Welcome to Seneca Revision Notes

Short and effective seneca revision notes for a-level & gcse.

1.1 Context

1.1.1 Tragedy & Setting

1.1.2 Relationships

1.1.3 Religion & Fate

1.1.4 End of Topic Test - Context

2 Plot Summary

2.1 Prologue

2.1.1 Prologue

2.2.1 Scene 1

2.2.2 Scene 1 Quotes

2.2.3 Scenes 2-4

2.2.4 Scene 5

2.2.5 End of Topic Test - Prologue & Act 1

2.3.1 Scenes 1-2

2.3.2 Scene 3

2.3.3 Scenes 4-6

2.3.4 End of Topic Test - Act 2

2.4.1 Scene 1

2.4.2 Scene 2

2.4.3 Scenes 3-5

2.4.4 End of Topic Test - Act 3

2.5.1 Scene 1

2.5.2 Scene 2-5

2.6.1 Scenes 1-2

2.6.2 Scene 3

2.6.3 Scene 3 - Quotes

2.6.4 End of Topic Test - Acts 4 & 5

3 Key Characters

3.1.1 First Impressions & Juliet's Effect

3.1.2 Character Development

3.1.3 Reactions & Key Quotes

3.2.1 First Impressions & Character Development

3.2.2 Tragic Character

3.2.3 Key Quotes

3.2.4 End of Topic Test - Romeo & Juliet

3.3 Mercutio

3.3.1 Characterisation

3.3.2 Key Quotes

3.4 The Nurse, Benvolio & Tybalt

3.4.1 The Nurse

3.4.2 Benvolio

3.4.3 Tybalt

3.5 Friar Laurence

3.5.1 Characterisation

3.5.2 Key Quotes

3.5.3 End of Topic Test- Mercutio, Nurse & Benvolio

3.5.4 End of Topic Test - Tybalt & Friar Laurence

3.6 Grade 9 - Key Characters

3.6.1 Grade 9 - Key Characters

3.6.2 Grade 9 - Key Characters: Extract Analysis

4 Key Themes & Concepts

4.1 Power & Danger of Love

4.1.1 Romeo's Loves

4.1.2 Friendship & Family

4.1.3 Violent Love

4.1.4 End of Topic Test - Love

4.2 Violence, Fate & Gender

4.2.1 Violence, Conflict & Suicide

4.2.2 Exam-Style Questions - Violence & Death

4.2.3 Fate & Destiny

4.2.4 Gender

4.2.5 End of Topic Test - Violence, Fate & Gender

4.2.6 Grade 9 - Key Themes

5 Writing Techniques

5.1 Writing Techniques

5.1.1 Language, Rhythm & Rhyme

5.1.2 Symbolism & Imagery

5.1.3 Dramatic Irony & Soliloquys

5.1.4 End of Topic Test - Writing Techniques

Exemplar Essay: Fate

How does Shakespeare present the theme of fate?

Read this extract from Act 5 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet and then answer the question that follows. At this point in the play the Friar John has returned unsuccessfully from trying to deliver Friar Laurence’s letter to Romeo.

Going to find a bare-foot brother out

One of our order, to associate me,

Here in this city visiting the sick,

And finding him, the searchers of the town,

Suspecting that we both were in a house

Where the infectious pestilence did reign,

Seal'd up the doors, and would not let us forth;

So that my speed to Mantua there was stay'd.

FRIAR LAURENCE

Who bare my letter, then, to Romeo?

I could not send it,--here it is again,--

Nor get a messenger to bring it thee,

So fearful were they of infection.

Unhappy fortune! by my brotherhood,

The letter was not nice but full of charge

Of dear import, and the neglecting it

May do much danger. Friar John, go hence;

Get me an iron crow, and bring it straight

Unto my cell.

Starting with this extract, explore how Shakespeare presents fate as a force that controls the characters.

Write about:

• how Shakespeare presents fate in this extract.

