Places: Romeo and Juliet

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1597

First produced: c. 1595-1596

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Tragedy

Time of work: Fifteenth century

Places DiscussedCapulets’ orchard

Capulets’ Romeo and Julietorchard. Walled orchard overlooked by Juliet’s window. A place where domestic comfort meets wild nature, the orchard is the place where the play’s star-crossed lovers pledge their troth, and through which Romeo enters Juliet’s chamber to consummate their secret marriage. There, too, the higher and lower aspects of love are contrasted: Juliet, above, representing true romance; and the lane by the wall, below, where Mercutio taunts Romeo with lewd jests.

Friar Laurence’s cell

Friar Laurence’s cell. Sacred place where the lovers repair from the cruel world to find solace and intimate counsel from their sympathetic priest. There the lovers privately confide in the friar their determination to commit suicide. There too the crucial elements of the tragedy’s plot are devised: plans for the secret marriage, the sleeping potion Juliet takes to avoid marrying Paris, and the miscarried letter to bring Romeo back from banishment in Mantua.

Capulets’ tomb

Capulets’ tomb. Place where love and death conjoin in a double suicide on holy ground. Seeming to be dead, Juliet is placed in the tomb, there to awake and find that Romeo has dealt Paris a bloody death and poisoned himself, thinking she is dead. When his lips afford her none of the poison, she plunges his dagger into her bosom. Significantly, the play ends there, not with their deaths, but with the families and townspeople crowding into the holy place to end their feud and honor the dead lovers.

BibliographyBattenhouse, Roy W. Shakespearean Tragedy: Its Art and Its Christian Premises. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969. Argues that in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare shows a mistrust of carnal love, which leads the protagonists to suicide and damnation; the suicides in the tomb at the end of the play are an inversion of the Easter story.Cartwright, Kent. Shakespearean Tragedy and Its Double: The Rhythms of Audience Response. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991. Examines how audiences respond to Shakespeare’s tragedies. Shows how an audience of Romeo and Juliet usually identifies strongly with the lovers, although the play compels detachment.Evans, Robert. The Osier Cage; Rhetorical Devices in “Romeo and Juliet.” Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1966. Explores the style of Romeo and Juliet, particularly Shakespeare’s use of opposites such as love and violence, darkness and light, and appearance and reality.Watts, Cedric. Romeo and Juliet. Boston: Twayne, 1991. One of the best starting places. Contains information on the history of the play and discusses its themes, sources, and characters.Wells, Stanley, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1986. All studies of Shakespeare should begin with this book. Includes excellent chapters on the poet’s life, the beliefs of Elizabethan England, and reviews of scholarship in the field.
Categories: Places