The purpose of the beginning is for a change of atmosphere, this indicates change of scene. No stage curtains, servants having nothing around them allow them to bring on props for the New Scene.
The audiences expectations moving into this scene is that something big and important is going to happen as well as tension, this is due to the servants rushing around getting everywhere ready, an example of the rush and tension is when the first servant gives short commands “away with the joint stools, remove the court cupboard, look to the plate”. What also could add a lot of tension to the audience is that at the end of the last scene we found out that there is a big feud between the Montague’s and the Capulet, we Know that the party is for Capulet, but we also know that Romeo will be attending and he is a Montague.
The purpose of the beginning is to change the atmosphere and create a contrast with the previous scene, making the audience eager to watch to see what is going to happen. The audience are eager to continue watching because in the scene before there was a feud, and the audience sense something will happen at the ball. Shakespeare needed to include this section to show the audience that this ball is a big occasion, and the rush of the servants emphasizes this.
Capulet jovial and welcoming manner should relax the audience but it does the opposite due to them knowing that Romeo will attend the ball, and the inevitable feeling that Romeo will be recognised. What makes the recognition even more inevitable is that Capulet is at the entrance to the ball
Tension is relieved when Romeo is not recognised by Capulet but there is still the feeling that Romeo will be found out someway or another.
When Romeo sets eyes on Juliet he is overwhelmed by her presence and beauty, he immediately forgets about Rosalie his love. This contrasts dramatically with his previous behaviour; before this Romeo was depressed that Rosalie did not return his love “out of her favour where I am in love”. When Romeo speaks about Juliet he speaks in a poetic language “o, she doth teach the torches to burn bright. It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night”. This poetic language makes the audience focus on Romeo, and in someway makes them feel for him because he is not aggressive, and he is in love and also talks sweetly about his love for Juliet. Romeo says “it seems she hangs upon the cheek of night as a rich jewel in an Ethos’s ear”. This shows that Romeo is amazed by her beauty and presence; Juliet shines out from the rest of the females in the ball and is as precious as a gem. To say this about someone is a big compliment because to be associated with gems and riches in this era is a big thing. Juliet is also being compared to light, which goes with the contrast of light and dark, which is explored throughout the play. Juliet is associated with a dove, which is the symbol of love and peace, while those around her appear sinful and ungainly.
Tension is immediately re-established, due to Tibet overhearing Romeo. Tibet is a man of action not thought, he is vindictive and aggressive. The audience have already been witness to this earlier in the play. Tybalt’s aggressive language is a major contrast to Romeo’s calm poetic language. Tybalt’s immediate reaction is to ask for his sword. Tybalt uses rhyming couplets when talking about killing Romeo “uncle, this is a Montague, our foe, a villain that is hither come in spite, to scorn at our solemnity this night”. This poetic language makes the fact that Tybalt want to kill Romeo stick in the audience’s minds. Some possible humour is added when Capulet tries to remain the genial host even though Tybalt is talking about killing Romeo. He is trying hard to make the guests feel commutable so he jokes. The conflict ends with Tybalt fuming, and he vows to get Romeo, which adds tension to the audience, as they know they will meet again.
Capulet will not let Tybalt fight and is determined to get his own way, this again creates tension, because the audience wonder if Tybalt will deceive Capulet which would cause yet another feud. The audience know Capulet will not accept Tybalt deceiving him, because Tybalt is a younger family member.
The family dispute between Capulet and Tybalt gives Romeo time to approach his new love Juliet. There is a major contrast now between the feelings of Romeo. Before entering the ball he feared for his life and now the only thing he is thinking about is Juliet. Another contrast is that just before Romeo meeting Juliet there is a big feud between Capulet and Tybalt. It goes from being an angry atmosphere to a peaceful, romantic atmosphere. Strong imagery is used by Shakespeare to show the meaningfulness in their love for each other. They speak in shared rhyming couplets – a sonnet (14 line poem of 7 rhyming couplets). Sonnets were love poetry in Shakespeare’s day, sharing lines of sonnet shows they both have strong feelings for each other, and that they are in perfect harmony. Romeo uses very religious language in the sonnet and this convinces the audience of his sincerity. Romeo uses words like “pilgrim”, “sin”, and profane “and” holy shrine. He sees Juliet as pure; this language also shows that Romeo worships her. The sharing of the intellectual language will show the audience that they are well matched.
Romeo and Juliet are interrupted by the nurse, who reminds them, as well as the audience, that they are not alone, and return them to reality and remind the audience that Romeo is a Montague and Juliet a Capulet. The nurse’s arrival also informs Romeo of Juliet’s identity. The nurse relieves the tension slightly when she addresses Romeo comically “he that shall lay hold of her shall have the chinks”. This relieves the tension because it shows that the nurse has taken a liking to Romeo even though he is a Montague.
Ben olio urges Romeo to leave with him, because he thinks they are undiscovered. “Away, be gone, the sport is at it’s best”. This creates tension because the audience know that they have been seen and found out.
When Juliet discovers Romeo’s identity, she is distraught; she prophetically states, “My grave is like to be my wedding bed”. The audience know that link between marriage and death is not to do with Romeo being married, but that he is a Montague. Romeo and Juliet feeling so fatalistic would have a great impact on the audience.
This scene is a very important if not the most important scene in the play because you discover the feud between the Capulet and the Montague’s as well as seeing Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time. During this scene the audience’s emotions are played with a good deal. At the start the audience feel tension due to the feud, as well as the likely possibility that Romeo will be seen and found out. Then the audience feel calm and passion for Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time. The audience then again feel tension as they realise that Juliet is a Capulet and Romeo is a Montague, as they wonder what jolliest reaction to this will be.