Jule Romans is a retirement English teacher and also college instructor. She has taught Shakespeare and advanced literature because that over 25 years.

You are watching: Iambic pentameter romeo and juliet prologue

If you room struggling to make sense of the prologue to Romeo and Juliet, try this comfortable line-by-line analysis. Us start very first with the prologue in that entirety and a quick summary of the facts. Then, we move on come a translation and explanation of every line individually.

The Prologue come Romeo and also Juliet

Two households, both alike in dignity(In same Verona, where we lay ours scene),From ancient grudge rest to new mutiny,Where polite blood provides civil hand unclean.From soon the deadly loins of these 2 foesA pair that star-crossed lover take their life,Whose misadventured piteous overthrowsDoth with their death bury their parents' strife.The fear passage of their death-marked loveAnd the continue of your parents' rage,Which, but their children’s end, naught can remove,Is now the 2 hours' web traffic of our stage—The which, if you through patient ears attend,What below shall miss, our toil shall effort to mend.


Summary that the Romeo and also Juliet Prologue

The prologue to Romeo and Juliet is a sonnet with 14 currently of iambic pentameter in an ABAB CDCD EFEF GG happiness scheme.It to adjust the scene because that the beat by hinting at most of the action to come.the very first stanza defines the setting and basic conflict the the play.The 2nd stanza describes the young lovers and their dilemma.The 3rd stanza tells just how the household feud will certainly finally finish in tragedy, and also explains the emphasis of the play.The last 2 lines repeat the audience that there is much more to come as soon as the beat is action onstage.
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Two households, both alike in dignity

(In fair Verona, wherein we lay ours scene),

From old grudge rest to brand-new mutiny,

Where polite blood provides civil hand unclean.


Romeo and Juliet Prologue Analysis: very first Stanza, luck Scheme

Rhyme Scheme and Iambic Pentameter

The luck scheme, as you might note, is ABAB, and all lines space in iambic pentameter. Note exactly how the lines have been broken up to display the meter:

<1> 2 house / holds, both / alike / in dig / nity (A)

<2> (In fair / Vero / na, where / we lay / our scene), (B)

<3> native an /cient grudge / break to / brand-new mu / tiny, (A)

<4> wherein ci / vil blood / makes ci / vil hands / unclean. (B)

Review Iambic pentameter and Romeo and also Juliet sonnets.

Two high-class families have to be fighting because that years in the city that Verona, Italy. Castle are quickly to end up being embroiled in violence again. Your old grudges will certainly erupt in bloodshed and also stain your hands.


Two households, both alike in dignity

Two families, both equally respected

Note the perfect iambic pentameter that this line: two HOUSE/ hold BOTH / a favor / in dig /ni TY. The two households referred to right here are the Capulets and also Montagues.


This heat "Two households..." has actually its own comprehensive interpretation that can help you far better understand Romeo and also Juliet.

The Montagues and The Capulets

Both family members are same high in rank in ~ the city the Verona. Remember that in the time duration of the play, a "household" might include expanded family, friends, and also servants. So, the two households could comprise a large part of the population of a smaller sized town.

(In same Verona, wherein we lay our scene),

In the satisfied city that Verona, whereby this play will certainly take place

Verona is in north Italy. The pat is intended come take ar in the 14th or 15th century. That would be around 100 years in the past, to Shakespeare's audience.

This line simply makes clear the the setting of the play will be in Italy, not England.

From ancient grudge rest to new mutiny,

An old grudge and simmering resentment in between the two households will burst into new violence.

The Capulets and Montagues have a long-standing feud the affects anyone in town. Even their servants hate each other. Despite this feud has actually not erupted in violence for awhile, it will certainly soon execute so.


The very an initial scene of the beat (the one that follows this prologue) is a brawl that starts since of some harsh words between the servants of both families.

Where polite blood makes civil hands unclean.

The violence that the fighting between these family members puts blood on the hand of civilians.

The Montagues and Capulets obtain blood on your hands, when they should really be staying clear of this kind of low-class brawl.

A twin Meaning

Consider the pat on words here with the two provides of the word "civil." even though castle are an alleged to it is in "civil" or seemly, decent, and also well-behaved families, not soldiers, they still burned blood and are guilty the violence.


Also think that the image produced by hands gift unclean and also stained v blood. These two things are examples of the poetic use of language in this prologue.

From forth the deadly loins of these two foes

A pair that star-crossed lover take their life,

Whose misadventured piteous overthrows

Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.

Romeo and also Juliet Prologue Analysis: 2nd Stanza

Rhyme Scheme and Iambic Pentameter

Note the rhyme scheme that continues according come the sample of a sonnet. The iambic pentameter continues as well, also though it is not marked.

