The legendary love story that is Romeo and Juliet has its plot twisted in act 3:5. After the murder of Tybalt by Romeo he is of course banished indefinitely from Verona and due to this his lover Juliet too. After secretly declaring their love in Juliet’s room in the home of lord Capulet, dramatic irony has poisoned the atmosphere as we know not only is this their first night together, but also their last. Confused and lost, Juliet is soon to discover her previous source of guidance, the nurse, has joined forces with her mother and father in turning heir backs on her crying soul and pleas for approval.
Haunted by the thought of having to marry her fathers friend, Paris, Juliet’s only will to live has become dependant apon Romeo’s love.
Shakespeare has used many effective techniques throughout this scene and through out the whole play. This includes devices including rhetorical questions and oxymorons.
There are a lot of hidden clues in Shakespeare’s work which may indicate that he wanted his audience to produce their own view and opinions of what he meant by making a character say or do a particular action. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare produced the classic love story; the young tale of a beautiful nightmare watched through the eyes of the beholder.
Section 1: Language and Imagery
Night and dark/ day and night
At the very beginning of the scene it is possible to see an important device in which Shakespeare uses in order to create and express a feeling of apprehension for the audience, the aspect of night and day.
“Will thou be gone? It is not yet near day,
That piece did pierce the fearful hollow of thine ear”
This line highlights the reluctance and disbelief of Romeo and Juliet. It is now day time and therefore they must be separated as they can only be together at night. Defiant against this they say it was the ‘nightingale’ a bird of night that sang its song and not the ‘lark’ of day. The times where it is day is feared and unwanted. This of course shows the forbidden love they share and how serious it has become. The audience at this point would be feeling anxious as they are aware Romeo and Juliet are ignoring the fact that it is day and Romeo must leave before they are caught. Also the audience is aware that Lord Capulet will be arriving to Juliet’s room soon and Romeo will most defiantly be found if he doesn’t flee which adds the tight but pitiful atmosphere.
However, while Romeo continues to blind his eyes to the situation, Juliet snaps out of the impossible fantasy she sees and realises it is the day and Romeo must leave immediately or fear jeopardy of their already fragile love conditions.
“It is, it is: hie hence, be gone, away!
It is the lark that sings so out of tune,
Straining harsh discords and unpleasing sharps
Some say the lark makes sweet division:
This doth not so, for she divides us”
Fully alert, Juliet tells Romeo he now has to leave. She doesn’t want their current situation to get any harder than it already is. Romeo is what keeps her going and the mere thought of anything wrecking the small something’s they have together distresses her deeply.
‘It is the lark that sings so out of tune’ could possibly symbolise the bad timing for the larks songs which once again highlights how angry and disturbed Juliet is by the fact that Romeo must now leave her presence. Also ‘Some say the lark makes sweet division: This doth not so, for she divides us’ tells us that Juliet would usually believe day was a time filled with happiness and fulfilling love as it makes ‘sweet division’ but in this case it is not so as Romeo and herself have become so entwined and lost in their ultimate devotion, any kind of division between them is automatically feared and hated.
Overall, it is made absolutely clear that Romeo and Juliet hate being separated. However a shot of adrenaline is suddenly injected into the scene as the nurse enters and it really is time. A reality check is now in full swing and Romeo flees.
Death is of course a very significant and delicate part of this play. It plays an extremely big part in the scene due information the audience is already aware of. This includes the fact that the audience know that because of all the fighting and arguments that have occurred due to the families of Montague and Capulet, anymore disruptions caused by them will inevitably end in death, as said by the Prince after a feud between Romeo’s brother from the house of Montague and Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, from the house of Capulet.
“If ever you disturb our streets again,
Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace”
As we can guess there is no possibility of this meaningless, ongoing war between both the Montagues and the Capulets of ending, the audience already know that people will no doubt die. After much commotion in which Romeos best friend, Mercutio, is killed by Tybalt. Romeo goes after him seeking revenge. In the end Romeo ends up killing Tybalt and as a result of this, as the Prince previously stated would occur if anymore feuds were to take place, Romeo is banished from Verona.
