Romeo and Juliet is one of the most popular plays in Shakespearean time and was set in the city of Verona. The play is about a classic love story containing two noble families; Capulet and Montague. This was branded as tragedy along with King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello. In this essay, I am going to analyse Act 3 Scene 5; which arrives when we come across the dreadful disaster of the death for two important characters; Tybalt and Mercutio. Later on, Capulet promises his most favoured Paris; a kinsman of the king that he can marry Juliet. Lady Capulet assures Paris that she will notify Juliet the next morning but none of them had the knowledge of Juliet being married to Romeo secretly.
This scene is a very important one as there is so much dramatic tension on behalf of Romeo and Juliet. In this scene, Juliet has to make vast decisions and Romeo is not far from his own death after killing Tybalt.
The scene begins with Romeo and Juliet waking up together in the morning and they both have a quiet argument whether its still night or day because Juliet wants Romeo to stay although she knows that if anyone sees him then he’ll be killed for the murder of Tybalt and the fact that he is Capulet’s enemy for being a Montague. When the nurse tells Juliet that her mother is making her way to her bedroom, Romeo bounds through the window while Juliet asks him if they will ever see each other again, Romeo is certain that they will congregate very soon. Juliet starts crying because Romeo has left but as her mother enters the room, she assumes that Juliet is shedding tears for the death of her cousin (Tybalt).
Later, Lady Capulet tells Juliet the news of her getting married to Paris; the chosen one by her father as she thinks that the “astonishing” news will make Juliet enliven. Juliet refuses to marry Paris and breaks the news to her father; he builds a dreadful temper in which he calls his daughter: mistress minion, green sickness, carrion and baggage. He also claims that if she does not marry Paris, then he will disown her. The scene ends with Capulet storming out of her room leaving Juliet to weep and plead for mercy from her mother and the nurse.
In my philosophy, dramatic tension means building up suspense making sure that the audience grows impatient which leads to a climax.
Dramatic tension is produced at the beginning of Act 3 Scene 5 when Romeo wakes up after sleeping with Juliet in her house, because straight away, the audience is impatient to know whether or not any of the Capulet’s will see him. This carries on as Shakespeare builds up suspense for the audience to see whether or not Juliet will accept the proposal from Paris or confess that she is already married to Romeo when her mother enters her chamber and gives her the news of her marriage proposal.
As Romeo and Juliet was produced in the Elizabethan times, parts of the play relate to marriage, expectations and parents so it is vital to know key facts about those days.
Elizabethan women had to learn music and dancing skills as these were essential for them. In the play, we see how important it was for the women to have talents in dancing at the Capulet’s feast where all women were anticipated to dance. They were not allowed to go into further education such as university because they were expected to be married at the age of fourteen. The women had to obey their parents and get married to the proposal chosen by her parents, as we see Juliet was expected to do in Act 3 Scene 5 with the proposal of County Paris. Elizabethan women were expected to bring dowry to the marriage which contains an amount of money, goods and property. This was referred to as her marriage proportion. After marriage, they were expected to run households and provide for their children.
Many Elizabethan women made arrangements for the care of their children in case they died themselves during childbirth.
Apparently, Elizabethan audiences would have reacted differently to the opening scene compared to a modern audience. It seems that they would have been able to accept and agree with what the parents wanted Juliet to do with the proposal, because of what women in those days were expected to do as explained above. They believe that Capulet loves his daughter and wants her to be happy after marriage so he and his wife agree to the proposal after making sure that the groom is from a fine background and when Juliet rejects the offer, he gets furious.
I assume that Elizabethan spectators would think Juliet is still immature and that Romeo is taking advantage of her while she thinks he loves her, also the audience watching would think that Juliet has betrayed her parents trust by getting married to Romeo secretly as well as a murderer of her own family.
On the other hand, a modern audience would have had sympathy for Juliet rather than her parents, I believe that they would support Juliet and think that she has every right to feel affection for Romeo and get married to him. A contemporary audience will disagree with Juliet’s father for pressuring her daughter to get married to someone she doesn’t love since she has to spend the rest of her life with him. Currently, people consider love more important than what the parents would desire and nowadays individuals completely disbelieve in forced marriages.
