Though many assume that this play is one of Shakespeare’s more familiar plays, many students may not be fully aware of the story of Romeo and Juliet. I normally call these “Drive-Thru Summaries”. When people are hungry they need to eat, maybe something quick because they’re on the go so they will grab some Drive- Thru food. Analogously, we are going to give a “Drive-Thru Summary” so students can quickly get caught up to the story and we can then focus on the scene of transgression. The scene I suggest we focus on in this play is the balcony scene between Romeo and Juliet. What we want to focus on is the language between the two, specifically the line by Romeo, “O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?”
I would first read this scene with students so that they can read it for themselves and have a better understanding when it is read in two voices. I would suggest asking any students if they’re familiar with this scene and then follow with anyone could explain what might be happening in the scene. The goal out of this discussion is to identify transgressive actions and words. Jumping over others’ walls is one form of “transgression”; what are others in this scene? What is different about the transgressive nature of Romeo’s question?
The idea is to play off the scene that gets Romeo in trouble. Romeo is asking if Juliet will leave him unsatisfied emotionally—i.e., uncommitted—for the night. Juliet is thinking that Romeo is asking for sexual satisfaction there and then. Romeo clarifies the miscommunication after hearing Juliet ask what satisfaction he might be asking for in the middle of the night as he recovers by asking for her hand in marriage.