Romeo and Juliet - Character
Test your knowledge of Romeo and Juliet in this quiz.

Romeo and Juliet - Character

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at the characters in William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet. The play has a somewhat lengthy dramatis personae, considering that the focus of the play is very much on the two young lovers. In addition to these two, Friar Laurence and Nurse play large roles, followed by Romeo’s friend Mercutio, Count Paris, and the Capulets: Juliet’s parents and their nephew Tybalt. Other characters include Montague, his wife, Benvolio, and various servants and citizens of Verona. Several of these play important roles, even if they have few lines. The Prince, for example, appears three times, but makes his presence count by threatening death to those who disturb the peace, banishing Romeo and pronouncing judgement at the end of the play.

The two key strands of the play concern the fatal feud of the Capulets and the Montagues and the love affair of Romeo and Juliet. Most of the male characters are caught up in the feud and the audience often sees these men encountering one another in public. A few of the male characters are caught up in love: Romeo, who is lovelorn in the beginning of the play, Mercutio who teases him mercilessly, Capulet and Paris, who attempt to arrange a marital alliance and Friar Laurence, who aids the lovers. By contrast Capulet’s Wife, Juliet and Nurse converse in private and focus almost exclusively on love, except when the violence of Verona intrudes on their lives, as when Tybalt is murdered.

The primary means by which we understand characters in drama are their speech, their actions and their interactions with other characters. Although gesture and costume are left to a reader’s imagination, in performance the audience of a play is able to understand characters better through these aspects. Watching a production of a play is also a good way to see how its characters have been interpreted by others. When reading Romeo and Juliet, pay close attention to soliloquys and to private dialogues where you can learn what characters might be thinking and what their motivations are. Many of the characters engage in complex word-play, full of double meanings. This complexity requires especially close attention in order to appreciate what each character is communicating to themselves, to others and to the audience.

Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in this play.

"I'll look to like, if looking liking move, / but no more deep will I endart mine eye / Than your consent gives strength to make it fly." What does Juliet's comment to her mother tell us about her character?
She uses language playfully
She is adept at appearing obedient
She may not always choose to please her parents
All of the above
Juliet agrees to try to like Paris while pointing out that looking and liking are not the same. She obeys her mother's request at the same time as mocking it: she promises to look exactly the right amount and in the right way at Paris
Knowing that Romeo is banished and the Capulets have ordered Juliet to marry Paris, what does Nurse advise Juliet to do?
Marry Paris
Escape to Mantua
Take a potion which will create the appearance of death
Send a message to Romeo
Nurse is always pragmatic and not always governed by morality
Friar Laurence encourages Juliet to run away with him when their plans fail. What does her refusal indicate about her character?
All of the above
Friar Laurence promises to hide Juliet away in a convent. Steadfast faith to Romeo drives her instead to a quick suicide
Why does Paris go to Juliet's tomb?
He intends to wait for Romeo
He wishes to lay flowers for her in mourning
He wishes to protect her tomb from defacement by members of the Montague family
He has decided to kill himself in grief
Paris's expressions of grief for Juliet resemble Romeo's sorrow in the opening scene for his unrequited love of Rosaline. Paris, unlike Romeo, has no intention of dying with his beloved
Capulet's Wife is not given a name of her own, but is defined by her relationship to Juliet's father. How does her character function in the play?
She supports her daughter in her plans and wishes for the future
She communicates messages between father and daughter
She advises Capulet on how to run the household
She takes responsibility for wedding arrangements
Capulet's Wife often functions as a messenger or mediator between Capulet and Juliet. Father and daughter speak directly only when Juliet refuses to marry Paris. You might notice that in films of the play, she is often called "Lady Capulet", rather than by the title given her in the play
When Paris requests to marry Juliet, Capulet agrees on the condition that Juliet gives her own consent. Which of the following quotations does NOT contradict his statement?
"I think she will be ruled / in all aspects by me. Nay, more, I doubt it not"
"'Tis very late. She'll not come down tonight"
"Wife, go you to her ere you go to bed. / Acquaint her here of my son Paris' love"
"But fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next / To go with Paris to Saint Peter's Church, / Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither"
Capulet refers to Paris as "son" and presumes that Juliet will follow his wishes. When he hears that she does not wish to marry Paris, he responds by threatening to disinherit her
Which of the following character traits leads most directly to Romeo's death?
Romeo's passion for Juliet leads him to wish to die by her side; this same passion is also responsible for his tendency to act immediately. If he were a more patient character, he might have lived to see Juliet recover from the effects of the potion
Which of the following best describes Mercutio?
Bold but slow-witted
Loyal and placid
Lively and quick-tempered
Calm and eager to please
Mercutio is very quick-tempered and easily provoked. His name is related to the word "mercury", which is also called "quicksilver"
Speaking to Paris, Friar Laurence says, "You say you do not know the lady's mind? / Uneven is the course. I like it not." Which of the following is true of the Friar?
He believes that noble young gentlemen like Paris cannot do wrong
He agrees that fathers should choose who their daughters marry, even against their will
He believes that Juliet must consent to her marriage
He warns Paris that Juliet is already married to Romeo
A marriage required the consent of both parties in order to be valid. Romeo and Juliet shows how family pressure could override an individual's power to choose
For what do Romeo's friends tease him at the beginning of the play?
Obsession with Juliet
Unrequited love
Poor swordsmanship
Romeo is love-sick for Rosaline, who does not return his love
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Characters

Author:  Sheri Smith

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