Romeo and Juliet: Influence of Context

Topics: Sonnet, Romeo and Juliet, Poetry Pages: 2 (717 words) Published: May 13, 2012
The opening prologue to Romeo and Juliet is heavily shaped by the context of the Elizabethan period. The Elizabethan era was a truly religious time in England where astrology and supernatural beliefs controlled the way a person was treated if they had medical issues. The people of the era believed in a specific hierarchy; this was known as the Great Chain of Being. It is believed that God was the ruler of everything followed by angels and arch angels, humans, animals, plants and minerals. The prologue of Romeo and Juliet is written in sonnet form which created a contemporary feel to the play. Shakespeare's sonnets were popular among the English of the time period and they came to watch his plays in the Globe Theatre. His prologue in Romeo and Juliet is influenced by the history and beliefs of England at the time.

Sonnets were popular in the Elizabethan period because it was thought of as contemporary. One achievement by the English was their literature. Sonnets gained attention because of the way it was used as poetry. A sonnet has a distinct form. It consists of fourteen lines, three quatrains and a couplet. Shakespearean sonnets have a distinct rhyming scheme; a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f-g-g. It is also written in iambic pentameter, where a pattern of unstressed then stressed syllables are repeated five times in the line. The prologue of Romeo and Juliet is written in sonnet form and talks about what happens throughout the play.

The first four lines in the prologue may represent the War of the Roses and shows the theme hatred. This fight was between two families who were both direct descendants of King Henry III; the House of Lancaster and the House of York. This feud broke the peace in England; as in the play, two families have disrupted the peace of the country of Verona. They were, as the first line says, alike in dignity, and, as this civil war lasted 32 years, it has been considered that they had an old or ‘ancient’ grudge between them. In that time era...
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