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ESCALUS, prince of Verona.
PARIS, a young nobleman, kinsman to the prince.
MONTAGUE, heads of two houses at variance with each CAPULET,
An old man, cousin to Capulet.
ROMEO, Son to Montague.
MERCUTIO, kinsman to the prince, and friend to Romeo.
BENVOLIO, nephew to Montague, and friend to Romeo.
TYBALT, nephew to Lady Capulet.
Citizens of Verona; several Men and Women, relations to both houses; Maskers, Guards, Watchmen, and Attendants.
SCENE: Verona; Mantua.
DURATION OF TIME
(Daniel, Time Analysis, p. 191 f.)
Six consecutive days, beginning on the morning of the first and ending early on the morning of the sixth.
Dramatis Persona. These were first given by Rowe.
THE first edition of Romeo and Juliet was a Quarto Early published in 1597, with the title :
AN EXCELLENT | conceited Tragedie OF Romeo and Juliet, As it hath been often (with great applause) plaid publiquely, by the right Honourable the L. of Hunsdon | his Seruants. | LONDON, | Printed by John Danter. | 1597. |
Two years later a second Quarto appeared, with the title :
THE MOST EX-cellent and lamentable | Tragedie, of Romeo and Juliet. | Newly corrected, augmented, and amended: | As it hath been sundry times publiquely acted, by the right Honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his Seruants. | LONDON | Printed by Thomas Creede, for Cuthbert Burby, and are to be sold at his shop neare the Exchange. | 1599. |
A third Quarto was published in 1609, 'as it hath been sundry times publiquely acted by the Kings Maiesties Seruants at the Globe'; a fourth, undated (but probably later than 1623), with the name 'W. Shakespeare' for the first time mentioned on the titlepage, in some copies. A fifth appeared in 1637.
The First Folio was printed from the Third Quarto, with a number of minute changes 'some accidental, some deliberate, but all generally for the worse, excepting the changes in punctuation and in the
stage directions' which are usually for the better (Camb. edd.).
The principal textual problem of the play concerns the relation of the first two Quartos. All critics agree that the First Quarto is a pirated text, made up from notes taken in the theatre, eked out by occasional access to the MS. The great majority of its countless divergences from the other Qq can be accounted for, as the school of Mommsen would account for all, by omission, mutilation,1 or botching. Some of the most superb passages are so far preserved that we can be certain they existed entire in the play as performed in 1597In a certain proportion of cases the First Quarto even preserves readings palpably more 'genuine than those of the Second, and every editor has admitted more or fewer of them into his text. But a considerable residue tends to confirm the assertion of the title-page of the Second Quarto, that its text was 'newly corrected, augmented, and amended.' The Cambridge editors, while expressing their general accord with Mommsen's view, yet demur in the one
1 A good instance (out of scores) is iii. 1. 202, where the genuine Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill,' becomes: Mercy to all but murderers, pardoning none that kill.'
2 Tycho Mommsen: Shakespeare's Romeo und Julia (1859), an exemplary critical edition of the two texts printed face to face. Mommsen's too peremptory rejection of the revision theory has tended to make this attitude orthodox in Germany in the analogous case of Hamlet, where that theory has still firmer ground. His uncompromising advocacy of the Second Quarto has been supported (not without extrava
gance) by R. Gericke, J. B. xiv. 207. A parallel edition of the two texts has also been issued by Mr. P. A. Daniel (New Sh. Society, 1874).
3 Thus several entire verses (e.g. i. 4. 7, 8) are only found in Q. Examples of clearly genuine readings confined to Q1 are ii. 1. 13, Cupid, he that shot so trim' ('true' Qq Ff); iii. 1. 129, fire-eyed fury' ('fire end' Q, fire and' Ff.); iii. 5. 182, 'nobly train'd' (Q2 ‘liand,' Q3 Ff 'allied'), etc. Q1 gives Mercutio's Queen Mab speech in verse all the other Qq in prose.