Romeo and Juliet Essay Prompt

Student Name

Ms. Berman

Intro to Lit & Comp

22 March 2012

Romeo and Juliet Take-Home Exam

This is your exam.  You are to complete this essay at home and it will be due on Thursday March 22nd!  Please review the questions carefully and speak to me during the week if you have any questions.  Each question is worth 20 points for a total of 100 points.

Exam Requirements

Heading: Your heading should be double-spaced and placed in the upper left-hand corner of the page.  Your heading should include your name, teacher’s name, class, and the date.  DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR CLASS PERIOD.  This heading is written in standard MLA style which is required in college.  Please become familiar with it.

Font and Margins: Your paper must be typed (no exceptions!), double-spaced, and written in 12 point Times New Roman font.  Top and bottom margins should be no more than one inch.  Side margins should be no more than 1.25 inches.

Answers: Each answer must be written in paragraph form using complete sentences.  Please answer ALL parts of the question—you MUST answer back part of the question in your answer.  I should know exactly what question you are addressing just by reading your answer.

Spelling/Grammar: Abbreviations and Instant Messenger lingo will not be tolerated.  You will be expected to check your exam for spelling and grammar mistakes—do not rely on spell-check alone.  Ask someone at home to proofread your work if you are unsure.

Please manage your time wisely and do not turn this exam in late.  If I receive this essay the following Monday, or any day after the due date, you will lose 10 points for each day it is tardy.  If you are absent on Thursday, you will be expected to email me your paper on Thursday and bring me a hard copy when you return to class.  I will not accept any excuses that include computer and/or printer problems.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  If you do not have a computer or a printer, there are plenty of computers at school that you may use.  Check your printer ahead of time to be sure that it is working properly.  Do not wait until Wednesday night!

1.  Word Origins: What’s in a Name?  In Act II, Scene ii, Juliet, upset to discover that this handsome young man she has just met is named Montague, delivers these famous lines about the insignificance of names: “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose/ By any other word would smell as sweet.”  Names, however, are significant in Shakespeare’s plays.  They are often used to suggest something about a person’s character or temperament. 

            (a)  Benvolio’s name comes from the same Latin words as the adjective benevolent.  What does the word benevolent mean?

            (b)  How does Benvolio’s name match his temperament?  Cite TWO examples from the play.

2.  Understanding Dramatic Speeches.  A soliloquy is a speech in which a character, alone on stage, speaks directly to the audience.  An aside is a brief remark to the audience, uttered while other characters are nearby but unable to hear.  A monologue is a lengthy speech addressed to other characters, rather than to the audience.

            (a) What thoughts and feelings does Juliet reveal in her soliloquy at the beginning of Act III, Scene ii?

            (b) Reread Friar Laurence’s monologue in Act III, Scene iii beginning with “Hold thy desperate hand.”  What criticisms is he addressing towards Romeo?

3.  Understanding Dramatic Irony.  Dramatic Irony is a device whereby the audience knows something one of the characters does not.  The audience’s special knowledge enables it to view the characters with superior understanding.  Since we know how the play will end right from the very beginning (the Prologue reveals the fate of Romeo and Juliet before Act I even begins), we feel this irony as we watch Romeo and Juliet struggle to stay together.

            (a) I pointed out several examples of dramatic irony as we were reading the play.  Find one example of dramatic irony and describe, in detail, how that particular situation was ironic.  Please provide quotes from the play to support your answer.

4.  Predicting Outcomes.  To predict a story’s outcome you need to be alert to foreshadowing—the hints and preparations for later events.  In Romeo and Juliet, foreshadowing appears from the very start.  In the Prologue to Act I, for example, Romeo and Juliet are described as “star-crossed,” and their love is described as “death-marked.”

            (a) Find two examples of foreshadowing in the play.  What, specifically, was being foreshadowed?  Be very detailed in your example and provide quotes to support your answer.

5.  Understanding Tragedy and Theme.  A tragedy is a drama in which the central character or characters suffer disaster or great misfortune.  In many tragedies, the downfall results from fate, a serious character flaw, or a combination of the two.  The theme of a tragedy is the central idea or insight about life that explains why the downfall occurred.

            (a) What character traits of the lovers may have led to their destruction?  Please use examples from the play to support your answer!

            (b) What other causes or conditions attributed to the lovers’ demise?