Ask people to give an example of a rich mixture of romantic lyricism, crammed with deadly enmity, tantalizing love, clandestine marriage, farce and heart – breaking tragedy, most would respond with ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the remarkable tale of ‘star crossed lovers’, is one of the most famous literary tragedies in history. Written in 1595, Shakespeare converses the story of devoted teenagers in a tumultuous world of sadness and grief as they defy all known laws of their time, in pursuit of forbidden love and the consequences faced for their actions; inevitably bringing them to their suicidal deaths.
Leading to the scrutiny of Act Three Scene Five, which could arguably be, the most pivotal scene of the overall play. Dramatic tension is one of the most vital devices used in this scene with the feeling of trepidation, fear and ambiguity cascading from the scene, the string of events in which lead to the lovers ‘death marked love’, is plunged into motion.
The scene takes place after Romeo’s banishment by the Prince from Verona for the death of Tybalt “immediately we do exile him hence…that hour will be his last”, the eviction of Romeo puts a strain on Romeo and Juliet’s relationship as his life will now be jeopardy if he is found in the city, commiseration is felt for Juliet as the corollary of the exile, as she is presently torn between her loyalty to her family and her devotion to her husband
As Act 3 Scene 4 concludes, a considerable amount of dramatic irony is created, since the audience knows Capulet has agree to the marrying of Juliet to Paris. All these events have a destroying influence on Romeo and Juliet’s attempt to live in love. Setting a tragic tone for the beginning of the following scene. The spectators are wrench back to reality as they realise the veracity of the situation, as it befalls flagrant to the audience the implausibility that their marriage will be long-lived, as in a feud-ravaged world, only the will of the sword lives. Shakespeare as added to the sense of impending disaster and amplifies the contrast between impetuous hate and reckless love.
Throughout Act Three Scene Five, one of the most integral part to the play, the plot simultaneously becomes more intense, as we discover the full implications of what Juliet has done, by eloping with Romeo. The ideal of romantic love, so lyrically propagated by the play’s hero and heroine, may, in reality, have brought not only happiness but also misery, because it sets standards of emotional intensity, which in life may seldom be lastingly attained. Juliet has placed herself in a situation in which, not only can she no longer marry the suitor her parents have chosen. Juliet has married a man in which she fears she may never meet again. The scene adds to the complexity of Juliet’s problem.
Juliet stands up to Lady and Lord Capulet expressing her wishes not to marry Paris. The audience are shown the maturity of Juliet and her she has grown from the earlier scenes of the play. Lord Capulet outraged about Juliet’s disobedience, threatens to disown Juliet if she does not do as he pleased. “I’ll give you to my friend . . . I’ll not be foresworn.” Juliet having lost the support of her father and mother turns to the nurse for help. This is soon proved a wrong decision to make when she is told by the nurse, “I think it best you married with the county.” Whereas before Juliet relied on her nurse for support, she as now been left completely introverted. This increases the tension, as Juliet frantically tries to think of a workable solution. Increasing emotion and tension from the audience, as Juliet’s shattered relationships and lost of love leaves her with an ultimatum, on whether she should be disloyal to her husband and God, and marry Paris leading to “Saint Peter” not making Juliet a “joyful bride”, as for committing such a sin as Bigamy. Juliet will instantaneously be condemned to eternity in hell, which seems to now be inevitable; as she also contemplates implementing suicide. “If all else fails, myself have power to die.” Which is more of a calamitous sin than bigamy. Foreshadowing the future events with a mildewed sense of obscurity and misery.
The opening of Act Three Scene Five is pivotal, Romeo and Juliet have just spent their first night together as man and wife, and taking into consideration the vital events, which have just taken place, the fate of Romeo and Juliet, lay at stake. Shakespeare opens the scene with a very tranquil mood. The atmosphere in Act 3 scene 5 is still love orientated and fairly calm however there is a growing element of suspense and fear. Juliet awakens to her husband, but refuses to distinguish the peril of Romeo’s presence, she instead tries to convince him that it is still night, “It is not yet near day . . . fearful hollow of thine ear”. Romeo and Juliet both use word play and oxymoron’s to create dramatic effect. “Some say the lark” to ” More light and light, more dark and dark our woes.” The fact that Romeo and Juliet share this rhyming couplet shows how they can read each other’s mind and symbolise to the audience how much they are in love. The antithesis, which includes repetition also, balances night and day.