Anyhow, Shakespeare creates tension mainly when Juliet converses with Lady Capulet, Lord Capulet and the nurse in Act 3 Scene 5.
Dramatic Irony is when the audience knows more than a character and Shakespeare does this often as it makes the audience feel angry, impatient, and frustrated. Also it makes the audience feel that they are a part of the play because they know more than the characters in the play, as if they have a role to play themselves individually. This happens a lot in the play, for example, when Mercutio dies and his friends assume that he’s fooling around but the audience knows that Tybalt actually stabbed him with the sword genuinely. Also when Romeo and Juliet secretly get married, the viewers feel that maybe someone will find out and the Capulets will kill Romeo.
Dramatic irony occurs at the beginning of the scene when Romeo leaves and Lady Capulet enters Juliet’s chamber. She finds Juliet weeping on her bed and presumes that she is shedding tears for the death of her dearest cousin Tybalt. At this point, the audience know that she is crying because she can’t bear the thought of not seeing Romeo again, but her mum thinks that Juliet detests Romeo because he killed Tybalt and he’s a Montague.
This causes double meanings and the audience to get even more intolerant. When Juliet says “Yet let me weep such a feeling loss” her mother thinks she is saying something along the lines of “let me cry for the death of my cousin Tybalt because I miss him so much” but Juliet is really saying “I am so upset about losing my beloved husband, let me weep”. Juliet’s vague choice of words build tension for the audience as they just want to go and tell her mother what she really means. For example, when Juliet states “I shall never be satisfied with Romeo till I behold him-dead-is my poor heart…” she means that she will never be satisfied with Romeo until she sees him, otherwise her heart is dead, but Lady Capulet thinks she is saying that she will never be satisfied till Romeo dies. These quotes build tension for the audience, as they think what if Juliet says something too obvious for Lady Capulet to be suspicious and she might even reveal the truth. Juliet claims “O how my heart abhors to hear him named and cannot come to him to wreck the love I bore my cousin Tybalt upon his body”.
When she says this, her mother senses that she is saying “I hate to hear Romeo’s name and how I cannot hurt Romeo to show how much I love Tybalt” but she is actually saying that she hates to think that she will never be able to do anything physical to Romeo again. Juliet virtually gives it away to her mother when she says “It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, Rather than Paris. These are news indeed!” she means I will definitely marry or am married to Romeo and under no circumstances will she marry Paris, but obliviously, Lady Capulet thinks Juliet means that she can’t marry Paris because she doesn’t know him and also because it’s so soon after Tybalt’s death. Lady Capulet believes that Juliet hates Paris so much that she’ll rather marry Romeo whom she hates so much more!
Shakespeare also builds tension when Juliet is talking to Capulet, he gets incensed when Juliet rejects the proposal from Paris and he raises his voice while using offensive words towards his daughter. He describes Juliet as “mistress minion… I will drag thee on a hurdle thither. Out, you greensickness carrion! Out, you baggage! You tallow-face!” He threatens her to drag her on a horse with a wooden entity; this was what a criminal would have been dragged on to his execution. Capulet is probably trying to say that his daughter is a criminal for not doing as her parents say. Furthermore, Juliet’s father is a very anonymous character; sometimes he shows his love for his daughter and sometimes insults her with malicious language.
Juliet replies to Capulet sarcastically when she says “Not proud, you have; but thankful, that you have: Proud can I never be of what I hate; But thankful even for hate, that is meant love.” Or her father thinks that she is being sarcastic because he doesn’t understand that she’s actually trying to say “I cannot be proud of you because I don’t like what you’ve done for me but I’m still thankful for what you have done as I know you were thinking about my happiness because you love me so much.”