<5> native forth the fatal loins of these 2 foes (C)

<6> A pair the star-crossed lovers take their life, (D)

<7> who misadventured piteous overthrows (C)

<8> Doth v their fatality bury their parents' strife. (D)


Two lovers room born from this warring families. Their fatality will reason the Montagues and Capulets come finally finish their feud.

A more in-depth analysis of the Romeo and also Juliet fatality scene reveals the details the the twin suicide wherein the star-crossed lovers dice in the Capulet tomb.

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

These two opponents bore children.

"From forth the deadly loins" is a recommendation to birth. Loins is one more word because that the area in between the legs. A infant comes soon from the mother's loins.

Referring to them together "fatal" implies instantly that the outcome may be deadly for the boy or parent. "These two foes" space the Montagues and the Capulets.

In the next line, we are to uncover that there will be two children, one from every family.

A pair that star-crossed lovers take their life,

Two lovers room born indigenous the families. Their love is doomed by fate since of your birth to warring families.


"Star-crossed" is the phrase that indicates fate. The stars, or fates, are versus the lover from the start, as if your astrology dooms them. We deserve to assume that one child will it is in a boy, and also one will certainly be a girl, and also that castle will loss in love.

We do recognize that Romeo is the young born right into the Montague family and also Juliet is the girl born into the Capulet family.


What does "Take your Life" Mean?

"Take your life" deserve to be read two ways: to take it life indigenous (or be born), or to take life far from (or kill). In various other words, the prologue offers you a hint about how this play will end, through the lovers acquisition their own lives.

"Take your life" means, on the surface, the these two children gain life from your mothers. However, because we understand that both Romeo and also Juliet go suicide, the expression "take your life" has actually a double meaning that foreshadows later on events.

Whose misadventured piteous overthrows

Whose struggles and defeats have to inspire ours pity.

This line is likely placed to improve the valuation of this sonnet. Its an interpretation is somewhat ambiguous. Misadventures are bad adventures, or poor experiences. Piteous means that we should feel great sympathy for the lovers.

The an interpretation of "Misadventured Piteous Overthrows"

The native "overthrows" refers to a lesser-known definition of the word. It is: "a removal from power, a loss or downfall." In this case, "overthrows" refers to their attempts come thwart the hatred in between the families and also turn it to love.

In your love, Romeo and Juliet rebel versus the family feud. Thus, the lovers will have bad experiences worthy the pity and also eventually be defeated. However, save in mind the we need to stretch pretty much to come up with this interpretation.


Doth with their death bury your parents' strife.

When the lover die, the Montagues and also Capulets lastly stop fighting.


The fatality of Romeo and also Juliet is pre-determined with this line. The audience currently knows how the story will end. The 2 lovers will die and the family members will end the feud due to the fact that of this.

Also keep in mind the double definition of burying strife v death. Once the lovers die, they are buried. The conflict in between the households dies together well, and also is buried together with Romeo and also Juliet.

The fear passage of their death-marked love

And the continuance of your parents' rage,

Which, but their children’s end, naught can remove,

Is currently the 2 hours' website traffic of our stage—

Romeo and Juliet Prologue Analysis: third Stanza

Rhyme Scheme and Iambic Pentameter

This third set of four lines is the 3rd stanza. Keep in mind the happiness scheme proceeds with the sonnet pattern:

<9> The fearful passage of their death-marked love (E)

<10> and the continue of their parents' rage, (F)

<11> Which, however their children’s end, naught might remove, (E)

<12> Is now the two hours' traffic of our phase (F)

The fear-filled and thrilling story of how the lover died, and how that death was the just thing that might end the feud, these room the points we will carry out onstage today. The play will tell the story of just how the feud was ended by the death of the two young lovers.


The fearful passage of their death-marked love

The trembling story of your doomed love the will cause them to die

"Fearful passage" is a poetic way of speak the progression of their love is complete of fear. In Shakespeare's time, this likewise meant a story to be thrilling come the audience.

Their love is marked for fatality from the an extremely beginning. We space again reminded the the end of the story will certainly be tragic. We begin the play by knowing the end of the story.


What we don't know is exactly how that end will come about. This keeps the audience and readers interested, and foreshadows the famed balcony scene of Romeo and also Juliet.

And the continue of your parents' rage,

And the anger the continues between the lovers' parents...

This line counts on the next line to make it complete. But, it begins by telling us that the story will incorporate the continuing anger in between the families. It indicates that this "rage" will certainly negatively impact everyone.

The real definition comes in the following line.

Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove,

The anger to be so strong that, except for the death of your children, nothing might take the away.

Shakespeare has a propensity to turning back the stimulate of words. In this line, the is most apparent. What it states is: only the death of the children could take away the rage. "Naught" way nothing.


So as soon as we read "naught might remove" it method "nothing could remove."

This heat combines v the line before it in order to do sense.

