Romeo and Juliet - Setting

This GCSE English Literature quiz is about setting in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The setting of a fictional work includes the location and the time in which events take place. In addition to the events explicitly depicted by a play, other occurrences taking place in the background might have an effect on characters, even if these are only mentioned in passing. These occurrences constitute a key component of a work’s setting, and are known as context (bear in mind the difference between the fictional context of a play’s setting and the author’s real-life context). Atmosphere is another important element of setting and in a play, it is usually very much a product of staging. Some playwrights explicitly describe the atmosphere they wish to be created onstage. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates atmosphere primarily with the language of characters, rather than with stage directions.

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Ensure that you spend some time considering the setting of the text you are studying. This is an important step in analysis. How does the world in which the characters live affect the decisions made over the course of the plot? Romeo and Juliet relies on its setting especially for the relative powerlessness of the two protagonists in making decisions for their own futures. The exotic setting also provides a pretext for the young couple’s headlong rush into disaster.

Geographical setting includes country, region and city; the environment, which might be urban or rural; the buildings or other places where events occur; and even the weather or time of day. Do all the events occur in the same place? How specific is the time at which these events occur? Do characters travel, or arrive from elsewhere? Are different settings contrasted with one another? Are different characters associated with different settings? Many of these contrasts are important in Romeo and Juliet

It can be useful sometimes to compare the time a text is set with when it was written. Do these times differ? Can you think of any reasons why an author might choose to set a text in the same time, but in an exotic place? Does this change our understanding of the story? How specific is the setting for Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy?

Answer the questions below on setting in Romeo and Juliet.

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  1. Paris refers to Juliet's tomb as her "bridal bed", while Romeo addresses the tomb as which of the following?
    As he wrenches open the tomb, Romeo refers to it as a "detestable maw" and a "womb of death". After seeing Juliet (who, as the audience knows, is still living), he calls the grave a "lantern", by which he means a lighthouse
  2. In which setting does the final scene take place?
    The family vault, or mausoleum, is the site of the final events of the play, including Romeo's killing of Paris. Juliet has been laid to rest within the tomb after her family believe she has died and the final stage directions involve the closing of the tomb
  3. Which of the following scenes does NOT take place in Juliet's bedroom?
    On stage, Juliet is "aloft" and Romeo standing below during their exchange of vows in Act Two, Scene One. In films of the play, Juliet is usually standing on a balcony during the scene
  4. Public places in Romeo and Juliet are associated with which of the following?
    The Capulets and the Montagues are accused of disturbing the peace of the city of Verona when the Prince charges them with public disruption: "Three civil brawls bred of an airy word / By thee, old Capulet, and Montague, / Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets." With the exception of Paris's death, the murders take place in the streets
  5. Where is Romeo and Juliet set?
    Verona is a city in Italy and was part of the Republic of Venice during Shakespeare's life. After being banished, Romeo travels to Mantua
  6. Romeo and Juliet marry in Friar Laurence's "cell". What is a cell in this context?
    A "cell" is the room in which a monk, nun, or friar sleeps. By marrying in such a private place, Romeo and Juliet keep their marriage as secret as they are able. Marrying in public would give their families a chance to insist on their marriage being annulled
  7. The play takes place in which century?
    While the scant detail of the play fits Renaissance Italy the era itself remains unspecified, lending an air of timelessness to the drama
  8. Where does Romeo first meet Juliet?
    It seems as though Romeo and Juliet have never seen one another despite the mutual rivalry of their families
  9. "And about his shelves / A beggarly account of empty boxes, / Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds, / Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses / Were thinly scattered to make up a show." To what does Romeo refer in these lines?
    His words describe evidence of the apothecary's poverty, which Romeo believes be in his favour as he attempts to procure poison
  10. The events of the play take place over how many days?
    On the first day Romeo and Juliet meet; on the second they are married and Romeo is banished; on the third Juliet is informed that she is to marry Paris. That night she takes the potion and thus the fourth day is that of her funeral. Romeo returns shortly before she awakens on the fifth day

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