‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a play that has brought laughter and tears to audiences for hundreds of years. Many people have watched this play and cried at the tragic ending as the “two star-cross’d lovers take their lives.” This line from the prologue sums up the main themes in the play: fate, love and tragedy. This masterpiece written by William Shakespeare during the Elizabethan period contains the pivotal ball scene (1:5), which changes the course of events in the play and the lives of all involved. This can be seen most clearly in the changing attitudes of our two lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Juliet who had no desire to be married or interest in falling in love prior to this scene falls madly in love with Romeo during it. Similarly, Romeo who thought he loved Rosaline abandons all thoughts of her as he sets eyes on Juliet; each in blissful ignorance of their true identity. As the audience have been witness to the “ancient grudge” between the two families, the union between Romeo and Juliet in this scene will heighten tension and increase the anxiety for them.Order now
At the beginning of act 1, scene 5 the servants rushing around the stage creates a more intense atmosphere. “Where’s Potpan, that he helps not to take away? He shift a trencher? He scrape a trencher?” This speech, especially the questions, creates the quick pace of the rush. The servants need to do a good job of the house to impress Lord Capulet and his guests. The audience have many questions and expectations, such as whether or not Romeo will get caught, whether or not Juliet will fall in love with Paris as their parents planned or whether Romeo would meet his dear Rosaline and be together with her again. All these expectations leave the audience on the edge of their seats, focussing on every event that follows in this scene.
The audience then witness Lord Capulet who is an unusually jolly mood. Lord Capulet needs to make a good impression and show that he is a good host. He also needs to make a good impression on Paris who he wants to be Juliet’s husband. “Welcome gentlemen”. Lord Capulet repeats this line to really emphasise that he wants his guests to feel comfortable. He also jokes with the ladies, “ladies that have their toes unplagued with corns will walk about with you”. This is interesting for the audience because before this scene he has been stern and even got involved in the street brawl between the two families in act 1 scene 1, “Fetch me my long sword, Ho!”
This positive mood is sustained on the stage when Romeo appears. Romeo uses different ways to describe Juliet. “Like a rich jewel in an ethiop’s ear.” Romeo uses this simile to describe Juliet as a bright, stunning jewel in a blacks person’s ear. Something that stands out in a crowded place. Romeo uses another effective technique soon after. “So a snowy dove trooping with crows.” He uses this metaphor to describe Juliet as a white dove with black, scavenging crows. Something different and eye-catching. A snowy dove brings images of peace and purity which describes Juliet’s beauty.
Furthermore, Romeo uses rhyming couplets for his speech. “O she doth teach the torches to burn bright; it seems she hangs upon the cheek of night.” Shakespeare uses this to create romance and also to create a poem to show that the language reflects Romeo’s romantic nature. The audience is thinking what will happen with Romeo and Juliet and what will be the knock on effects. Romeo also uses a question towards the end of his speech.
“Did my heart love till now?” The audience realises that he has forgotten all about Rosaline – his main reason for attending the ball – and is now in love with Juliet. He declares, “I never saw true beauty ’til this night”, leaving them in no doubt of his feelings.
In contrast to Romeo’s calm peaceful and gentle speech on his love for Juliet. An enemy of the Montagues Tybalt, has seen Romeo and goes to his uncle to look for his “rapier” sword. Tybalt refers to Romeo as a “villain” “foe” and “slave” to show his true hate for him and he also uses rhyming couplets to show his hatred for Romeo. From all the quiet and romantic whispering by Romeo, to the shouting and rage of Tybalt, makes the audience jump and be concerned for Romeo, because he has been caught and the audience are worried about what Tybalt might do to him. “now by the stock and honour of my kin, to strike him dead I hold it not a sin”. Tybalt said this about Romeo, meaning that it would be an honour for him and his family if he killed Romeo. Tybalt seems to think that Romeo is trying to make fun of them by going to the party, “to scorn at our solemnity this night. Lord Capulet tries to calm down Tybalt and says to him “Verona brags of him to be a virtuous and well governed youth”. Meaning that most of Verona sees that Romeo is a nice lad, they like Romeo. In the last four lines Tybalt again uses hatred rhyming couplets, he also said, ” now seeming sweet, convert bitterest gall. ” the juxtaposition shows that things maybe sweet now but will turn bitter and Tybalt will defiantly get his revenge.