• how Shakespeare presents fate in the play as a whole.

AO4 [4 marks]

Romeo and Juliet is about how strong emotions have tragic consequences. Through the theme of fate, Shakespeare invites his audience to question how far the characters’ tragic deaths were predetermined and how far they were decided by Romeo and Juliet’s impulsive actions. He also invites the audience to consider how far their future is decided by societal norms - not fate.

In the extract, Shakespeare implies that fate has prevented the letter from reaching Friar John. In lines 5-8, Shakespeare has Friar John state that he was unable to deliver the letter due to an ‘infectious pestilence’, which resulted in the doors of Mantua being ‘sealed’. While Shakespeare does not state explicitly that it is fate that has caused the plague to hit Mantua at the very moment that Friar John needs to deliver an important letter to Romeo, his Elizabethan audience, strong believers in the power of the stars and planets to predetermine our futures, would have seen this as more than an unhappy coincidence. It does therefore seem that fate is working against Romeo and Juliet.

In the extract, Shakespeare also suggests that Friar Laurence blames fate for this unfortunate event. In line 14, Shakespeare has Friar Laurence cry ‘unhappy fortune!’. In other words, Friar Laurence is stating that it is terribly bad luck that the letter has not reached Romeo. Shakespeare’s use of the word ‘fortune’ implies that Friar Laurence blames a higher power for this coincidence. Friar Laurence’s words could echo the Elizabethan audience’s fears that fate has already decided Romeo and Juliet are doomed. Shakespeare’s choice for the letter to be undelivered creates tension for the audience, as they begin to wonder if Romeo and Juliet are drawing ever-closer to their tragic deaths.

In the prologue, Shakespeare makes clear that Romeo and Juliet are doomed to die. The first time the audience is introduced to Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare describes their love as ‘death-marked’, which immediately tells the audience that the lovers will die tragically. An Elizabethan audience, who believed in fate, would have believed it possible for Romeo and Juliet’s fate to be decided from birth. By introducing Romeo and Juliet to the audience in this way, perhaps Shakespeare invites the audience to closely scrutinise the actions taken by all of the characters and decide for themselves how far fate is to blame for the tragic deaths.

However, in the play as a whole, Romeo acts impulsively, which contributes to his tragic downfall. The moment he meets Juliet, Romeo forgets Rosaline, his previous love, and asks ‘did my heart love till now?’. This surprising and impulsive change of mind is a stark example of the tragic flaw that leads Romeo towards his death, and is just the first of many similar actions: Romeo marries Juliet the day after meeting her; he murders Tybalt without thinking of the consequence threatened by Prince Escalus; he rushes to Verona with poison and takes it before Juliet wakes. Shakespeare’s presentation of Romeo in this way indicates that Romeo’s depth of passion and emotion are partly to blame for the speed at which he and Juliet are catapulted towards their deaths. If Romeo had been able to think more clearly and rationally rather than rushing to action before considering the consequences, perhaps some of the tragedy could have been avoided.

Also in the play as whole, Shakespeare explores how the restrictions of arranged marriage force Juliet closer to her tragic death. Unlike Romeo, whose impulsive actions are within his control as a man in the Elizabethan era, Juliet’s future is out of her hands. Before the audience meets Juliet in person, we witness a discussion about her between Lord Capulet and Paris. Although Lord Capulet is protective over Juliet, urging Paris to wait for two more years as Juliet is still a ‘stranger in the world’, he does consent to Paris wooing Juliet before asking Juliet’s views. It is clear, therefore, that Juliet has limited say in her future. The audience cannot help but wonder how the marriage between Romeo and Juliet can end happily, given that she has chosen her own suitor and has gone as far as to choose the son of her father’s arch-enemy. Later in the play, when Lord Capulet decides to speed up the marriage, Juliet is pressured to take action. Knowing that she will ‘hang, beg, starve, die in the streets’ if she refuses to marry Paris, Juliet feels she has no option but to consent, and plan an escape. Perhaps if Lord Capulet had not chosen to bring the marriage forward by two years, Juliet may have had an opportunity to be reunited with Romeo. Shakespeare could therefore be challenging traditional patriarchal attitudes to marriage, in which the daughter has limited say over her husband, because this is arguably a contributing factor in Juliet’s death.

