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When William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet thought to be 1595-7 the story was already well-known as a tale of young forbidden love Source The Oxford Companion to English Literature Ed Margaret Drabble In writing his play as a romantic tragedy Shakespeare presented a true love doomed by family feuds rivalry jealousy revenge secrecy and fate The familiar idea of Romeo as a romantic lover thwarted by feuds and family loyalty would have been appreciated by his 16th Century audience in a time of divided religions and family loyalties war and codes of honour Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet in 12th Century Verona as one of the as one the original settings and also because Italy would be understood to represent somewhere romantic hot-blooded and with a history of feuds and vendettas Romeo first appears as a young man already in love with Rosaline and is persuaded to gatecrash the Capulets masked ball He instantly falls in love with Juliet marries her secretly but then tragically kills her cousin Tybalt in revenge for the murder of his friend Mercutio Romeo is then banished attempts to re-unite with Juliet but fatefully their plans go wrong and they both die tragically Only then do their families the feuding Montagues and Capulets admit that their enmity had doomed the lovers Act III Scene I is a pivotal point of the play advancing the plot by forcing Romeo into violence murder and exile The feud between the Montague and the Capulets is therefore re-inforced towards the tragic ending The characterisation is also vital revealing how a disagreeable quarrel becomes murderous and the cause of Romeos banishment At the opening of the scene Benvolio Romeos kinsman and friend is anxious to avoid a quarrel He signals his awareness that trouble may be brewing I pray thee good Mercutio lets retire The day is hot the Capulets abroad Act III Sc I l 1-2 This is typical of Benvolio he is
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