Romeo and Juliet - Extract 1

This GCSE English Literature quiz is the first of two extract questions for Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. It takes place during the first act of the play, after Romeo and his friends have decided to attend a party at the Capulet house, despite not having been invited. This passage presents Capulet and his cousin in fond conversation about their younger days and ends with the famous moment when Romeo and Juliet first meet. Read the passage through at least twice before tackling the questions. When answering, pay close attention to the text while also bearing in mind the wider issues of the play as a whole.

How to answer an extract question in an exam:

Ensuring you always read through the given passage more than once will improve your ability to answer extract questions in exams.

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As you first read through, aim for a broad understanding of the passage and particularly how it relates to the question or questions which you will answer. Reading through a second time allows you to begin noting details and making annotations. Consider why the specific passage has been chosen. How does it relate to the rest of the text? What is its place in the structure of the text? Does the passage introduce any significant characters or themes? What happens next? Are later events foreshadowed? If so, how? Note any developments which occur between the beginning and end of the passage. Why might the chosen extract end where it does instead of elsewhere? Is the final line significant?

Now think carefully about the question you have been asked to answer. Perhaps you will be discussing the mood and atmosphere of the extract, or a particular character. You might be asked to discuss dialogue, behaviour or feelings. You will also need to relate these details to the themes of the text. Remember to explain the passage’s immediate context: what events precede the extract? How do these events relate to those of the extract? Pay attention to detail, to setting and to characterisation. When writing, group related ideas together, but be sure to discuss the entire passage in your answer. Don’t forget to pace yourself. It’s important to leave enough time to write about the whole passage rather than covering one section in detail and neglecting the remainder of the extract!

Read the passage below carefully before answering the questions.

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CAPULET: How long is’t now since last yourself and I
Were in a masque?

CAPULET’S COUSIN: By’r Lady, thirty years.

CAPULET: What, man, ‘tis not so much, ‘tis not so much.
‘Tis since the nuptial of Lucentio,
Come Pentecost as quickly as it will,
Some five-and-twenty years; and then we masqued.

CAPULET’S COUSIN: ‘Tis more, ‘tis more. His son is elder, sir.
His son is thirty.

CAPULET: Will you tell me that?
His son was but a ward two years ago.

ROMEO [to a SERVINGMAN]: What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?

SERVINGMAN: I know not, sir.

ROMEO: O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
As a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear—
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight,
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.

TYBALT: This, by his voice, should be a Montague.
Fetch me my rapier boy. [Exit page]
What, dares the slave
Come hither, covered with an antic face,
To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?
Now, by the stock and honour of my kin,
To strike him dead I hold it not a sin.

CAPULET [standing]: Why, how now, kinsman? Wherefore storm you so?

TYBALT: Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe,
A villain that is hither come in spite
To scorn at our solemnity this night.

CAPULET: Young Romeo, is it?

TYBALT: ‘Tis he, that villain Romeo.

CAPULET: Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone.
A bears him like a portly gentleman,
And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
To be a virtuous and well-governed youth.
I would not for the wealth of all this town
Here in my house do him disparagement.
Therefore be patient, take no note of him.
It is my will, the which if thou respect,
Show a fair presence and put off these frowns,
An ill-beseeming semblance for a feast.

TYBALT: It fits when such a villain is a guest.
I’ll not endure him.

CAPULET: He shall be endured.
What, goodman boy, I say he shall. Go to,
Am I the master here or you? Go to —

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (Norton, 2008)

  1. What is the immediate context for this passage?
    Capulet and his cousin are watching the masquers, or masked dancers
  2. What immediately follows this passage?
    The argument between Tybalt and Capulet, his uncle, is followed by Romeo and Juliet's shared sonnet, which begins: "If I profane with my unworthiest hand"
  3. Capulet insults Tybalt by calling him "goodman boy". What is his insult intended to achieve?
    "Goodman" is also an insult to Tybalt, because it is not an appropriate address for noblemen
  4. Which of the following words best describes the tone of Capulet's conversation with his cousin?
    Capulet and his cousin fondly remember their own younger, masqueing days and are amazed at the quick passage of time
  5. Why does the page exit the stage?
    A rapier is a type of sword. Tybalt is determined to fight Romeo because he believes that Romeo's presence insults the Capulets
  6. To what intention does Romeo refer when he says, "And touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand"?
    The "measure" which Romeo is waiting to come to an end refers to the dance. He intends to speak to Juliet and expects to touch her hand as they dance together
  7. Romeo compares Juliet to which of the following?
    Romeo's similes express his perception of Juliet as standing out in striking contrast to everyone else
  8. Tybalt's argument with Capulet foreshadows his fatal duel with Romeo. Which of the following lines least contributes to this foreshadowing?
    Capulet attempts to assert his authority over his own house and his own relatives; Tybalt's behaviour demonstrates the difficulty which the older generation has in keeping the violence of the younger members of the two families in check
  9. Which of the following best describes the atmosphere of this passage?
    The scene sparkles with light and a brittle joy. Capulet's good mood and his awareness of his duties as a host allow him to be generous to Romeo's reputation and to his unexpected presence. The disagreement between Tybalt and his uncle, along with the reference to the rapier, introduces a note of sharpness and a reminder that this joyful state is temporary and can easily be destroyed
  10. Which of the following is more important to Capulet than his family's feud with the Montagues?
    Capulet's pragmatism allows him to place some considerations above his family's long-standing feud and demonstrates the potential for change in the city of Verona

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