Romeo and Juliet Crash Course - Part 1: Social and Historical Context

Social Context

  • The play was written in the 1500s but is set in the 1300s

  • In the 1300s it was common for young girls to marry from ages twelve to fourteen

  • Marriage was usually a political alliance, rather than for love

  • Marriages were arranged by the parents of the bride

  • The young girls would have to ‘court’ the suitors to get to know them better or to see fit they are a good match

  • Suitors were men that are interested in a certain girl, and they were typically much older than the potential bride

  • The purpose of marriage was to increase wealth and to brith children

  • The role of women in a marriage is to birth children and serve the husband obediently

  • Women would usually marry at age twelve and give birth the year after.


Historical Context

  • Shakespeare wrote this play to highlight the tragedy and comedy that can come from romance

  • At the time Shakespeare wrote this play, men would play the female characters, so young boys would have played Juliet

  • In Shakespeare’s time, the demand for play was not so high, as there were usually travelling performers who would perform on the streets

  • However, Shakespeare revolutionised the way theatre was performed by writing out scripts that were to be performed in theatres

  • Romeo and Juliet was one of the first play Shakespeare wrote and produced, so it had a great impact on the civilians who watched and loved theatre

  • Shakespeare wrote the play because he found that it was common for lovers to complain about the problems they’re faced with that forced them to separate from each other

  • In response to this, Shakespeare wrote the play to explain the worst possible situation lovers could find themselves in.

That concludes part 1 of our Romeo and Juliet Crash Course! Stay tuned for the next instalment.


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