I believe that Act 1 Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet is an effective piece of drama because of many factors. In this essay I propose to describe ways in which; themes, characterisation and motives, structure, dramatic devices, language, and key speeches help to make this scene an effective piece of drama.
There are many themes used in this scene that capture the audience’s attention and help them understand what the play is all about. These themes are brought out and made obvious by the words and actions of the characters.
There are many different themes in this one act, these include; marriage, love, parents and children, enmity, premonition, chance/fate, and light vs. dark.
Marriage is a quite important theme in this scene because this is the scene where Juliet is to meet the man that her parents want her to marry, and the man that she will actually marry.
Capulet reassures his cousin that it was only 25 years since they were in masques – “tis since the nuptual of lucentio”, he marks the last date that they were in masques by using a wedding. This shows us that marriage was a very important part of peoples’ lives in those times and was an occasion that formed the status of both sides of the two families.
When Romeo asks the nurse who Juliet is she tells him that the person who marries her “shall have the chinks”, meaning that they will become very wealthy. It was considered foolish to marry for love, people had arranged marriages so that their families could pay off debts or get a better status in society. Love was not an issue.
The theme of love is extremely important, as it is the basis to the whole meaning of this play. There are four different types of love used as themes; true love, dutiful ‘love’, sexual love, and love as a religion.
The theme of true love is used when Romeo first sees Juliet; he uses a sonnet to describe her beauty and the way he feels about her. He says that he “ne’er saw true beauty until this night”, he feels as if all the other women he has seen in his life were nothing compared to the way she looked. This shows love at first sight and the way that it has affected Romeo’s perspective on other women. Rosaline is dismissed as an infatuation. Romeo, who vowed his love to Rosaline, now believes that his eyes tell him he was not in love before he had seen Juliet.
The theme of dutiful ‘love’ is shown mostly between those people who are obligated to show love for each other because of status. Capulet speaks to Tybalt to calm him; he says, “Content thee, gentle coz”. This shows compassion and dutiful ‘love’, an obligated love between family members, it shows care and respect between the two characters.
The nurse describes Lady Capulet as “the lady of the house, and a good lady, and a wise and virtuous”. The nurse is obligated to say this because of her status, she cannot speak ill of her employees because they provide for her. She must compliment Lady Capulet because she is of higher status than her, even if she doesn’t believe this is a true description.
When Romeo and Juliet meet alone the theme of sexual love is revealed. Romeo persuades Juliet to kiss her, she is unsure but Romeo assures her that he could smooth the rough touch of his hand “with a gentle kiss”. They kiss and passion is shown when Romeo insists, “Give me my sin again”, he enjoys being close to Juliet and touching her showing a strong theme of sexual attraction as well as true love.
Loves as a religion is also used in the passage where the two lovers are alone; they make many references to religion and compare their meeting to a pilgrim searching for a saint. This theme is shown visually by the costumes worn in the Lurhman film, as Juliet is dressed as an angel and Romeo as a knight, the modern equivalent of the pilgrim and saint.
Juliet reminds Romeo that they should both be devoted to their religion and God; she comments that their lips should not be used for kissing but “in prayer”. This shows that religion was very important to these people and they strived to be good Christians that spent a lot of time praying to god and doing their duties.
The theme of parents and children is shown in instances where people where identifying strangers. The nurse identifies a man not by his name but by telling her he is “the son and heir of old tiberio”, the parentage were the only people who could have a very high status and so were known to more people.
When the nurse identifies Romeo to Juliet she describes him as “the only son of your great enemy”, the feud between the two families meant that Romeo couldn’t be seen as anything but an enemy to the family. This shows that children were expected to take up the ideas and beliefs of their parents and not rebel against them; they had to obey their parents and have the utmost respect for them.
The enmity in this scene is supplied by the anger of Tybalt at Romeo’s appearance at his uncle’s party, it seems that he cannot let it rest and is determined to get revenge.
Tybalt uses words such as “slave” and “villain” to describe Romeo, he insults him without a very just cause, he believes that Romeo has come to “fleer and scorn” at these people, but Tybalt does not know this for sure. Tybalt has inherited the beliefs of his parents and enjoys supporting them because he likes to pick fights and start trouble between the two households. In the Luhrman film Tybalt’s costume is a devil, this brings out the image of evil and enmity inside him.
Premonition is important in this play; it leaves the audience in suspense and with a feeling of anticipation. The words that characters say can foretell what may happen in the rest of the play.
Tybalt reassures the audience that this argument will “now seeming sweet” soon “convert to bitterest gall”, Tybalt cannot forget what Romeo has done and will not let it rest, he wants revenge and even if he doesn’t know it yet this petty grudge will result in Mercutio and Tybalt him self’s death.
Juliet wants to know who Romeo is and whether he is married so she sends the nurse to inquire, exclaiming that if he is already married “my grave is likely to be my wedding-bed”. This is an eerie feeling of premonition because in the end result her death comes very soon after she is married.
