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Identify Key Themes in 'Romeo and Juliet'

In this worksheet, students will explore the key themes in 'Romeo and Juliet'.

'Identify Key Themes 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

   Romeo and Juliet laying dead on the floor      dagger          Romeo and Juliet balcony scene

 

In the exam, you might be asked to comment on the presentation of a theme or idea in an extract from the play and then consider this theme or idea in the play as a whole.

 

Some of the themes Shakespeare explores in the play are:

 

Love

Hate/Conflict

Violence

Revenge

Family

Loyalty

Gender

Identity

Fate

Individual vs. society/private vs. public

 

Have a go at the following questions to revise the key themes Shakespeare explores in 'Romeo and Juliet'.

 

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

 

Shakespeare explores the theme of love in 'Romeo and Juliet'.

 

What kind of love is expressed in the following quotation?

 

"O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!"

Parental love

Romantic love

Friendship

What other types of love are explored in the play?

 

Match the type of love to the characters below.

 

Column A

Column B

Unrequited love
Romeo and Rosaline
Parental love
The nurse and Juliet
Love from family loyalty
Romeo and Benvolio/Mercutio
Friendship
Romeo and Friar Laurence

What theme is explored in the following quotation? 

 

"...thou art a villain"

 

Shakespeare explores how love and hate can exist together.

 

Complete the passage below to explore these themes further.

What themes are explored in the quotation below?

 

dagger

 

"O God! did Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood?"

 

Fate

Love

Violence

Death

Gender

Death and violence is a key theme in the play.

 

Match the characters to what happens to them in the play.

Column A

Column B

Mercutio
kills herself with a dagger when she awakes from h...
Tybalt
is killed by Romeo when they get into at the Capul...
Paris
takes a poison to kill himself when he is mistaken...
Romeo
is killed by Romeo who is avenging the death of Me...
Juliet
is killed by Tybalt who really wanted to kill Rome...

Complete the passage below to explore some of the other themes that Shakespeare presents in the play.

 

Column A

Column B

Mercutio
kills herself with a dagger when she awakes from h...
Tybalt
is killed by Romeo when they get into at the Capul...
Paris
takes a poison to kill himself when he is mistaken...
Romeo
is killed by Romeo who is avenging the death of Me...
Juliet
is killed by Tybalt who really wanted to kill Rome...

Fate is another key theme in 'Romeo and Juliet'. 

 

Fate means that someone's life is already mapped out for them - their destiny has already been decided.

 

Romeo andJuliet laying dead on the floor

 

Which quotation below links to the theme of fate?

"...death-mark'd love"

"...both alike in dignity"

"...civil blood makes civil hands unclean"

Shakespeare explores the idea of gender in the play.

 

Which characteristics do you think were stereotypically associated with men and women in Elizabethan society?

 

 MenWomen
Emotional
Powerful
Delicate
Strong
Honourable
Submissive

Have a go at the following activity to check your learning on the key themes in 'Romeo and Juliet'.

 TrueFalse
Romeo's love for Juliet is unrequited love
Shakespeare only explores romantic love
Shakespeare explores how love and hate can exist together
Hate is a key theme in the play because the Capulets and Montagues have an "ancient grudge"
Benvolio gets revenge by killing Tybalt
Both Romeo and Tybalt seek revenge in the play
Family loyalty leads to violence and death
In Elizabethan England women expected to be strong and dominant
Shakespeare explores how Romeo and Juliet's love is doomed from the start
  • Question 1

Shakespeare explores the theme of love in 'Romeo and Juliet'.

 

What kind of love is expressed in the following quotation?

 

"O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!"

CORRECT ANSWER
Romantic love
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot that this was Romeo's line, just after he sees Juliet for the first time? He expresses an immediate attraction for Juliet - we could say this is love at first sight. Romeo is so taken aback with Juliet's beauty here! It's their romantic love which the play follows.
  • Question 2

What other types of love are explored in the play?

 

Match the type of love to the characters below.

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Unrequited love
Romeo and Rosaline
Parental love
The nurse and Juliet
Love from family loyalty
Romeo and Benvolio/Mercutio
Friendship
Romeo and Friar Laurence
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? Although the play focuses on Romeo and Juliet's relationship, Shakespeare also explores many different types of love. Unrequited love is a love that isn't returned - Rosaline doesn't return Romeo's affections for her much like Juliet doesn't return Paris'! The nurse shows parental love for Juliet because she has brought Juliet up from a baby and has a closer connection to her than her own parents. Lots of love from family loyalty is shown through various different relationships in the play - indeed, it's this love that often results in conflict. Think about Mercutio's love for Romeo. Finally, friendship is also explored in the play. An example being the way in which the Friar offers advice and support to Romeo is a great example of this kind of love.
  • Question 3

What theme is explored in the following quotation? 

