Sample Essay on Romeo and Juliet

Act 1, Scene 3 differs from prior scenes in that it shows a view of the play: “Romeo and Juliet“, from a woman’s perspective, as opposed to the male world of violence and power shown earlier. This is important transition because it allows the audience to empathize with these characters differently and shows an alternative attitude towards the life they live, with varying intentions and ideas. Some audience members would understand and relate to the characters shown here more than in previous scenes, allowing them to fully-immerse themselves in the play’s world and making it seem more realistic.

Introducing the major female character in the play for the first time, the scenes before create suspense and guide the audience through the story by telling them about her. This scene follows Paris’ visit to Capulet, in which he, Paris, requests the hand of Capulet’s daughter Juliet in marriage. The audience learns in Act one, Scene two that Juliet is fair, respectable and wealthy, through this, because for a wealthy Count, Paris, to desire to marry her, she would have to possess those traits. The business-like marriages of the time would only have allowed Paris and Juliet to be joined in wedlock if they and their families were of a similar status in society. The image of her as a sweet and gentile girl – the female equivalent of Romeo – is strengthened by the Chorus, and the play’s title, which both suggest the families of Capulet and Montague are of an equal wealth and position – “Two houses both alike in dignity”. The warm-hearted and considerate Capulet suggests that she is innocent, fearing that she is too young to marry, although she is fourteen: a reasonable age to marry at the time. Lady Capulet shows this in act one, scene three by saying, “I was your mother much upon these years,” so the audience realize she is perhaps slightly immature and young-minded. Even before the scene begins, Juliet’s character is fully shaped. Now all the audience must do is meet her, and wait in eager anticipation to do so.

The Chorus is a technique used by Shakespeare to maintain the audience’s interest and create suspense in other ways, too. This dramatic device tells us of the lover’s futures, even to the extent that suicide is suggested – “take their life”. What the audience as mere spectators do not know is the complex sequence of events, which the “star-crosses lovers” will be transported through. The idea of life being foretold in the stars was something very real for Elizabethan audiences and would not have seemed far-fetched or exaggerated, but mystical and exciting. The idea of destiny is an example of dramatic irony, with the audience eager to know the outcome of the play. The Prologue or Chorus also sets the scene of the play – “In fair Verona” and tells a little of the climate at the beginning of the play, with the hatred and constant violence between Capulets and Montagues being described as an “ancient grudge”. Minus the Chorus, the root from which this feud stemmed would be unknown and confusing. Without the Chorus, the play could very easily become too intricately-weaved, making this an invaluable device. It succeeds in preventing the audience from becoming perplexed and confused; losing interest in contrast to the captivating suspense, tragedy and emotional turmoil “Romeo and Juliet” possesses.

The moment that the nurse and Lady Capulet enter, it’s made clear to the audience of who they are. This is shown in several ways, delivered to the spectators by both Shakespeare’s chosen language for each, and the way the actors utter it. The contrasting characters emphasize their differences and help to impress upon the audience who they are and their significance in the play. The vast difference in language, especially when they say exactly the same thing, shows their character traits very prominently. In their attempts to persuade Juliet to look at Paris as a lover, Lady Capulet says, “The valiant Paris seeks you for his love,” while as the nurse takes the rather more sexually-orientated approach, perhaps crying out, “Lady such a man” Why, he’s a man of wax.” The two views of “love” shown in this scene are also different to the “love” which Romeo and Juliet share. It is that “love” which we are led to believe is real.

Lady Capulet’s language and movement, as I imagine it, suggest very strongly is reserved and even cold at times, seeming to care more for what the Capulet family might gain from Juliet’s marriage to Paris, than how Juliet herself might feel in such a relationship. “Ladies of esteem,” Lady Capulet refers to, “Are made already mothers,” and it is this status which she one day wishes Juliet to be elevated to, and speaking, “in brief,” she only cares for a simple answer, declining to tell Juliet anything about Paris except a little of his wealth and position. For this reason, the nurse could have been more of a motherly-figure to Juliet than Lady Capulet.