This is dramatically effective as the audience would feel very sympathetic towards Romeo and Juliet realise that his woes are mixed with happiness. The imagery in this scene consists of both night/day and light/dark. Traditionally you associate night with dark and light with day. Romeo and Juliet defy this convention as they can only see each other at night, “O now be gone, more light and light it grows”, “More light and light, more dark and dark are woes”, these quotes only give us a sense that the couple can only see each other at night but also there is a sense of foreboding and that one way or the other the couple will never be allowed to stay together because of the feud between their families, Shakespeare has cleverly inserted the two opposites of night with day together and light with dark together, to show that although Romeo and Juliet are both opposites, the use of the two words in the same sentence show that they two can till be used together despite it defying all known laws.
Juliet’s continuity to combat the coming of the light, creates a great deal of apprehension among the Elizabethan audiences as although the audience knows both Romeo and Juliet will die, the precise moment is still unknown, and the awareness that if Romeo is caught he will be killed, causes the atmosphere of the scene to becomes tinted with fear. Juliet tries to convince herself as well as Romeo that it is not yet time for him to leave, this generates empathy and dramatic apprehension as the audience ruminate what will come to pass, if Romeo believes her and resides.
As the pragmatism of their situation, seizes both Romeo and Juliet it becomes inevitable that Romeo must leave before morning, or he shall be put to death. “Night candles are burnt out … I must be gone and live or stay and die”. Juliet demonstrates tension as although she realises that Romeo must depart, she defies herself nevertheless and solicits him to stay. Romeo expresses to Juliet, “Let me be tane, let me be put to death,” and here he is referring to if he stays with Juliet he will be found and killed. The welcoming of death so openly “Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so.” Would climax to become very tragic at the end, for the reason that, the way in which death is being discussed in such a light-hearted manner would be tragically ironic, the audience knows Romeo will die, because of the affair. The audience empathises with the sincerity of their love, bringing the characters to life as our emotions for the ‘star-crossed lovers’ strengthens.
With Romeo beginning to subside to Juliet’s pleads for him to stay, the sudden entry of the Nurse as she comes to presage Juliet; “your lady mother is coming to your chamber”. Changes the speed of the scene drastically. This unexpected entrance of the Nurse causes a greater quantity of angst, as Romeo and Juliet have to promptly say their goodbyes, not knowing when they shall next convene again, trepidation is wrought as they hurry not to be caught, initiating both dramatic tension and irony as we know what is to come that the characters do not. With a solitary concluding hug and kiss, Romeo bids Juliet a tearful poignant farewell, as she stands at her window. Here, the lovers experience visions that blatantly foreshadow the end of the play.
This is to be the last moment they spend alive in each other’s company. As Romeo finally makes his descent down the balcony to his exile, the dialogue between both Romeo and Juliet contains many dramatic ironies in reference to death. Juliet, with dramatic irony, asks: “O think’st thou we shall meet again?” Romeo bravely tries to comfort her reassuring Juliet that they will soon meet again “I doubt it not, and all these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our times to come”. Looking down upon Romeo from her balcony, Juliet says with chilling foreboding: “O God, I have an ill-divining soul! / Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low, / As one dead in the bottom of a tomb. / Either my eyesight fails, or thou look’st pale”. Juliet’s fear amplifies the emotional intensity of the scene and is what is anon, as the tragedy is now gathering momentum.
This would work for the contemporary audience of Shakespeare’s era, as they firmly believed in fate and destiny. It is also tragically ironic, not only as the audience, from listening to the chorus, know that Romeo will die, but also because next time she sees him, he will be dead. But it is she who tragically who is at the bottom of the tomb. Although a modern audience may miss this reference, an Elizabethan audience almost would definitely notice, especially when Romeo replies, “Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu, Adieu.” Shakespeare includes the exploitation of social context to hint to the audience that something is to happen. As people in the time of Shakespeare believed that sorrow thinned your blood, which is mocking as the tragedy of the couple, is the sorrow of losing each other.
In modern society today, most young people in the westernise world often take it for granted that marriage should be based on the free choice of loving partners. This is now the accepted belief, before, however it was believed marriage was a choice (at least among the upper-class), which was decided by the older members of the families, concerned. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet helped the modern view to triumph over the older view.
To an Elizabethan audience the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet laid not so much in their ill-starred romance as in the way they brought destruction upon themselves by violating the norms of their society. An Elizabethan audience would be swept away enough with the bewitching passion of Romeo and Juliet to feel some sympathy with the young couple, and would see clearly Juliet’s obligation laid with Romeo.
Tension within Act Three Scene Five is escalated to its peak through the use of verbal ambiguity and paradoxes within Juliet’s dialogue with Lady Capulet. ” Evermore weeping for your cousin’s death? What, wilt thou wash him from his grave with tears?” to “But much of grief shows still some want of wit.” The unsympathetic tone Lady Capulet uses here in which questioned Juliet’s intelligence by saying that Juliet cannot bring back Tybalt by crying, would hold a great deal of dramatic irony for the audience, as although Lady Capulet is questioning Juliet intelligence, it is indeed Lady Capulet’s intelligence which is being questioned as the tears Juliet is crying is for Romeo not Tybalt. An Elizabethan audience might have understood better of Lady Capulet’s lack of sympathy as it was common for people to lose family members because of the poor medical care, diseases and illnesses around. This is a way in which Shakespeare takes advantage of social context to cleverly combine with Juliet’s ambiguity.
