This essay is on the play “Romeo and Juliet”, written by William Shakespeare in about 1595.
It is a deeply heart-touching tragedy when two “star-cross’d” lovers, who are desperate to be together, are torn apart by a downward spiral of events. From love to hate and from life to death are the themes Shakespeare has based Romeo and Juliet on, as well as the most important one, fate. Fate is used right from the start of the play in chorus. Fate is used a lot in the play, this is because when the play was written people of those times were incredibly superstiotous and believed in curses. “…A pair of star cross’d lovers, take their life:” is the first key example of a premonition being made in the play. A premonition is a forewarning of what is going to happen. Also in the times of the play arranged marriages and young marriages were popular. This complicates Act 3 Scene 1 later on.
Act 3 Scene 1 is a crucial turning point as feelings explode into an array of hatred and love, when character’s personalities shine through and when other’s lives are cut short.
Shakespeare uses fantastic techniques to draw the audience into the play. I will be exploring oxymorons, puns, alliteration and rhyming couplets, which are all used to brilliant effect in Act 3 Scene 1, and which help to develop characters, add humour and define feelings. Shakespeare brings feelings like hate and anger to a new un-explored level.
Also I will be analysing how Shakespeare uses entrances and exits by characters at certain times to change the mood of the scene.
And finally I will show how Shakespeare develops his characters by using characterisation.
Act 3 Scene 1 is a very important scene for many reasons; many people talk it about as the turning point in the play. This is due to the incidents and outcomes that occur in the scene.
But this is also due to the placing of the scene; it’s structured in the middle of the five-act play allowing the scene to change the story’s events in one scene.
Act 2 Scene 6 ends as Friar Lawrence in the church weds Romeo and Juliet. As only Friar Lawrence, Romeo, Juliet and the audience know this has happened it is used effectively during Act 3 Scene 1. Because Romeo and Juliet are from rival families this complicates the situation for Romeo in the fight in Act 3 Scene 1, as he is a part of both families now.
As Act 3 Scene 1 starts the audience are shown Mercutio and Benvolio having a ‘friendly’ argument about how Mercutio sees Benvolio as a very argumentative person. He says Benvolio would argue with “…a man for coughing in the street.” While Mercutio is doing this he is actually describing his own personality. With Benvolio being a peaceful character and Mercutio being an argumentative person there is tension between these two straightaway. Although it’s only a friendly argument it winds Mercutio up into an argumentative state. As new characters enter the scene more tension is created as more different personalities are being brought into focus. Firstly Tybalt, who is a member of the opposing family, the Capulets, enters the scene. He is a very fiery and aggressive character whom despises many people, especially the Montagues. After he enters, newly wed Romeo arrives in a cheerful mood. Romeo is a peaceful character who is deeply in love; this affects the way Romeo reacts in Act 3 Scene 1. When approached by Tybalt, Romeo pleads with him to be calm and not fight, “I do protest I never injur’d thee,
But love thee better than thou canst devise”
As Romeo pleads with Tybalt, Mercutio meets Romeo’s pleas with anger. Mercutio sees this as “…dishonourable, vile submission” by Romeo and starts to get involved in the arguing again, leading to his death.
Shakespeare uses dramatic irony as one of his main techniques in his play; it is when the audience watching the play know something that the characters on the stage don’t e.g. when Romeo and Juliet get married they and the audience know but the characters don’t. And because the actors don’t know what has happened the string of events in Act 3 Scene 1 occur. This is used further on in the play to when Romeo thinks Juliet is dead because the letter explaining what has happened hasn’t arrived from Friar Lawrence.
During Act 3 Scene 1 Shakespeare uses many language techniques to add depth and feeling to the play. Firstly Shakespeare uses alliteration, alliteration is a sequence of words beginning with the same letter e.g. “…fortune’s fool.” This f-sound is used to produce the feelings frustration and fury. Also he uses puns; these are words that have two or more meanings that you can play on for humorous effect e.g. when Mercutio says, “grave” he could mean serious or a burial grave. As well as these he uses rhyming couplets; these are mainly used in the Prince’s banishment speech, and it gives him a sense of power, decisiveness and authority. It emphasises the content of what has been said. Lastly he uses prose and poetry; prove is continuous writing with or without rhyme or rhythm. In Act 1 Scene 2 the clown uses prose to show that he is un-educated and un-important. More noble and educated characters use poetry.
As the play was written to be performed on a stage, the fight scene in Act 3 Scene 1 is a major part in the scene. Because of this watching it would give it much more atmosphere rather than reading the book.
Another thing that Shakespeare does fantastically in the play is to time entrances and exits of characters. It starts just after the light-hearted argument between Mercutio and Benvolio when Tybalt enters; the atmosphere changes from a humorous friendly scene to a serious and more threatening atmosphere. Later on, when he removes Tybalt from the fight scene it removes the threat of violence and allows the characters to display their feelings. Further on when the dying Mercutio leaves the stage and Romeo is left alone and he delivers a soliloquy. This is when a character speaks their thoughts aloud to the audience. When Romeo flies and the citizens arrive on stage it stops being a single person’s problem but a cities problem. Enabling justice to be announced.
Act 3 Scene 1 is like a mini-play in itself, by having a start, middle and an end. The start is where Mercutio and Benvolio are having an argument although it wasn’t serious. As Tybalt enters its starts to enter the middle, and by the time Romeo enters we are in the middle of the scene. The fight happens and Mercutio and Tybalt are killed, and then as Romeo flies the citizens arrive and discover what has happened. When the prince delivers his speech the scene ends on the delivary Romeo’s punishment.
As a result of Act 3 Scene 1 Romeo is exiled from Verona due to him killing Tybalt, as well as Mercutio being murdered. Also Romeo and Juliet’s marriage looks to be over. But because of this it creates room for Friar Lawrence to think up a plan to get them back together. But it then leads to a tragic sequence of events that end both Romeo, and Juliet’s lives.
In my Essay I have argued what techniques Shakespeare used, what type of effect they created and whether they were affective or not. None were more effective than each another, but to me the most effective one was the way Shakespeare used dramatic irony to draw in the audience and show the play in different levels to the characters.