“Romeo and Juliet” is a fantastic play for an audience. It starts off with a public brawl between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s. Despite all the drama, by the end of Act 2 Romeo and Juliet get married secretly. Act 3 scene 1 comes as a shock for both families as there are two fights, two deaths and a banishment. It’s a turning point in this play because the lovers are separated and cannot be together as husband and wife.
Act 2 scene 1 starts in a public place in Verona in which the intense heat drives everyone to boiling point. At the start of the scene Mercutio’s behaviour is different to everyone else’s as he seems more hyperactive. This further aggravates everyone with whom he comes into contact, making a fight unavoidable. Benvolio, being the mature one, warns Mercutio of the entrance of the Capulet’s and that the outcome will be a feud. “I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire:
The day is hot, Capels are broad,
And if we meet we shall not scape a brawl;
For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.”
Despite Benvolio’s efforts, his warnings are ignored, leaving a sense of tension and impending violence in the atmosphere. There is a lot tension amongst the people including Mercutio and Benvolio. “Thou art like one of these fellows that, when he enters the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table, and says ‘God send me no need of thee!” This shows that Mercutio is saying that Benvolio is a coward and accusing him of over reacting over nothing.
Tybalt’s entrance causes a significant rise in the tension as he enters with a large group which could be portrayed as a gang. This creates suspense for the audience as they already expect some sort of brawl due to Benvolio’s warnings. Benvolio’s and Mercutio’s reactions are opposite to each other. Benvolio is terrified and has a change feeling whereas Mercutio is acting in a quarrelsome way and doesn’t want to let the argument go. Mercutio acts unsuspicious but as Tybalt’s verbal abuse reaches a new level, Mercutio gets more and more aggravated. Tybalt tries to keep the anger within him, but as the argument progresses, he too reaches his peak. This allows the audience to suspect that there something bad is going to happen as it is inevitable. The modern day version by Baz Luhrmann focuses more on the scenery and the violence such as guns. Therefore, the scenery gives us more information than the actors’. Franco Zeffireli’s version focuses more on the actor’s lines and facts rather than the surroundings and the quality of the movie. The argument in this version portrays Tybalt as the victim and Mercutio as the villain.
The dramatic irony in Act 3 scene 1 is that the audience are now aware that Romeo and Juliet are married. None of the characters know aside: Romeo, Juliet, Nurse and Friar Lawrence. This means Romeo is the only character in this scene who knows about the marriage. When provoked by Tybalt, Romeo declares “I do protest I never injured thee, But love thee better than thou canst devise. Till thou shalt know the real reason of my love; And so, good Capulet, which name I tender. As dearly as mine own, be satisfied.” This shows that Romeo is turning down Tybalt’s challenge as they are now family and he does not wish to fight Juliet’s sake. Romeo drops hints that he is now married to Juliet but this goes unnoticed by Tybalt and the other characters. The characters have varied but similar reactions “Why wouldst thou have with me?”
Both Tybalt and Mercutio are confused as to why Romeo chooses not to get involved in a fight and this increase Tybalt’s rage further. Benvolio is also confused and tries to hide away in the argument. However, Mercutio is angered that Romeo doesn’t want to fight and sees him as a coward. In his shock and shame at Romeo’s “vile submission”, Mercutio decides to do the “honourable thing” and attack. The first fight is between Mercutio and Tybalt. An argument that starts out so small turns into a huge fight. Mercutio is at boiling point at this stage in the scene and insults Tybalt by calling him a cat with nine lives causing Tybalt to retaliate. However, Romeo and Benvolio are trying to stop this “outrage” from happening. This allows the audience to be aware that something big is going to happen and the result is not going to be something minor. Even though, they do everything in their power to prevent this brawl from going ahead, they are too late as Mercutio had unintentionally been stabbed by Tybalt. Mercutio is tired of being the neutral person in this feud and blames Romeo and Tybalt for his death. He ends his life by cursing both families.
“A plague a’ both your houses!” In Luhrmann’s version, Romeo and Benvolio do not do much to prevent Mercutio’s injury, but express their feelings they have for their friend in his last moments. In Zeffirelli’s version, all the characters fail to notice Mercutio’s severe injury and think he is acting and making a joke which is why it comes a chock when he suddenly dies. Tybalt’s exit in this version of the play is quite plain as he just runs off with his gang. However, the modern version shows a car chase which makes it more action packed, increasing the suspense and intensity for the audience. It does not allow time for the audience to express their feelings towards the characters, whereas Zeffirelli’s version there is less action which mainly leaves the audience to feel sorry, angry and upset for the characters.