Trepidation and apprehension is used in this scene particularly throughout Lady Capulet and Juliet’s discussion about Romeo. Juliet uses double meanings in everything she says, for example, ” Indeed I never shall be satisfied with Romeo, till I behold him-dead- is my poor heart vexed so for a kinsman vexed.” Juliet has manipulated the language to disguise her true feelings from her mother. Lady Capulet believes that Juliet wants to gain revenge on Romeo, however what Juliet really means that she will ever be satisfied until she beholds Romeo because she misses him so much. The audience would sympathise with Juliet even more due to Lady Capulet harsh language in which she condemns Romeo to death, “he shall soon keep Tybalt company”. This speech is not only vindictive for Juliet, but as it contains a large amount of dramatic tension and irony as well, as with Romeo death so will come Juliet’s as well, as Juliet will kill herself. This creates immense angst among the audience for the reason that only the spectators and Juliet can identify what is going on. Juliet’s ambiguity expressions cause the addressees to feel even more uneasiness of future events because they know Juliet is trying to be subtle yet truthful to her mother and her husband as well. The audience becomes concerned for Juliet as they wonder Lady Capulet will catch on to the true meaning of Juliet’s speeches.
Shakespeare also successfully injects irony into Lady Capulet’s speech by having her tell Juliet that she will give Romeo an “unaccustom’d dram”. This is ironic because Romeo does in fact die from poisoning.
Further irony is added to the scene when Juliet questions, “I wonder at this haste, that I must be wed.” Juliet contradicts herself largely with this quote, as the Elizabethan audience would question Juliet’s marriage to Romeo to be sudden as well, as Juliet in Act Two Scene Two herself proclaims she had not yet spoken “a hundred words” to Romeo. Yet proposes marriage to Romeo for the following day after their first meeting. An Elizabethan audience would consider this remark to hold a vast amount of dramatic irony and would find it amusing, at the way in which, Juliet is trying to act like a woman, but still insists in contradicting herself similar to a child.
Shakespeare intensifies the strain on the parent child relationship when Juliet’s tries to keep the peace and news of her secret marriage from her mother; Juliet remains truthful to her mother “joyful tidings” of the engagement to Paris. “Now by Saint Peter’s Church, and Peter too, He shall not make me there a joyful bride.” to “…and when I do, I swear it shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate rather than Paris. These are news indeed.” This oath is very strong especially for an Elizabethan audience. The audience would be shocked at Juliet’s outburst at her unsympathetic mother. The audience would be shocked at this oath made by Juliet considering she has sworn by God, which in the time of Shakespeare would have been like swearing. This is dramatically effective because the use of imperatives and short simple statements would enhance the tension massively onto the audience. When lady Capulet says “Here comes your Father, tell him so yourself, and see how he will take it at your hands”. The audience inevitably acknowledge that further tragedy is ahead and that this is a first sign that Juliet’s mother has turned her back on Juliet. The audience at this point would feel agitated at this commotion, yet compassion for Juliet’s imminent trouble with her father.
Tension is escalated essentially within the scene when Lady Capulet tells Lord Capulet of Juliet’s disobedience and exclaims further “I would the fool was married to her grave.” This statement holds an heavy emphasise of dramatic irony, as an Elizabethan audience would understand from this statement, although it has been said in a malicious and callous manner, it still holds future predictions of the death of Romeo and Juliet, as Juliet is married to her grave, for the reason that, due to Juliet’s marriage to Romeo, and her awakening to find Romeo dead, is it that Juliet commits suicide.
The entry of Capulet, completes the crescendo of the overall scene as he is in a very good mood as he believes Paris’s marriage proposal will please Juliet, this amplifies further irony to the scene as it is for this very reason that Juliet is now upset, this creates an dramatic impact for the audience because of the building tension between Lady Capulet and Juliet. Shakespeare has added a great deal of consternation here as the last card which leads to the Romeo and Juliet’s death as been played, as the audience waits in anticipation for the impending tragedy to unfold.
Lord Capulet similar to Lady Capulet too believes Juliet’s tears are over Tybalt. Firstly comparing the drizzle of a real sunset, “When the sun sets, the earth doth drizzle dew,” with the heavy downpour of Juliet’s tears for the metaphorical sunset that is the death of his nephew, “But for the sunset of my brother’s son / It rains downright …evermore showering? In one little body.”