 

"...thou art a villain"

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Hate
Conflict
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation is Tybalt expressing his hatred for Romeo in Act 3, Scene 1 - hate and conflict are also key themes in the play. This is the scene where both Mercutio and Tybalt die as a result of their hate for one another. Much of the hate and conflict that occurs stems from the "ancient grudge" we're told about in the prologue of the play.
  • Question 4

Shakespeare explores how love and hate can exist together.

 

Complete the passage below to explore these themes further.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to fill all of the spaces? Romeo and Juliet have an instant connection when they first set eyes on each other - this is before they know who the other person is! When the nurse tells Juliet that Romeo is a Montague, Juliet knows that this is a problem. Romeo and Juliet's love is in conflict with their family's feelings for each other - the long-standing family feud means that their love is forbidden.
  • Question 5

What themes are explored in the quotation below?

 

dagger

 

"O God! did Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood?"

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Violence
Death
EDDIE SAYS
Death and violence are explored here. This quotation is taken from when the nurse tells Juliet about Tybalt's death. Juliet is devastated to hear that Romeo has killed Tybalt and has been banished. This scene follows one of the most violent scenes of the play where we see a lot of bloodshed, all stemming from the "ancient grudge" between the Montagues and the Capulets.
  • Question 6

Death and violence is a key theme in the play.

 

Match the characters to what happens to them in the play.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Mercutio
is killed by Tybalt who really wa...
Tybalt
is killed by Romeo who is avengin...
Paris
is killed by Romeo when they get ...
Romeo
takes a poison to kill himself wh...
Juliet
kills herself with a dagger when ...
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to match them all? Shakespeare explores how much death occurs all because of the "ancient grudge" we hear about in the prologue. The two families are shown to be constantly fighting and after the first death (Mercutio) things just spiral more and more out of control. Indeed, we're told in the prologue that it takes the death of the two lovers to finally end the feud between the two families. This is what makes the play a tragedy - if the families had not been fighting, Romeo and Juliet's love wouldn't have been forbidden and they could've lived happily in their love for each other.
  • Question 7

Complete the passage below to explore some of the other themes that Shakespeare presents in the play.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? Family loyalty and revenge are key themes in the play. Everyone on the Montague side sticks up for each other and everyone on the Capulet side sticks up for each other! They are loyal to their own people. However, they also won't let things drop! Lord Capulet wanted to keep the peace at the feast but this just enrages Tybalt. He has to get his own back and goes looking for Romeo to get his revenge. Where else do we see revenge in the play? Think about Romeo's response to Mercutio's death - he suddenly becomes determined to take Tybalt's life. He also wants revenge!
  • Question 8

Fate is another key theme in 'Romeo and Juliet'. 

 

Fate means that someone's life is already mapped out for them - their destiny has already been decided.

 

Romeo andJuliet laying dead on the floor

 

Which quotation below links to the theme of fate?

CORRECT ANSWER
"...death-mark'd love"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot the first one? This quotation is taken from the prologue. Here Shakespeare sets up the idea of fate by suggesting that Romeo and Juliet's love was "death-mark'd" - that it was never intended to survive. Shakespeare explores the idea of fate in their relationship as Romeo and Juliet have no control over the events in their lives. Fate means that they were meant to meet the way they did but fate also determines that their love will also bring their deaths.
  • Question 9

Shakespeare explores the idea of gender in the play.

 

Which characteristics do you think were stereotypically associated with men and women in Elizabethan society?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
 MenWomen
Emotional
Powerful
Delicate
Strong
Honourable
Submissive
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? Shakespeare was writing in the Elizabethan period - this was a patriarchal society. Men were expected to be masculine - powerful, dominant and strong enough to defend their honour. Women, on the other hand, were expected to be submissive to men and were considered weak and delicate. Think about where you see these attributes in Shakespeare's characters? Do his characters conform to these gender stereotypes?
  • Question 10

Have a go at the following activity to check your learning on the key themes in 'Romeo and Juliet'.

CORRECT ANSWER
 TrueFalse
Romeo's love for Juliet is unrequited love
Shakespeare only explores romantic love
Shakespeare explores how love and hate can exist together
Hate is a key theme in the play because the Capulets and Montagues have an "ancient grudge"
Benvolio gets revenge by killing Tybalt
Both Romeo and Tybalt seek revenge in the play
Family loyalty leads to violence and death
In Elizabethan England women expected to be strong and dominant
Shakespeare explores how Romeo and Juliet's love is doomed from the start
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to get them all? Shakespeare explores lots of key themes in the play. Romeo and Juliet have a love at first sight. It isn't unrequited love because Juliet returns Romeo's affections. Romeo's love for Rosaline was an example of unrequited love. However, Shakespeare does present Romeo and Juliet's love as doomed through his exploration of the theme of fate. Whilst lots of different love is explored in the play, so is hate. However, not all of the characters express hate and carry out violence. Benvolio is a relatively peaceful character, backing away from the violence. However, Romeo and Tybalt do both seek revenge and both cause bloodshed. Finally, Shakespeare was writing in a patriarchal society - women were expected to be submissive and men were considered the dominant sex.
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