In this traumatic but romantic Love story. Shakespeare effectively arouses and sustains the audiences interest with a wide variety of techniques such as; use of language, stagecraft and many more devices. In the key scenes Act 1 Scene 5 and Act 3 Scene 5.
Even though at the beginning of Act 1 Scene 5 we are told in the prologue of the plot of Romeo and Juliet. For example, ‘a pair of star-crossed lovers takes their life’. So we are aware that Romeo and Juliet are too meet and that it is meant to be also that they are to take their lives. However the audience are still interested in how this happens! Also with the techniques that Shakespeare uses these help to sustain our interest.
At the start of Act 1 Scene 5 there is a busy and worrying atmosphere but also an exciting aroma about this scene, this feeling travels to the audience. We get the feeling that the party is going to be big and extravagant. There is also a feeling of apprehension encase the party is not ready in time! This atmosphere arouses the audience’s interest.
To prolong this suspense Shakespeare enters humour into this scene. At the beginning of the party Lord Capulet grabs the audience’s attention with a joke. This lightens the atmosphere. The audience are now being entertained by Lord Capulet ‘Welcome, Gentlemen! Ladies that have their toes!’ The audience’s attention is now further enhanced by Lord Capulet due to his cheerful tone and joking.
Shakespeare uses various ways to sustain our interest, such as the characters for example Romeo. Romeo has a very interesting personality. This keeps the audience entertained throughout the play. As he sometimes behaves in a fickle, shallow and small-minded manor. These factors of Romeo’s personality entertain, but then he can suddenly change into a romantic and lovable character which intrigues us. An example of this is when in Act 1 Scene 5, his interest quickly change from Rosaline to Juliet.
Shakespeare once again creates even more interest when Romeo’s eyes fall on Juliet. The setting for this scene is full of romance. The stagecraft Romeo gazing across the hall staring at Juliet. The audience are romanticised by Romeos words about Juliet ‘a torch that burns bright’ meaning she lights up the room. He also makes use of a simile ‘as rich a jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’ suggesting that she stands out and makes an impact. The audience get the impression that Juliet is very beautiful and elegant. Romeo would be saying these words with love, lust and passion. Because he is so passionate about Juliet. He is paralysed by her beauty! Shakespeare has now gained our interest as we wonder what is going to happen at the rest of the party.
Furthermore the setting plays a major part in keeping the audience interested. The setting in Act 1 Scene 5 is in Lord Capulet’s grand house where the party is held. Shakespeare puts emphasize is as it is where Romeo and Juliet are too first meet. Capulet’s house emphasizes this perfectly.
So the audiences interest is not lost, Shakespeare also uses stagecraft to its full extent. For example when Romeo and Juliet first meet in Act 1 Scene 5, the placing of Romeo and Juliet is just right because it keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Also their body language and facial expressions are matching and romantic.
The language of Tybalt sustains are interest Because Romeo is found out of being a Mountague by, ‘fiery’ Tybalt. Tybalt reacts in an aggressive manor what shocks the audience bit also arouses their interest even more. He wants to fight Romeo to his Death. Capulet does not agree and Tybalt resentfully backs down.
When Romeo and Juliet finally meet, there is an atmosphere of tension and suspense. Straight away sweet-talks her, ‘ My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand! To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss. Romeo kisses Juliet; they are interrupted by Juliet’s mother. Romeo is intrigued to find out who Juliet’s mother is. Of course we know who Juliet’s mother is so therefore we know of the ‘ancient’ feud! Therefore we are now intrigued to find out how Romeo will react!
All in all as the audience we would be feeling a mixture of feelings at the end of Act 1 Scene 5. Such as, Happiness, cheerfulness and a feeling of romance. Shakespeare successfully arouses and sustains interest in Act 1 Scene 5 due to some of the key points in this scene. Shakespeare has achieved all this due to his achievement in keeping us interested.
Equally importantly in Act 3 Scene 5, Shakespeare willingly arouses and sustains interest in many ways which are to be expressed further on.
Therefore Romeo and Juliet’s first night together is romantic and passionate, so Shakespeare has successfully caught the audience’s attention. To sustain this interest there is a sudden change of atmosphere. Initially the atmosphere help to bring together this part of the scene as Romeo and Juliet have just spent their first night together, where the atmosphere is full of passion and lust. Also created is a longing for one another. This intrigues the audience as to what is going to happen. We are not disappointed.
The Nurse’s shock arrival surprises but keeps the audience interested. ‘Your lady mother is coming to your chamber’, the audience are anxious for Juliet encase her and Romeo are caught by her mother. There is a sense of relief when Romeo manages to leave un-noticed, after he and Juliet speak rushed about Romeo having to leave and Juliet’s worry that he might never return. But the audience’s relief is short-lived as it changes to sympathy for Juliet ‘marry, my child early next Thursday morn’, this indicates tension throughout the audience. As we know that Juliet is already married to the ‘villain’ Romeo creating dramatic irony.
The entrance of Lord Capulet continues to sustain our interest because of Juliet’s refusing to marry Count Paris. When Lord Capulet finds out we see a frightening change in Lord Capulet’s personality. Shakespeare cleverly interests the audience with Lord Capulet’s change of character he turns into someone who scares the audience but creates sympathy for Juliet due to his violent behaviour. At this moment the audience would be feeling terrified for Juliet’s well-being. Shakespeare effectively gains sympathy for Juliet. Lord Capulet’s tone of voice and his words, ‘I will drag thee on a hurdle thither’. Shakespeare sustains this by Lord Capulet’s actions his violence and also Juliet’s pleading. ‘Good Father I beseech you on my knees’. Shakespeare has now achieved making the audience feel different emotions. Also with the use of stagecraft this puts impact on how frightened Juliet is, as Lord Capulet stands over Juliet with her kneeling almost cowering away from her father.
Shakespeare makes the atmosphere even worse with Juliet’s pleading to her Mother. ‘Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word’. This indicates even more sympathy on Juliet’s behalf the denial by her mother.
Thankfully the nurse intervenes and trys to calm the situation. ‘God in heaven, bless her’ the audience now have a sense of relief, as Lord Capulet seems to calm down.
Shakespeare ends this scene with a soliloquy at the end of the scene said by Juliet. The audience’s interest is enhanced by this because we are left wondering what might happen even though we do know that Juliet dies we are still intrigued to find out the circumstances before this, ‘I’ll to the friar to know his remedy. If all else fail, myself have power to die.’ The audience would now be feeling worried and afraid for Juliet. Due to the fact that if the friar cannot help her she will have to commit suicide, this also makes the audience also realise how against Juliet is about marrying Paris because she loves Romeo so much. The audience would now feel sympathy for Julie because of her being forced into something she does not want to do.
Hence Shakespeare’s success in arousing and sustaining interest in Act 3 Scene 5. As a result the audience would be feeling a wide variety of emotions. Such as; anxiousness, sympathy and of being intrigued.
Shakespeare maintains the suspension throughout the whole play but in particularly in the two key scenes mentioned. He uses many different devices to create this affect and unlike many other writers he can keep the suspense going through a number of scenes. This is due to his different techniques, which create and sustain the interest of the audience without this we would become very bored and restless throughout the play. These techniques that Shakespeare has used to engage our interest all help in the beautiful but tragic play of Romeo and Juliet.