The dramatic change in mood occurring between lines 141 and 196 shows the full force of Capulet’s rage unleashed on the defiant Juliet, resulting in her position becoming further isolated. These lines signify a turning point in the scene because of the large shift in how Juliet is feeling compared with the beginning of the scene. This deepening state of despair that Juliet is falling into outlines how desperate she is becoming and this will start a chain of reactions which will eventually kill both her and Romeo. This tension provokes sympathy from the audience who can empathise with her. Her father however cannot empathise because he does not have all the information. This inability to comprehend his daughter’s position is expressed by Capulet when he says, “How, how, how, how.” This repetition drives home the point of Capulet’s inability to understand his daughter’s position.
Shakespeare uses the image of Juliet for her father’s pity to show the patriarchal he has been to her father as opposed to her mother, who does not exercise this type of control to such an extent. It shows the role of women in that time as taking a role behind their husband and allowing him to make the decisions. We can see this dominance over Juliet when he talks about her as if she is a thoroughbred horse, which he can sell at will, “fettle your fine joints,” Meaning prepare yourself for marriage. It also shows the parental control her parents can exercise over her. This part is probably among the most dramatic part of the scene and probably the play because of the fast moving changes in Juliet’s position in her father’s mind. This change is indicated by Capulet’s insults firstly comparing Paris’ merits as a husband to her immature stubbornness.
Capulet mockery of Juliet’s objections, “I cannot love… I am too young.” Would be ironic as the audience knows that she can love, and she is obviously not too young to marry since Romeo is her husband, and this would add to the tension of the scene, as an Elizabethan audience would know that Capulet’s sarcastic comments have ground, and Juliet would know this as well.
The scene intensifies even more as the story goes on, “… not you have, but thankful that you have…” As the audience can see Juliet is trying to be tactful in telling Capulet that she does not want to marry Paris. Dread is added to the scene as the audience wonder if Lord Capulet unlike Lady Capulet will catch on to the true meanings of Juliet’s speech. The fear and determination of Juliet creates dramatic effect as the audience will respect Juliet’s determination but are afraid of how far her determination will get her.
Shakespeare uses of stage direction shows Lord Capulet’s authority and intensification the scene. “Good father, I beseech you on my knees, ” At this point the audience will know how desperate Juliet really is especially if she is kneeling down. This is dramatically effective because it shows just how much power Capulet has. Although a modern audience might be shocked and feel hatred for Capulet, an Elizabethan audience would have understood his actions better. A modern audience should remember that arranged marriages was not uncommon then and those women of that period were not seen as equal as men and so Juliet’s case she would be like her father’s property until she was married. Therefore, it was almost unthinkable for a girl in her position to defy her father. Shakespeare has used this knowledge of social context to create drama in a realistic way, where perhaps an audience of the Shakespearean era could relate.
Juliet’s earlier determination, insolence and ambiguities speeches which was use throughout her speech with Lady Capulet and in the beginning of her dialogue with Lord Capulet have now be shattered as it as now been denigrated and replaced with Juliet earlier youthful behaviour as she as now degraded herself to begging Lord Capulet to do as she pleased. This would cause the Elizabethan audience to sympathise with Juliet and her future actions of suicide, as they now can see how desperate she is to still love her parents, and does not wish to do anything that upsets them. But still hopes that they will respect her wishes and Lord Capulet would be the caring father he has always been. The audience would now begin to feel hatred towards Lord and Lady Capulet, but it is still possible to sympathise with Capulet in this scene, as it is obvious he cares for his daughter’s happiness but he feels he cannot back down over the marriage proposal as he has already promised Paris that Juliet shall be his and if he is unable to fulfil his promise his reputation would be in ruins.
Capulet nonsensicality is portrayed to due to his belief that Juliet’s refusal is nothing more than childish stubbornness, Capulet’s repetition of his threats in hopes of getting Juliet to realise the mistake she is making be refusing his commands. “To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church, Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.” Causes tension is built here, as the audience become shocked at whether or not Capulet will fulfil his promise and drag her there if she does married to Paris in “Saint Peter’s Church” this was a common device used in Elizabethan times to drag people through the streets and absolutely disgrace them. For Capulet to threaten doing this to his daughter is rancorous and unsympathetic. This would mean that he is willing to completely shame her in front of everyone. This is an indication of just how angry he is that Juliet has dared to defy him, challenge him, and rebel against him. Further tension is created as even Lady Capulet becomes sacred for Juliet at Lord Capulet abhorrent behaviour as even she believe he may do as says, creating tension among the audience, “Fie fie, what, are you mad?” Lady Capulet is trying to calm Capulet down, and this shows the side of Lady Capulet that is closer to Juliet which means that she does still care for Juliet and does not want this much shame to come to her. This shows that the relationship between Juliet and her mother is merciful, but yet still slightly outlying.
