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    How Does Shakespeare make Act 1 Scene 5 interesting and tense for the audience? Essay

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    In this essay I will be writing about the intensity of act 1 scene 5 of the famous tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and how it has parallel links to previous scenes in the play. Act 1 scene 5 is a critical scene because it is the first time Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love at the Capulet’s ball. In the scene the audience forget what was said in the prologue as they are captured in the moment of the ‘star crossed lovers’ first meeting. The audience know that they are destined to die ‘A pair of star crossed lovers take their life’. This gives a sense of dramatic tension. However as the audience are so engrossed in the love they share on their first meeting that they believe Romeo and Juliet will live the life of happiness. As the audience watch this scene they ask themselves will they risk meeting each other again as they are from opposing families, is it really true love or fatal attraction?

    The opening of act 1 scene 5 is light hearted as is shows the servants preparing for the Capulet’s ball. This gives a relaxed feel to the audience, from Romeo’s previous premonition of death. ‘By some vile forfeit of untimely death’. Capulet welcomes his guests to the masked ball and the party begins. The purpose of Romeo’s presence at the ball is to forget about Rosaline his previous love and find someone else. He catches site of young Juliet, this is where the tension differs from the opening of the scene. Romeo asks a servant who Juliet is ‘What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand of yonder knight?’ The knight being Paris, the man that Juliet is meant to marry.

    Romeo begins to describe the beauty of his new found love with words associated with peace, love and purity. ‘So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows’ Romeo is overheard by the fiery Tybalt who recognises his voice to be none other then a Montague. Tybalt being the short tempered fiery cousin of Juliet is outraged to find a Montague, the foe of his family at the Capulet’s ball. Tybalt has strong urges to kill Romeo however is stopped and overpowered by Capulet who tells Tybalt that Romeo shall be endured in he is not to interrupt the party. This part of the scene has references to act 3 scene where Tybalt seeks revenge on Romeo. This incident leads to a fight between Tybalt and Mercutio, Mercutio is slain by Tybalt and Tybalt is slain by Romeo. The deaths of the events cause Romeo’s banishment from Verona.

    The main part of act 1 scene 5 is when Romeo and Juliet speak their first words to each other. It shows importance as it is written in the form of a sonnet. A sonnet being a fourteen lined poetic piece of writing associated with love or death which ends with a rhyming couplet to conclude it. They were often used in the Elizabethan era. The main features of the sonnet spoken by Romeo and Juliet are religion, hands and lips. Shakespeare uses poetical and elevating language. Romeo refers to Juliet as a ‘holy shrine’ showing that he worships her. As religion was extremely important in the Elizabethan period. ‘This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this’ Juliet responds to Romeo’s attempts of seduction in a coy and shy way ‘Ay pilgrim, lips they must be used in prayer’

    Juliet’s words also refer to religion. Hands touch together while praying and Romeo wants to let lips do what hands do. ‘Juliet: Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake, Romeo: Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take,’

    Alex McAllister

    A rhyming couplet shows a conclusion, after these words Romeo and Juliet kiss. This is a passionate moment for the audience as they share there first kiss. Romeo asks that they kiss again. ‘Romeo: Give me my sin again, Juliet: You kiss by the book’

    Juliet’s words may also have references to religion, as the book could be the holy bible also her words have a simpler meaning that Romeo has studied the art of kissing. This moment in the play is extremely intense for the audience as Romeo and Juliet express their feelings of love to each other. However are interrupted by the nurse as Juliet’s mother (Lady Capulet) wants to speak with her.

    This part of the scene is leading up to the point were Romeo and Juliet find out that they are from opposing families. This comes across as a huge shock for the lovers however the audience already knew there families were enemies from the prologue. This gives a sense of dramatic irony, as the audience knows something the characters do not. Romeo questions the nurse and asks her who Juliet’s mother is. Then the shocking truth is revealed. ‘Is she a Capulet? O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt’

    Romeo explains how his life is ruined. He has fallen in love with his family’s enemy. Before Juliet could return Romeo is called by his friend Benvollio and they begin to leave the Capulet’s ball. Juliet then returns to the nurse to find her love is leaving and uses her intelligence to find out information regarding Romeo. Juliet: What’s he that now is going out of door? What’s he that follows there and would not dance?’

    Juliet is now referring to Romeo, however the nurse does not know who he is and requests that the nurse goes and finds out. Nurse: His name is Romeo and a Montague

    Juliet: My only love sprung from my only hate’ Juliet is shocked and confused this is shown by the use of oxymorons for example love and hate, in her speech. How can Romeo possibly be a Montague?

    As Romeo and Juliet now know that they are from rival families the audience would hope that they would not pursue their relationship, because of it. The scene ends with a sense of foreboding; the lovers are doomed to die. Tension and suspense is built up in the scene because of a time factor, when will Romeo and Juliet meet again? Will they risk losing their lives over love?

    Act 1 scene 5 is a crucial part of the play as it is Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting. Shakespeare captures the audience by using dramatic irony. The audience know that Romeo and Juliet are destined to fall in love and die for love from the prologue. When Romeo and Juliet first meet Shakespeare uses elevating language by using a sonnet, which shows importance. Their time to be together is running out, and it’s because of this time factor that the tension is high, as the audience do not know when the lovers shall meet again. The next time they meet could be there last, and it’s this that causes tension for the audience.

    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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    How Does Shakespeare make Act 1 Scene 5 interesting and tense for the audience? Essay. (2017, Oct 30). Retrieved from

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