Dramatic structure of Romeo and Juliet

We can analyze the structure of the play in more detail using what is called Freytag's pyramid. This is a diagram which divides a plot into five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.


Fig. 1. Freytag's pyramid of plot structure.

Note that we do not include the two prologues in the analysis below. You can read about their significance above.

Act 1: Exposition

Despite being a tragedy, Romeo and Juliet begins with a comical scene where servants, lords, and ladies from the Montague and Capulet families fight in the street until Prince Escalus appears to restore order. On top of the physical fighting, the characters use a lot of verbal insults and sexual punning. All in all, the two noble families appear rather ridiculous - which is also the point. Because of this foolish family feud, two young people end up losing their lives. The humorous and dramatic first scene catches our attention from the start while showing us the central conflict.

As we m…


How do we interpret the ending?

The ending of Romeo and Juliet is no surprise to us. Right from the first prologue of the play we have known that this love story would end in tragedy. We have even been reminded of this throughout the play via the play’s heavy use of foreshadowing.

In spite of this, we still feel sad when the two lovers die in the end. Much of our sadness has to do with the fact that their deaths seem pointless; if only their families had not kept an old grudge going and prevented them from being together, the…

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