“Hang thee young baggage, disobedient wretch! … Or never look me in the face speak not, reply not, do not answer me. My fingers itch. …Out on her hilding!” Shakespeare uses a variety of ways to create dramatic effect so that audiences would still keep interest. He uses imperatives, and short exclamations to represent his anger and even indicates an action where might have hit his daughter (My fingers itch). This contrasts significantly between the relationships with Juliet’s parents before she met Romeo, and after she met Romeo. From before she met Romeo, being Capulet’s only child, whom he deeply cared about, she was ‘the hopeful lady of his earth’, Juliet has now caused him to turn against her, in which he is willingly to her “hang, beg, starve, die in the streets”. If she refuses to obey him. This would bring the scene to its climax as Juliet, as been left with an ultimatum which she has to decide on whether she should marry Paris an go against her husband and be condemn to hell or find alternative method out of her marriage to Paris. The audience will now understand from this, this plays an vital part in the future events which now come to pass, and would sympathise further with Juliet.
Capulet refusal to be rebelled against and is telling Juliet to got to the church on Thursday or she will never be able to look him in the face again as she will be too disgraced with what he would do with her. This is a sturdy threat; shows how angry he actually is that Juliet dared to go against his word. Capulet would have known how much Juliet loved him; therefore threatening to withdraw his love is one of his most effective threats. This would leave Juliet only one more person she can turn to before she has been completely left completely alone.
The last section of the scene concerning the betrayal of the nurse is perhaps the most shocking to the audience, Juliet distraught seeks the Nurse’s advice on what she should do with her ultimatum “O Nurse, how shall this be prevented?” The nurse seeing Juliet’s desperation presents her with the decision that Juliet should indeed marry Paris. ” I think it best” to “As living hence, and you no use of him.” This unexpected outburst from the nurse would have made a dramatic impact on audience as well Juliet. From the words ” Your first is dead, or’t were as good he were” The nurse talks of Romeo as if he were dead and Juliet realises of the nurse’s true colours and is surprised as well as filled with fury.
The Nurse’s sudden insults of Romeo in which she compares him to “a dishcoult” to Paris, would have been ironic to an Elizabethan audience considering the nurse’s earlier praises towards Romeo “honest gentlemen” as now been placed as they begin to wonder why such an drastic change in the nurse’s view on Romeo as the Nurse’s sudden contradictory of herself would have come to such a shock to both the audience and Juliet, as this sudden betrayal would have made her untrustworthy as both Juliet and the audience become frightened the nurse will tell the Capulet’s secret wedding. Creating additional doom to the scene and to what is to past.
Juliet lost in desperation had gone to her trusted nurse for support but to Juliet’s disappointment she too has lost faith in Juliet. The audiences are at this point feel more sympathetic towards Juliet then at any other part of this scene because they realise that not only her mother and father have turned their backs on Juliet but the nurse as well. The nurse has started to recognise that if Juliet does not marry Paris, Juliet will be disowned and if that should ever happen then there would be no need for the nurse and she too would have to ” beg” and “starve”. This reveals the true selfishness of the nurse in which the audience would loathe. Despite this, the nurse’s betrayal could be seen as ambiguous as although it can be seen as an act of selfishness it may also been seen as an act of love of which the nurse has now become frightened for Juliet’s safety. “I think you are happier in this second match.”
Additional sympathy is created towards Juliet when even she cannot believe what the nurse has just told her is true ” Speakst thou from thy heart?” Juliet disbelief of the treachery the nurse as shown her, portrays Juliet’s bewilderment towards the advice receive by her nurse as asked Juliet to even contemplate such an abomination. “Well, thou hast comforted me marvellous much.” Although this statement holds a great deal sarcasm, Juliet however remains truthful to the nurse, as she as with Lady and Lord Capulet. Juliet thanks the Nurse of help she as given her in the past but she explains she is no longer needed and should tell her mother she is going to Friar Lawrence to make a confession. The nurse’s and Juliet’s relationship, which was once so deep and closely bonded, as now reached a point which it has fallen down completely, and is therefore broken. The lost in Juliet’s confidence as the nurse as went against her, causes Juliet to be left with no other choice but to seek help from Friar Laurence’s; thereafter she can no longer involve the Nurse in her secret plans.
