In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” poor communication and bad advice do often lead to misunderstanding and disaster. I am going write about three occasions, all of which contribute, to the tragic ending of the play, one for each Romeo and Juliet and one, which affects both and leads to the tragic ending of the play.
Shakespeare used dramatic tension often in “Romeo and Juliet”. He created it by using dramatic irony. This is where the reader/audience knows something the characters do not and this causes them to have a different understanding of the situation. Hence the dramatic tension between the reader/audience and the characters, who do not possess all the facts.
An example of dramatic tension in the play is the first meeting of Romeo and Juliet at the masquers ball neither of them realises who the other is. Juliet sends the Nurse to find out who he is. In the Nurses absence she says to herself if he is married her wedding bed is going to be her deathbed.
“My grave is like to be my wedding bed.”
This shows that she was already in love with him. (Love at first sight).
When the Nurse returns and tells her who he is, she says to herself
“My only love sprung from my only hate”.
Tragedy is a literary term and is not linked to real people; though in reality a tragedy is a tragic occurrence.
Sophocles, a literacy critic, said:
“We are not interested in what happens but how it happens. The drama comes from watching someone fighting against fate.”
In this quote the key word is FATE, fate is something that is meant to be and cannot be changed no matter how hard you try.
From the beginning, by the chorus, we know Romeo and Juliet is destined to be a tragedy. The play is about ” a pair of star crossed lovers” whose tragic deaths are caused by fate and misunderstandings.
Therefore by the end of the play we feel a great sense of loss and pity.
The first scene where poor communication and bad advice lead to misunderstandings, which I am going to write about is Act three Scene One, for Romeo. Act three Scene one is a big turning point in the play, where it all begins to go wrong for Romeo and Juliet. In this scene the fight between Romeo and Tybalt takes place. It begins with Benvolio and Mercutio joking, when Benvolio says
” I pray thee, good Mercutio, lets retire:
The day is hot, the Capels are abroad,
And if we meet we shall not scrape a brawl
For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring”
Tybalt is out looking for a quarrel with Romeo, to get revenge for the masquers ball.
“I will withdraw but this intrusion shall now seeming sweet, covert to the bitterest gall.”
When he meets Mercutio and Benvoilio, they begin to quarrel. Romeo then arrives and Tybalt says,
“Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford
No better term than this; thou art a villain.”
Then, to Tybalt and Mercutio’s amazement, Romeo replies,
“Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee
Doth much excuse the appertaining rage
To such a greeting, villain I am none;
Therefore, farewell, I see thou know’st me not.”
Dramatic tension is created here because, we, the audience, know that Romeo and Juliet have just got married, whereas Mercutio, Benvolio and Tybalt do not, so it is created by dramatic irony.
Mercutio thinks Romeo is being a coward by letting Tybalt win by refusing to fight, and says he will instead.
“O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!
“Alla stoccata” carries it away.
Tybalt, you rat catcher, will you walk?”
Mercutio has been spoiling for a fight but the real reasons Romeo will not fight Tybalt is that they are now kinsmen, due to Romeo’s marriage to Juliet.
Romeo steps in between Mercutio and Tybalt to stop the fight. Tybalt lunges under Romeo’s arm and wounds Mercutio badly. Then he runs off. Romeo feels he has to avenge his kinsman’s death, so Romeo goes looking for Tybalt and when he finds him, they duel and Romeo kills him. Benvoili tells Romeo to go quickly, as the prince will arrive soon. Romeo replies, “O, I am fortune’s fool.”
When he says this, he means he is only a toy in the hands of fate. Tybalt’s death is when it all starts in the play. This is where the spiral starts to go down rapidly. The expected outcome is that Romeo will be executed, because we know that the Prince said if any Capulet or Montague were caught “brawling”, they would pay with their life. The Prince is lenient because the law would have sentenced Tybalt to death anyway. Therefore, the Prince can only bring himself to banish Romeo.
This is a crucial moment in the play because it is where everything seems to go wrong, resulting in the tragic chain of events, leading to the deaths of the lovers.
The breakdowns in communication between Juliet and her parents become obvious in act 3, scene 5. This is a crucial point in the play as Juliet cannot tell her parents why she will not marry Paris.
Romeo and Juliet part after spending their wedding night together. This upsets Juliet, and, when her mother comes to see her, Lady Capulet misunderstands why Juliet is upset. She believes Juliet is grieving for Tybalt.
Juliet’s conversation with her mother is full of double meanings.
“God pardon him; I do with all my heart; and yet no man like he doth grieve my heart.”
