Typical questions ask you to show how a character develops during the play, or how a theme is presented, or to look closely at a scene in the play. So we might have tasks like:
- How does Juliet change during the course of the play?
- How is the theme of love dealt with in Romeo and Juliet?
- How is drama created in Act 3, Scene 1?
- What is the role of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet?
Each of these tasks mentions one main topic. For example, the first is about Juliet, so it is about character. However, you will also have to deal with a number of other topics in your answer. For instance, you should look at how Juliet speaks, so you are looking at language. You could also examine Juliet's part in the plot - how she is used for dramatic effect, and the themes she talks about. We could look at each question in the same way.
For example, 'How is drama created in Act 3, Scene 1?' This should cover what Act 3, Scene 1 adds to the overall plot, the characters in the scene, the dramatic effects (that is the main part of the question!), plus the themes in the scene and the language the characters use.
In other words, try to look at a range of topics in your answer. Markers are always pleased to see answers which cover plot, character, dramatic effect, theme and language.
Back to Romeo and Juliet index
Romeo and Juliet - Sample exam question
Starting with this extract, analyse how Shakespeare presents Capulet's attitudes towards his daughter, Juliet. How does he portray their relationship?
- how Shakespeare presents Capulet's attitudes and their relationship in this extract
- how Shakespeare presents Capulet's attitudes and their relationship in the play as a whole
In this extract Capulet is telling Juliet about her forthcoming marriage to Paris.
Act 3 Scene 5
Before you go onto the next page, make some notes about what you could write about.
- Think about the key words in the essay question (Capulet, Juliet, attitudes, relationship).
- Think about this extract - how is Capulet feeling towards Juliet? Highlight some key points.
- Look at the start and the end of the extract - have the attitudes changed as the extract has progressed?
- Think about the entire play and the relationship between Capulet and Juliet.
Social and historical context
In Elizabethan times, men had power over women. Fathers decided who their daughters would marry and they would arrange this. For a daughter to speak out against their father's choice, would mean great disrespect towards them and the family name.