What is a summary of the prologue of Romeo and Juliet?

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The Prologue of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet provides several spoilers about the tragedy's plot for those in attendance. It also displays Shakespeare's expertise as a sonneteer, as it is written in iambic pentameter and made up of twelve lines with alternating rhymes followed by a couplet in lines 13 and 14. It opens by telling the audience that the story takes place in Verona, where two wealthy families are involved in a bitter feud which has gone on for quite some time and often breaks out in "new mutiny." The offspring, who have been matched by the stars (a nod to the idea of fate as well as to astrology, which was very popular at the time), of these two families fall in love and eventually commit suicide, but before that the two will experience misadventure and "their parents' rage." The play will last about two hours, and the audience should have "patient ears." It didn't really matter to the audience if Shakespeare immediately gave away important plot elements. The audience members would be well-aware of the basic story of Romeo and Juliet from the poem by Arthur Brooke. Moreover, as the Prologue suggests, the audience has come to hear Shakespeare's words; they are not all that concerned with the plot. Shakespeare was experimenting with the English language in a way that was highly attractive to the 16th century London theater-going public and, of course, is still quite popular today. That the Prologue basically told the whole story before it even started didn't matter.

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