William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet has become familiar to the point of cliche; an icon of romantic love. But when the play was first performed, c.1594-6, it would have been a bold and surprising interpretation of tragedy. Tragedy conventionally focused on the fall of great and powerful men (think of Shakespeare's best known tragic heroes: Hamlet, Othello, Lear, Macbeth) while romance was the stuff of comedy, but in Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare made two teenage lovers and the domestic quarrels that surrounded them the focus for tragedy. In so doing he explored the fraught interplay of family relations, desire, clandestine marriage, loyalty, violence, ritual, and the role of servants and clerics. For Romeo and Juliet is not …

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Citation: Roberts, Sasha. "Romeo and Juliet". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 June 2002; last revised 10 September 2019. [https://staging.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=2326, accessed 26 February 2024.]

2326 Romeo and Juliet 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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