The complete meaning, then, is: The continuing feud between the Montagues and also Capulets will just be ended due to the fact that of the deaths that Romeo and also Juliet.

Nothing else would certainly be solid enough to finish the hate.

Is currently the 2 hours' web traffic of our stage—

Is what us will execute for you here on this stage.

The chorus is now telling the audience that the whole story simply laid out will certainly be perform on the stage.

"Two hours traffic" way that because that the following two hours, the performers will certainly come and go onstage to spread the story. The is rather odd that the line claims two hours.


In general, Shakespeare's plays to be much much longer than 2 hours. They regularly lasted several hours or even an entire afternoon. This anomaly is exciting to civilization who wish to watch deeper.

The which, if you v patient ear attend,

What here shall miss, ours toil shall strive to mend.

Romeo and Juliet Prologue Analysis: Couplet and also Turn

Rhyme Scheme and also Meaning

Note that the last 2 lines rhyme v each other, developing a final couplet as required by the layout of a sonnet.


<13> The which, if you v patient ear attend, (G)<14> What below shall miss, our toil shall effort to mend. (G)

This couplet has actually a straightforward meaning. It tells the audience the "If you pay fist to the play, everything will come to be clear. Every the details to let go in the prologue will certainly be revealed in the performance."

The which, if you through patient ears attend,

This performance, if you will listen carefully and also be patient

The play will certainly tell the entirety story, if the audience will certainly watch closely. "Attend" means to salary attention. We understand that the audience does more than listen, but Shakespeare chooses to use the word ears, implying that listening come the words will be important. This makes sense due to the fact that of the poetry of the play.

What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

The actors will work tough to do this story and fill in any details this prologue leaves out.

"What below shall miss" means: What has not to be said below in this prologue. The chorus describes that the upcoming play will cover many much more events that were mentioned.

Using the indigenous "toil" and also "strive" indicates that the performers will certainly be taking good care to demonstrate the story. The vital thing to keep in psychic is the the whole prologue is a setup to this last line.


This line is the arrival to the play, prepare the audience to obtain ready and pay attention.

The Prologue to Romeo and also Juliet

<1>-- 2 households, both alike in dignity (A)<2>-- (In same Verona, whereby we lay our scene), (B)<3>-- From ancient grudge rest to brand-new mutiny, (A)<4>-- whereby civil blood renders civil hand unclean. (B)<5>-- From forth the deadly loins of these two foes (C)<6>-- A pair the star-crossed lover take your life, (D)<7>-- who misadventured piteous overthrows (C)<8>-- Doth v their death bury their parents' strife. (D)<9>-- The fearful passage of your death-marked love (E)<10>- and also the continue of their parents' rage, (F)<11>- Which, however their children’s end, naught can remove, (E)<12>- Is currently the two hours' website traffic of our stage— (F)<13>- The which, if you v patient ear attend, (G)<14>- What right here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend. (G)


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Friar Laurence witnesses the disastrous consequences

J. Northcote, engraved by P. Simon , via Wikimedia Commons


This contents is accurate and also true come the ideal of the author’s knowledge and is not intended to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a standard professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why did Shakespeare use the sonnet kind for the prologue?

Answer: we don't know for sure, but it seems possible that the sonnet kind was chosen due to the fact that of the sonnet's strictly order and structure.


The events of the play will be chaotic. The words of the sonnet tell a story of potential violence and disarray.

Yet, these words are included in a an extremely orderly poetic form. The comparison of this two points adds complexity and also depth come Shakespeare's prologue.


One other well-known theory proposes that the sonnet type is chosen because Romeo and Juliet is a love story, and sonnets are connected with love. This might be the case.

However, it seems much more likely that this theory is an translate that we have the right to put on the prologue as we look earlier on the play. It might not have actually been a deliberate selection on Shakespeare's part.

We have actually no means to understand for sure, together I said, but it is enjoyable to study and also consider.

Question: have the right to you elaborate on just how love and also fate are stood for in Romeo and Juliet?

Answer: If you are trying to find representations that love and also fate together, you should look no additional than currently 6 and 7 that the prologue. Both of those lines, taken together, strongly imply that fate dram a huge role in the play. Use of the ax "star-crossed lovers" is a rather obvious reference come fate.

The stars are against Romeo and Juliet. The stars, in fact, are at cross objectives to the young lovers. Therefore, Romeo and Juliet are "star-crossed," and fated to endure from circumstances past their control.


A less apparent representation that fate comes with the phrase "misadventured piteous overthrows." over there is the feeling of sadness (piteous), and tragic life-altering mistakes (misadventured overthrows). These events are past the lovers' control, and a strong representation of fate.

These two lines collection up line 8, where the use of "fearful passage" and also "death-marked" are used in direct linkage to the love between Romeo and Juliet.

