By close consideration of Act 5 Scene 3, lines 1 to 160, discuss how Shakespeare uses the setting and atmosphere in this scene to bring the play to its inevitable conclusion
By close examination of Act 5 Scene 3, the reader can clearly see that Shakespeare uses many references to imagery, and also uses many descriptions to express the setting and scenery. The first point in the scene in which we see Shakespeare’s use of description of scenery is in the stage direction, which gives an impression of fear of being at a churchyard at night and is also demonstrative of unrequited love.
Shakespeare builds tension in the first sentence in the audience and we can see that it is meant to be set in darkness when Paris says “Give me thy torch boy.” Shakespeare also brings tension when Paris says “Holding thy ear close to the hollow ground”, which sets an image of graveyards and bodies and this image is echoed when Paris say “Being loose, unfirm, with digging up of graves.” The image is reversed when Paris says to Page “Give me the flowers. Do as I bid thee, go”. This juxtaposes flowers with life and beauty.
We, as the audience feel the notion of impending doom in Page’s reply to Paris with “I am almost afraid to stand alone, here in the churchyard, yet I will adventure”.
Paris talks poetically about Juliet’s bridal bed and about how he will grieve for her. When he speaks to Page ironically, he says “The boy gives warning something doth approach. What cursed my foot wanders this way tonight, to cross my obsequies and true love’s rite? What, with a torch? Muffle me night awhile”.
Romeo enters and by saying “Give me that mattock and the wrenching-iron”, the audience can tell that he is going to force entry, which suggests his desperation. Shakespeare uses two sentences which are dramatically significant mechanisms to do with light. “Early in the morning”, would tell the audience that the scene was lit, however “Give me the light”, suggests that the scene is not lit.
Romeo personifies death by saying “Why I descend into the bed of death”, and follows with “Is partly to behold my lady’s face”, which is an extended metaphor. Shakespeare tries to make Romeo’s speech come across to the audience as gothic and grim, when he says “By heaven I will tear thee joint by joint, and strew this hungry churchyard with thy limbs”. The audience can again see the sense of desperation in Romeo.
As soon as Romeo speaks again, “Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death”, is an ironic reversal of notion. “Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open” is personification and together with “And in despite I’ll cram thee with more food” tells the audience that he is going to feed himself to the tomb.
Paris thinks that Juliet died in grief which is ironic. When at the end of his speech, he says “Obey and go with me, for thou must die”, Romeo goes on to say “I must indeed” which to the audience is poignant.
Once Romeo speaks after his fight with Paris, “What said my man, when my betossed soul did not attend him as we rode” suggest the image of a shipwreck in a storm and emotional turmoil. Romeo’s speech becomes repetitive. He also speaks of the tragedy of his name being written in misfortune and echoes graves by saying “A grave? O no, a lantern, slaughtered youth”, which refers to Paris. He then talks about celebration which is ironic because it is referring to an opposition as not many people will celebrate someone dying. “Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interred” personifies death. In his speech he shows the audience that he does not feel bad at the thought of dying. Yet again death is personified by Romeo’s words “Death that hath sucked the honey of thy breath hath had no power yet upon thy beauty”. Romeo begs for his cousins forgiveness by saying “Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet? … Forgive me cousin”. He speaks of Juliet’s death like it is an amorous monster and that it was an abhorred monster that lurks. When he says “And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from this world-wearied flesh. Eyes look your last”, he says that he is doomed and fated and has lost his will to life. “The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss, a dateless bargain to engrossing death. Come bitter conduct, come unsavoury guide”, Romeo refers to the poison as it is not wanted. His final words are a toast to Juliet, and echo her words from earlier in the play, when she took her potion from Friar Lawrence she said “Here’s to my love, I drink to thee”, and Romeo’s last words were “Here’s to my love! O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die”, is spoken as a toast and celebration, however is very poignant, painful and ironic.
As Friar Lawrence enters with his lantern, crow and spade he asks “Have my old feet stumbled at graves. Who’s there?”, he finds Balthasar who replies, “Here’s one, a friend, and one that knows you well” and Friar Lawrence struggles to understand for a while, until Balthasar tells him who it was and how long he had been there. Friar Lawrence asks Balthasar “Go with me to the vault”, but Balthasar said he dare not as he does not realise that he has gone away and that he has been threatened. Friar Lawrence replies “Stay then, I’ll go alone. Fear comes upon me. O much I fear some ill unthrifty thing” which tells the audience that it is unfortunate and unpleasant. Balthasar talks about sleeping under a yew tree, which are associated with graveyards, and have poisonous leaves.
When Juliet awakes, there is juxtaposition of Juliet rising as Romeo dies. She asks “O comfortable friar, where is my lord? I do remember well where I should be, and there I am. Where I my Romeo?”, at this point it is ironic to the audience as Juliet is comforted and reminded of the plan and that all would be well. Friar Lawrence replied to her “…Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead; and Paris too…”
Friar Lawrence asks her to leave, however she says “Go get thee hence, for I will not away. What’s here? A cup closed in my true love’s hand? Poison I see hath been his timeless end. O churl, drunk all, and left no friendly drop to help me after? I will kiss thy lips; haply some poison yet doth hang on them, to make me die with a restorative. Thy lips are warm”, by this she knows that he has only just died, which is ironic and poignant. She hears that someone is coming, and says “Yea, noise? Then I’ll be brief. O happy dagger!”, she knows at this point that she has to be quick, as people are coming. “This is thy sheath; there rest, and let me die”. She stabs herself before anyone gets there and falls on Romeo’s body.
We, as the audience can see that Shakespeare has used many different descriptions of the setting and atmosphere to draw the play to its inevitable conclusion. He also uses many oppositions and echoes from earlier in the play, which are most often ironic and poignant. If Shakespeare did not use these oppositions and echoes, the play would probably not be as emotional, especially near to the end of the Act, as that is the most moving part of the play. Also, if Shakespeare was not to use much effective description of the scenery and atmosphere, it would probably also be a very difficult picture to imagine.