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English Literature   >   Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

Introduction: Love, Sex and Power

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Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

In this thirty-three part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. We begin with a broad introduction to the historical, political and intellectual context of late 16th-century England, before going through the play scene-by-scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes and motifs, language, symbolism, and more.

Note: We use the Arden edition of the play (Third Series, ed. René Weis). Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in both the text and line numbers.

Introduction: Love, Sex and Power

In this lecture, we begin our introduction to Romeo and Juliet, focusing in particular on: (i) its focus on love and sex, and its bawdiness; (ii) some of the key themes in the play: love, power, the patriarchy; (iii) the role of violence in the play, and the extent to which the kind of violence that we witness (gang violence, revenge killings, etc.) remains relevant today; (iv) its setting in a Verona, a city which had already formed the setting of an earlier play by Shakespeare: The Two Gentlemen of Verona (written between 1589-93); (v) the extent to which Romeo and Juliet is a ‘typical’ tragedy; and (vi) the position of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s career: a relatively early play, but written very close to two of his greatest works: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (written in 1595 or 1596) and The Merchant of Venice (written between 1596-99).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2022, October 07). Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet - Introduction: Love, Sex and Power [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet – Introduction: Love, Sex and Power." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Oct 2022,


Prof. John McRae

Prof. John McRae

Nottingham University