The nurse was not only a wet nurse to her, as she says Juliet did, “Taste the wormwood on the nipple,” but genuinely seems to care about Juliet, referring to her as a “lamb” and a “ladybird,” not just a “daughter” relation, by blood but not affection. Although this comic stock character is sometimes vulgar and rather coarse, the nurse’s anecdote shows real affection for Juliet, which is never given by Lady Capulet. She is a lovable character, and to the audience of the time, the anecdote could be both comical and endearing.

Throughout this scene, Lady Capulet and the nurse make plans for Juliet’s future. Shortly before this, Romeo too plots to arrive uninvited to the Capulet’s banquet in order to secure his future, hoping then to spend it with Rosaline, whom he believes he loves. These two happenings seem unrelated, but the audience knows that Romeo and Juliet are destined to fall in love, despite their other motives behind their actions. The foretold tragedy is the inevitable conclusion of the ply, again creating suspense through the way in which their deaths arise. It’s ironic that both groups of plotters (Juliet’s parents and Romeo) both have no intention for the final outcome to arise; yet it will however they act.

Act 1, Scene 3 is important for other reasons, too, in that it breaks the mood of the scenes before, where Romeo moodily broods over Rosaline and the audience feel frustrated that he is following the wrong woman, just as the seemingly compassionate Capulet makes plans for his daughter Juliet, but they are again for her marriage with the wrong person. Despite the knowledge that Romeo and Juliet will meet, and die, there is something throughout the play that makes it seem as if this is not the inevitable resultant; that there’s always a chance to escape tragedy, that fate may be preventable, although of course this can’t happen in the story. Finally, the time when Romeo and Juliet must meet and fall in love has been determined. It’s also another step closer to their deaths, and perhaps a major peak in the play, as one of the first time when humour, pathos and suspense are conjured together, and in such intensity.

In contrast to this, Act 3, Scene 5 serves a very different purpose to the play as a whole. Although similar in that they both provide pinnacles of character development and plot progression, the world of this scene embraces a divergent mood to that of Act 1, Scene 3. This mood is demanded by the events which herald its coming. The death of Tybalt increases the tension between the families of Montague and Capulet, which the audience are more aware of than ever, since Romeo and Juliet have just been married. Romeo has been banished for murdering Tybalt and Juliet doesn’t know if she will ever see him again. As the Chorus foretells, the play will end in tragedy and Juliet has already threatened to kill herself, as she disclosed to Friar Lawrence and the nurse – “And death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead!” she says, dramatically. The audience are, through this, in as much turmoil and anguish with regard to what will happen as Romeo and Juliet are.

The vast difference in language, mood and pace is an important contrast employed by Shakespeare to create dramatic effect. While as the beginning of Act 3, Scene 5 is full of imagery and romantic language, Act 3, Scene 4 is short, business-like and deals only with facts and arrangements. In the beginning of Act 3, Scene 5, (before lines 69 onwards) the language used by Romeo and Juliet when they are aloft at the window of Juliet’s room is elaborate, with exaggerated expressions of love, in which Romeo even agrees to stay and face death as Juliet seems to wish. Romeo says, “Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.” When he could have much more simply said that it was morning and he had to leave. The delaying tactics – the opposite of the pace in Act 3, Scene 4 – add to the effect. Romeo and Juliet take a long time to say good-bye. In Act 3, Scene 3, the brief parting phrase is merely “farewell” and another succinct exit is made by “good night” in Act 3, Scene 4. Romeo uses, “Adieu, adieu!” in Act 3, Scene 5 to bid farewell to Juliet. The religious connotations (“I commend you to God”) stress the seriousness of their parting – it’s the last time they will see each other alive. The shortness of Act 3, Scene 4 emphasizes the haste of planned marriage with a sense of urgency carried throughout. This dramatic technique of transition maintains the audience’s interest with rapid changes of emotion and character objectives, frequently causing them to feel involved with the play because of the injustice or immorality certain parts are tainted by.