After Mercutio’s death, Romeo’s attitude and language do a 180 turning point as he loses self control. He changes character as before he tried to reason with Tybalt but now he wants nothing more than to kill him, so he can show him what he did to Mercutio. Romeo’s language changes immediately to a more insulting tone as he says
“Mercutio’s soul is little way above our heads,
staying for thine to keep him company:
Either I, thou or both must go with him.”
Early in the scene we see Romeo as a person who attempts to solve a problem rather than create one, whereas now we see him as the person who is provoking the situation and developing the fight further by going after Tybalt. The second fight is between Romeo and Tybalt which takes place just after the death of Mercutio and towards the end of Act 3 scene 1. The fight starts off with Tybalt trying to escape from Romeo, but gets caught eventually. They both fight and Romeo claims that he, Tybalt or both must go with Mercutio. This is then lead to Tybalt’s death which comes as a shock to the other characters in the play. The conclusion that this fight ends in dramatic irony because Romeo has destroyed his relationship by getting himself banished from Verona. This was the turning point in the play that leads to a variety of problems for the couple ending in their death. This is a contrast from Act 2 scene 5 as they were happily in love and married. This shocks the audience as in the space of one scene there have been number of shocking events. From now on the audience can expect to feel misery and sympathy for Romeo and Juliet. Also, they can expect their marriage to fall to pieces, but a small amount of hope that it would work.
After Romeo exits, Benvolio re-tells the incident to the Prince which can be seen as biased information as he is Romeo’s cousin and therefore we would try and get him off the hook. He fails to mention the verbal battle between Mercutio and Tybalt, but does mention that Tybalt killed Mercutio and attempted to escape from the scene but got killed by Romeo who was trying to avenge Mercutio, making Romeo look innocent. However, this allows the audience to reflect on all the drama that has taken place helps a person who is struggling to keep up with the story. The consequences are that the Capulets have just lost Tybalt and the Montagues have lost Romeo but only through banishment. Most importantly, this is the point where Romeo and Juliet’s relationship falls to pieces as Romeo is banished from Verona. This separates the two lovers, dooming their marriage. The Capulet’s reaction is the worst out of both families, as they wanted Romeo to have a death sentence for the death of Tybalt.
“I beg for justice, which thou, prince, must give;
Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live.”
Montague tries to convince the prince not to kill Romeo as it was not entirely his fault. In the end the prince banishes Romeo form Verona and says if he ever returns that hour will be his last. The audience will feel shocked having witnessed a traumatic scene. They will also be curious to what happens next and what consequences there will be. After Romeo exits the scene, the prince arrives demanding to know who started the fray. Lady Capulet demands that Romeo should be killed However Prince does not wish to see anymore blood spilt and refuses the proposal but doesn’t let Romeo get away with his actions and decides a compromise of Romeo’s banishment. “Immediately we do exile him hence.” As well as Romeo being banished the prince announces that if Romeo is to return to Verona, that hour shall be his last. By the prince adding to Romeo’s exile, he is implying that Romeo will return and that there will be drastic actions. This allows the audience to realise that there to be more drama and action.
Act 3 scene 1 starts out in a calm and pleasant atmosphere as Romeo and Juliet are happily married. Benvolio and Mercutio are playing on the beach quietly until Tybalt enters. This changes the atmosphere to a tense and awkward level and tells the audience that something horrible will definitely happen. The first meeting leads to Mercutio’s and Tybalt’s fight, Romeo’s and Tybalt’s, the death of Tybalt and Mercutio and lastly Romeo’s banishment. This chain of events ultimately leads to the death of Romeo and Juliet. This scene is the turning point in the play as there have been five traumatic events which have driven the play to become a darker and dead end play.(two, deaths, 2 brawls and one banishment) This makes the audience feel sympathetic towards Romeo and Juliet as they now know their marriage doomed. From the end of the seen the chain of events kept coming which eventually lead to the tragic death of the two lovers and with that the burial of the ancient grudge between the two families. In my opinion, this is the most action packed and upsetting scene.
This is the stage in the play where we know that marriage is doomed and there is nothing we can do to change it. I think Luhrmann’s version is more exciting and passionate as it focuses on the scenery and the acting of the characters. This is because the scenery doesn’t look like it is all in one place and the actors put more emphasis on the lines they are saying. This allows the audience to connect with the characters emotions and feel like they are watching the play form above. Zeffireli’s version is more realistic and believable but at the same time imaginative. It’s something you would relate to a real life situation as the filming looks more like a documentary than a fictional movie.
His version focuses more on the facts of the play, which sometimes doesn’t convey the play as creative. This is an effective scene for the audience because it’s the turning point in the play, where everything starts to go wrong and important characters are killed. Also, this is where reality starts to kick in as they cannot live happily forever, when they know about the feud between both families. This scene is where most of the action takes place and where Shakespeare pulls the audience in by adding more and more drama, making the play much more interesting to watch!