This week, my class has been working on For this week’s post, I decided that it would be a good idea to talk more about Romeo and Juliet. And to do so, I will be telling you 5 interesting facts that I hope you didn’t know about the play.
Fact number one, the conflict between the Montagues and the Capulets wasn’t mentioned for the first time in the play. In a poem written by Dante Alighieri called “Divine Comedy”, but was written more than 250 years before Shakespeare was born. In the poem, the poet makes this reference:
“Come and see, you who are negligent, / Montagues and Capulets, Monaldi and Filippeschi: / One lot already grieving, the other in fear. / Come, you who are cruel, come and see the distress / Of your noble families, and cleanse their rottenness.”
Fact number two, another idea that isn’t very original on Shakespeare’s part was practically the majority of the story. There was a poem written in 1562 by Arthur Brooke titled “The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet”. Brooke’s poem is also set in Verona, Italy , is also about a rival between two families (Montagues and Capulets), and about the two star-crossed lovers, Romeus Montague and Juliet Capulet. So, Shakespeares key ideas of the story may not have been original, but he did bring this poem to life. Plus, by adding his own touches to it.
Fact number three, it wasn’t until 65 years after the play was first premiered that the role of Juliet was played by a woman for the first time. Back then, or up until 1660, all stage roles were performed by men. The first woman to play Juliet was by a woman named Mary Saunderson in 1662. If you’d like to learn more about the history of women in theatre, click here.
Fact number four, if you didn’t know already, there was a pretty big age gap between Juliet and Romeo (although it was pretty normal at the time the play was written). Juliet was supposed to be 13, Romeo somewhere between the ages of 16 and 21 and Paris (someone who her parents wanted her to marry in the story) somewhere between 25 and 29.
Fact number five, the famous “balcony scene” supposedly didn’t involve a balcony in the original play. In the stage directions for Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare writes that Juliet appears at a “window”, but doesn’t involve a balcony. The reason for this was that Elizabethan England didn’t even know what a balcony was. So, the balcony scene was brought to life by Thomas Otway’s adaption of the play (1679), called The History and Fall of Cauis Marius.
Anyways, that is all for now. I hope you learned something!
Bevington, David. “Romeo and Juliet, work by Shakespeare”. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Romeo-and-Juliet Accessed Jan 25 2021.
“Five Fascinating Facts about Romeo and Juliet”. Interesting Literature. https://interestingliterature.com/2016/01/five-fascinating-facts-about-romeo-and-juliet/ Accessed Jan 24 2021
“12 Facts You Didn’t Know About Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet”. Paper & Packaging. https://www.howlifeunfolds.com/learning-education/12-facts-about-william-shakespeares-romeo-and-juliet Accessed Jan 25 2021
“Romeo and Juliet – 10 Things You Didn’t Know”. Course Hero. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Romeo-and-Juliet/things-you-didnt-know/ Accessed on Jan 25th 2021