Here in the prologue, we watch that death is a foregone conclusion, and that the lovers room fated to die from your passionate connection.


Question: “The which, if you with patient ear attend, what here shall miss, ours toil shall effort to mend”. What does this heat in the prologue that Romeo and also Juliet mean?

Answer: In short, it way "If you will certainly patiently listen to this story which us will quickly act out for you right here onstage, what I have not described here, us will present you in ours performance."

Let's break it down:

"The which" refers to the present before. The is, the story that the love and death of Romeo and also Juliet, and the feud in between the Capulets and also Montagues.

"If you with patient ear attend" means "If you will patiently listen"


"What here shall miss" means whatever has been missed, or not completely explained, through this prologue.

"Our toil" is the job-related of the actors in performing the play.

"Shall strive to mend" way that the performance will mend, or fix, any gaps in the story. The performance itself will explain any kind of ideas that have been missed by the declaration in the prologue.

Thus, the heat means:

"If you will certainly patiently hear to the upcoming performance, all the details that the prologue may have actually left out will certainly be presented onstage through the gibbs in this play."

Question: Why go Shakespeare tell us exactly how the story is going come end?

Answer: I recognize it might seem odd the Shakespeare tells united state the finishing of the Romeo and Juliet story in the prologue. But, it really wasn't every that unexplained in Elizabethan England. This to be a usual practice in theater at the time.


The concept began with Greek theater, and also was restored in Shakespeare's time. Typically, the prologue would reveal the key points of the story.

The audience wouldn't mind in ~ all. In fact, part audiences would choose this kind of predictable performance.


Question: What is the tragic template of "Romeo and also Juliet"?

Answer: There space several feasible themes to discuss in "Romeo and Juliet."

It sounds as though friend are in search of something that connects well v the meaning of tragedy. In this case, among the themes could be the unrestrained passion is fatal.

We see instances of this type of point throughout the play. Friar Laurence has several speeches that admonish against rash and also violent actions. Tybalt together a finish character demonstrates the devastation of passionate emotions that space not balanced with dignity. From the very beginning of the play, unrestrained emotion drives characters to disastrous violence.

A usual theme of "Romeo and also Juliet" might be, simply, "love." yet that is also simplistic.

The TRAGIC design template of the pat is much better stated as: "unrestrained passion can be fatal." Passion absolutely was deadly for numerous of the characters in the play, and not simply Romeo and also Juliet.

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Question: Is Romeo and also Juliet a tragedy or a comedy?

Answer: Technically, The beat Romeo and Juliet is no a tragedy no one a comedy.

The pat does no fit the classical an interpretation of tragedy. In a classic tragedy, there must be a key character who begins as a great person, however has a deadly flaw the leads come downfall, and eventually, death. Prior to death, that key character must also have a minute of insight, and express some kind of awareness that there has actually been a fall from grace.


None of the personalities in Romeo and Juliet fulfill all of these characteristics. Friar Laurence comes closest. However, even though Friar Laurence does evidence a deadly flaw, downfall, and also insight, the does not die.

Romeo and Juliet both die, of course, but they carry out not show evidence that the progression forced to be considered tragic heroes.

So, Romeo and Juliet is not quickly classified as a tragedy.

A shak spa comedy has a lighthearted tone and also typically ends through the marriage of numerous characters, or one more celebration of part sort. I think we can all agree that Romeo and Juliet does not fit v this an interpretation of comedy.

Therefore, Romeo and Juliet is no classified together a tragedy and does not fit the requirements of a comedy, either.

Question: Why go Shakespeare compose a prologue?

Answer: no one is really certain of Shakespeare's motives in creating this prologue. However, the prologue to Romeo and also Juliet sets increase the story really effectively.

It would be an extremely common in Shakespeare's time for audiences to understand all around a story prior to they ever saw the acted onstage. So, it's not unusual that the prologue sets the scene and also tells everything that is keep going in the play prior to it even begins.


The good thing around this prologue, though, is that it really adds weight to the "star crossed lovers" theme by raising the feeling of fate.

From the really beginning, the fate of the young lovers is currently decided. This design template of fate weaves its means throughout the rest of the play and also is underscored through the prologue itself.


So, while us don't know specifically why Shakespeare created it, we certainly know why that is a perfect means to begin the play.

Question: What is the setup of "Romeo and also Juliet"?

Answer: "Romeo and also Juliet" takes ar in the 14th century in the city of Verona, Italy.

Question: what go the chorus ask of the audience in the last 2 lines of Romeo and also Juliet?

Answer: In the last 2 lines the the prologue, the chorus says:

"The which if you through patient ear attend,

What below shall miss, ours toil shall effort to mend."

The chorus is asking the audience to salary close fist to the actions that will soon take ar on stage.