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A Guide to Romeo and Juliet

Steph Atkinson | Wednesday April 18, 2012

Categories: KS4, AQA GCSE, WJEC Eduqas GCSE, Drama, Romeo & Juliet, Hot Entries, Poetry, Anthologies, Browning, Sonnet 43, Marvel, To His Coy Mistress, Owen, Futility, Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Shakespeare, Shakespeare's Plays, Writing, Drama Analysis, Poetry Analysis, AQA English Literature, Unit 4 Approaching Shakespeare, WJEC GCSE English Literature, Unit 3 Poetry and Drama, AQA Moon On The Tides

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Guide Navigation

Part 1 Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet | Part 2 Marvel’s To His Coy Mistress
Part 3 Browning’s Sonnet 43 | Part 4 Owen’s Futility
Part 5 Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade

Love and Conflict

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare explores several themes but perhaps the twin themes of love and conflict were uppermost in his mind when he conceived and wrote the play. At GCSE, the play is often used as part of a controlled assessment task in which students explore the presentation of one of these themes and compare it with the theme as explored in a text from the ‘literary heritage’. A popular choice is the comparison of Romeo and Juliet with 2 or 3 thematically linked poems. This is an option for both the AQA and WJEC GCSE English Literature courses.

Although it is by no means compulsory to use poems provided by the examination board, such as from the AQA anthology Moon on the Tides, this is a useful and readily available resource, and is therefore employed in this guide although, of course, the ideas contained in the guide can easily be applied to the study and comparison of any poems.

A feature of this two-part teaching guide is to provide plenty of exemplification, through the close textual analysis of Romeo and Juliet and literary heritage poetry, looking at aspects of language, form and structure as well as context, genre and comparison. In each of the two parts – love and conflict – relevant scenes from the play will be selected along with two poems from the Literary Heritage sections of the AQA Moon on the Tides anthology. These will be as follows:

  • Love | Romeo and Juliet (Act 1 scene 5 and Act 2 scene 2); To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell and Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barratt Browning
  • Conflict | Romeo and Juliet (Act 1 scene 1 and Act 3 scene 1); Futility by Wilfred Owen and The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Tennyson

It is worth noting that AQA specify that ‘the poems chosen should not...


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