Shakespeare has used many techniques in creating this scenario for the audience. For one, the banishment of Romeo means the space between Romeo and Juliet is to be expanded and it would become even harder for the lovers to be together. This adds yet another strain to the love of the two and once again showing that it seems the only way they can be together is in death. However Juliet devises a plan to fake her death in order to be free and with Romeo once and for all. This of course backfires as Romeo fails to get the message that Juliet is only pretending to be dead after a poison she took. The plan was a complete shamble as Romeo kills himself just as Juliet awoke.
“O churl! Drunk all, and left no friendly drop
To help me after? I will kiss thy lips;
Haply some poison yet doth hang on them,
To make die with a restorative”
Juliet is angry at Romeo after realising he drank all of the poison without any left to help her join him in death. This is seen as she calls him a ‘churl’. She then attempts to kiss his lips in the hope of taking any remainder of the poison but to no avail.
Shakespeare then uses the oxymoron ‘o happy dagger!’ as Juliet discovers Romeos dagger. As destructive as it is, it will enable Juliet to be with Romeo in death therefore it is a good thing.
Juliet then kills herself by stabbing Romeos dagger into herself and thus, dying, while falling onto Romeos body. The fact Juliet fell onto Romeos body as she died could be a way Shakespeare shows that they are finally together.
Patriarchy and oppression
The whole play that is Romeo and Juliet was of course written by Shakespeare in the days where patriarchy ran rife. The order and rights of the man was seen as most important against any woman’s. Symbolism of this is everywhere throughout the play from Lord Capulets aura of power to the role of the seemingly highest order, the prince, being of course a man.
Especially in Juliet’s case, it seems she is terrified of her father and along with Lady Capulet who only wishing to please him. This creates and underlines the whole theory that the father is in control without any doubt. Shakespeare has created him in the form that he has ultimate power and can at any stage do what he likes. Lord Capulet is in the eyes of Juliet and Lady Capulet, King. This is shown after Juliet is told by lord Capulet that she must marry his friend, Paris, which of course she can’t as she is already married to her lover Romeo.
After Juliet refused her fathers offer Lord Capulet becomes brim with anger and presents her with the ultimatum.
“And you be mine
I’ll give you to my friend.
And you be not,
Hang, beg, starve, die in the streets”
The fact that Lord Capulet can say this, mentally knowing Juliet will choose to go along with what he wants, again shows his power and the control he has over his family. At this point, Juliet is in distress and utterly confused as in what to do. Her fathers ‘this or that’ proposal has left her in shambles. She cannot defy him but even still she cannot marry the man in which she does not love. Plus once again the fact the she is secretly married to Romeo.
This new scenario is in major contrast to the affectionate one that filled the atmosphere moments ago while Romeo and Juliet peaceful slept in each others arms, before the invasion of the lark and realisation of separation.
In Romeo and Juliet, Ominous language is thrown about consistently. It first came into context when the Montagues and the Capulets were warned by the Prince at the prologue of the play that should anymore feuds take place between the two families, death would become the result. Although a threat like this is enough to shake anyone up, Shakespeare expresses to us that even a warning as cold, cunning and cruel as this is, it is not enough to stop another quarrel to take place between the two families.
Also, the fact that, as we already know, another quarrel did take place which ended in Tybalt murdering Mercutio and soon after Romeo murdering Tybalt, shows that there were consequences for their actions like the Prince said there would be.
However Romeo was not put to death. Instead he was only banished. This may show that although threats were carried out, they weren’t carried out as they were supposed to.
The reason Romeo wasn’t put to death may have something to do with the order of Romeos father, Lord Montague, showing a possible hidden relation between the Prince and Lord Montague where they shared an understanding and came up with another alternative to Romeos death.
