Romeo and Juliet is an Elizabethan tragedy set in the Italian city of Verona, written by Shakespeare around 1591 and is one of the most famous plays of the time. In Act 1 Scene 5, the Lord Capulet is throwing a party in order for his daughter, Juliet, to fall in love with a man named Paris. Romeo is in love with a girl called Rosaline and has discovered that she has been invited to Lord Capulet’s party and also discovers that his cousin, Mercutio, has also been invited. This scene is one of the most important in the play, it is when Romeo and Juliet first meet and we see love in the midst between them.
Shakespeare makes this scene dramatic and significant by using many different techniques, for example, developing themes already seen in earlier scenes as we already know that there is tension between the two houses, the use of metaphor, sonnet, religion and the belief of the times. Throughout the act Shakespeare Writes in heroic couplets which is a poem constructed from a sequence of rhyming pairs of iambic pentameter “O, She doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of the night”. This creates a sense of Romeo being a traditional courtly suitor.
Also, Shakespeare uses religious imagery. This is mainly to show Romeo’s thoughts on Juliet. When Romeo says “Make blessed my rude hand” he suggests that Juliet is almost like a saint and that he wants some of her purity to brush off onto him just by touching her. Also this could bee seen as a sign of possession with Romeo either wanting to possess or to be possessed by Juliet. This also tells us about people in the Elizabethan times and their beliefs. Most people in the Elizabethan times were Christian and the use of this religious imagery would have shown that Romeo and Juliet were meant to be together.
Shakespeare also uses religious imagery in other situations such as expressing anger. In this extract Tybalt says “to strike him dead, I hold it not a sin”. The Elizabethans lived life by following the Ten Commandments. The audience would have an immediate dislike towards Tybalt in this scene as he is willing to break one of the Ten Commandments. The audience would have seen Tybalt as having his own code of conduct and would have seen Tybalt as thinking himself as above everyone else and the commandments Shakespeare’s use of the four humours is noticeable throughout the play.
The Elizabethans believed that the human body was filled with four basic substances, these were; Yellow Bile (easily angered, bad tempered), Black Bile (despondent, sleepless, irritable), Phlegm (Calm, Unemotional) and Blood (courageous, hopeful, amorous). They thought that the excess of absence of one substance would affect a personals physical or mental health Shakespeare shows some of his characters to have symptoms of these four humors. Tybalt is shown to be choleric, Mercutio is Sanguine and Romeo is shown to be Melancholic at times.
Shakespeare spent most of his career working for Lord Chamberlain’s Men playing company. The company was founded in 1594 and had an all male acting cast. The all male cast may sound humorous to us but the Elizabethans did not let women act in plays, so they would have been accustomed to this. This may have affected the staging of the play however, because Romeo and Juliet is a romantic story it may have been harder for the audience to take it as seriously and as they should if they had two men acting it out compared to a man and a woman. In Elizabethan times society was very different compared to that of today.
The rolls of women had changed drastically over the years. They were raised to believe that they were inferior to men. The two main religions in Elizabethan England were Roman Catholics or Protestants, but in Italy, were this play is set, the religion followed would have been Roman Catholicism. The beliefs of these religions were so strong that they could have led to executions. Marriage was still an important part of life for an Elizabethan woman but the main difference was that the woman getting married would have had very little, if any, choice in her groom.
Upper class Elizabethan women may have been used to make alliances between powerful families through arranged marriage. In Elizabethan times class was very important. People used to avoid socializing outside of their class and rarely married out of it. In this scene we see Tybalt angry at the fact that Romeo has turned up at Lord Capulet’s party. “What dares the slave Come hither,” By referring to Romeo as a “slave” we see that Tybalt thinks of himself as higher class than Romeo and possibly the other Montague’s. Another way Shakespeare makes this scene dramatic is through language.
When Romeo and Juliet first meet they communicate by using a metaphor. “with my unworthiest hand This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this My lips, two blushing pilgrims. ” Romeo uses a religious metaphor of saints and pilgrims to see if Juliet feels the same way as he does. In Elizabethan times men could use a metaphor to see a woman’s feeling for him without being direct. If the woman did not like the man she would act as though she did not understand him allowing the man to retreat with his honour.
Juliet participated in the metaphor, this implied that she also loved Romeo. Ay, Pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer” Juliet is saying that it is like their duty to kiss and that their loved is blessed by God. Here she is showing full participation with the metaphor again this is based on the ideas of the time that the audience would find entertaining. Shakespeare writes in sonnet form throughout the poem. Sonnet form was a traditional love story form created in the 14th century and It has 14 lines, couplets and is written in iambic pentameter. Shakespeare uses sonnet form to show how perfectly in tune Romeo and Juliet are for each other.
Shakespeare uses many other literary techniques such as oxymorons. The majority of Romeo and Juliet is about opposites clashing, so oxymorons would be appropriate in this play. An example of this is; “What, goodman boy! ” on saying this Lord Capulet is saying that Tybalt is being childish over Romeo coming to the party and they he should just enjoy the night. “To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss” the words rough and tender make this phrase an antithesis with is another style adopted by Shakespeare in the play
In conclusion I think that Shakespeare made the plot of this scene very dramatic and significant by using a variation of language techniques. Shakespeare would have wanted this scene to be eye catching because the entire play revolves around this scene. He created anxiety by using many religious images. Tension was created with the help from previous scenes; we already knew that the two houses had a dislike with each other, we also know that Juliet is going to find out that Romeo is a Montague, this also creates tension in the audience as they do not know what will happen when Juliet finds out.