In conclusion, it is clear that there are many references to fate within the play that indicate a higher power could be dictating Romeo and Juliet’s future but Shakespeare’s presentation of Romeo’s tragic flaw and arranged marriage certainly invite the audience to consider how far events may have played out differently if the characters had made different decisions.

In the extract, Shakespeare suggests that fate has prevented the letter from reaching Friar John. In lines 5-8, Shakespeare has Friar John state ‘Where the infectious pestilence did reign, Seal'd up the doors’. In other words, Friar John is saying that he couldn’t deliver the letter because he wasn’t allowed into Mantua dye to the plague. Although Shakespeare does not state that fate has stopped Friar John from delivering the letter, it is hinted at. His Elizabethan audience, who believed that the stars and planets could decide their futures, would have believed that fate stopped Friar John from delivering the letter. Therefore it does seem that fate is working against Romeo and Juliet.

In the extract, Shakespeare also suggests that Friar Laurence blames fate. In line 14, Shakespeare has Friar Laurence cry ‘unhappy fortune!’. In other words, Friar Laurence is stating that it is very bad luck that the letter has not reached Romeo. Shakespeare’s use of the word ‘fortune’ implies that Friar Laurence blames a higher power for this. The Elizabethan audience would have understood why Friar Laurence blames a higher power because they believed in fate. Shakespeare’s choice for the letter to be undelivered creates tension for the audience because they begin to wonder if Romeo and Juliet will soon die.

In the prologue, Shakespeare makes clear that Romeo and Juliet are doomed to die. The first time the audience is introduced to Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare describes their love as ‘death-marked’, which immediately tells the audience that the lovers will not lead long and happy lives. An Elizabethan audience, who believed in fate, would have believed it was possible for Romeo and Juliet’s fate to be decided from birth. Shakespeare could have described Romeo and Juliet as ‘death-marked’ because he wanted his audience to think very carefully about the actions the characters take and decide if it was fate or their own choices that caused them to die.

However, in the play as a whole, Romeo acts impulsively, which contributes to his death. When Romeo sees Juliet at the Capulet ball, Shakespeare has him ask ‘did my heart love till now?’. This question is very surprising because moments earlier Romeo was claiming to be madly in love with Rosaline. This reveals that Romeo is impulsive and quickly changes his mind. We also see that Romeo is impulsive when he kills Tybalt and when he takes the poison at Juliet’s tomb. Shakespeare presents Romeo as impulsive because he wants to show how dangerous it can be when you act quickly on your feelings without thinking about the consequences. It could be argued that Romeo’s impulsive actions are the cause of his death rather than fate.

Also in the play as whole, Shakespeare presents Juliet’s arranged marriage as a cause of her death. Unlike Romeo, Juliet is not able to choose who she marries. When Juliet refuses to marry Paris, Shakespeare has Lord Capulet order her to ‘hang, beg, starve, die in the streets’. Shakespeare’s use of violent language demonstrates how trapped Juliet is because, if she chooses not to marry Paris, she will be thrown out and left to die. As a result of Lord Capulet rushing the marriage, Juliet asks for Friar Laurence’s help to fake her own death. Because of her faking her own death and the letter not reaching Romeo, he thinks she is actually dead and kills himself. Maybe if Juliet hadn’t been told she was going to marry Paris straight away, she might have had time to reunite with Romeo properly, which could have stopped her death. Shakespeare could therefore be suggesting that Juliet’s arranged marriage caused her death, rather than fate. Perhaps he wanted to challenge traditional views towards marriage in the Elizabethan era.

