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    From balcony to tomb. Essay (1701 words)

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    How Shakespeare uses dramatic language and theatrical devices to stage the unique relationship between Romeo and Juliet, with particular reference to the party and balcony scenes.

    Although the Montagues and the Capulets were in the middle of a long-running feud, Romeo and Juliet managed to end all that through love. Their relationship was one of a kind. Although they only had four days, from its beginning to their deaths, it was totally fulfilled. They even had to get through a major setback when Romeo killed Tybalt and was banished from Verona. They were both very young and yet they were so sure of their love that they could go against their families’ wishes and be together, in reality for the rest of their lives. It was love at first sight for them at the party, but Romeo was originally at the party for Rosaline and she is soon forgotten when Juliet is seen. It is amazing how in so little time they declare their love, get married, fulfil the sexual side of their relationship and it is completely requited love. The balcony represents the height of their love, and makes it more restrained and the tomb shows the depths of the tragedy in this dramatic play, set in Verona during the Elizabethan era.

    The values of Elizabethan and Veronese society heavily influence this play. For example, the top Veronese families were rich to the point of decadence and often flaunted this. The families in “Romeo and Juliet” built gold statues in honour of the children. Arranged marriages were very common in this era and so was patriarchy. Lady Capulet tells Juliet to “Marry, my child” and then when defied “Here comes your father…And see how he will take it at your hands”. The father is a very dominant figure in families and was never disobeyed. Lady Capulet did not act upon what Juliet said, but let Capulet do this, as he is more powerful and would make more of an impact. Women were expected to do nothing but stay at home and let the men take control. In a society where a patriarch could dictate what his daughter could and could not do arranged marriages for dynastic reasons were normal.

    We know from the start that “A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;” yet we still want them desperately to live. The play has tragedy all the way through, with deaths and tension arising quite often. The principal characters dying made us feel as though we knew them and had lost someone we knew. This caused audiences to think about what they had been through in the play, what Aristotle called feeling “the pity and the fear.” Their love is “death-marked” but also eternally written in the “stars”. Knowing what is going to happen in the play from the beginning makes the audience more aware of what is going on, on stage.

    Shakespeare uses as much of the space available as possible on the stage of the Globe theatre. The upper level would be used for the famous balcony scene of “Romeo and Juliet” and as a gallery for minstrels. There would be two side doors, for Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio’s entrances and larger inner doors for Old Capulet, Lady Capulet and Juliet’s use. The two pillars are used to split the stage up into three, and to put emphasis on there being two families. During the party scene, Romeo and Juliet would meet in front of one pillar and Tybalt, Old Capulet and the Capulet Cousin would spectate in front of the other. Tybalt might stand here whilst explaining to Old Capulet “‘Tis he, that villain Romeo” with no support. The statues in the final scene would be lifted through the trap door in the centre of the stage. All parts were played by men, even the women’s roles. This made roles like that of the Nurse more fun and lightens the whole play up a little. All these staging techniques would have delighted the impressionable Elizabethan audience.

    In the party scene, there is a lot of rushing around. You have the servants rushing around trying to keep the guests happy, dancers spinning to impress and Romeo and Juliet trying to find each other after the first sighting. Tybalt recognises Romeo as the rival family member and has to try to “endure him” after being told to do so by Old Capulet. He does not obey without an argument, “Why, uncle, ’tis a shame” but Capulet tells him to “contrary” him and Tybalt agrees grudgingly. Romeo then greets Juliet with a sonnet, “If I profane with my unworthiest hand…” which is shared between the two of them, showing them sharing their love. The Nurse is always the one who tears them apart, and rushes them to end their time together. She and Benvolio drag Romeo and Juliet away from each other, Juliet because her mother wants her and Romeo because they have to leave the party. Shakespeare shows the whole play in microcosm here with the stillness of the lovers in the midst of the hectic socialising of their family and friends, and the threat of violence from Tybalt. This adds tension to the scene, causing the audience to think again about Romeo meeting Juliet in this scene, but all becomes clear very soon.

    Shakespeare uses imagery to try and describe the lovers’ feelings more deeply. He uses holy imagery of saints and pilgrims in the love sonnet of Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting, “For saints have hands that pilgrims hands do touch.” after the contrasting imagery in of Romeo’s first vision of Juliet. Shakespeare compares black and white, “dove” and “crows”, “Ethiop’s ear” and “a jewel”, “night” and “torches”. This is again to describe Romeo’s feelings for Juliet. In the balcony scene, he also compares a “tassel-gentle” with a “niesse” to describe him and Juliet. Shakespeare does this to show their pleasure in playing with each other, letting each other go so they can return more fondly. Also he uses the words “angels” and “light” to describe Juliet in words and “bud” and “rose” are just a few of the other natural metaphors used by Shakespeare in this early play, and many are used during the balcony scene.

    The balcony scene is a very famous part of this tragic love play. Firstly, Romeo watches the “bright angel” that is Juliet as she speaks about him, trying to convince herself that it is acceptable to fall in love with a Montague. She is very aware that it is against her parents’ wishes that she should even think about a Montague in that way. Instead, she asks herself, “What’s in a name?” trying to understand why she feels so strong about someone she should hate. Romeo then speaks after hearing enough of what he wants to hear, “I take thee at thy word,” agreeing to forget the hate and concentrate on their love. But then they do get slightly worried, and debate the risks of what they are going to pursue. Juliet thinks it is “too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,” but Romeo is adamant that she is wrong and asks, “Th’exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.” Juliet agrees with a little reassurance and they begin to struggle for words to describe their love for each other, but are saved by the Nurse’s calls, which seem to be a regular role for the Nurse, to drag them away from each other. This forces them to make a speedy decision. They have to decide “What a’clock tomorrow” they should marry and the place. They cannot part, but have to in the end, which is typical of fresh love, being unable to tear themselves away from the buzz of excitement.

    The couple are very young, especially Juliet who is just 13 years of age. It is adolescent love, and there must have been a strong bond between them for them to both die for each other. Neither of them had had their love returned like this before, which makes their love even more special as Rosaline was ignoring Romeo. They did so much in such a short space of time, and although it is not felt throughout the play, the pressure is always on for them. They may not realise it, but they have four days to love each other, and the Nurse plays a crucial part in helping them along. She always seems to want Juliet at the right times to rush Romeo into decision-making. This makes everything like “lightning” as it is very rushed and rash. It is completely innocent and pure with the type of love they have and their ages. Neither are mature or old enough to jump feet first into love like Romeo and Juliet, but they were so sure about it that marriage was the first step they took, even though it was the most risky because of family.

    The feud that is the backbone of the whole play makes it more exciting. You see a few sides to every story, especially love. Mercutio calls love a “dream” and does not take it seriously at all. This happens before the party when Romeo still thinks he’s in love with Rosaline. At the very beginning of the play, though, two men are fighting and joking about sex. This puts into context the purity of Romeo and Juliet’s love and relationship. It shows that even though they are young, they are actually mature enough to realise what love is really about. Act III unravels the mighty deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt, which cause Romeo to be banished from Verona. All these events lead to the other deaths of Paris, Romeo and Juliet. The play seems very morbid at this point but all our predictions are put aside as we unexpectedly see the enemies make friends at the end of the play.

    Even though Romeo and Juliet die, they are remembered forever for their sacrifice and bravery. They manage to end the feud by their “wrong doings” and deaths, and golden statues are made of each by the opposite family. This shows off their wealth, but also their sorrow and friendship now shown towards the other family.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    From balcony to tomb. Essay (1701 words). (2017, Nov 02). Retrieved from

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