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    How does Shakespeare create tension in Act 1 Scene 5 Essay

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    This coursework will concentrate on Act 1:5 of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays ‘Romeo and Juliet’. It will go in to detail on how Shakespeare creates interest and tension in the scene. This scene is a vital scene in the play as it is the first time Romeo and Juliet set eyes upon each other. It is also an interesting scene as Romeo, a Montague, goes to a Capulet party. All this helps to keep the audience engaged and curious to know what happens next.

    There are many clever ways Shakespeare creates tension and all are different to build up interest in different ways

    All throughout the play and especially in this scene there are links of love and fate, all going back to the premonition and Prologue. This reflects upon the era and the setting of the play keeping in mind all the traditions that used to go on at that time. The following piece of writing will go in to detail to show the understanding of the scene and the effects of the context in the play.

    Romeo’s love for Rosaline makes him want to attend the feast because he knows Rosaline is going to be there. We know this, as before in the play Benvolio says to Romeo ‘At this same ancient feast of Capulet’s, sups the fair Rosaline’. This creates suspense, as we want to find out whether Romeo meets Rosaline or not. Capulet hosts the feast and Romeo is a Montague, so he could get into serious trouble for attending the feast. This creates a lot of tension in the scene as Romeo could get caught any moment in the feast. The prologue outlines the enmity between the two households by saying ‘ancient grudge’. This shows that it is a quarrel that has been going on for very long so Romeo getting caught would be a news-breaking incident.

    As Romeo knows that this is a Capulet ball he wears a mask to hide his face. This creates the suspense of secrecy and on the other hand the fear of being revealed. The mask also highlights the time of the play, as masked balls would have been quite popular and important at that time. It was traditional in the Elizabethan times, which was when the play was written.

    From the prologue we know that Romeo and Juliet are destined to meet as they are described as a pair of ‘star-cross’d lovers’. Fate and destiny plays an important role throughout the play and especially in this scene as lots of people believed in God at this time and believed that everything was destined to be. As Romeo has gone to the ball to see Rosaline there is a lot of suspense of how Romeo and Juliet will meet and when they will meet. When Romeo catches first sight of Juliet he immediately falls in love with her as he describes her as ‘ a rich jewel in Ethiop’s ear’, which shows the contrast of her beauty. This creates suspense as the audience start to wonder whether Romeo has forgotten Rosaline or not. At this moment Romeo seems to forget everything and only focuses on Juliet.

    As soon as Tybalt sees Romeo he is no longer hidden from his identity. This causes tension as this intrigues the audience and they are expecting the worse to happen because they are from rival families. Tybalt has been bought up to hate Montague’s and his hate for them is very deep as he says ‘as I hate hell, all Montague’s and thee,’ previously in the play which shows how much he hates Montague’s. Therefore Tybalt gets very angry and shows his rage by what he says. He uses the word ‘villain’ to describe Romeo, where as Romeo hasn’t even done anything wrong or caused any harm or trouble. He wants to throw Romeo out as he says ‘I’ll not endure him’.

    On the other hand Capulet stays calm and says good things about Romeo like ‘Verona brags of him’. This difference is important and shows how Tybalt makes the mood of the scene tense and full of anger where as Capulet tries to calm it down. Capulet wants to maintain his respect and dignity and does not want to cause a scene at his ball. He is also a high status character and wants to keep his pride. This is because his status would have been very important to him and a slight mistake could ruin his reputation.

    More tension is created when Tybalt swears to get revenge as he says ‘Now seeming sweet convert to bitterest gall’. This shows the contrast of love and hate as sweet and sour. This creates a lot of suspense, as we know that Tybalt is going to take revenge but we do not when and how.

    When Romeo and Juliet talk for the first time the mood of the scene turns away from tension and goes towards love. Romeo and Juliet finish off each other’s line for the iambic pentameter to show closeness. Religion is also mentioned a lot between them to show how important it was to them. Juliet says ‘ you kiss by the book’, this metaphor shows stronger love and shows what Juliet thinks of Romeo’s kiss because the play is believed to be written around 1595 when there was no TV etc around. So this means that everyone read books and they were seen as important as it was one way out of very few of getting information or being entertained. An example of a book is the bible, which was very important at that time as everyone was very religious and saw the book as guidance, this also links back to religion.

    Dramatic irony causes suspense, as we know that they are from rival families but Romeo and Juliet do not. Later Romeo finds out from the nurse. The nurse plays an important role, as she is the one who reveals the truth about their enmity.

    At the end Juliet says ‘My grave is like to be my wedding-bed’. This takes us back to the premonition where Romeo says ‘By some vile forfeit of untimely death’ this causes tension, as the audience want to know how they die and who dies first or do they die together. When Romeo and Juliet find out that they are enemies it makes the scene tense as it makes you wonder if they will be able to meet again.


    Overall this scene is very important because it is the first meeting of Romeo and Juliet. Due to all the things that happen in this scene tension is created and builds up to keep the audience engaged. It leaves the audience wondering what will happen next if they will ever meet again and how do they die, as they know that death takes place from the prologue as there love is described as ‘Death Marked Love’. We know that time is running out for them.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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