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Explore How Themes Develop in 'Romeo and Juliet'

In this worksheet students will explore how themes develop in 'Romeo and Juliet', considering how they are presented through the Shakespeare's use of language/structure/dramatic devices.

'Explore How Themes Develop 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 on the balcony          dagger       Romeo and Juliet laying dead on the floor

 

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.

 

It is important that you know the key parts of the text where these themes are presented and also how they develop and change across the course of the play.

 

For a higher mark in the exam, it's also important to analyse Shakespeare's use of language/structure/dramatic devices.

 

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 imagery is used when Romeo expresses his love for Juliet in Act 2, Scene 2?

 

Romeo and Juliet in balcony scene

 

"Juliet is the sun."

Darkness imagery

Light imagery

Death imagery

Love is a key theme in the play.

 

Complete the passage below to analyse how Romeo's love for Juliet is presented in the play.

Darkness imagery

Light imagery

Death imagery

What technique does Shakespeare use to portray the atmosphere of hate, violence and conflict in the quotation below?

 

"For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring."

Metaphor

Simile

Onomatopoeia

Shakespeare explores how love and hate can exist together.

 

Complete the passage below to explore these themes further.

Metaphor

Simile

Onomatopoeia

Violence and conflict is explored as a theme in the play.

 

Which quotation in Act 3, Scene 1 shows how Romeo changes from a gentle submissive character to someone enraged and seeking revenge?

 

dagger

Remember to use quotation marks in the text box.

 

 

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

 

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 and Juliet laying dead on the floor

 

What technique is used in the play to highlight the idea of fate?

The prologue sets up the idea of fate.

 

Where is dramatic irony created in the play as a result of this?

 

Click on all accurate answers below.

"beauty's ensign yet Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, And death's pale flag is not advanced there."

"Yon light is not day-light, I know it"

"I dreamt my lady came and found me dead"

"Methinks I see thee, now thou art below, As one dead in the bottom of a tomb"

Shakespeare explores gender as a theme in the play.

 

Mercutio accuses Romeo of "vile submission" when he doesn't stand up to Tybalt.

 

After Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo worries that Juliet's beauty has made him "effeminate".

 

Who else in the play suggests that Romeo is not acting in a masculine way?

 

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.

 

 

Task:

Please open your text on Act 2, Scene 2 beginning with "Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear" and ending with 'Nurse calls within'.

 

How is the theme of love presented in this extract?

 

Try to write two paragraphs.

 

                     

Put your answer here:

  • Question 1

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

 

What kind of imagery is used when Romeo expresses his love for Juliet in Act 2, Scene 2?

 

Romeo and Juliet in balcony scene

 

"Juliet is the sun."

CORRECT ANSWER
Light imagery
EDDIE SAYS
Romeo uses lots of light imagery when he expresses his love for Juliet. He expresses how beautiful she is using this imagery. Think about the connotations of 'sun' - something that lights up the world and gives things life. Romeo compares Juliet to the sun, suggesting she lights up his world!
  • Question 2

Love is a key theme in the play.

 

Complete the passage below to analyse how Romeo's love for Juliet is presented in the play.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to fill all of the spaces? At first, we have to question how genuine Romeo's love for Juliet is due to the speed at which he changes his mind and how quickly he appears to fall deeply in love. The Friar suggests that the way in which he has jumped from one woman to another shows that he's fickle and not really deeply in love. Of course, as the play progresses, we see Romeo's determination to be with Juliet, perhaps suggesting that this time, the love he feels is very real. Indeed, he's willing to lose his life in order to be with her in heaven.
  • Question 3

What technique does Shakespeare use to portray the atmosphere of hate, violence and conflict in the quotation below?

 

"For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring."

CORRECT ANSWER
Metaphor
EDDIE SAYS
Shakespeare uses a metaphor here. Remember for the higher marks in the exam, it's important to analyse the writer's use of techniques. "hot days" is a metaphor for the rising tension that Benvolio feels in the atmosphere - he senses that there's conflict brewing. "mad blood" is also a metaphor for anger and rage, particularly relating to Tybalt's anger at Romeo for gate-crashing the Montague feast and the revenge he's now seeking. These metaphors help build tension for the audience watching and antipation that a fight will soon occur.
  • 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's relationship is forbidden and this causes them lots of problems. Juliet knows that she's meant to hate Romeo but she can't!. Despite killing her cousin, she still loves Romeo desperately. Her soliloquies (the moments where she talks to herself) and her conversations with her nurse, her confidante, allow the audience to see the inner conflict she is struggling with. Remember, for the higher marks, it's important to analyse Shakespeare's use of techniques - we have analysed his use of language here by exploring the way he employs oxymorons (opposite words placed together) to show how love and hate can exist together.
  • Question 5

Violence and conflict is explored as a theme in the play.

