Romeo and Juliet: The Prologue
Created 3 years ago
In this lesson, students will complete a close reading of the Prologue to Romeo and Juliet.
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Slide 1 - Romeo and JulietThe Prologue
- Devon O’Brien, English 8
Slide 2 - By the end of this lesson, you will be able to…
- Define “prologue” and understand the function of the chorus in classical and Shakespearean theatre.
- Read and annotate the Prologue, with the goal of making meaning and developing full comprehension of the text.
- Develop a framework for comprehending and analyzing the play.
Slide 3 - (Pre)Test Yourself
Slide 6 - Terms: Prologue & Chorus
Slide 7 - What is a “prologue” anyway?
- Prologue comes from Greek. “Pro” means before, and “log” (or “logue”) means discourse or speech.
- According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, “The ancient Greek prologos… took the place of an explanatory first act. A character, often a deity, appeared on the empty stage to explain events prior to the action of the drama, which consisted mainly of a catastrophe.”
- Think about it this way: A prologue can prepare the audience for what is to come. Though most people today approach Romeo and Juliet knowing what to expect, in Shakespeare’s time, that was not the case. Having a prologue can allow your audience to follow your story, and it can build suspense or anticipation about the events to come.
Slide 8 - And, what about the Chorus?
- The Prologue to Romeo and Juliet is spoken by the Chorus. This Chorus is different than the one that sings at the school’s Winter Concert.
- The Chorus is another convention that comes out of Greek theatre. The Chorus is a group of people who reports, and comments on, the action of the play. They represent the community and functions as witnesses or judges of the events that take place.
- Shakespeare used this convention, though his plays were very different from those produced in ancient Greece. If you think about it, a playwright can control his or her audience’s perception of, and reaction to, the events in the drama through strategic use of a Chorus. Remember, this was long before voice overs and other “tricks” of the video age.
Slide 9 - The Text
Slide 10 - Here is the text of the 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 foesA pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;Whose misadventured piteous overthrowsDo with their death bury their parents' strife.The fearful passage of their death-mark'd 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.
Slide 11 - Now listen to it…
Slide 12 - Close Reading
Slide 13 - Two households, both alike in dignity,
- In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
- Alike in dignity:
- Having the same social standing or coming from the same class
Slide 14 - From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
- Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
- Mutiny: rebellion against authority
- Civil: not military; courteous and polite
Slide 15 - From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;Whose misadventured piteous overthrowsDo with their death bury their parents' strife.
- Forth the fatal…: from the wombs of enemies
- Star-cross’d: ill-fated, doomed
- Misadventured: unlucky
Slide 16 - The fearful passage of their death-mark'd 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;
- Nought: nothing
Slide 17 - The which if you with patient ears attend,What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.