Romeo And Juliet, Act I Prologue
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth, with their death, bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-marked love
And the continuance of their parents’ rage —
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove —
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which, if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Summary of Romeo And Juliet, Act I Prologue
- Popularity of “Romeo And Juliet Act I Prologue”: Written by William Shakespeare, the “Romeo And Juliet Act I Prologue” is a famous excerpt from one of his renowned plays, Romeo and Juliet. It was first published in 1597 in a quarto edition of the play, and later in the 1623 First Folio. The Prologue sets the stage for the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet, introducing the audience to the ongoing feud between the Capulet and Montague families and foreshadowing the lovers’ doomed fate. The play’s popularity has endured for centuries, with countless adaptations, stage productions, and film adaptations.
- “Romeo And Juliet Act I Prologue” As a Representative of Love: “Romeo And Juliet, Act I Prologue” is a representative example of Shakespeare’s mastery of poetic language and his ability to set the tone for a play with just a few lines. The use of iambic pentameter and rhyme scheme in the Prologue creates a musical and lyrical effect, drawing the audience into the world of the play. The Prologue also serves as an example of Shakespeare’s penchant for using prologues to provide exposition and context for his plays. Furthermore, the themes of love, conflict, and fate introduced in the Prologue are central to many of Shakespeare’s works, making it a representative example of his larger body of work. It stands as a testament to Shakespeare’s skill as a wordsmith.
- Major Themes in “Romeo And Juliet Act I Prologue”: The “Romeo And Juliet, Act I Prologue” introduces several major themes central to the play. First, the theme of love is introduced, as the Prologue describes Romeo and Juliet as “star-crossed lovers” who are fated to fall in love despite the ongoing feud between their families. This sets up the idea that love can conquer all, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Second, the theme of conflict is highlighted, as the Prologue mentions the “ancient grudge” between the Capulet and Montague families that fuels the ongoing violence and strife in the play. This theme sets the stage for the larger conflict that will drive the action of the play. Finally, the theme of fate is introduced, as the Prologue suggests that the lovers’ tragic end is predestined by the stars. This theme of fate versus free will is a recurring motif in the play. It also sets up the tension between the characters’ desires and the forces that seem to be working against them.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Romeo And Juliet Act I Prologue
- Alliteration: The repetition of the same initial consonant sound in words that are close together. Example of “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes” (Line 5) shows the “f” sound that creates a sense of foreboding and emphasizes the fatal nature of the feud between the Capulet and Montague families.
- Allusion: A reference to a well-known person, event, or work of art, often used to help convey a particular idea or theme. An example of “The fearful passage of their death-marked love” (Line 9) alludes to the idea of fate or destiny.
- Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds in words that are close together. An example of “Doth, with their death, bury their parents’ strife” (Line 9) shows “e” sound creating a sense of finality and resolution.
- Consonance: The repetition of consonant sounds in words that are close together, especially at the end of words. An example of “Whose misadventured piteous overthrows” (Line 7) show the repetition of the “d” and “t” sounds, creating a sense of harshness and tragedy.
- Enjambment: The continuation of a sentence or clause from one line of poetry to the next, without a pause or break. An example of “Whose misadventured piteous overthrows / Doth, with their death, bury their parents’ strife” (Lines 7-8) shows the lack of a pause or break, emphasizing the idea of fate and inevitability.
- Hyperbole: Exaggeration or overstatement used for emphasis or effect. One such example is “Death-marked love” (Line 6). This hyperbole emphasizes the idea of fate and tragedy.
- Metaphor: A comparison between two unlike things, often used to create a vivid image or convey an idea. Its example is “star-crossed lovers” (Line 6). This metaphor emphasizes the idea of fate and the idea that the lovers are destined to be together.
- Oxymoron: A figure of speech that combines two contradictory terms for effect. An example is “civil blood makes civil hands unclean” (Line 4). The oxymoron emphasizes the idea that even something as noble as fighting for one’s family can lead to dishonor and bloodshed.
- Symbolism: The use of symbols to represent or suggest ideas, qualities, or emotions. Its example is the “star-crossed lovers” (Line 6). The symbol of the stars emphasizes the idea of fate and the lovers being destined to be together.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Romeo And Juliet Act I Prologue
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- Diction: The term “diction” refers to the choice and use of words in a literary work. In the prologue of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses formal and elevated language to set the tone and establish the tragic nature of the play. For example, the opening line, “Two households, both alike in dignity” (line 1) uses formal language to describe the social status of the feuding families.
- End Rhyme: The prologue of Romeo and Juliet is written in a sonnet form, which means it has a specific rhyme scheme and structure. The poem uses end rhyme, which is the repetition of the same sounds at the end of each line. For example, in the first quatrain, the end rhyme is “seen,” “unclean,” and “queen” (lines 3-5).
- Meter: The prologue is written in iambic pentameter, which is a type of poetic meter that consists of ten syllables per line, with emphasis on every other syllable. For example, in the opening line, “Two HOUSE-holds, BOTH a-LIKE in DIG-ni-TY” (line 1), the stressed syllables are capitalized.
- Rhyme Scheme: The prologue of Romeo and Juliet is written in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet, which has a specific rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. This means that the first and third lines of each quatrain rhyme, as do the second and fourth lines. The final two lines called the couplet, also rhyme with each other. For example, the rhyme scheme of the first quatrain is ABAB (lines 1-4).
- Tone: The tone of the prologue is somber and tragic, foreshadowing the death and destruction that will occur in the play. The use of formal language, elevated diction, and the sonnet form contribute to the serious and solemn tone of the poem. For example, in the final couplet, the tone is ominous as it suggests that the love between Romeo and Juliet will lead to their downfall: “The fearful passage of their death-marked love, / And the continuance of their parents’ rage” (lines 9-10).
Quotes to be Used
This quote describes how love and passion give people the strength and courage to overcome obstacles and challenges in order to be together. It could be used in a wedding or anniversary speech to celebrate the power of love and the importance of overcoming challenges together as a couple.
But passion lends them power, time means, to meet,
Temp’ring extremities with extreme sweet.”