The stage directions and emotions of Juliet soliloquy also adds to the dramatic effect at the end of the scene where the nurse exits “she looks after nurse”. This stage direction tells the audience of the unbelievable events that occurred leaving Juliet shocked but even angrier. ” Ancient damnation! O most wicked fiend!” these short exclamations emphasise the dramatic effect the dramatic effect of Juliet’s rage represents how much the perfidy of her nurse as now broken bond the between them ” Thou and my bossom henceforth shall be twain”. This has a very powerful cumulative effect that both audience and Juliet would feel. A succession of disappointments leaves Juliet quite alone. The entire audience would pity her and understand her woe. The overall goodness of times gone by with Romeo has been left behind; the play is on a one-way street to disaster, and the audience know this. The blue print for a downfall has been made. As the atmosphere of loneliness in the air as now replaced the previous devastation and antagonism, as the horror has now sunken in and the audience as now been left with a deep strong element of sadness.
The closeness of the relationship between Juliet and her nurse is one, even known to Lady Capulet in which she fell incapable of discussing things with Juliet, without the nurse being present. “Nurse, come back again, have remember’d me, thou’s hear our counsel”. This is yet another sign that Juliet and the Nurse are extremely close, and that the Nurse is regarded as one of the family. She’s seen as a trusted family servant who is loyal to them. She also maintains an active voice in their family affairs. This enables Lady Capulet to call her back. They seem to have no secrets from her. Therefore the Nurse is present and involved in a discussion with Juliet about her possible marriage to Paris. This relationship as now disintegrated as Juliet as now been left completely abandoned by everyone she cares deeply for.
In Juliet’s soliloquy Juliet exposes many of her true feelings and thoughts. Juliet mood at the end of the scene is one of a noose tightening and a feeling of increasing entrapment by her confoundedly complicated life. Her parents are threatening her with being cast out of their family, into a world where she has no rights and can go nowhere else. Not only this but her religion is becoming an increasingly complicated factor in her desperately complicated problems. In lines 205 to 208 she recognises that only with Romeo’s death can se sincerely take a Christian vow to marry Paris. Everyone she could trust, most shockingly her nurse had deserted her. In the final line of the scene Juliet says, “If all else fail, myself have the power to die.” This shows how far she is prepared to go to get out of marrying Paris and that she will kill herself if the worst comes to the worst. This prediction, the audience knows, will come true, resulting in dramatic irony as the scene as finally reached its crescendo.
Elizabethan life was lived according to a Great Chain of Being; this is a powerful visual metaphor for the hierarchy of society. It ranks all forms of higher and lower life; the male alone represents humans. In some variations, women and children are placed below men as they were thought of as inferior, this is clearly represented in ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ as Lord Capulet appears to have authority over his daughter, Juliet, and his wife, Lady Capulet. A child’s duty towards their parents was to be dutiful and respectful, which was alike Juliet’s behaviour at the beginning of the play, “Madam, I an here. What is your will?” Children of the Elizabethan epoch were seen to be the property of their parents to with as they pleased, and were expected to follow their parent’s orders to the letter and always did. However, Shakespeare went against this theory, when he changed Juliet’s attitude towards her parents due to her love for Romeo and desperation to be with him.
Shakespeare portrayed the lack of Parent/ Child relationship to play a vital factor in the death of Romeo and Juliet; this is illustrated in Act three Scene five where his attitude and earlier love towards Juliet changes when she refuses to marry Paris. He calls Juliet a “disobedient wretch” and informs her that “you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend; and you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets”. This quotation contradicts his concern for Juliet in previous scenes, as now he no longer sees her as daughter, but as his own personal possession. These quotations show Capulet to have a split personality; as he doesn’t know what to think of Juliet. This may be because he does not know her as many 1st class fathers had very little association and relationships with their children.
Lady Capulet, like Lord Capulet does not know her daughter properly either. In Act one Scene Three when Lady Capulet is in the room with Juliet, she tells the nurse to “give leave a while”. Then, once alone with Juliet she realises she does not know Juliet and call for the nurse to “come back again”. This shows how parents at this time were not familiar with their children. If the audience explores Juliet’s relationship with her nurse, they will see it is much stronger than that with her mother. Nurse calls Juliet the “prettiest babe that e’er nursed”. This exemplifies the fact that the nurse has raised Juliet from a baby and feels parental love towards Juliet as she is like her own child. A modern audience will react sympathetically towards Juliet knowing that she is not close to her parents. This is because in today’s society you normally raise your own children.
Shakespeare’s time period marked a time where marriage was an important aspect of people’s lives. The ways in which people were matched and married was very evident in many of his works as he strove to depict love and the relationships that developed between men and women. The procedures to inheritance are an important aspect of marriage in that it gives people a better understanding of the reasons behind the way marriages were handled around the Renaissance era. Shakespeare’s work can be used in comparison to other poets of different times to attest to the continuity of the fundamental features of marriage over the centuries. His work still has a compelling effect on its readers today because it focuses on the sincerity of the heart, often defying basic rules of society, even in modern times.
