Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers

William Shakespeare

Read real teacher answers to our most interesting Romeo and Juliet questions.

Who wrote Romeo and Juliet?

William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet.

When was the play written?

Romeo and Juliet was written in the mid-1590s.

What is the setting of Romeo and Juliet?

The setting is Verona and Mantua, Italy, during the fourteenth or fifteenth century.

Who are the main characters in Romeo and Juliet?

The main characters are Romeo Montague, Juliet Capulet, Friar Laurence, Juliet’s nurse, and Lord and Lady Capulet.

What are some symbols in Romeo and Juliet?

Flowers: One of the most famous lines in literature comes from Romeo and Juliet: “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” Here, flowers symbolize both beauty and love.

Stars: Romeo and Juliet are the “star-cross’d lovers.” Stars in this play are symbols of fate. The fact that the lovers are “cross’d” bespeaks the tragedy that is to come.

Darkness and Light: At the beginning of the play, Romeo is alone and depressed. His father says that his personal darkness is like “adding clouds to more clouds." But later, his depression lifts when Romeo compares Juliet’s beauty to light, the ethereal quality that defines her: “But soft! What light from yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun."

Poison: Friar Laurence concocts a “poison” that will make Romeo appear dead. His plan backfires and the young lovers commit suicide. Poison is a symbol of the way good people can make bad choices.

What are the main themes in Romeo and Juliet?

Love: Romantic love is the dominant theme in the play. The powerfulness and blindness of love is paramount to all concerned, and that is especially true for Romeo and Juliet.

Us vs. Them: The young lovers’ refusal to conform is the other dominant theme. Although society presents many obstacles and reasons why Romeo and Juliet cannot be together, the pair pursues their own happiness.

Fate: We know from the beginning that the lovers are doomed. As much as they may try to thwart fate, their destinies are predetermined.

What is the full title of Romeo and Juliet?

The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

What does it mean to call someone a "Romeo"?

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has become a modern symbol for archetypical young love. The terms "Romeo" and "Juliet" (particularly the less common name "Romeo") have become synonymous with "lover." That's how ubiquitous the play has become! If you say to anyone, "He's such a Romeo," they'll know exactly what you mean. 

Over how many days does the plot of Romeo and Juliet take place?

An interesting consideration is the role of time in Romeo and Juliet. The star crossed lovers' story is characterized by haste and rush. The entire play takes place over a span of about four to six days. Romeo and Juliet fall in love and die tragically in less than a week! Shakespeare was clearly trying to emphasize the alacrity and headlessness of the rush into passionate love, especially amongst the younger generation. 

What inspired Shakespeare to write Romeo and Juliet?

The narrative of Romeo and Juliet is one of the most ancient human stories there is: the tale of tragic lovers. The primary source for Shakespeare's story seems to have been "Pyramus and Thisbe," an ancient Greek myth about lovers whose families loathe each other. Their story is preserved in Ovid's Metamorphoses

How is Romeo impetuous?

Romeo had to be characterized as unusually impetuous, even for a young man. Everything in the play has to happen within a limited time frame, and Romeo is the instigator. He sees and falls madly in love with Juliet in a matter of minutes--or seconds. He also forgets Rosaline within a short time. Then he arranges to be married to Juliet with the same impetuous haste. By Act III, Scene 5, they have already spent the night in each other's arms. Romeo's impetuosity seems infectious. It influences Juliet to marry Romeo without any engagement period and without her parents' knowledge, much less their consent. It also influences Friar Laurence to perform the wedding immediately and in secret. Perhaps Shakespeare decided to make Juliet such a young girl to make it plausible that she could be so easily swept away. A lot happens in Romeo and Juliet within a very short time frame. It seems as if they have lived out their whole lifetimes on "fast forward," so to speak.

How are arranged marriages portrayed in Romeo and Juliet?

An important theme is Romeo and Juliet is that of arranged marriages versus marriages motivated by love. In Juliet's time, it would have been quite natural for her to marry Paris. He looks like a perfect "catch." He is handsome, rich, and socially prominent. In Act I, Scene 3 when her mother tells her Paris is in love with her, Juliet replies:

I'll look to like, if looking liking move;

But she deviates from the norm by choosing Romeo because Romeo is the man she loves. Would she have been better off if she had married the man her parents chose for her? Would arranged marriages be better, worse, or just about the same for young people today?

Nowadays in America, young people want nothing to do with marriages arranged by their parents. They want to find the right person and "fall in love." The media encourage them to believe in "love." It seems as if every popular song is about love. There are so many millions of young women and so many millions of young men all looking for Mr. Right or Miss Right that it seems like an impossible task.