It is fate that Romeo came to the party and met Juliet, and fate that brought them together. Juliet believes also that it was fate that meant she must “love a loathed enemy”. She believes it happened for a reason, maybe to unite the two families and stop the quarrelling, but that is not too obvious yet.
Romeo tells us “my life is my foe’s debt”, when he finds out that Juliet is a Capulet. He owes his life to his enemy and so this leads to the fact that in the end he does give up his own life because of his love for a woman who was seen as an enemy.
Light vs. dark is shown when Capulet is speaking to the crowd, he keeps shouting “more light, more light”. This shows that he is trying to block out the evil in his house and in his own personality and show a light side where there was no quarrelling or brawling. I also believe he may have been trying to block out the fact that he had a premonition that death and destruction would take hold very soon.
The way that characterisation and motives are used in this scene to provoke emotive responses from the audience and build up a sense of familiarity to them is very effective. This technique makes us more involved in the play and more engrossed in the situation. I will show how the characters Capulet, Romeo, Tybalt and Juliet, and their characters help to make this drama effective.
Capulet – The man with a split personality, words such as “cheerly, my hearts” portray him as hospitable, cheerful, a gentleman, genial, affable, generous, entertaining and a good host. He must be liked by everyone and seen as a good man so that the prince will not think ill of him, and maybe even favour the house of Capulet. He needs a high status, so that he is respected. He puts on such a front when entertaining, and before his row with Tybalt we see that he cares dearly for his daughter when he tells Paris that he cannot marry her until she is 16.
After the party I suspect he knows about the way in which Romeo and Juliet met and has a premonition about the future, and so insists that Juliet marries Paris as soon as possible. He is brutal and tells her that he will throw her out of their house and disown her if she does not obey him. This shows that Capulet is also stubborn and believes that he can change fate and destiny. He thinks highly of himself and is very angry that Juliet id not willing to obey him.
Capulet gets very angry with Tybalt and speaks to him in a very different way to the way he speaks to his guests; this reveals his other side. This moment uses irony, as Capulet is telling Tybalt off for having a short temper, whereas soon after he is in a rage with Juliet. During his argument with Tybalt he goes back and forth between talking to the guests and then Tybalt, this shows clearly the divide in his personality. “You are a princox, go: be quiet, or” he diverts the guests “more light, more light!” then again drops his faï¿½ade with “for shame I’ll make you quiet.”
Tybalt – A man to whom pride is very important, and he makes many references to Romeo sneering at them and making fun of their family. He can’t stand the thought of any one thinking ill of his family and is proud of himself, not unlike his uncle Capulet. He is very opinionated and strongly believes that the houses of Capulet and Montague should not mix.
In Tybalt’s soliloquy he is bitter and resentful, he hopes that Capulet will side with him on this view and tries to persuade Capulet to his point of view, and at first it is not clear what Capulet will say. This gives an element of suspense to the scene and what lies ahead, which works well to catch an audience’s attention. He is determined to honour his family in any way possible and believes that if he were to kill him he would “hold it not a sin.” He is defiant and even when Capulet tells him to “let him alone” he is determined to have his own way. And his second soliloquy talks about how the intrusion into the party that “now seeming sweet convert to bitterest gall.” He is determined to have his revenge and pick a fight with Romeo, which is a premonition of things to come. He storms away from the scene angry and defiant.
Romeo – The dreamer, who’s in love with love. Romeo comes to the party to search for his beloved Rosalyn because he stumbled upon a guest list with her name on it, in an earlier scene. Romeo is an idealistic and Romantic man, using a sonnet to describe his love at first sight, Juliet. He says that she is too beautiful for this earth, and denies that he has ever loved before.
Capulet talks about Romeo in a very respectful and complimentary way saying that “Verona brags of him to be a virtuous and well-governed youth”, this shows us that Romeo was well known and respected throughout the city he lived in.
Romeo’s motives for loving Juliet are a lot different from his motives for loving Rosalyn because when he finds out that Juliet is a Capulet he is devastated and says he owes his life to enemy – “my life is my foes debt.” This shows us that he would die for Juliet and that he sees her as the motive for him living.
He is intense in the way that he expresses his sexual attraction to Juliet, using metaphors about religion and intertwining the two aspects of love.
Juliet – An innocent and naive character.
The scene is split into six sections; juxtaposition is used a lot, to give the audience an idea of the whole scene from lots of different angles and point of views.
The first section sets the scene and makes the audience think about the mood and atmosphere in the Capulet household. Excitement, chaos, stress and exasperation are all moods that spring to mind when reading this first section. Costumes of the servants are ragged and cheap looking, outlining the fact that they are not as wealthy as their employees and any of the guests, and so giving the audience an idea of a split society. Also to show that these people are not paid particularly well for the amount of work they have to do. On the stage there are lots of pots and pans, dirty dishes and mess, people running about the stage cleaning and tidying up (showing the moods of chaos and stress). One main servant stands centre stage on a stool and shouts orders at all the others, grumbling and pointing. Servants look tired and exasperated.
