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    How does Shakespeare use dramatic devices in Act 3 scene 1 of “Romeo and Juliet” in order to make it such an interesting, exciting and important scene? Essay

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    In the story of Romeo and Juliet, two “star-crossed” lovers from feuding families marry in secret. When Romeo murders Juliet’s cousin in a fight he is banished from the city of Verona. Juliet’s family, not knowing about the marriage, prepare for Juliet to marry The County Paris. Juliet goes to Friar Laurence (who married Romeo and Juliet) for help. The Friar gives Juliet a poison that will help her to feign death by slowing her heart rate. Juliet takes the poison but Romeo, in the nearby village of Mantua, hears of Juliet’s “death” and so, believing her to actually be dead, travels to Verona to visit her tomb. There he kills himself moments before Juliet awakens. Juliet sees Romeo’s dead body and stabs herself with a dagger. After the deaths of their only children, the Montagues and Capulets become at peace with each other.

    The play is a tragedy because, although there is humour in the play, through the character Mercutio, the ending is very upsetting and the mood of the play seems to become extremely tense and desperate, especially after the deaths of Mercutio (Romeo’s friend) and Tybalt. In the 16th Century when Romeo and Juliet was written, death was morbidly fascinating to people so there is a lot of dark imagery in the play that hints at a morbid ending, for example, in act 3 scene 5 Juliet says that Romeo looks “as one dead in the bottom of a tomb” as he climbs down from her balcony. Death is a main theme in Romeo and Juliet, who both kill themselves at the end of the play and threaten to many times throughout the play. “I long to die” Juliet says to Friar Laurence. “Hadst thou no sharp-ground knife, no sudden mean of death?” says Romeo after he is banished.

    Love is another main theme in the play, Romeo and Juliet get married and die for each other after knowing each other for a very short period of time. Romeo and Juliet declare their love for each other (“if my heart’s dear love.” Says Romeo) and plan to marry each other having had only two short conversations. This short time scale is probably because the entire play lasts only three days. This helps to keep the pace of the play very fast and builds tension to keep audiences interested.

    Comedy, although not a main theme of the play, comes out through the character Mercutio, who plays with words using words with double meanings such as “Thou wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts having no other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes.” He says this when he tells Benvolio that he is quick tempered. Mercutio also uses sexual innuendo whilst talking to Tybalt, an enemy Capulet. “Here’s my fiddle stick.” Using comedy like that would interest the audience by making them laugh, this would also help people to become attached to Mercutio’s character, making them slightly more upset when he dies later in the scene.

    Act 3 Scene 1 fits into the play just after Romeo and Juliet’s marriage, it is the scene where Mercutio and Tybalt are murdered and Romeo is banished from Verona. The scene before act 3 scene 1 is a complete contrast to act 3 scene 1, the mood is very romantic as the couples declare there love and get married, whereas in the next scene everything goes wrong and Romeo and Juliet’s relationship seems doomed. This contrast of scene helps to keep the audience on the edge of their seats, Shakespeare likes to play with the audience’s emotions throughout the play and not give them a chance to get bored.

    Act 3 Scene 1 is the turning point in the play because before this scene, the play seemed like a romance, using sonnets and metaphors such as “it is the east, and Juliet is the sun!” although the chorus hinted at tragedy, the plot up until now has been in a romantic atmosphere. Now however, Romeo’s best friend is dead, he has murdered Juliet’s cousin and been exiled from Verona. Mercutio has cursed both of the houses, hinting at an unhappy ending. This is the mood of the rest of the play, increasingly desperate until they both die. This is why Act 3 scene 1 changes the mood and atmosphere of the whole play and makes sure that the audience realises that the play is a tragedy.

    At the start of the scene Shakespeare uses Benvolio to set the scene to the audience, he says that it is a warm day time “the day is hot,” and hints at a fight later on in the scene “is the mad blood stirring,” this makes the audience aware that this is a violent scene. Benvolio is also the one who describes what has happened to the prince at the end of the scene. Benvolio’s character was used by Shakespeare to tell the audience what is going on as in the 16th Century when it was being acted out, there would be no backdrops or special effects to show the weather or time of day, so a character like Benvolio would be used to tell the audience the vital information at the start of the scene, overall Benvolio is more of a necessary character than an interesting one.

    The way that the scene develops and creates suspense is by keeping you increasingly desperate to find out what happens next as the story unfolds. When Mercutio dies and curses both families, you worry about Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo kills Tybalt, you wonder if they can ever work through this. When Romeo is banished you realise that there isn’t going to be a happy ending and that the play is a tragedy. So, in just one scene, the play has become a tragedy, Mercutio (who provided humour in the play) has died, and it seems highly unlikely that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship will be allowed to continue.

    Even from the very beginning of the play, Romeo and Juliet seemed to be leading towards a battle. The chorus says that “From ancient grudge break to new mutiny.” This means that the old feud will lead to new violence. Near the start of the play, two servants from the feuding families fight causing Benvolio and Tybalt to become involved and eventually Montague and Capulet themselves threaten to join the violence. This shows just how easily the feuding families can turn to violence and even readily kill each other.

    The prince arrives in time to intervene and prevent anyone from getting injured but he warns the families that anyone caught street-fighting will be sentenced to death. This would interest the audience in act 3 scene 1 when fighting breaks out. In act 1 scene 5, Tybalt vows revenge on Romeo for sneaking into a Capulet banquet, this also hints at further violence and links to the fight scene in act 3 scene 1. The feud between the Montagues and the Capulets affects every part of the play, although Shakespeare never mentions why or how the feud started.

