Develop your critical thesis from one of the required five prompts for Romeo and Juliet (see below). For now, think (and free-write) about what interests or challenges you in the play. As you read and reread, ask yourself questions to help develop a working thesis (or focus) for your paper, one that positions your topic within other texts or contexts to explore your argument in a meaningful way. Consider what conflict or moral dilemma the play addresses and think about how Shakespeare dramatically presents these issues as a means to propose (advocate) and/or to expose (question) them. You can mention influences or later adaptions to the play, such as Petrarch’s sonnets to Laura or “Sleeping Beauty,” but the central focus of your paper will be on Shakespeare’s play.
As with other papers begin your critical argument (or thesis) toward the end of your introduction and develop your focus through key points or sub-arguments (topic sentences) that serve as body paragraphs in support of the evidence and analysis you present. Although you are incorporating additional sources that will add to the depth of your argument, these should not overwhelm your own interpretation and voice.
Your audience for this paper is a group of college students who may not be familiar with the play. Your goal is to present and ‘teach’ your interpretation to your audience.
Prompt: The prompts make statements or ask more than one question; these aren’t to be answered individually but rather to help you think about how to approach the main idea and point of view of your paper. Once you choose a prompt, develop a critical argument. Don’t copy the prompt but use it as a framework or guide to help develop your critical argument and interpretation.
“Star-Crossed Lovers”: From the moment we are born, our lives seem mapped by the world around us and/or fashioned by the stars above: how much is fated by nature and how much is determined by traditions that define human behavior? While in Julius Caesar, Cassius states “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars / But in ourselves (1.2.140-1), the Chorus in Romeo and Juliet immediately announces the tale of “star-crossed lovers” whose fate is not simply determined by fortune, or accidents, or personal choices but instead by two households, both alike in dignity,” whose “ancient grudge” deeply affects the young couple’s attempt to express a new view of love. As critics comment, the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet may not just be about growing up male and female in Verona, but about growing up as a Montague and a Capulet, son and daughter in warring households. Develop a critical argument and analyze how this topic or theme is presented in Shakespeare’s play.
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