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Analyse the Role of Key Characters and Their Development in 'Romeo and Juliet'

In this worksheet students will analyse the key characters in 'Romeo and Juliet', considering Shakespeare's use of language, structure and dramatic devices and how the characters reflect the context in which the play was written.

'Analyse the Role of Key Characters and Their Development in 'Romeo and Juliet'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   Eduqas, OCR, Pearson Edexcel, AQA

Curriculum topic:   Shakespeare

Curriculum subtopic:   Romeo and Juliet

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

How does Shakespeare present the characters in 'Romeo and Juliet'?

 

Romeo and Juliet on the balcony

 

 

In the Literature exam, you may be asked to write about how a particular character is presented in an extract from 'Romeo and Juliet'.

 

You will also need to know the play well enough to write about how a character is presented in the play as a whole.

 

 

To achieve a higher mark in the exam, you need to show that you are analysing a character.

 

To do this try to:

- pick out some of the language/structure/dramatic devices used to present the character and consider their effects.

- consider how the character reflects something about the context in which Shakespeare was writing.

 

In this activity we will practise analysing the characters in 'Romeo and Juliet'.

 

 

You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples.  These quotations are for reference only.

How would you describe Romeo's mood when we first meet him in Act 1, Scene 1?

 

"In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman."

Excited

Depressed

Angry

Romeo meets Juliet at the Capulet feast and quickly appears to fall in love with her.

 

Romeo and Juliet in balcony scene

 

Which quotation below uses light/dark imagery to show how Romeo loves Juliet?

"It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon"

"See, how she leans a cheek upon her hand."

"O, speak again, bright angel!"

Underline the word in the quotation below that shows that Benvolio wants to avoid conflict.

 

\"I pray thee, good Mercutio, let\'s retire.\"

Match the quotations below to what they show us about Juliet's characteristics. 

Column A

Column B

Juliet knows her own mind
"I pray you, tell my lord and father, madam, I wil...
Juliet thinks rationally
"And I'll no longer be a Capulet."
Juliet is willing to go against her family
"It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden"

How would you describe Tybalt?

 

Click on all of the accurate answers below.

Loyal

Calm

Sensitive

Quick tempered

Violent

Complete the passage below to analyse the character of Mercutio.

Loyal

Calm

Sensitive

Quick tempered

Violent

Which quotation shows Lord Capulet as a stereotypical Elizabethan father?

"My child is yet a stranger in the world."

"I think she will be ruled in all respects by me."

"You'll make a mutiny among my guests."

Match the quotations below to the analytical comment about the character.

Column A

Column B

Friar Lawrence is optimistic that Romeo and Juliet...
"Thou wast the prettiest babe that e'er I nursed."
Paris is caring and sensitive to Juliet's grief fo...
"The valiant Paris seeks you for his love."
Lady Capulet is a traditional Elizabethan woman co...
"These times of woe afford no time to woo."
The nurse is affectionate and caring towards Julie...
"Hold, daughter. I do spy a kind of hope"

In the prologue we are told that Romeo and Juliet will take their own lives:

 

' A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life'

 

Romeo and Juliet laying dead on the floor

 

The audience know how this story will end before the characters do.

 

What technique is Shakespeare using here?

 

It is now time to have a go at a mini essay question.

 

In the exam you will presented with an extract from the play.

 

You will need to consider an aspect of this extract, perhaps a character or a theme.

 

For the highest marks you will need to show an analysis of the writer's techniques used and consider how key contextual factors are reflected in the extract.

 

 

Task:

Please open your text on Act 3, Scene 1 and focus on the part of the text starting from where Tybalt enters and ending with "Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?"'

 

Question: How is Mercutio presented in this extract?

 

Try to write two paragraphs.

  • Question 1

How would you describe Romeo's mood when we first meet him in Act 1, Scene 1?

 

"In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman."

