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    William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’

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    William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a fictional play written in the region of 1594-1596. It was an adaptation of the Arthur Brookes poem, ‘The tragical history of Romeus and Juliet’ which was published in 1562. The Elizabethan audience had different expectations. They were happy to go to see a story that had been changed a little and to see Shakespeare’s interpretation of it. Many people went to see the play because ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was wrote around two historical families, the Montague’s and the Capulet’s. Nevertheless, the storyline is fictional. Shakespeare also added in a few additional characters such as the Nurse, Mercutio, and Friar Lawrence. The language used in Elizabethan times is very different to that of today’s society and Shakespeare often writes using blank verse or iambi pentameter.

    Act 3 Scene 5 in a very dramatic scene when performed on stage or in a film. The start of the scene is slow and gains momentum as it goes on. The scene starts with frequent entrances of different characters, the constant changes of mood, the extremes of emotions expressed and the dramatic irony present all contribute to the dramatic effectiveness of this central scene.

    The first part of the scene is when Romeo and Juliet have to part because Romeo has been banished from Verona for the death of Tybalt. It begins quite quietly when the pair awake after consummating their marriage. Juliet is very reluctant to let Romeo go but he is sensitive and supportive of her.

    “I will omit no opportunity

    That will convey my greetings, love, to thee.”

    Meaning that he will contact her at every given time and opportunity. This part in the scene is quite relaxed compared to the sections that follow when Juliet is alone, unsupported and which she is full of emotion. The moods of the pair are contrasting in that Romeo is optimistic and Juliet is full of dread and she foresees something tragic happening, she has a premonition in which causes a sense of fear and anxiety amongst the audience of the play.

    “O God, I have an ill-divining soul!

    Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low

    As one dead in the bottom of a tomb.”

    Unfortunately this premonition comes true as the next time she sees Romeo he is dead in a tomb. This statement that Juliet made could have a very chilling effect on the people viewing the play. Juliet’s premonition may also remind the audience of Romeo’s earlier dreaded premonition of dying at a young age.

    “…………My mind misgives

    Some consequence yet hanging in the stars

    Shall bitterly begin his fearful date

    With this night’s revels and expire the term

    Of a despised life, closed in my breast,

    By some vile forfeit of untimely death.”

    This scene therefore dramatically points forward and looks backwards to other scenes in the play.

    When Lady Capulet enters the scene a sudden sense of tension occurs. She bursts in rather suddenly and destroys the romantic atmosphere between Romeo and Juliet. This happens a lot during the play as parents intruded the intimate world of the lovers. As soon as we hear that Lady Capulet is coming we experience dramatic irony because we know that she is coming to announce Juliet’s marriage to County Paris, we feel a little nervous for Juliet as she doesn’t know the news.

    “What unaccustomed cause procures her hither?”

    Juliet is suspicious because her mother has never been into her room before and the audience are anxiously awaiting the news to be broke to Juliet.

    The exchange between Juliet and Lady Capulet shows some very effective contrasts, visually, verbally and in the mood. From the warmth and love between Romeo and Juliet in the preceding lines to the cold formality between Juliet and her mother. They communicate very formally showing that the pair are not very close and address each other using phrases like “My Lady Mother”, “Madam” and “Girl”, “Child”. Between the sight of Juliet weeping with being overcome with emotion and her cold mother plotting revenge on Romeo in a deadly, vicious fashion.

    “We will have vengeance for it, fear thou not.

    Then weep no more.”

    Between the hatred which Lady Capulet expresses for Romeo and Juliet’s love for him.

    Juliet: “What villain, Madam?”

    Lady Capulet: “That same villain, Romeo”

    Juliet [Aside]: “Villain and he be many miles asunder.”

    What Juliet means by this is that Romeo is far from a villain but also he is far from Verona. The meaning Juliet’s words have for Lady Capulet and the meaning the have for the audience differentiate. She uses word-play so that she is not disloyal to Romeo but does not lead her mother to suspect the real truth. Here is am example of this:

    “Indeed I never shall be satisfied

    With Romeo till I behold him-dead-

    Is my poor heart so for a kinsman vexed.”

    This has two meanings, one of them being that she’ll never be satisfied until she hold Romeo yet she says it as if she wants him dead. Lady Capulet takes “dead” to follow on from the proceeding word while Juliet means for it to belong with the words that follow. The use of word-play in this way gains an ambivalent reaction from the audience, that it has a dual-reaction, which is dramatically effective. The audience is shocked by Lady Capulet’s cruelty, but are also amused by her daughter’s clever way of hiding her true feelings. This also adds dramatic irony again as we know Juliet’s true meaning, but Lady Capulet does not. An example of this is when she is pretending to be crying for Tybalt but really she is crying for Romeo.

    The next section of the scene is when Lady Capulet announces the purpose of her visit and this immediately arouses the audience’s expectations as we tensely await Juliet’s reaction to this shocking arrangement. Irony is again present here and makes the scene very effective here. As Lady Capulet refers to her “joyful news” and ironically also Juliet’s first reaction is a pleasing one,

    “And joy comes well in such a needy time.”

    The announcement is made highly dramatic by delaying the crucial words

    “Shall happily make thee there a joyful bride”

    The intensity of Juliet’s angry reaction would be the cause of great drama on the stage and when being performed as it is the first confrontation Juliet has had with her family,

    “Now by Saint Peter’s church and Peter too

    He shall not make me there joyful bride!”

    She is extremely indignant,

    “Here are news indeed!”