Section 2: Dramatic devices
In Romeo and Juliet, a lot of dramatic devices are used to enhance and intensify the atmosphere to create a tense scene for both the characters and the audience. Many of these centre on the actions of Romeo and Juliet and therefore the consequences because of this.
Due to all the dramatic devices this shows that this is more of an audience play rather than that for a reader. Emotions and the position in which people stand on the stage, bring a significant difference to the atmosphere that can only be felt while watching it take place.
An example of this is brought to our attention when Romeo and Juliet are in bed together after spending the night in each others company. The audience are already aware that this is bad as they know Romeo and Juliet shouldn’t even be together. Plus there’s the adrenalin rush that’s brought into the scene as lady Capulet makes her way to Juliet’s room while Romeo is still there.
“Your lady mother is coming to your chamber:
The day is broke; be wary, look about.”
This extract from the nurse tells us that she is underlining the facts which are being prolonged by Romeo and Juliet; it is day and Romeo must leave. Lady Capulet is coming which means time is short and they must watch out.
The whole scene brings a tense mood for the audience to watch through. Dramatic irony is brought into the scene as the audience are aware of lies and secrets going on that the characters aren’t such as how Juliet is soon to be married off to another man.
The mood quickly changes from the calm, loving mode it was where Romeo and Juliet were peacefully at rest to the hectic speed of getting Romeo out of Juliet’s room before her parents arrive and see him.
Section 3: Dramatic Turning Point
The whole scenes motive is the dramatic turning point. Romeo is banished, Juliet is betrayed by her only guidance source that is the nurse, and as we know, this is the last time Romeo and Juliet will ever be alive together again.
So many important aspects of the play are in this scene. The overall death in particular is defiantly an important part as so many different events have contributed to this outcome such as the bad timing of the letter not reaching Romeo informing him the Juliet was only pretending to be dead, which of course triggered off most of the drama.
“Marry, I will; and this wisely done”
This short quote shows what may feel like the end for Juliet. Her only ally, the nurse, has trend her back on her by telling her that the best thing she can do is marry Paris, the man her father, Lord Capulet, has told her she must marry. With Romeo banished Juliet is feeling utterly hopeless as she feels she is being forced to choose between the morals of her family and the morals of her heart. With emotions and feelings running wild she takes the dramatic decision to fake her own death, in the foolish hope of being able to finally be with her lover Romeo. But as already established, Romeo is not informed of this and therefore believes his beloved Juliet really is dead.
Racing into the very city of Verona which he is banned from, Romeo finds Juliet and immediately begins on his morning of this. The audience would feel deep sympathy for Romeo and they know Juliet is not actually dead. The bad timing strikes again as Romeo takes deadly poison to kill himself, just as Juliet awakes from her deep sleep. A pon seeing Romeo she is happy that she is in his presence again. But the pain and fear takes over as she realises the love of her life, her only support left, is moments from dying in her arms. In one last hope she tries to take poison from his lips, however, as this fails Romeo slowly slips away. Juliet is now alone. Her family have turned there backs and shut there eyes and now, her lover is gone. So she makes the ultimate sacrifice and kills herself, with Romeos dagger which she describes as “happy”, an oxymoron that shows her death will bring her happiness as she will be finally able to join Romeo at last.
Shakespeare’s unique take on writing has made Romeo & Juliet a story that not only establishes the problems faced in family life, but goes into detail in describing the consequences that may come from the different situations. In particular, the consequences of what happens when two lovers are forced apart by the cruel intentions and unnecessary rivalry of their two families.
The impact of all of these techniques shown by Shakespeare brings a very tense and sympathetic feeling to the audience who are several times aware of events that even the characters are not (such as the night shared by Romeo and Juliet being their last).
This particular scene is important as it highlights what I believe to be the central message in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; a persons actions can seriously affect the consequences for another.