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Gcse literature essay

Explore how Shakespeare presents the character of Juliet in this extract. Refer closely to the extract in your answer. (20)

In this extract, we can see how Juliet has conflicting emotions about whether she should take the potion which is a part of the Friar’s plan. Juliet questions herself in “What if this mixture do not work at all?”. This interrogative illustrates that Juliet does not have complete trust in whether the potion will make her seem dead, and if it doesn’t work, she cannot be with Romeo freely and will be forced to marry Paris. As Juliet is already married to Romeo, to be married to a second spouse will be considered polygamy which is considered a major sin for Catholics, which dominated the lives of the people of Verona, Italy. This means that Juliet would be terrified of going to hell for her sins, henceforth why it is vital for the potion to work properly. The audience watching this must have been the Elizabethans, who were protestant, so would have sympathised with Juliet’s fear of going to hell. However, they could also have detested Juliet as she has already sinned many times previously, such as lying to her parents and getting married in secret.

Another worry Juliet has about the plan is that she doubts whether the Friar truly has the purest intentions for her and Romeo’s relationship. She wonders if the potion is “ministered to have me dead” as “he should be dishonoured Because he married me before to Romeo?”. Juliet thinks that as a religious man, the Friar should be guiding the pair to being closer with God and listening to their parents, however he has gone against that and done the opposite by telling the couple to keep secrets and lie to their parents. The verb “dishonoured” highlight that the Friar has acknowledged this and doesn’t want society to find out about what he’s done. Alternatively, the Friar could feel the need to protect his authority as a religious and respected man in society and thinks the only way to do this is by killing Juliet. The audience at the time would’ve disliked the Friar for his rash decisions and encouraging the way Romeo and Juliet behaved. For example, he told the couple to lie to their parents which would’ve been perceived by the Elizabethan audience as an unforgivable and serious sin.

Lastly, Juliet worries that she will wake up before Romeo comes to “redeem” her and then suffocate in the tomb where her “buried ancestors” and “bloody Tybalt” are, ultimately leading to her death. The noun “bloody” has connotations of violence and suffering, perhaps trying to reflect the way in which Romeo slaughtered Tybalt and highlight that Juliet feels quite guilty about the tragic event. The audience wouldn’t have been surprised in Tybalt’s death as family feuds were common during Shakespeare’s time, along with violence and conflict in the streets. Upholding family honour was more important to most families, rather than the lives which were at stake.
Hi there!
I’m an A Level English Literature student and I got a grade 9 in my GCSE English Literature last academic year, I hope I can help!

You have a really good grasp of the extract and its significance in the text as a whole. Your context is excellent and your analysis of language has great depth. I really like the audience responses that you’ve added, they show a great deal of knowledge of the play and the context of the time, and they are judiciously chosen to support your points. You seem to have covered the extract well (from what I can remember of a similar extract question I answered!), and the alternative viewpoint you added in P2 gives a really good knowledge of the play! There is just one thing that I would add: if you want to get a really high mark, try and include some analysis of form and structure, even if it is just briefly, as this will get you into those top band marks and show even more understanding! But overall it’s a fabulous answer, I would give it anything from 13-15 out of 20, and some more analysis of structure and form would get the marking band higher!

Hope that helps you! And I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have! Good luck with your revision! :smile:
Reply 2
Original post by squemily16
Hi there!
I’m an A Level English Literature student and I got a grade 9 in my GCSE English Literature last academic year, I hope I can help!

You have a really good grasp of the extract and its significance in the text as a whole. Your context is excellent and your analysis of language has great depth. I really like the audience responses that you’ve added, they show a great deal of knowledge of the play and the context of the time, and they are judiciously chosen to support your points. You seem to have covered the extract well (from what I can remember of a similar extract question I answered!), and the alternative viewpoint you added in P2 gives a really good knowledge of the play! There is just one thing that I would add: if you want to get a really high mark, try and include some analysis of form and structure, even if it is just briefly, as this will get you into those top band marks and show even more understanding! But overall it’s a fabulous answer, I would give it anything from 13-15 out of 20, and some more analysis of structure and form would get the marking band higher!

Hope that helps you! And I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have! Good luck with your revision! :smile:

Thank you so much in my year 10 mocks I got a 3 even though I was predicted a 7 so im really trying to at least get 5 for now. I did my paper 1 mock yesterday and I hope I've improved, so to hear Im get getting even 10/20 is really useful!

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