Introduction & Overview of Romeo and Juliet

This Study Guide consists of approximately 148 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Romeo and Juliet.
This section contains 285 words
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Romeo and Juliet Summary & Study Guide Description

Romeo and Juliet Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Sources for Further Study and a Free Quiz on Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

The exact year in which William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet is unknown, but it is definitely one of his earlier works, and one of only two tragedies written in the period from 1590 to 1595. The other tragedy, Titus Andronicus followed the conventions of Seneca and Marlowe, i.e., built around a single heroic figure, but Romeo and Juliet was innovatively different. The plot was based on a fourteenth-century Italian short story, or novella, written by Matteo Bandello, that included elements of history, tradition, romance, and fable. This story had been put into verse form in 1562 by British poet Arthur Brooke. In Shakespeare's hands, fashionable elements of Elizabethan drama were inserted, certain characters were magnified, and sensational scenes were added. In addition, Shakespeare surrounded the innocent lovers with the mature bawdiness of other characters. In truth, the play was experimental for its time, but it was well-received by contemporary audiences and  remained popular through the centuries. For a long time, critics tended to downgrade Romeo and Juliet in comparison to Shakespeare's later tragedies. But in the twentieth century the play gained appreciation for its unique merits and  became a standard of high school study and was produced in various media.

Romeo and Juliet is as much about hate as love. The play opens with a scene of conflict between the two feuding families and ends with their reconciliation. Nonetheless, the play is considered one of the greatest love stories of all time, complicated by the interplay of fate and repeated misfortune in timing. The juxtaposition of light and dark, the injection of comic moments, and the beauty of the language of love further enhance the play and make it a classic for all time.

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This section contains 285 words
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Romeo and Juliet from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.