Shakespeare through the use of his work displayed moral lessons on marriage emphasizes the risks and consequences of marriage for financial conveniences and inheritances rather than for love. In the Shakespearean Era because a daughter’s only real future lay in marriage, she had less freedom over her choice in a mate. Her family had to make sure she would be provided for. In this respect, daughters were considered to be a financial burdens on their parents, hence their decision to get their daughter married into a wealthy family as soon as they could. This is displayed to a great extent in the Capulets’ choice of Juliet to wed Paris at the tender age of thirteen.
Shakespeare offered his Elizabethan audience an in depth insight, to the perceptions of adolescent behaviours of the Shakespearean’s era. Romeo and Juliet throughout the play are shown to have displayed many forms of adolescence behaviour.
Romeo is described as a young man in which is struggling on the definition of what a real man is, in male dominated society in which men are suppose to be strong and dominate members of society, Romeo is shown to be worried of his feelings for others and if it makes him weak “gentle Romeo”. When Romeo, first espies Juliet whilst at the Capulet’s ball, he again becomes allure into his emotions, idealizing Juliet through uses of such phrases as; “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight/ for I ne’er saw true beauty till this night,” It makes glorious poetry, but to both the Elizabethan and modern audiences the image of an love sick adolescence is created, as the detailing perfection of the intense crush on Juliet which Romeo mistaken for love, in order to move on from his previous unrequited love for Rosaline, inexorably causes his death.
Juliet is exemplified to be in the sub phase of mid-adolescence through many of her actions throughout the play. Knowing this Shakespeare repeatedly reminds his audience Juliet as “not seen the change of fourteen years.” Although this, the audience are told Juliet has past her menarche; and therefore is expected to not only marry but to bear children has well. Lady Capulet is quite explicit about this: “Younger than you / here in Verona, ladies of esteem / are already mothers; by my count/ I was your mother much upon these years that you are now a maid.” Here Shakespeare tells us something about the times of which, and perhaps in which, he was writing; apparently his audience would not have thought such expectations of a 13-year-old girl unusual or outrageous.
Yet, although viewed by the adults by the adults in her world as a social and biological woman, she is, at least initially, very much a latency-like child; when her mother summons her to talk of marriage, Juliet replies, without irony, “Madam, I am here, what is your will?” When her mother proposes that she should consider Paris as a potential husband, Juliet submissively responds, “I’ll look to like, if looking liking move, /But no more deep will I endart my eye / than your consent gives strength to make it fly.” Juliet is here presented as a model preadolescent girl, decorous, subservient and deferential.
Passion, however, transforms her. As her encounter at the ball with Romeo inflames her nascent libido, she is flung headlong into adolescence. The process of object removal is instantaneous; her loyalty and devotion to her parents and to her entire family are swept away, supplanted by her newfound attachment to her once – “loathed enemy”. “Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? / Refuse thy father and refuse thy name, / Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn by my love / And I’ll no longer be a Capulet!” Not only as Juliet become rebellious, she becomes devious and deceptive lying to her mother, defying her father, equivocating to them both. They believe she is mourning the death of her cousin Tybalt when in fact she is in despair about the banishment of her lover Romeo who has killed him.
Fragments of Juliet’s immaturity are still shown regardless of Juliet new mature attitude she has taken upon herself, an example of this is after Romeo and Juliet’s first night together, and it is time for Romeo to leave to refuse to relinquish the thought and even though knowing Romeo’s life is danger continues in transforming the night into day, here she is able to transform the day into the night. But just as their vows to throw off their names did not succeed in overcoming the social institutions that have plagued them, she cannot change time. Juliet brief denial of Romeo’s impending danger, as shown a great deal of selfishness and child like behaviour, as she was willingly to convince Romeo it was still night in order for him to stay longer even despite the consciences if he was to be caught.
In the confrontation with her parents after Romeo’s departure, Juliet shows her full maturity. She dominates the conversation with her mother, who cannot keep up with Juliet’s intelligence and therefore has no idea that Juliet is proclaiming her love for Romeo under the guise of saying just the opposite. Her decision to break from the counsel of her disloyal Nurse-and in fact to exclude her Nurse from any part in her future actions-is another step in her development. Having a nurse is a mark of childhood; by abandoning her nurse and upholding her loyalty toward her husband, Juliet steps fully out of girlhood and into womanhood.