    And very determined,

    “I will not marry yet…”

    The audience of course knows of her situation and this would make them feel highly sympathetic to Juliet.

    Lord Capulet arrives on the scene he makes it become one of the most dramatic parts of the whole scene as it is the most violent and furious. A number of factors make it dramatically effective:

    He arrives in a frightening and threatening mood and Lady Capulet’s fear warns us of whet to expect,

    “Here comes your father. Tell him yourself

    And see how he will take it at your hands.”

    In other words see how he will have a bad reaction to this news. He is obviously a domestic tyrant who rules by force and frightening people to get his own way and his huge ego is emphasised by the way he regards himself as royalty. He talks in the third person and is formal and above his status. He is also pompous and arrogant.

    “Have you delivered to her our decree?”

    His highly effective on stage as he bustles in full of good humour, congratulating himself on his plan for Juliet and causing a great stir as he takes control of the situation and becomes the most important. It id visually effective as he is the only male on the stage and he enjoys being in control and making the women feel scared. What Lady Capulet says next is overdramatic and she’ll regret ever saying it.

    “I would the fool were married to her grave”

    She says she wishes Juliet to be dead and it is very shocking in its cruelty and also ironic as Juliet is to die very shortly. The way Lord Capulet speaks would be dramatically effect when performed. He uses a lot of short, sharp questions which creates a sense of furious bewilderment.

    “How? Will she none? Doth she not give us thanks?”

    The disjointed sentence structure created tension and suggests that his anger is mounting violently. There is a great deal of effective variety in his language. Sometimes he uses a single image and works it out in am elaborate and pompous way, for example,

    “………In one little body

    Thou counterfeits a bark, a sea, a wind.”

    He is saying that one young girl is causing many problems, like a storm at sea with one little boat in trouble. Some times he speaks very cruelly as he loses control of his temper,

    “Thank me no thanks, nor proud me no prouds”

    Meaning don’t you dear give me any thanks and he is also trying to silence her. He has a wide range of abusive phrases for his only daughter and child: “Mistress Minion”, “you greensickness carrion” (she is weak and has no strength of character to do what she is told), “young baggage”, “hilding” (she is a worthless problem).

    His anger amounts and becomes frightening. As well as verbal abuse he also threatens Juliet with actual physical violence which is both dramatic and shocking,

    “My fingers itch.”

    He wants to hit her. Even Lady Capulet finds this fury too much at this stage and tries to intervene but he doesn’t listen to her. The Nurse however adds humour when she intervenes on Juliet’s behalf. Lord Capulet uses sarcasm and a range of amusing and chauvinistic terms to call her, i.e. “my Lady Wisdom” and “you mumbling fool”. This acts as relief before his final speech.

    Lord Capulet makes a very dramatic exit, as he did for his entrance, after a speech of extreme and out of control emotion. A stream of abuse builds up one after another resulting in a final treat made all the more effective by the use of monosyllables and short words,

    “And you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend

    And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets”.

    Capulet’s final words are very revealing. All this tremendous expenditure of anger amounts to is male pride and bullying.

    “Trust to’t. Bethinks you I’ll not be foreworn.”

    He is saying, listen to me, trust me, I won’t change my mind. The audience is disgusted by his final words and we feel nothing but hatred for him as he is petty and ridiculous.

    The penultimate part of the scene is now, by means of contrast and relief, a brief and quite exchange between Juliet and her mother. Juliet is very moving as she begs her mother,

    “O sweet mother, cast me not away.”

    Saying to her, don’t desert me mother. But Lady Capulet also rejects her only child yet in a different way, she is cold and unnatural rather than angry. She keeps her anger in by saying,

    “Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.”

    As an audience this is shocking and our hearts go out to Juliet as we know her situation and we feel hatred for her mother.

    The final episode in the scene concerns the Nurse to whom Juliet turns to, to seek advice in her extreme distress. We hope, as the audience, that the Nurse will provide a solution. However, the Nurse disappoints Juliet and the audience by her in moral suggestion.

    “Then since the case so stands as now it doth

    I think it best you married with the county.”

    She thinks that she should marry County Paris. This makes us feel pity for Juliet as she seems a victim of Fate, but we admire her for her loyalty to Romeo. Her indignation for the Nurse is very dramatically effective, as she despises her for her bad and offending advice and her hypocrisy to Romeo.

    “Ancient damnation! O most wicked fiend!”

    She is evil to suggest that and this extreme language is very vivid. Juliet’s romanticism contrasts effectively with the Nurse’s critical and practical advice. Juliet seems to mature at the end of this scene and this makes for very effective drama. She acts with detachment from the Nurse, who has shattered her illusions,

    “Well thou hast comforted me marvellous much”

    She says this with sarcasm and although we feel great pity for her in her isolation we also admire her for her courage and dignity,

    “……….Go, counsellor!

    Thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain.”

    Meaning, you’ve give me advice but from now on my heart and your advice will be apart.

    In conclusion in this highly dramatic scene we see Juliet abandoned by those who claim to love her and who she is suppose to be able to turn to for help and advice and look to for support, love and wisdom. The major contrast in this scene full of contrasts is between Youth and Age. Sadly Age does not emerge at all well from the episode, showing itself unreasonable, proud, unloving, unnatural and cynical. Youth on the other hand shows itself spontaneous but loving, loyal and principled. Juliet refuses to deny her real love for Romeo. Therefore the dramatic effectiveness of the scene shows the constant changes in mood and extreme emotions.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. (2017, Oct 27). Retrieved from

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