When servant 4 returns an answer of “we cannot be here and there too” the audience doesn’t know how servant 1 (the man in charge) will react, this gives the audience a moment of suspense and excitement.
Section two shows the other side of society, Capulet welcomes his guests and speaks with his cousin. Wearing more refined costume, ball gowns and traditional Italian dress. Lots of people on stage chatting and socialising creating a party mood, Capulet weaving in and out of guests greeting them and flirting with the young women. The scene on the stage is a large hall with pillars, and fine ornaments and decoration resembling the wealth and high status of the household. Capulet sits with his cousin and talks of the past, towards the front of the stage so that their lines can be heard clearly.
Section three is when Romeo first sees Juliet and portrays the theme of love at first sight. Romeo’s sonnet is passionate and dreamy. Romeo stands in a darker part of the stage whilst saying the sonnet, at the front right. Juliet dances in a clearing, people encircling her and a few others, but still leaving an obvious gap for Romeo to look through. He watches her intently as she dances. This section is essential to the plot as it is the first time that Romeo sees Juliet, and their meeting and falling in love is the main plot. The audience doesn’t know how this romance is going to end, but the audience knows something that the characters don’t; the fact that these two people are meant to be enemies.
Section four reveals Capulet’s other side, and introduces Tybalt. The heated argument between Tybalt and his uncle, about Romeo’s presence at their party, takes place. Tybalt would begin stood behind Romeo when saying his first soliloquy, staring straight ahead, anger trembling in his voice. Capulet notices and approaches him, and then when Tybalt will not listen, Capulet starts to walk in and out of the guests with Tybalt following behind, pleading with him. Tybalt spits out the words Montague and Romeo to show the hate he has for what the represent. At first the audience doesn’t know how Capulet will react so suspense is created.
Section five where Romeo and Juliet first kiss. They stand in the place that Romeo first saw Juliet dancing, hidden from the guests and the rest of the party. A spotlight is on the two lovers, to highlight their importance. As they speak they gaze into each other’s eyes. This scene shows the audience that Juliet returns the love that Romeo has for her and makes the audience wonder what their reactions will be when they find out about each others backgrounds.
Section six shows the reaction of Romeo and of Juliet when they find out about each others’ families. Romeo stands in the place where he was stood with Juliet to speak with the nurse, glancing from behind a curtain to watch Juliet. Romeo and friends leave through a stage door at the rear of the stage, speaking with Capulet as they leave. Juliet then returns to the nurse to ask for Romeo’s name, they stand at the front left of the stage and watch the men go out of the door. Juliet falls to the floor in anguish when she finds out that Romeo is a Montague, she is devastated. This leaves suspense for the audience and questions such as: will they be able to be together? Will Juliet have to marry Paris? Will they ever see each other again?
There are four key speeches in this scene; they all relate to important aspects of the plot and reveal details to the audience, or answer questions that have been raised earlier.
Capulet makes the first key speech. This is blank verse, showing that it’s normal conversation and that Capulet is an important character in this play. Repetition is used many times with the words “tis gone” to emphasize them. He uses wit and comedy to get the audience’s attention, and asks questions to involve them.
Romeo makes the second key speech. This is a sonnet that has a regular metre, and uses rhyme. It uses a simile “As a rich jewel in an ethiops ear,” this helps the audience understand the emotions of Romeo. It also uses personification “cheek of night.” Imagery is used when he is trying to describe the beauty of Juliet, he describes her as a “snowy dove trooping with crows,” this gives us a comparison of a pure bird with black and ugly birds. This speech is important because it is the first time Romeo sees Juliet and the beginning of the main plot.
Tybalt makes the third key speech. This soliloquy reveals to the audience Tybalt’s deepest thoughts and a glimpse of what is to come in the rest of the play. It uses rhyme and lots of words with short vowel sounds so that it sounds harsh and abrupt. This speech symbolises the reason for Mercutio and Tybalt’s deaths.
The nurse makes the third key speech. This is normal prose and blank verse, the nurse uses the rule of three to describe Lady Capulet – “And a good lady, and a wise, and virtuous.” This again highlights the fact that the nurse has dutiful love for Lady Capulet. This is when Romeo finds out that Juliet is a Capulet and the start of Romeo and Juliet’s secret relationship.
I think that this scene is an effective piece of drama because it captures your attention, the juxtaposition keeps you aware of what is going on at all times and keeps you focused. New characters and personalities keep you interested. Questions are raised in your mind, and this makes you concentrate so that you can get answers to those questions. I think that this play is basically about love, and morals and circumstances that can come between people and societies.