Day 157: Review of Act I, first 3 scenes

1. Identifying characters. We looked at a lithograph of some characters from Act I, scene i (I.i). Students identified them, providing evidence for their answers.

2. Answering questions. In small groups, students looked through their text to answer questions about certain elements of the three scenes. Honors worked with extended metaphors and more complex questions, whereas Standard worked with details of character and plot.

3. Review of scene. We discussed important lines from the scenes as well as the main actions. Some key points:

  • The play starts out with bawdy sexual jokes between Sampson and Gregory, perhaps suggesting that this play will actually be all about lust and not love.
  • “The quarrel is between our masters and us their men,” Gregory says, illustrating how deep the “ancient grudge” between the families runs.
  • Benvolio (meaning “good will”) tries to break up the fight but is instead attacked by Tybalt.
  • Tybalt is hotheaded and will even fight the peacemaker: “What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word, / As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee,” he cries. Obviously, this guy is going to be trouble.
  • The Prince finally stops the fighting and threatens the families with a death penalty if they fight again (foreshadowing, anyone?): “If ever you disturb our streets again / Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.”
  • Romeo has been locking himself in his room and moping around at dawn because Rosaline won’t pay any attention to him. She has apparently sworn to be chaste (though maybe that’s just what she’s telling him). Romeo uses oxymoron to demonstrate his confusion at the pain of his unrequited love: “O brawling love, O loving hate,” etc.
  • Paris wants to marry Juliet, but her father, Lord Capulet, thinks she’s too young (she’s only 13; he thinks 15 or 16 is a much more reasonable age to marry).
  • Romeo and Benvolio run by chance into a Servant with a guest list to Lord Capulet’s ball. Romeo wants to go because Rosaline is invited. Benvolio wants to go so Romeo can see some other girls to get his mind off of Rosaline: “Compare her face with some that I shall show / And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.”
  • Lady Capulet urges Juliet to marry, making similar arguments to her as Paris made to Capulet: “Younger than you / Here in Verona, ladies of esteem / Are made already mothers,” to Paris’s, “Younger than she are happy mothers made.” However, Juliet is not interested: “[Marriage] is an honour that I dream not of,” she says.

HW: Read the rest of Act I for tomorrow. Study for quiz on Act I and Shakespeare’s theater.