Juliet does not say anything when her father affronts her; she just continues to weep but tries once to beg her father to listen to her while she tries to explain. She cries “Good father, I beseech you on my knees, Hear me with patience but to speak a word.” But unfortunately, Capulet gets even more enraged and starts to describe his daughter with severe words. I assume that Juliet was quiet while her father was shouting at her since she thinks that all this is her fault, if she hadn’t fell in love with Romeo then it would be very likely for her to accept the proposal from Paris and everything would have been normal, she would have been the typical girl in those days. Juliet takes into consideration the fact that her parents don’t know she is secretly married to Romeo, so she doesn’t blame them for thinking that she’s a disobedient child and should listen to her parents because they don’t know why she can’t get married to County Paris.
Moreover, this builds tension for the audience because they think “Will Capulet raise his hand on Juliet?” or “Will he throw her out of the house and disown her?” or “Will he drag her on a hurdle thither towards the church to get married to Paris?” What will he do? The audience imagine a lot of things that might happen for instance Juliet stating that she cannot marry Paris because she’s already married to Romeo and doesn’t want to disrespect her husband. Also, the spectators can’t wait to see what will happen next and they usually get impatient at this point when Capulet is so angry that he might do something that he regrets afterwards.
In recognition, Lady Capulet and the nurse don’t say much to Capulet while he is barking at Juliet. This is because the nurse is scared that Capulet might discard her for interfering in his family business while she is not of their standard or have the right to obstruct their argument. Additionally, Lady Capulet predicts that if she does anything except drop small comments like “You are too hot.” to let her husband know that he is going ‘over the top’, she will probably get disowned too and women in those days didn’t try to be independent because they were bought up to take care and obey their husbands.
As we know, Juliet has no ‘friend’ like we have now; the only person she could express her feelings to was her nurse. The one who brought Juliet up as her mother couldn’t do herself, so the only person she was really close to was her nurse. Earlier on in the play, we acknowledge that Juliet asks the nurse for advice often. Also, the nurse supports her while she gets married to Romeo and helps her a lot too; for example when Romeo and Juliet spend their first night together, the morning follows and the nurse says “Your lady mother is coming to your chamber: The day is broke; be wary, look about” she means that Juliet should be careful because her mother is coming to her bedroom, so Romeo should leave as quickly as possible if he doesn’t want to get killed by the Capulet’s. This shows that the nurse assists Juliet in everything, so when Capulet and Lady Capulet ramble out of the chamber, Juliet depends on the nurse to give her advice that will prevent the problem. She says “O God!–O nurse, how shall this be prevented? …” but I assume Juliet is shocked to hear “I think it best you married with the county. O, he’s a lovely gentleman!”
Juliet responds with “Speakest thou from thy heart?” This shows that Juliet is surprised at what advice the nurse gave her so she asks again “Are you speaking from your heart?”
When Juliet says “My husband is on earth, my faith in heaven; How shall that faith return again to earth, Unless that husband send it me from heaven By leaving earth? comfort me, counsel me. Alack, alack, that heaven should practise stratagems Upon so soft a subject as myself! What say’st thou? hast thou not a word of joy’some comfort, nurse.”
Juliet is trying to say that Romeo is where she is but her faith for everything being fine is in heaven and that is a lot distant from earth, so how shall she get the faith in her again unless Romeo sends it to her, but for Romeo to go to heaven, he has to die. She asks the nurse to comfort her and guide/advice her, she conveys that the heaven should practise tricks upon such a soft person as herself. She questions the nurse ‘Don’t you have a word of joy to tell me that what I’m doing is right?’
Juliet responds to the nurse by “Amen” and then “Well, thou hast comforted me marvellous much. Go in: and tell my lady I am gone, having displeased my father, to Laurence’ cell, to make confession and to be absolved.” She means ‘well, you have comforted me so much’ sarcastically, and then ‘go and tell my mother that I’m going after displeasing my father to make admittance and to be free’. This shows that Juliet has abandoned the nurse as she demands her to go and tell her mother, and proves that Juliet is upset for displeasing her father and not being the ‘typical girl’. Also, this sentence gives the audience double meanings because Juliet states “…to be absolved”, this could mean that she’s going to the Friar, after dumping her family for some help to be free(find Romeo and live with him), or commit suicide so she can be free from all her problems she has caused.
