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The purpose of a prologue is to set the scene. Unlike prose, which has more freedom to develop the background as the story progresses and move forwards and backwards in time, a play is constrained to scenes in real time. Therefore, the prologue of a play is meant to give the audience an idea of what the story will be all about. It can provide background information that cannot be acted out in real-time or would distract from the flow of the play if it were. It also allows the author of the play the ability to speak directly to the audience rather than having to speak in first person through his/her characters. In the case of Romeo and Juliet, the prologue not only provides the audience with the background story, but it foreshadows the fate of Romeo and Juliet. The Chorus, who is not an actual character in the play, speaks the prologue.
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