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Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet Commonlit Answers

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  • 9th Grade

Source: Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
PART A: Which statement best describes a theme of the play excerpts?Love makes people more willing to change and face obstacles.
PART B: Which of the following quotes best supports the answer to Part A?“Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptiz’d;/ Henceforth I never will be Romeo.” (Lines 33-34)
What purpose does the prologue serve in the text?It informs the audience of past and future events in the play.
How does Juliet’s monologue in lines 15-31 affect Romeo?He is willing to give up his family name in order to be with her.

Explain the figurative language Juliet uses in lines 25-26 and how it relates to a theme of the excerpts.

In lines 25-26, Juliet employs a famous example of figurative language: “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” This metaphor compares a name to a rose, suggesting that just as a rose would retain its sweetness regardless of what it’s called, Romeo would remain the person she loves even if he had a different name.

This metaphor is used to express the theme that true love transcends superficial labels or social constructs, such as family names, which in the context of “Romeo and Juliet,” represent the feud between their two families. The theme highlighted here is the power of love to transcend societal boundaries and the arbitrary nature of the names and distinctions that keep people apart.

Juliet’s words challenge the feud that divides the Montagues and Capulets, suggesting that individual worth and love are more significant than the labels and hatred that their families uphold.

Discussion Answers

Romeo maintains his feelings towards Juliet despite the conflict between their families. Discuss what this detail tells us about love and identity.

Despite the longstanding feud between their families, Romeo’s steadfast feelings for Juliet underscore the theme that love transcends societal constraints and familial identities.

This aspect of their relationship speaks to love’s powerful, often irrational nature that can drive individuals to defy norms, reject their inherited identities, and challenge the status quo. In “Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare explores how love can redefine personal identity beyond familial ties and social labels.

The conflict between the Montagues and Capulets represents the societal and external pressures that can influence individual identity and actions. However, Romeo and Juliet’s love story illustrates that personal feelings and connections can be more significant than these external determinants.

Their willingness to overlook their families’ identities and embrace their love for each other suggests that individual identity is not solely defined by one’s family name or societal role but can be reshaped by personal choices and affections.

Moreover, their love challenges the notion of identity as a fixed and unchangeable trait inherited from one’s family. Instead, it proposes that identity can be fluid, subject to personal evolution through significant emotional experiences.

Romeo and Juliet’s relationship demonstrates how love can lead individuals to redefine themselves, prioritizing personal connections over inherited enmities and societal divisions.

This timeless and universal theme reflects the ongoing human struggle to balance personal desires with societal expectations. Shakespeare’s portrayal of Romeo and Juliet invites the audience to consider the ways in which love can challenge and transform our understanding of identity, suggesting that the essence of who we are is often revealed through the relationships we choose to pursue and the values we choose to defend.


Do you think the concept of identity has changed since Shakespeare’s time? Do last names hold as much weight as they once did? Explain your answer.

The concept of identity has indeed evolved significantly since Shakespeare’s time, and the weight of last names has also shifted in many cultures and societies. In the Elizabethan era, when Shakespeare was writing, family names carried substantial weight, signifying not just one’s lineage but also one’s social status, profession, and reputation.

Families, especially those of high status or nobility, were often associated with certain values, traits, or rivalries, as illustrated by the Montagues and Capulets in “Romeo and Juliet.” These names could dictate individuals’ roles in society, their potential marriage prospects, and their social circles.

In contemporary society, while last names can still carry historical significance and convey certain information about one’s heritage or cultural background, the emphasis on individual identity has become more pronounced.

Globalization, increased mobility, and the rise of individualism have contributed to a society where personal achievements, characteristics, and choices often define one’s identity more strongly than lineage or family name. Additionally, the blending of cultures and the increasing commonality of intercultural marriages have further diluted the weight that last names once held.

Moreover, the digital age has transformed the concept of identity, allowing individuals to construct and present their identities in multifaceted ways across various platforms, independent of their family names.

Social media, in particular, enables individuals to curate personal brands that may be entirely separate from their familial identities.

However, it’s important to note that in some cultures and communities, last names still hold considerable significance, carrying with them expectations, responsibilities, and a sense of belonging or history. In certain professional or social contexts, a well-known family name can open doors or create barriers, demonstrating that while the influence of last names may have diminished in some areas, they can still carry considerable weight in others.

In summary, while the concept of identity has broadened to encompass a wider range of factors beyond just family names, these names can still hold significance, though perhaps not with the same universality or intensity as in Shakespeare’s time. The shift reflects broader societal changes towards valuing individuality and personal expression alongside or even above familial heritage and lineage.


What makes a person who they are-is it their genes, their upbringing, their family circumstances, their reputations, or something else? Explain your answer, using evidence from this text, your own experience, and other art, literature, or history. What constitutes a person’s identity is a complex.

What constitutes a person’s identity is a complex interplay of various factors, including genes, upbringing, family circumstances, and reputation. However, the combination of these elements, along with individual choices and experiences, truly shapes a person’s identity.

Evidence from “Romeo and Juliet”: In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the protagonists’ identities are initially defined by their family names, Montague and Capulet, which come with predetermined reputations and expectations.

However, the play demonstrates that these external labels do not dictate their inner selves or their capacity for love. Juliet’s monologue, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet,” suggests that identity goes beyond names or familial affiliations. It’s their choices, actions, and love for each other that reveal who they truly are, suggesting that personal identity is more than the sum of external labels.

Personal Experience: In everyday life, individuals often find themselves at the intersection of expectations set by their family, society, and their innate characteristics. Yet, personal growth and identity are also significantly influenced by personal experiences, choices, and the values one chooses to live by.

This aligns with the idea that while genetics and upbringing set the stage, it’s the individual’s actions and decisions that define their identity.

Evidence from Other Art, Literature, or History: Literature and history are replete with figures who have transcended or transformed their initial circumstances or reputations through their actions. For instance, in Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” Jean Valjean’s journey from a convicted criminal to a compassionate and moral individual illustrates how personal choices can redefine one’s identity, challenging societal labels and expectations.

Similarly, historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, born into poverty but rising to become the President of the United States and a key figure in the abolition of slavery, demonstrate how personal conviction and actions can overshadow circumstances of birth or upbringing.

A person’s identity is a dynamic blend of their biological traits, the environment they grow up in, the culture and family they are part of, and most importantly, their choices and actions.

Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” along with countless real-world examples, shows that while external factors contribute to shaping an individual’s initial identity, it is ultimately their personal choices, actions, and the values they espouse that define who they truly are.

This view highlights the capacity for growth, change, and self-definition beyond the confines of genetics, upbringing, or societal labels.

Other Commonlit Answers

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