After the nurse has told Juliet her advice, we notice that there is a change in their relationship when Juliet realises that the nurse is serious about her getting married to Paris and forgetting Romeo. Juliet would have usually took the nurse’s advice and told her every step she was going to take whereas after abandoning the nurse, she doesn’t tell her why she’s going to Friar Lawrence or what she’s going to do; she completely excludes the nurse from any part of her future actions. As well as Juliet getting married to Romeo and spending the first night together with him, breaching the relationship with her nurse proves that Juliet is developing from her childhood to maturity. Having a nurse, is a symbol of infancy, by discarding the nurse, Juliet shows that she will maintain her faithfulness to her husband and be independent.
With observation, there is a change in the nurse’s attitude towards Romeo as earlier on in the play, the nurse was fond of Romeo but then she insults Romeo by saying “Romeo’s a dishclout to him…” she means that Romeo is a dishcloth compared to Paris and he is a weak person. This shows that the nurse has been disloyal to Juliet because now she adores Paris. Also when she says “I think you are happy in this second match…” she means that she thinks Juliet will be happy with Paris than she could ever have been with Romeo, she expresses that Juliet was too good for Romeo in the first place, he basically never deserved such a decent women.
Shakespeare builds tension for the audience at the end of Act 3 Scene 5 as the viewers of the play are impatient to know what will happen right in the end. They are sorry to hear Juliet has lost a friend and is on her own but happy to hear Juliet cursing the nurse “Ancient damnation! O most wicked fiend!” meaning ‘Old unhelpful person, you most immoral cruel person!’
The audience at this point feel like comforting Juliet but the tension builds when Juliet says “I’ll to the friar, to know his remedy…” meaning ‘I’ll go to the friar to know what solution he has’ because the audience cant wait to know what the friar will advice Juliet to do and hope that the suggestion is a good one. When Juliet says “If all else fail, myself have power to die.” The listeners’ heart is pounding with the thought of Juliet committing suicide and their imagination of a happy ending is shattered.
I believe that Act 3 Scene 5 gives the audience many important lessons referring to marriage, teenage years, independence and especially for parents it teaches parent/child relationships. This scene teaches the parents to acknowledge how vital it is to be close to your child and it also teaches a child how important it is to be close to your parents. Lady Capulet educates parents to think that maintaining a strong relationship with your child is very difficult but its better to take the difficult way and be a part of your child’s life rather than have your child being unable to express themselves to you and depend on someone else. Also, the scene tells parents that marriage is not something that you could just demand on your daughter to fulfil and tells teens that marriage is not something you could play with; it can make a life or take lives (e.g. Romeo and Juliet).
Moreover, Act 3 shows plenty of valuable lessons for adolescence such as the difference of being mature and thinking that you’re mature while you’re still immature and childish. It advises you to take decisions in your life after you’re completely mature and know what the consequences will be for your decisions, because you might make a big decision unwisely. It recommends not thinking that you’re too powerful and that you don’t need support because you might end up doing what Juliet done. In Romeo and Juliet times, in Verona, the world was male conquered and in a place like that, a woman has the power to do nothing but a limit of performing suicide. In addition, independence is taught from this play as it convinces women that they can be as self-governing as men, and you need to take the chance to be independent without worrying about the outcome, because women are not useless or what they use to think of women before in those days. Juliet demonstrated that she was self-sufficient by confronting her father, marrying Romeo secretly and being able to spend the night with him anonymously.
In my own personal opinion, Shakespeare creates tension dramatically; he lets the audience guess what will happen next but makes the outcome completely the opposite. For instance when Juliet goes to the friar, we think that she and Romeo will live happily ever after or their families would concede and they will be blessed but Shakespeare makes the ending tragic with both of the star-crossed lovers dying. I also assumed that the play will have a happy ending but then was notified that if the conclusion was content then this play wouldn’t have been as successful and popular as it has been. Romeo and Juliet is a play that is unforgettable after you see how much two adolescent people could be so in love, and the way their love story had to end with the cause being their families’ feud.