This play addresses a combination of themes such as forbidden love, innocence and experience.
Written in the 17th century and set in Verona, Italy, this play involves two young individuals ‘Romeo and Juliet, who fall in love and break a barrier, that has hunted the families for much time, and then comprehend about unison by their death. The constant conflict happening between Montagues and Capulets created a strong barrier, a barrier that was meant to keep one away from the other. Although these young persons are from completely different families that were in constant conflict, they outstand by showing how love unites forces.
The Capulet’s decided to throw a party to celebrate the marriage of their beautiful daughter (Juliet) to a gentleman later to be Juliet’s husband (Paris).
At the beginning of Act 1 Scene 5, Shakespeare creates an atmosphere of comic-stress and tension. He achieves this by using un-common characters in particular stages in the plot.
The serving men are making the final arrangements for the party. The first serving man is in charge and he is frantically giving orders to the other servants who are not where they should be. He increasingly is stressed by their lazy attitude as he bosses them about.
FIRST SERVING MAN
“You are looked for and call for, asked for and
sought for, in the great chamber” Lines 11 & 12
FOURTH SERVING MAN
“We cannot be here and there too. Cheerly,
boys, be brisk a while, and the longer liver take all.” Lines 13 & 14
Shakespeare makes the opening of the scene interesting by showing the point of view from an un-usual perspective, in this case from the serving men’s. The tension encountered at that stage is comic but not dangerous at all.
When Capulet enter with the guests, the atmosphere changes. Capulet’s tone is one of joviality and excitement. He welcomes his guest in a very proprietorial manner; it makes him seem to be a very self-possessed character. Capulet’s lack of excitement, contrast with the first serving man. The plot’s atmosphere clearly stands stable, however, it slightly changes from, when Capulet is having a conversation with his cousin, to when young Romeo asks the serving man for reference about young Juliet. For the audience is a normal change, although, in the script it clearly makes a big wide jump from the entering, the welcome speech, and family conversation to one of Capulet’s enemy (Romeo).
Then after, we see how Romeo appreciates Juliet’s great beauty by referring to her as:
“As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear-” Line 45
“For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” Line 52
Romeo clearly emphasises the personal impression Juliet has given him, when he expresses her beauty to “As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear”, he implies how she outstands from the whole crowd. He then strengthens his emphasis by saying he has never seen such beauty until that night in particular.
The atmosphere at this particular stage changed, from a rushed setting to a proprietorial welcome which then lead towards Romeo’s personal feelings towards Juliet, once again the plot is tranquil and not dangerous.
However, the atmosphere is completely changed by Tybalt, when he finds out Romeo, a Montague, is at his house.
“This, by his voice, should be a Montague.” Line 53
“To strike him dead I hold it not a sin.” Line 58
Tybalt makes the audience feel threatened of the current situation, the change of tone throughout the plot makes the audience interest more on what the next move would be. His hate towards the Montagues is very high as he says, “To strike him death I hold not a sin” the focus on the foe’s death portrays the hate within the families.
Tybalt is mislead of his action when Capulet approaches him, ‘…wherefore storm you so?’ Tybalt is then forced to tell his uncle about the Montagues presence.
Capulet takes no notice of the matter and tells Tybalt to let him alone, he chooses this path, simply because of his reputation upon his guests, however, Tybalt insist in causing trouble not matter what. Capulet’s tone sharply endures and emphasises his path by telling Tybalt once again in a much more proprietorial manner:
“Am I the master here, or you? go to!
You’ll not endure him? God shall mend my soul,
You’ll make a mutiny among my guests!” Lines 77, 78 & 79
Again, Capulet’s tone, one of propriety, makes Tybalt back off and realise that is he does not ‘endure’ Romeo he’ll then face the consequences.
Once again, Shakespeare makes the audience sentimentally be involved with the mutual side of the play, which, in this case is the romantic friction between Romeo & Juliet. After the threatening situation that was lately experienced in the play, Shakespeare decides to go back and focus on Romeo’s status.
Romeo then changes the plots atmosphere by referring to Juliet in a sweet and sensible way, in other words, a flirty way made by the romantic appreciation Romeo has for Juliet.
“My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.” Lines 94 & 95
Romeo is clearly approaching towards Juliet quite fast, fast enough to get her pregnant. Then, at that time, it was not courteous to express ones feelings in that manner, however, Juliet is used to the chat-up line and ‘briskly’ adapts to the conversation.
“Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
which mannerly devotion shows in this” Lines 96 & 97
Juliet clearly contrast with the ‘mannerly devotion’ Romeo refers to her, she is simply being sarcastic, she emphasises her point when she says before “mannerly devotion” “you do wrong”.
The play simply marks the plot’s atmosphere as romantic as it could be; this is because Romeo makes some moves, in a sense of kissing her passionately. The audience’s response is one of comprehension towards the couple’s situation.
Shakespeare had approached at this particular stage a well thought ‘set’ that the audience comply in.
At some point, the atmosphere change becomes kind of comic, this is because, somehow, it constantly changes at the worst or good moments in the play.
Once again, after the romantic and rushed kisses Romeo managed to snatch from Juliet’s ‘tender’ lips, the atmosphere changes. This happens after the Nurse interrupts:
“Madam, your mother craves a word with you” Line 110
Nevertheless, then Romeo asks the nurse about Juliet’s mother and finds out that Juliet’s mother is in fact, a Capulet.
“Is she a Capulet?
O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt.” Lines 117 & 118
Romeo clearly accepts the fact that both are from completely different backgrounds, and if he does decide to continue seeing her, then he would have to face the consequences, even his own death. He clearly emphasises this, when he says, “My life is my foe’s debt”.
Juliet later on, shows personal interest when she asks the nurse reference about Romeo, apart from finding out his real name; she also finds out that he is, in fact, a Montague, the only son of the family’s enemy.
“My only love sprung from my only hate!” Line 137
“That I must love a loathed enemy.” Line 140
She does realise that he is the family’s enemy; however, she is in love with him, although she is being forced to marry someone who she does not have mutual feelings for.
Shakespeare has in fact, a tremendous tendency of dominance throughout the whole play, in order to create tension, romance and amongst other things such as danger and comic tension. He makes the audience sympathise with the characters since the start of the play to the very end.