    In act 3 scene 1, Tybalt talks to Mercutio and Benvolio to attempt to find Romeo and get revenge after he sneaked into the Capulet’s banquet. Mercutio makes fun of him, although Tybalt tries to ignore him. “Well, peace be with you, sir.” Mercutio has probably already angered Tybalt and when Romeo arrives, he is quick to try and start a fight. Dramatic irony is used in this scene because neither Tybalt nor Mercutio know about the marriage, and so are confused when Romeo refuses to fight and says that “I love thee (Tybalt) better than thou canst devise.” This would be of interest to the audience as they would be wondering whether Tybalt finds out about the wedding or whether Tybalt accepts Romeo’s refusal to fight.

    As Mercutio doesn’t know about Romeo’s marriage he sees his refusal to fight as “Calm, dishonourable, vile submission.” Mercutio challenges Tybalt himself. After a struggle in which Romeo tries to intervene, Mercutio is stabbed and fatally wounded. Mercutio’s exit from the scene is very dramatic as he staggers around the stage, using his last breaths to curse the two families. “A plague o’ both your houses!” he cries in his dying moments. This would be of interest to the audience because in the 16th century superstition was thought to be true by a great number of people and Mercutio wishing harm upon both of the families would make Romeo and Juliet’s relationship seem unlikely to have a happy ending.

    I think that the reason Mercutio turns against the Montague household when he dies is because he thinks that it is Romeo’s fault he was stabbed. He says “I was hurt under your arm” meaning that if Romeo hadn’t been trying to interfere then he would have beaten Tybalt.

    There is a lot of religious imagery in the scene where Mercutio dies, for example “not so wide as a church door” a simile Mercutio uses to describe his wound. I think that this is to show to the audience that he is going to die. At the time when the play was written, religion played a huge part in everyday life, everyone went to church and there where fines if you didn’t. It probably pleased the audience that there is religious imagery before a death as it makes it seem more solemn.

    Even in his dying moments, Mercutio is still using puns and playing with words. He says that in the morning “You shall find me a grave man.” This could mean “grave” as in grim, or “grave” as in a burial place. If I was directing this play, I would make Mercutio’s exit from the scene very dramatic, with the actor playing Mercutio staggering, bleeding and using the last of his strength to cry “Your Houses!” before collapsing onto the Benvolio who drags him offstage.

    When Romeo first talks to Tybalt he is very polite and tries to keep the peace but after Mercutio’s death Romeo is very dramatic, using sentences that could be said in a powerful way that would have a great impact on the audience. For example “Fire-ey’d fury be my conduct now.” Or “Either thou or I or both must go with him “, which is saying that one or both of them is going to die, Romeo says this to Tybalt, threatening him and challenging him to a fight.

    I think the reason Romeo kills Tybalt is because of a terrible guilt about Mercutio’s death. Romeo should have fought Tybalt, not Mercutio, and maybe Mercutio wouldn’t have fought at all if he had told his best friend about his marriage to Juliet. Also Mercutio turned against him for trying to stop the fight, as Mercutio was stabbed after Romeo tried to intrude. This is why I think Romeo is so angry that he risks his relationship with Juliet to avenge his friend’s death. This would interest the audience because after Mercutio’s death Romeo goes into a wild rage and his unpredictability when he is in this mood would make the audience wonder what he will do next and whether he will be sentenced to death for murdering Tybalt. Tybalt’s exit from the scene isn’t quite as dramatic as Mercutio’s but it is still quite a tense moment in the play before they fight.

    After murdering Tybalt, Romeo realises what he has done and flees from the stage after saying “O, I am fortunes fool,” meaning how cruel fate is. He has now realised that by murdering Tybalt he has ruined any chance he ever had of being happy with Juliet, their relationship is doomed as he is now facing the death penalty. This would interest the audience as the play now seems more like a tragedy and they would be wondering how they could ever survive this.

    After Romeo flees the prince arrives and, after Benvolio tells him what happened, says that if he is found in Verona, “that hour is his last” meaning that he is banished and Romeo and Juliet’s situation looks bleak. The prince says his part using rhyming couplets such as

    “And for that offence.

    Immediately we do exile him hence.”

    The rhyme in this part of the play is probably used to indicate the end of the scene. It would sound more interesting to the audience to hear the lines spoken in rhyme. The rhythm and pace of the lines changes throughout Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare changes the length of sentences and uses rhyme to do this. This helps to keep audiences interested and add to the drama.

    In act 3 scene 1 Shakespeare has used a number of dramatic devices to interest the audience, he has used language and change of rhythm, (the Prince’s words at the end of the scene) metaphor and similes, (Mercutio’s words before he dies) and religious imagery (Mercutio’s death.) The fight scenes would be visually entertaining and there are a lot of very dramatic moments in the scene (before Romeo kills Tybalt, for example.) The scene starts humorously, with Mercutio making puns and using words with double meanings, to great effect on the audience. From when Mercutio says “O calm, dishonourable, vile submission.” The humour is gone and the audience are on the edge of their seats until the end of the scene. Overall I think that act 3 scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet is a tense, exciting scene with the potential to be acted in an overdramatic, very powerful way.

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    How does Shakespeare use dramatic devices in Act 3 scene 1 of “Romeo and Juliet” in order to make it such an interesting, exciting and important scene? Essay. (2017, Nov 06). Retrieved from

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