Romeo And Juliet Time Period And Its Influence
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.
Romeo And Juliet Time Period — Elizabethan Era
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 there was also a rebellion to stop Mary, the Queen of Scotland, reverting England to Catholicism; this was known as the Reformation. During the war there were many fights between the Lancaster’s and York’s. This may be the explanation for line four. As it says ‘civil blood makes civil hands unclean’ it could mean the blood of soldiers has made the opponents hands unclean.
The theme of fate and fortune in Romeo and Juliet is shown by the line
‘A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life’
William Shakespeare, Romeo And Juliet Time Period
The word, ‘star-cross’d’ portray that the two lovers, Romeo and Juliet, will meet because the stars are aligned for them. This shows that fate is a concept in Shakespeare’s play. Fortune was a big part of the Elizabethan world and was believed to be the main controlling force in life. From zodiac signs to the wheel of Fortune, Elizabethan’s believed in fate and the signs that would be given to them by these aspects.
It was believed that the fortunes of everyone were affected by the events in heaven. They believed that the star you were born under would determine the life you may have in the future. The wheel of Fortune consisted of the four seasons and showed that a man who had a high position could fall. The process of the wheel of Fortune is presented in the prologue. ‘Whose misadventure piteous overthrows’ shows that something has happened for God to overthrow Romeo. As we know, Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished from Verona.
Since he is from a high position and a well-respected family, the wheel of fortune has turned on him. He has fallen from his high-ranking status and banished. The context of the Elizabethan period shaped the prologue of Romeo and Juliet. By using many themes from the time period Shakespeare’s prologue is in the form of a sonnet. It was considered as a modern way of writing poetry and was popular with Elizabethan people. The themes he has used to write it was hatred, fate and fortune. His text may have also been influenced from the War of the Roses and the Reformation.