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Romeo and Juliet Grade 9 Essay Exemplar GCSE English Literature

Romeo and Juliet Grade 9 Essay Exemplar GCSE English Literature

Subject: English

Age range: 14-16

Resource type: Assessment and revision

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Last updated

16 September 2023

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This product contains an essay that is two sides of A4. This grade 9 essay response is based on the question 'Starting with this extract, explore Shakespeare’s ideas about fate.’ This essay was rewarded for being a simple yet high-level response to the question, easy to digest and replicate in your own responses. It features clear topic sentences, quotes, critical analysis with identification of literary techniques and context. I am a former student on the AQA specification and achieved a 9 in English Literature as a result of creating this resource.

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ROMEO & JULIET REVISION PACK- Essay Plans, A Quote Bank , Character Profiles, Theme Summaries,Context,Exemplar Essay and Plot Summary

**OVER 40 PAGES WORTH OF WORK! 8 ESSAY PLANS, 5 THEME ANALYSIS MAPS, 8 CHARACTER PROFILES, 6 PAGE QUOTE BANK, 2 PAGE ESSAY EXEMPLAR, 2 PAGE CONTEXT GUIDE AND BOOK SUMMARY.** This pack has all the materials that I used to get a Grade 9 in GCSE English Literature. This pack has 8 essay plans (quotes, literary and historical context, topic sentences) on the main themes and characters in Romeo & Juliet (with practice questions included). The specific essay plan themes/characters included in this bundle are: Role of Women, Fate, Love, Death, Romeo & Juliet, Mercutio, Friar Lawrence, Conflict. There are character profiles for each character (Romeo, Juliet, condensed versions for: Tybalt, the Nurse, Lord Capulet, Lady Capulet, Friar Lawrence, Mercutio), detailing their role in the play, key quotes, development in the play and context relating to them. I have included a context guide which details the social and literary context of the play. The plot summary is a quick description of everything that happens in the play, perfect for revision. The theme analysis maps offer a detailed analysis on the 5 main themes of the play (love, violence & conflict, fate, family, individual vs society). The quote bank includes the most important quotes for each character and the main themes of the play. Each quote has a technique and specific analysis paired with it. I have also included a grade 9 exemplar essay.

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COMMENTS

  1. Essay Plans

    Buying Options. Learning how to plan an essay is key to successful writing. Select a question from the options below and read over the plan to help you revise, or try writing a practice essay based on the plan, using the Essay Wizard to help you. Print the plans for easy use.

  2. Romeo & Juliet

    That means you have approximately 52 minutes to plan, write and check your Romeo and Juliet essay; Paper 1 is worth 64 marks and accounts for 40% of your overall GCSE grade; The Romeo and Juliet essay is worth 34 marks in total, because it also includes 4 marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar

  3. Sample exam question

    GCSE; AQA; Sample exam question - AQA Romeo and Juliet - Planning your answer. An example of the type of question you might be asked about Romeo and Juliet in the exam and how best to approach it.

  4. Romeo and Juliet: A+ Student Essay

    It's true that Romeo and Juliet have some spectacularly bad luck. Tybalt picks a fatal fight with Romeo on the latter's wedding day, causing Capulet to move up the wedding with Paris. The crucial letter from Friar Lawrence goes missing due to an ill-timed outbreak of the plague. Romeo kills himself mere moments before Juliet wakes up.

  5. Romeo and Juliet: Essay Writing Guide for GCSE (9-1)

    Essay Plan Five: explain how Shakespeare presents the idea of justice in Romeo and Juliet. Essay Plan Six: discuss to what extent the Nurse is portrayed as a maternal figure in the play. ... This is an extremely helpful guide to help students formulate and structure GCSE essay questions. Using a varied range of sample questions on the text it ...

