William Shakespeare made Romeo and Juliet dramatically effective for both Shakespearean and modern audiences, as exemplified in act 3, scene 5. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is based on “A pair of star-crossed lovers…” who are descendants of two wealthy families who are wrapped-up in deep rivalry; they are so centred in this rivalry that they fail to realise that their children are in such deep love-a love in which they sacrifice themselves for each other.
Shakespeare deliberately weaves in the traditions, norms and values of the time into his plays: this has a dramatic impact on the Shakespearean audience because it makes the play feel realistic; it could also impact, some, Elizabethan audiences by giving them new ideas as to how to improve and re-consider some of their traditions, norms and values. “Our myriad-minded Shakespeare [sic].” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834) uses many themes in Romeo and Juliet-his themes include: love, kinship, family, arranged marriage, betrayal/loyalty, patriarchal society, religion and moral decisions. This vast variety of themes are effective because mankind shall always encounter these situations, which means, no matter how many years pass people will always be interested in his work. “He was not of an age, but for all time!” (Ben Jonson 1573-1637)
Shakespeare uses clever use of language; he uses double meanings to show that Juliet is “…not well.” for two reasons. She isn’t ‘well’ because Romeo has been banished and the second meaning is that her cousin has been murdered. In addition, perhaps Juliet’s face is pale due to shock of nearly being seen with Romeo therefore attempts to obscure the fact by saying “[she] is not well.”
Some audiences may interpret another meaning: she might “…not [be] well.” because of the previous night with Romeo (when they may have had sex) hence her feelings of tiredness. As Lady Capulet enters; I would stage Juliet on the floor, moaning and crying-to emphasise the fact that she is “…not well.” I would also have her body slightly exposed to help show that she has had a sensual encounter; and also it may show devastation-due to the feeling loss of her cousin and husband. To a Shakespearean audience the exposure of Juliet’s body may have been considered a sin, whereas to a modern audience it would be considered ‘normal’ and ‘not a big deal’-this may be because modern audiences are ‘used to’ seeing such nudity and in most cases more extreme nudity. Nevertheless it may simply be because Elizabethans were incredibly religious therefore their women were a lot more covered up compared to a modern society’s woman-this helped to keep the rape rates lower than they are now.
“There Shakespeare, on whose forehead climb the crowns o’ the world; oh, eyes sublime with tears and laughter for all time!” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806-1861). For a modern audience-their “…tears…” may be caused by the theme: patriarchal society. In the Shakespearean era the dominance was blatantly biased towards males. To a modern audience this would be classed as sexism!
When Juliet refuses/disagrees with her mother over marrying Paris-Shakespeare shows us Capulet’s ‘dominance.’ “Soft! Take me with you, take me with you, wife. How! Will she none? Doth she not give us thanks? Is she not proud? Doth she not count her blest, Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought so worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom?” Another theme which links with patriarchal society is arranged marriage; to a Shakespearean audience this was a norm. Mainly, the marriages that took place between wealthy families in the Shakespearean era were economic/wealth-related and beneficial to the families which could be classed as morally wrong to a modern audience. “Arranged marriage? Are you joking?” This would be the type of response/attitude, towards arranged marriage, given by a modern audience. Capulet shows a sense of confusion: he doesn’t understand how his daughter rejected/refused to obey his command. Shakespeare, not only uses confusion to bring the character to life but, uses a sense of anger; the short, abrupt sentences indicate anger and temper-the punctuation also emphasises an escalation of temper. The repetition of “me”, “us” and “we” shows us that Capulet is self-centred and the core reason he wants this marriage to take place is due to the fact that he sees his own benefits-possibly-in the long term. I would have Capulet’s vocal volume and vocal pace ‘crescendo’. This is because it emphasises the escalation of temper and both, Shakespearean and modern, audiences will be ‘sucked in’ and the anger that Shakespeare gives Capulet will feel genuine and more ‘real’ to both audiences. The impact on modern and Shakespearean audiences will be that they’ll realise that Capulet is really angry-this makes the play feel realistic.
“…Shakespeare’s magic…” (John Dryden 1632-1700) consists of 38 plays-most of which are love-related; for example Othello. Unlike Romeo and Juliet- in Othello Shakespeare tells us the story of a middle-class lover who falls in love with a wealthy Venetian Desdemona: Othello is similar to Romeo and Juliet because in both of the plays the lovers marry secretly; the clear contrast that Shakespeare has made between the plays is that Romeo and Juliet kill themselves to be together in heaven (religion was also a key theme, it wasn’t a belief-it was a way of living for the Shakespearean people) whereas Othello kills Desdemona due to a misconception.
Sonnets are usually love poems. Shakespeare has written 154 sonnets and most of his work is linked with love: perhaps Shakespeare was obsessed with writing about love? Or perhaps he was a ‘lover’ and saw this as a chance to express his ‘love’. He also may have expected a long-term outcome of ‘love’ and ‘brotherhood’ within the human race-due to his work. Most modern audiences “struggle” and “strive” for international peace-these people may be inspired by Shakespeare’s recurring theme of love and may want to ‘bring to life’ the true beauty of love-which is peace.
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was written as a linear narrative; Shakespeare may have wanted to avoid confusion or ‘misconception’ instead of writing a juxtaposed narrative. Nevertheless, writing linear narratives may have been interesting for him. This beautifully constructed linear narrative encourages audience engagement due to the intense moments of the play, for example when the play begins there is an outrageous brawl between the two wealthy families and in other parts of the play the audience is given a chance to ‘catch’ their breath: – when the tension is lower for example when Romeo and Juliet initially meet each other.
Shakespeare does make Act 3, Scene 5 dramatically effective for both Shakespearean and modern audiences. “Diverse souled Shakespeare.” (John Dryden 1631-1700) has used many dramatic techniques and styles in his superb work of art: Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare takes us on a roller-coaster ride with his extraordinary themes and his unique style of writing does prickle our nerves-frequently; for example the creation of Juliet’s double meanings and the prophecies of death and his clever use of language which all add up to conclude this horrific, charming and delightful: Romeo and Juliet.