 

Which quotation in Act 3, Scene 1 shows how Romeo changes from a gentle submissive character to someone enraged and seeking revenge?

 

dagger

Remember to use quotation marks in the text box.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now."
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find this one? This is a great quotation to learn for the exam! It marks a turning point for Romeo and for the whole play. Up until this point, Romeo has held back from fighting Tybalt, in respect for Juliet. Of course, Tybalt isn't aware of their relationship at this point. However, as soon as Mercutio is killed, Romeo seeks revenge. Shakespeare personifies Romeo's fury here, describing it as "fire-eyed" which emphasises his uncontrollable rage at this point. Interestingly, we could also pick out the alliteration in this quotation - the harsh fricative sound of the "f's" force the actor to almost spit these words out, adding a tone of pure anger.
  • Question 6

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're 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 7

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 and Juliet laying dead on the floor

 

What technique is used in the play to highlight the idea of fate?

CORRECT ANSWER
Dramatic irony
EDDIE SAYS
Dramatic irony is used to highlight the idea of fate. Because the audience is told in the prologue that Romeo and Juliet will take their lives, we know all the way through the play that things aren't going to end well for them. Dramatic irony is where the audience knows more than the characters. This means that lots of things that happen in the play are given additional meaning because of the dramatic irony Shakespeare has created.
  • Question 8

The prologue sets up the idea of fate.

 

Where is dramatic irony created in the play as a result of this?

 

Click on all accurate answers below.

CORRECT ANSWER
"beauty's ensign yet Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, And death's pale flag is not advanced there."
"I dreamt my lady came and found me dead"
"Methinks I see thee, now thou art below, As one dead in the bottom of a tomb"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot three that create dramatic irony? Shakespeare reminds us of Romeo and Juliet's ultimate fate throughout the play. The dreams and visions of death mean more to us an audience than the characters because we know how real these dreams will become! The moment where Romeo says that Juliet still looks beautiful and not at all deathly and pale as he would expect is when the audience wants to scream 'but she's not dead!' Of course, through his portrayal of fate, Shakespeare suggests that nothing can be done to avert Romeo and Juliet's final destiny. This idea of fate would have been very relevant to Shakespeare's Elizabethan audiences who were religious and would have believed that God was in control of their destiny.
  • Question 9

Shakespeare explores gender as a theme in the play.

 

Mercutio accuses Romeo of "vile submission" when he doesn't stand up to Tybalt.

 

After Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo worries that Juliet's beauty has made him "effeminate".

 

Who else in the play suggests that Romeo is not acting in a masculine way?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Friar
Friar Laurence
EDDIE SAYS
Friar Laurence asks Romeo "Art thou a man?" This is when Romeo seeks Friar Laurence's advice and support after he kills Tybalt and is banished. Friar Laurence calls Romeo's tears "womanish". Remember that in Elizabethan times, gender stereotypes existed - men were expected to be dominant and powerful while women were considered emotional and delicate. Here, we see Shakespeare break these gender stereotypes by showing how Romeo is considered to have some 'feminine' attributes such as being emotional. However, he also clearly shows some 'masculine' attributes in the respect that he violently kills Tybalt. Shakespeare shows how his characters don't necessarily conform to gender stereotypes and can possess a variety of different character attributes regardless of their gender.
  • 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.

 

 

Task:

Please open your text on Act 2, Scene 2 beginning with "Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear" and ending with 'Nurse calls within'.

 

How is the theme of love presented in this extract?

 

Try to write two paragraphs.

 

                     

Put your answer here:

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A paragraph might look something like this: Juliet is presented as loving Romeo in this extract but is still able to use her head and think rationally. When Juliet tells Romeo to "swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon" Shakespeare is using the metaphor of the moon to represent how lovers' emotions can change. Juliet is wary of this which creates dramatic irony for Shakespeare's audiences who have already seen how changable Romeo is from his swift move from Rosaline to Juliet. Juliet goes onto complain that this meeting has been 'too rash', showing how Juliet's feelings for Romeo are less about lust and more about the development of deeper feelings. Romeo's love for Juliet is presented as a contrast to this when he continues to act with his heart, asking "wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?" Shakespeare presents Romeo's emotions as more lustful here, subverting the Elizabethan gender stereotype that considered women as emotional by showing Juliet to be the more level headed character in this relationship.
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