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Part Two - Essay

Romeo and Juliet

Write a five-paragraph essay on one of the following topics.

1. Discuss the light/dark motif in Romeo and Juliet. Conventionally, night, darkness, and blackness are
associated with all things negative, and day, white, light are associated with all things positive. In
Romeo and Juliet, the reverse is true because the lovers are only able to be together at night—and
because Juliet’s radiant beauty lights up the night. Discuss this motif, providing many examples from
the play.

2. Argue that the final catastrophe can be blamed on one of the following (a, b, c, or d)

a. The friar
b. The lovers
c. The parents
d. The nurse
Give ample, specific evidence to support your argument.

3. Discuss the theme of fate in Romeo and Juliet. The two lovers are “star-crossed,” and many events
beyond their control conspire to bring about their death. Discuss these events and argue that Romeo and
Juliet could not have brought their love to a successful conclusion because of their ill fortune. Provide
many examples from the play to support your argument.

4. Love: Compare and contrast three forms of love – romantic, brotherly, and practical - that are present
in Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet is often considered the greatest “love story” in Western
literature; typically, however, when one thinks of this tragedy, only the traditional, romantic form comes
to mind – i.e. when Romeo and Juliet fall madly in love at first sight. However, upon closer reading,
other forms of love are present. Brotherly love/camaraderie is prevalent throughout the play and is often
portrayed as a counter to the romantic form. Meanwhile, “practical” love, or the arrangement of
marriage to satisfy political or economic ambitions, is also a reality in the story; each family wants its
children to marry strategically to satisfy their own political ends. Compare and contrast these three
forms of love using specific examples from the story.

5. Individual versus Society: Discuss the personal desires and aspirations that Romeo and Juliet have
and the social responsibility that each face. While Romeo and Juliet love each other, gender, familial
and societal realities obstruct their desire to be to together. Discuss the pressures that these lovers face,
and provide examples of how each lover rebels against these forces.

See back for specifics of what your essay must contain:

Your piece should have:

An Introduction. Use the structure of the funnel paragraph to lead us to your answer. Make
sure you mention the name of the play and the author. Then end with your thesis. Remember
that your thesis needs to be specific: don’t just say that “light and dark are really important in the
play” tell us specifically when light and dark represent within the play.

Three body paragraphs. Each should offer a reason as to why you think they are or are not in
love. Back this up with specific examples from the book. You should have at least one SHORT
quote per body paragraph. Cite your quote with the author and then the act scene and line(s)
separated by periods. For example (Shakespeare, 3.1.34-36). Remember to introduce your

A conclusion. First summarize your thesis and your points that you previously made. Then
answer so what, or go broader and relate your argument to the play as a whole, or connect your
arguments to the big themes and ideas of the play.

And as always:
No “you” or “I” in an essay- use “one” or “the reader.”
Be specific!

We will have part of the period to work on____________________________.

Your essay is due on ____________________________.