Juliet is referring to Romeo. Due to dramatic irony, the audience know that Juliet is grieving for Romeo, not angry at him for murdering Tybalt, as her mother, lady Capulet, thinks. This is a prime example of the breakdowns in communication between Juliet and her parents.
And yet no man like he doth grieve my heart.”
Dramatic tension is created again because we, the audience, know what she really means.
When Juliet refuses to marry Paris on Thursday, her mother doesn’t understand.
“Fie, fie, what, are you mad!”
She thinks Juliet is still upset about Tybalt and that she’s mad for saying no.
Her mother doesn’t understand that she would be betraying Romeo if she married Paris. Her Father is angry with Juliet because she was disobeying him and it just was not done then, he doesn’t understand why she’s refusing either.
“How, how! How, how! Choplogic! What is this?”
He misjudges the reasons for Juliet’s refusal and she wont reveal the real reason. This also leads to dramatic tension again through dramatic irony.
Juliet pleads with them to delay the wedding.
“O sweet my mother cast me not away
Delay this marriage for a month, a week!”
Yet her mother refuses to help her.
“Talk not to me, for ill not speak a word
Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee”
The nurse doesn’t sympathise either she says marry Paris, Romeo is not here and he is a “dishclout” compared to him.
This is a crucial moment in the play, Juliet could either reveal her reasons for her refusal or she has one last option, to go to Friar Lawrence. If she revealed her reasons for refusing this would have made the course of events and the ending of the play very different. Yet she chooses not to, she chooses to go to Friar Lawrence for help, this resulting in the tragic ending of the play. This is where the climax of the play starts.
The final scene I am going to right about is Act five and this is for Romeo and Juliet. Act five is where any hope of it all working out is completely destroyed by Friar Lawrence’s letter not being delivered to Romeo in Mantua.
It all starts to go tragically wrong when, Balthasar, Romeo’s manservant goes to Mantua and tells Romeo of Juliet’s ‘death’. Romeo, without hesitation, goes to see an Apothecary and buys poison, and then sets off to Verona to be with Juliet, defying his banishment. This scene is a very good example of poor communication and bad advice and the consequences.
Meanwhile, Friar John returns and tells Friar Lawrence that he has not delivered the letter. To which the Friar says, “The letter was not nice but full of charge, of dear important and neglecting it may do much danger.
He realises the danger that Romeo may kill himself or Juliet may, when she awakens and finds Romeo is not there,
This is where any hope of a happy ending is destroyed.
The Friar realises how disastrously wrong his plan could go. So he rushes to the vault but he is too late.
Romeo arrives at the Capulet vault and begins to force it open, when Paris comes to lay flowers and challenges Romeo because he thinks Romeo is going to desecrate Juliet’s tomb. Romeo kills Paris but before he dies, he begs to be placed with Juliet. Romeo feels sorry for Paris and lays his body next to Juliet.
He then goes to Juliet and says:
“Death, that hath attacked the honey of thy breath
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty
Thou art not conquered; beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks.”
This means that Juliet’s poison has not made her pale; she looks as though she is still alive. Romeo then turns to Tybalt’s corpse and says he will favour him by killing himself and asks for his forgiveness, he then looks at Juliet one last time and gives her one last kiss, then he takes the poison.
Shortly after, Juliet awakens and looks around for her Romeo. When the Friar enters, he tells her to come quickly as the prince will arrive soon. Juliet, however, refuses to leave with the friar when she sees Romeo dead. She reaches out and tales his dagger and says
“O happy dagger!
This is thy sheath;
There rust and let me die.”
She then stabs herself in the heart.
Then the watch enters and arrests the Friar and Balthasar, the Prince and the Captain of the watch enter with the Capulets.
Montague and Capulet enter the tomb and Montague tells everyone lady Montague has died if grief due to Romeo’s banishment.
When Montague and Capulet see Romeo, Juliet and Paris all dead, Friar Lawrence explains everything with the help of Balthasar and Paris’ Page.
Capulet and Montague end their feud and decide to put up golden statues of Romeo and Juliet; after the Prince says
“All are punished.”
The Prince sums up the whole play with a rhyming caplet.
“For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo”
There are a lot of misunderstandings in this scene. This is where all of the Friar’s bad advice begins to become apparent and all the misunderstanding that have taken place. Everything that could possibly go wrong in this scene does. Dramatic tension is creates a lot in this scene through dramatic irony.
Shakespeare successfully wrote a tragedy according to Sophocles definition of it; at the end of the play you feel a great sense of loss and pity for all involved. The couple are quite clearly doomed by fate quite early on in the play, and despite their best efforts, they lose their desperate fight against fate.