Despite this, Juliet shows she still not yet a full woman through her constant dependency on other people for help, such as after Juliet’s dispute with Lord Capulet she turns firstly to Lady Capulet for help, where Juliet is told ” Speak not to me, for I’ll not speak a word”, Juliet frantic, begs the Nurse “how shall this be prevented”, having not heard what she wanted to hear from the Nurse. Juliet refuses to acknowledge the decision, deciding finally on seeking help and support from the Friar Lawrence, and plans if he is unable to conduct a convenient decision for Juliet she will take her life. “If all else fail, myself have power to die.” This portrays Juliet’s advancement into womanhood to be shortcoming, as although Juliet is shown to thrive for independence, she still does not know how to handle the responsibility that comes with it, and therefore searches for the easy way out which is death. Juliet also contradicts herself in this scene as despite, all of Juliet’s previous claims of marriage to Paris, will cause Juliet to be condemn to an “eternity” in hell, she then opposes herself, with predicaments of committing suicide which would be quite humorous to an Elizabethan, as many of whom would recognize that if Juliet commits suicide she will inevitably be doom to hell.
Shakespeare situates this maturation directly after Juliet’s wedding night, linking the idea of development from childhood to adulthood with sexual experience. Juliet’s sexual awakenings, in the end, thrusts her abruptly into adolescence and, inexorably, to her death. Indeed, Juliet feels psychologically able to defy her father, but in that action she learns the boundaries of her power. Strong as she might be, Juliet is still a woman in a male-dominated world. One might think that Juliet should just take her father up on his offer to disown her and go to live with Romeo in Mantua. That is not an option. Juliet, as a woman, cannot leave society; and her father has the right to make her do as he wishes. Though defeated by her father, Juliet does not revert to being a little girl. She recognizes the limits of her power and, if another way cannot be found, determines to use it: for a woman in Verona who cannot control the direction of her life, suicide, the brute ability to live or not live that life, can represent the only means of asserting authority over the self.
It is as though Juliet’s sense of self and of security, only recently dependant on her attachment to her parents, the nurse and now on her union with her husband, was so shattered by her loss that her only refuge becomes the fantasy of union or merger in death. This fantasy is made explicit by Romeo himself when, believing Juliet to be dead, he exclaims, ” I still will stay with thee / And never from this palace of dim light / Depart again: here, here will I remain / With worms that are thy chambermaids / O! Here will I set up my everlasting rest.” Shakespeare’s use of adolescent suicide teaches both parents and his audience about love, peace and harmony, those of which in the ending causes the Montague and Capulet to end their bloody feud. Shakespeare also displays messages to the audience of difficulties children and adolescences face, as the demands of society cause these young teenagers to be plunged head first into the world of maturity and adulthood.
Juliet’s thrive for independence plays an essential part to the events leading to the death of both Romeo and Juliet. An example of this is when Juliet finally gets the confidence to stand up to her parents when she is told she will be marrying Paris. “I will not marry yet, and when I do I swear/ It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate. / Rather than Paris. These are news indeed.” Juliet’s refusal to do has her parent wishes, portrays Juliet as many girls of both the Elizabethan and Modern epoch thrives to be allowed some type of authority over their own life’s decision. Juliet’s decision to accept the Friar’s potion later on in the play demonstrates Juliet’s commitment to defying her father’s rules, asserting her independence, and accepting her resolution to die in order to be with Romeo.
Shakespeare has written hidden message within his character of Juliet. In giving Juliet the characteristics of an unconventional independent female of the Shakespearean era, he is telling his audience that women shouldn’t have to abide by the ‘gender roles’ of their male dominated society, as they are human, and should be allowed the freedom to show that they possess the same characteristics as men. Thus, be granted permission of sovereignty of their own life.
From, Act There Scene Five I have learnt as a woman not take for granted as many women in modern society do today, the amount freedom, rights and control over lives we have now been given, from choices varying from free will of choice of marriage to no longer being discriminated. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet have helped people of both the Shakespearean era and modern society overcome previous view in which women are inferior to men and had no greater purpose to society apart from the recreation of children, as it shows women should be treated equally men.
Being from the 21st century it is likely my initial reaction to Act Three Scene Five to be different to an Elizabethan audience for many reasons that include moral, social, philosophical issues and contemporary relevance. Juliet’s relationship with her parents in my opinion is the main factor in the final tragic outcome. My reaction to Act Three Scene Five was of angst and resentment at the way, in which Juliet’s parents came about the decision that Juliet must marry Paris without being asked her thoughts. This scene is pivotal to the entire play because it explores the theme of passion and the dangers of irrational, intense emotions and actions of the two lovers to contain consequences that eventually convey them to their death.
Capulet’s ominous behaviour in this scene is a reminder of the ignorance and hypocrisy that power and wealth brings to men. This casts Juliet in my mind, as the victim as she was granted absolutely no control over the events, which were happening, in her life. The treachery of the nurse is the most devastating for Juliet. As the audience as well as myself can empathise with her and also see the dramatic irony in the prophesies and predictions that surround the scene building the tension of the final impact when Juliet resolves to take her own life.
Shakespeare has successfully injected his political views on class structures, and social problems in the world. Furthermore, causing the audience of both the Elizabethan and Modern era therefore realising how corrupt our community is.