English Controlled Assessment Romeo And Juliet Example Essay

Romeo and Juliet - Sample exam question

The question

Starting with this extract, analyse how Shakespeare presents Capulet's attitudes towards his daughter, Juliet. How does he portray their relationship?

Write about:

  • how Shakespeare presents Capulet's attitudes and their relationship in this extract
  • how Shakespeare presents Capulet's attitudes and their relationship in the play as a whole

The extract

In this extract Capulet is telling Juliet about her forthcoming marriage to Paris.

Act 3 Scene 5

Good father, I beseech you on my knees,
Hear me with patience but to speak a word.
Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what: get thee to church a' Thursday
Or never after look me in the face.
Speak not, reply not, do not answer me.
My fingers itch. Wife, we scarce thought us blessed
That God had lent us but this only child,
But now I see this one is too much,
And that we have a curse in having her.
Fie, fie, what, are you mad?

Before you go onto the next page, make some notes about what you could write about.


  • Think about the key words in the essay question (Capulet, Juliet, attitudes, relationship).
  • Think about this extract - how is Capulet feeling towards Juliet? Highlight some key points.
  • Look at the start and the end of the extract - have the attitudes changed as the extract has progressed?
  • Think about the entire play and the relationship between Capulet and Juliet.

Social and historical context

In Elizabethan times, men had power over women. Fathers decided who their daughters would marry and they would arrange this. For a daughter to speak out against their father's choice, would mean great disrespect towards them and the family name.

Your opening line

You should begin with a sentence that sums up your whole argument. If your question is think what your answer is, boil it down to a single sentence and start with that. Start with an interesting positive statement - eg,

If the question is you could begin with

Tip: if you had to describe your essay in a single sentence, what would that sentence be? When you've done that, you've got your opening sentence. The rest of the essay is really just showing why you've come to that conclusion.

Completing paragraph one

Once you have made your bold opening statement, you need to explain how you have come to this conclusion. You should therefore list the points you are going to explore in your essay. Ideally, there should be at least five key points, which will show how you have come to your conclusion. You will provide the evidence for these points in the following paragraphs.

Your points will answer exploratory questions.

  • Theme: what is the story about (ideas and attitudes)?
  • Character: who is in the story (and how do they work with or against each other)?
  • Setting: where does the story take place (and what is its impact on characters and action)?
  • Technique: how are the themes or the characters expressed in the text?
  • Structure: when do certain events happen (and how do they create meaning)?

If your essay gives a good first impression it's more likely that your later points will impress too.

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