In Romeo and Juliet the prologue does this very well. Almost straight away, by the sixth line in fact, everybody knows that both Romeo and Juliet commit suicide. The prologue uses words like blood, fatal and death, which interest people. It tells the audience about how the two families were old enemies. So it is immediately obvious that it will be difficult for Romeo and Juliet to tell any one about their love for each other. It mentions ‘star-crossed lovers’ which implies that their love is doomed right from the beginning.
Because Romeo and Juliet couldn’t tell people about their love and their marriage the play is full of dramatic irony. All the way through the audience knows something that the actors don’t. (There wouldn’t have been actresses in then). For instance when Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel, but Romeo won’t fight because Tybalt is his cousin by marriage, the audiences know this but Tybalt doesn’t. Also when lady Capulet is talking to Juliet after Tybalt has been killed, and Romeo has been exiled, Juliet is crying because Romeo was exiled, But her mother thinks that she is grieving for the death of her cousin.
If after the prologue people in the audience still weren’t watching the play Shakespeare has made sure that act 1 scene 1 grabs there attention. It shows a massive fight between the two families in the street. The fight isn’t even started by family members but by the servants, which shows just how great the hate between them is.
Right from the beginning of the play you know that Romeo has no problem with loving a Capulet. Which shows how he doesn’t think of the consequences, Falling in love with the enemy is obviously going to cause problems. In act 1 scene 1 he is talking to Benvolio about how depressed he is about Rosaline not loving him ‘out of her favour where I am in love’ is how he describes it. He is really over the top about being upset, he walks around at night and during the day he lock’s him self in his room ‘he makes himself an artificial night.’ But as soon as he sees Juliet all thoughts of Rosaline disappear. This show’s how flippant he is as he just immediately forgets this woman who only a few hours earlier he had been so depressed about.
Juliet is the same after only knowing Romeo for a few hours she asks him to marry her. Which indicates that she has a tendency to do things on the spare of the moment and doesn’t think things through, Although in the back of her mind she is probably thinking about her parents wanting her to marry Paris. So she sees an opportunity to get out of it and to experience life the way she wants.
For a thirteen-year-old girl she has a lot of courage. After the fight with her parents over her marriage to Paris she is left completely on her own, and although she wants to kill herself she does go and talk to the friar first. If she had really wanted to kill herself she would have just done it.
Romeo does the same thing after he has killed Tybalt. He says ‘Ha banishment be merciful say death for exile hath more terror in his look much more than death, Do not say banishment’ this is one of the many ways that Shakespeare shows the ineffability of there love ending in tragedy
In Elizabethan times (when Shakespeare was alive) it was usual for girls to marry young, and for their parents to arrange who they would marry for them. If a woman wanted to better herself and her family was to marry somebody richer than her. Love didn’t have much to do with it. So it wasn’t unusual that Juliet’s parents wanted her to marry Paris. But as they don’t know that she has already married Romeo there is a lot of dramatic irony going on, the audience know that she cant merry Paris but her parents think that she is just being awkward. Capulet gets extremely angry with this. He has brought the wedding forward in the first place to cheer Juliet up because he thought she was grieving for her cousin’s death. But really she is upset because Romeo has been exiled (more dramatic irony)