CORRECT ANSWER
Depressed
EDDIE SAYS
Romeo is depressed when we first meet him. He's dramatic and emotional in this scene and tells Benvolio about his unrequited love -he thinks he's in love with Rosaline but says that she won't return his affections. Romeo talks about how he just can't forget her but Shakespeare might suggest here that Romeo might just like the idea of being in love rather than really actually being in love with Rosaline. Afterall, he moves on very quickly!
  • Question 2

Romeo meets Juliet at the Capulet feast and quickly appears to fall in love with her.

 

Romeo and Juliet in balcony scene

 

Which quotation below uses light/dark imagery to show how Romeo loves Juliet?

CORRECT ANSWER
"It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon"
EDDIE SAYS
The first option depicts Juliet as the sun against the night sky. Here Shakespeare uses light/dark imagery in Romeo's soliloquy to portray his love for Juliet. Remember that before this, Romeo had felt depressed at his unrequited love for Rosaline. His mood was dark. In Act 2, Scene 2, the balcony scene, Romeo uses lots of light/dark imagery to express how beautiful he finds Juliet and how much he has fallen for her. If we consider the connotations of 'sun' we might think about it's warmth, it's power in keeping the Earth alive and it's ability to make things grow. All of these things reflect Romeo's very strong feelings for Juliet. She has brought him back to life from his depression and is giving him strength again! She has lit up his dark world!
  • Question 3

Underline the word in the quotation below that shows that Benvolio wants to avoid conflict.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire."
EDDIE SAYS
"retire" means to move away. Benvolio says 'The day is hot'. Shakespeare uses 'hot' as symbolism to reflect anger and rising tempers. Benvolio knows that the Capulets are around and is worried that a brawl will occur if they stay out on the streets as well. The fact that Benvolio wants to avoid a fight, shows that he's a calm and peaceful character. Here we're analysing a quotation by considering what it shows us about a character - this is an important skill for the exam!
  • Question 4

Match the quotations below to what they show us about Juliet's characteristics. 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Juliet knows her own mind
"I pray you, tell my lord and fat...
Juliet thinks rationally
"It is too rash, too unadvised, t...
Juliet is willing to go against h...
"And I'll no longer be a Capulet....
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to match them all? Juliet falls in love with Romeo and is passionate about him. However, she is less emotional and more grounded that Romeo. She doesn't want to rush into anything and is keen to do things properly. Shakespeare also presents Juliet as decisive and headstrong - she certainly knows her own mind. We see her standing up to her parents, telling them that she doesn't want to marry Paris and is willing to go against her family name in order to be with Romeo. Remember that Elizabethan England was a partriarchal society and women had very little rights. Women were ruled by the men in the household and children were considered the property of their fathers. A daughter's marriage would be agreed and arranged by her father. This all makes Juliet's ability to speak her mind to her father all the more admirable.
  • Question 5

How would you describe Tybalt?

 

Click on all of the accurate answers below.

CORRECT ANSWER
Loyal
Quick tempered
Violent
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find three that are correct? Tybalt is one of the most fiery characters in the play. Shakespeare shows how deeply loyal he is to his family and the long standing feud with the Montagues. When he sees Romeo at the Capulet feast, he's terribly angry, calling him a 'villain' and he's desperate for Romeo to be punished. When Lord Capulet tells him to keep the peace, Tybalt can't handle this. His deep sense of loyalty won't let him allow Romeo to go unpunished. His blood is boiling! We see him seek Romeo out and is quick to argue and get into a violent fight. Of course, this first ends with Mercutio's death when Tybalt really wanted Romeo's life. Remember that in Elizabethan England family loyalty was a big thing. Tybalt reflects this aspect of society in 'Romeo and Juliet'.
  • Question 6

Complete the passage below to analyse the character of Mercutio.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to fill all of the spaces? Mercutio is a complex character. On the one hand, he is witty and jokey but he is also deeply bitter about the world he sees around him. Shakespeare presents him as a loyal friend, very much representative of the value placed on family loyalty in Elizabethan England, and ultimately, it's this loyalty that leads to his death. He's angered by the way Romeo backs away from the fight, not knowing about Romeo's relationship with Juliet, and is determined to take this on himself. His clever word play is used to tease Tybalt, whose quick temper won't allow him to step back either. Shakespeare presents these men as stereotypical Elizabethan men in this scene - hot headed and quick to turn to violence.
  • Question 7

Which quotation shows Lord Capulet as a stereotypical Elizabethan father?

