How does the Prologue reflect the fundamental concerns carried throughout Romeo and Juliet?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Prologue of the drama does a great job of establishing the exposition to all that follows.  Even the most basic read of the element of literature is established in this small opening.  Shakespeare is able to maximize the pinnacle of audience interest, at its outset, in order to clearly establish what is going to unfold and the fundamental concerns of the drama.  The Prologue establishes the two warring families in the setting of the play, Verona.  In this, Shakespeare makes very clear that the tension and warring between both families will form a critical concern of the play and creates something that will not leave throughout the drama.  The Prologue also establishes that there is a contradictory tone of love that is brought out amidst this conflict, setting up the basic tension that will carry the audience from start to finish.  The contrast of love amidst a background of war is what makes the drama in the Prologue reflect the fundamental concern that will be present consistently in the drama.  How does love exist in the midst of intense anger?  How do individuals seek to rise above the world in which they live?  How can individuals be a part of the world and yet be distinct from it?  These concerns help to drive the play and are established in the opening.