The play opens with the chorus entering who recite a
fourteen-line sonnet, which gives details of the two noble households, which are called ‘houses’ in the city of Verona.
There is an ancient feud, the cause of which is not made known, but the
result is a violent and bloody conflict between the two families.
“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes.
A pair of star-crossed lovers takes their life.”
The play is about these two lovers, Romeo and Juliet, and the terrible fate
that awaits them being a direct product of the strife between the two houses.
Shakespeare is clear to leave the audience in no doubt
that they are watching a tragedy where the heroes will die. The purpose of the prologue is to set the scene of the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
It refers to the ill-fated couple that will be punished for challenging the fates, or stars. The stars were thought to control people’s destinies and the play describes the web of fate in which Romeo and Juliet become entangled.