CORRECT ANSWER
"I think she will be ruled in all respects by me."
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot the second one? After Tybalt's death, Lord Capulet believes that a marriage to Paris will ease Juliet's grief. Earlier in the play he had said that he thought Juliet was too young for marriage but told Paris that he would agree to the match if Paris managed to woo her. After Tybalt's death, Shakespeare shows us Lord Capulet's power as the father of Juliet. He expects that she'll obey him, as daughters during Elizabethan society, were expected to do. Of course, Juliet is not the stereotypical passive Elizabethan daughter - she knows her own mind and is determined to follow it!
  • Question 8

Match the quotations below to the analytical comment about the character.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Friar Lawrence is optimistic that...
"Hold, daughter. I do spy a kind ...
Paris is caring and sensitive to ...
"These times of woe afford no tim...
Lady Capulet is a traditional Eli...
"The valiant Paris seeks you for ...
The nurse is affectionate and car...
"Thou wast the prettiest babe tha...
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to match them all? Remember that in the exam, you'll need to be able to write about any of the characters and analyse their presentation in an extract. You will need to think about what different parts of the extract show us about the character by considering quotations and exploring what they reveal. Remember that you'll also need to write about the character in other parts of the play. In your revision, try to compile a list of key parts of the text for each character and what Shakespeare shows us about the character in these sections.
  • Question 9

In the prologue we are told that Romeo and Juliet will take their own lives:

 

' A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life'

 

Romeo and Juliet laying dead on the floor

 

The audience know how this story will end before the characters do.

 

What technique is Shakespeare using here?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Dramatic irony
EDDIE SAYS
Dramatic irony is used here. This is an important technique that Shakespeare uses in 'Romeo and Juliet'. We are told in the prologue that the only thing that will end the feud between the Capulets and Montagues will be the death of Romeo and Juliet As we watch the play and see Romeo and Juliet's love blossom, we know that things won't end well for them. Of course, Shakespeare's audiences would also have been familiar with the conventions of tragedy, the genre of 'Romeo and Juliet.' Shakespeare builds tension and anticipation in the play through his use of dramatic irony, heightening the sense of tragedy for this doomed young love.
  • Question 10

It is now time to have a go at a mini essay question.

 

In the exam you will presented with an extract from the play.

 

You will need to consider an aspect of this extract, perhaps a character or a theme.

 

For the highest marks you will need to show an analysis of the writer's techniques used and consider how key contextual factors are reflected in the extract.

 

 

Task:

Please open your text on Act 3, Scene 1 and focus on the part of the text starting from where Tybalt enters and ending with "Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?"'

 

Question: How is Mercutio presented in this extract?

 

Try to write two paragraphs.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A paragraph might look something like this: Mercutio is shown to tease and taunt Tybalt with his word play when Tybalt asks for a "word." Mercutio's response "Make it a word and a blow" shows how cleverly he is able to use words to rile Tybalt. The double meaning of his use of "blow" suggests not only a violent "blow" but is also sexual innuendo intended to vex Tybalt. Shakespeare reflects the importance of family loyalty through the character of Mercutio when he expresses his anger at how Romeo backs down from fighting with Tybalt, not knowing about his relationship with Juliet. Mercutio's exclamation "O, calm, dishonourable, vile submission!" uses the rule of three to express his outrage at Romeo and how much value he places on upholding the family's honour.
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