Suggested Essay Topics

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Act I, Scenes 3-5
1. Explain the operation of fate and how it has worked in Scenes 1 and 2 of the play to help bring the two lovers together.

2. Explain the rules of marriage during the fourteenth century.

3. What major conflicts are established in the first scene?

4. Explain the purpose of the Prologue.

Act I, Scenes 3-5
1. Compare the love that Romeo feels for Juliet to the love that he felt for Rosaline.

2. Explain the imagery of light and dark in Act I and how it is used as symbols for Rosaline and Juliet.

3. How does Shakespeare use humor in Act I?

4. Trace how fate has brought the two lovers together.

Act II, Scenes 1 and 2
1. Explain how imagery and figures of speech make Scene 2 one of the most beautiful scenes in the play. Describe the imagery and figures of speech and illustrate how they are used.

2. Explain the purpose of Scenes 1 and 2.

3. Discuss Juliet’s concerns in the balcony scene.

Act II, Scenes 3 and 4
1. Name the two other people in the play who know about the love between Romeo and Juliet and explain how they help the lovers achieve their goals.

2. Explain Friar Laurence’s philosophy concerning the parts of a plant as compared to the potential actions of man.

3. Describe Mercutio and his role in the play.

Act II, Scenes 5 and 6
1. Explain the relationship between the Nurse and Juliet.

2. Explain the rules of courtship during this time period. Compare and contrast the actions of Paris and of Romeo in regard to courting and marriage.

3. Friar Laurence plays an important role in the lives of Romeo and Juliet. Explain his role in their lives—his concerns and his hopes.

Act III, Scenes 1 and 2
1. Describe the events that foreshadow the death of Tybalt.

2. Define pun and explain how it is used in this act.

3. Act III is considered the climax of the plot. Explain why this is so.

4. Describe the character of Mercutio and the part he plays in the life of Romeo.

Act III, Scenes 3 and 4
1. Discuss Friar Laurence’s plan to reunite Romeo and Juliet.

2. The nurse and Friar Laurence react differently to the situations presented in these scenes. Compare and contrast these reactions.

3. What events take place that complicate Juliet’s life?

Act III, Scene 5
1. Explain the relationship between Juliet and her parents. How has it changed from the beginning of the play?

2. Explain how Juliet has changed from the beginning of Act I up until Act III. Give examples of her behavior then and now.

3. Describe the role of the Nurse in Juliet’s life. How does this role change in Act III?

4. What event forms the climax or turning point of the play, and what complications does this event create for Romeo and Juliet?

Act IV, Scenes 1-3
1. Write a character sketch of Juliet emphasizing the internal conflict she is experiencing in this act.

2. How has the Friar’s hobby contributed to the plot of the play?

3. Discuss the four fears Juliet experiences just before she drinks the sleeping potion.

Act IV, Scenes 4 and 5
1. Describe the reactions of Lord Capulet, Lady Capulet, the Nurse, and Friar Laurence to the death of Juliet.

2. Define dramatic irony and give examples from this act.

Act V, Scenes 1 and 2
1. What coincidences occur in this act?

2. Explain fully what goes wrong with Friar Laurence’s plan to reunite the lovers.

Act V, Scene 3
1. Describe the role of Friar Laurence in the play and how he contributes to the fate of the lovers.

2. Explain in detail how Romeo and Juliet both mature during the course of the play. Cite examples from their speech or actions that illustrate your position.

3. How have the deaths of Romeo and Juliet affected the entire city of Verona?

4. Discuss the role of chance or coincidence in the play. How did it affect the ending of the play?

5. Discuss the role of Paris in the play.

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