'Romeo and Juliet' meet and
instantly fall in love, although their love is 'death-marked'.
The play opens with servants of the Montague and Capulet households
quarrelling. Shakespeare interests his audience not only by using
sword fighting, but also battles of wits and words, such as Mercutio's
. These street brawls help the audience to understand that their fight
is serious and that everyone, from the heads of the households, down
to the servants is involved, which contrasts well with the loving mood
The servants at the start of act one scene one use very crude humour,
joking abut rape and virginity - 'cut off their heads' - which would
have entertained Shakespearian audiences. After the servants begin to
feud, Benvolio enters and immediately tries to stop the fight; 'part
fools. Put up your swords', showing that there is also the option to
be peaceful and rational. Generally, Benvolio is presented by
Shakespeare as a peacekeeper, who shows loyalty to his aunt and uncle,
Lord and Lady Montague and his cousin Romeo. He is portayed as
sensible and wise, always giving a well-balanced view, in particular
when discussing Roseline with Romeo, 'examine other beauties'.
Although he would seem to be a pacifist, he does fight Tybalt when
Tybalt Capulet, cousin of Juliet and nephew of Lord and Lady Capulet
is introduced as a provocative character. He is very self-confident -
'Peace? I hate the word' - and is aggressive, shown in his eagerness
to draw Benvolio into a brawl, 'turn thee Benvolio, and look upon thy
In act one scene one, Lord's and Lady's Capulet and Montague are
introduced, and immediately they show the audience that the fight is
not just with the lower members of the household, and that the Lords
themselves despise each other. Despite their age, both Heads of the
households are eager to fight the other, almost in a childish manner.
Lady Capulet mocks her husband for trying to get involved in the
fight, 'a crutch! Why call you for a sword?', whereas Lady Montague
warns Lord Montague from participating in the clash; 'Thou shalt not
stir one foot to seek a foe'.
Romeo, heir to the Montague estate, in both scenes, does not appear
until quite a way into the fight or after it. He is described by Lord
Capulet as 'a virtuous and well governed youth', yet in the first
scene, he is found by...