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    These essay plans summarise the key aspects of the many themes and characters that appear in Romeo & Juliet. The specific essay plan themes/characters included in this bundle are: Role of Women, Fate, Love, Death, Romeo & Juliet, Mercutio, Friar Lawrence, Conflict. There are also several practice essay questions, as well as an essay tip ...

  8. Romeo and Juliet

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  9. Love in Romeo and Juliet

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  10. Romeo & Juliet: Writer's Methods & Techniques

    In Romeo and Juliet, this idea is shown as questionable, asking audiences whether fortunes are determined by our own actions, social pressures or written in the stars; Catharsis: a moment of shared expression for the audience. In Romeo and Juliet, it is the tragic deaths of the lovers at the play's end, foretold by the Prologue.

  11. PDF Sample Exam Questions Bank

    GCSE English Literature 2015-2017 Sample Exam Questions Bank William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet . Contents The Prologue Act 1 Scene 1 ... Read the following extract from the Prologue of Romeo and Juliet and then answer the question that follows. At this point in the play the Chorus is introducing both families. Two households, both alike ...

  12. Summary GCSE Romeo Character Essay Plan (GRADE 9)

    Summary GCSE Romeo Character Essay Plan (GRADE 9) An in depth essay plan for an essay on the character of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. Includes thesis statement, conclusion, suggested quotes for each section with points for analysis, and relevant context facts. This was my revision material at GCSE (I achieved recieved a grade 9 on my English ...

  13. Romeo and Juliet: Study Guide

    Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, penned in the early stages of his career and first performed around 1596, is a timeless tragedy that unfolds in the city of Verona.This play tells the story of two young lovers from feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo and Juliet's passionate love defies the social and familial boundaries that seek to keep them apart.

  14. GCSE Romeo and Juliet

    How to write a Romeo and Juliet Extract Essay (GCSE) Ideal for teaching GCSE English Literature, this bundle contains lesson plans and model essays based on the extract questions (AQA), although it can be adapted for other exam boards. Extracts from Act 1, Scene 5 and Act 2, Scene 2 are covered. The language rich activities, mean they are ...

  15. English Lit: AQA GCSE Romeo & Juliet

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  16. PDF Romeo & Juliet

    ROMEO & JULIET By William Shakespeare GCSE WEC CBAC Ltd 2016 JULIET The daughter of Capulet and Lady Capulet. A beautiful thirteen-year-old girl, Juliet begins the play as a naïve child who has thought little about love and marriage, but she grows up quickly, upon falling in love with Romeo, the son of her family's great enemy.

  17. PDF Question Bank

    You can use them to help with extract questions and timed essay practice. These questions have NOT been taken from past papers and they have NOT been made by AQA. 1. Romeo. Read the following extract from Act 2 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet and then answer the question that follows.

  18. JAC English Revision

    Friar Laurence's words could echo the Elizabethan audience's fears that fate has already decided Romeo and Juliet are doomed. Shakespeare's choice for the letter to be undelivered creates tension for the audience, as they begin to wonder if Romeo and Juliet are drawing ever-closer to their tragic deaths.

  19. Romeo & Juliet: Key Quotations

    Romeo and Juliet is known for its theme of love. However, as the play's ending suggests, it is a tragic tale of woe and conflict, a tale about a love that was forbidden because of a family grudge. Paired quotations: "Here's much to do with hate, but more with love" Romeo Montague, Act I, Scene I. "O brawling love, o loving hate ...

  20. Romeo and Juliet Grade 9 Essay Exemplar GCSE English Literature

    Romeo and Juliet Grade 9 Essay Exemplar GCSE English Literature. This product contains an essay that is two sides of A4. This grade 9 essay response is based on the question 'Starting with this extract, explore Shakespeare's ideas about fate.'. This essay was rewarded for being a simple yet high-level response to the question, easy to ...

  21. Sample Answers

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  27. Plot summary of Romeo and Juliet What is Romeo and Juliet about?

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