Shakespeare regularly voices his opinions about arranged marriages, often going against the common attitudes of the time. It is suggested that the “real love” mutually felt by Romeo and Juliet is not like that within Paris for Juliet. It’s clear that Capulet doesn’t see love as Romeo and Juliet do, as he says, “I think she will be ruled in all respects by me; nay more,” suggesting that consent for marriage, he feels, should be based upon the wishes of others who are more powerful than you, and not the couple together. Shakespeare leads the audience to dislike Capulet, so it’s unlikely that he shares his views.

Another important dramatic technique is irony. It is a device used throughout the play, although perhaps to its fullest extent in Act 3, Scene 5. Since the Chorus at the very beginning of the play, the audience have been aware of more than the characters know. Their curiosity is aroused by the sequence of events, which will lead to the inevitable. In Act 3, Scene 4, for example, they know of the marriage of Romeo and Juliet, which has taken place secretly. In Act 3, Scene 5, they are aware of Capulet’s plans before Juliet is. This would increase the anxiety they feel, because they do know she has to find out, but not how she will react or choose to proceed. In addition to this, Shakespeare conjures pathos for both Romeo and – more especially – Juliet. After being carried along with the romance, the audience are thrown back into reality, just as the lovers are. Shakespeare consistently manages to compose empathy in his play’s audiences, which is why they are so mesmeric.

When Lady Capulet enters in Act 3, Scene 5, the audience are aware of the news she will bring to Juliet, who is still crying for Romeo. Throughout this part of the scene the audience know what she means while as Lady Capulet misunderstands. JulietТs ambiguous speech and double-meanings make it very difficult for her mother to apprehend what she says. Shakespeare makes use of this confusion, combining it with ironic hints as to what will happen next. Juliet says, referring to Romeo, that she will never be happy, “until I behold him” dead.” The next time Romeo and Juliet do meet, they both die in the Capulet’s tomb. The movement and bodily expression of the characters is particularly important in this scene because the stage directions are so specific. It’s vital, for example, that Lady Capulet is unaware of what Juliet says when the direction “aside” is performed. Juliet appears to be in a stupor in this scene, speaking of her mother as opposed to directly to her. A climax is created because the audience is eager to know how Juliet will react to the news.

Lady Capulet is as aloof and reserved as she was in Act 1, Scene 3, while as some of the other characters experience an immense conversion. The audience already knows of Capulet’s changed plans to have Juliet married very soon, and not when she is older as he previously set the date to. When he enters Juliet’s room, his tone and language are different immediately. Instead of being sympathetic for Juliet, as he thinks she is crying over Tybalt’s death, he patronizes her saying, “How now, a conduit, girl?” condemning her for crying so much and so profusely. He appears shocked that she has disagreed with the “decree” for her to marry Paris, calling her unworthy and ungrateful. Juliet is obstinate, unlike Act 1, Scene 3, where she submissive to the will of her parents saying, “I’ll look to like, if looking liking move; but no more deep will I endart mine eye than your consent gives strength to make it fly.” Juliet no longer seems to be the delicate only child of Capulet who requires protection and shelter, and her character develops as he treats her differently. Capulet shows her such scorn that he even threatens to throw her out of the house, which would almost certainly have resulted in her starving. He calls her a “green-sickness carrion,” taunting her for being such an age and still unmarried. In contrast to the comments he made regarding his precious child of earlier, whom he expressed he would hate to lose, as he was blessed with her, he now says to his wife, “We have a curse in having her,” as his rage builds up into a crescendo. It isn’t the first time this side of his character has been revealed as he showed his obstinate nature at the banquet when Tybalt attempted to rid it of Romeo.

The audience’s sympathy for Juliet reaches its peak, as Juliet is clearly desperate not to marry Paris, believing that she will be blamed if she is unfaithful to Romeo. “Good father, I beseech you on my knees,” she pleads, despite what he has already said to her, she remains calm but resilient. Even the nurse feels it is necessary to argue at this point, seeing that Juliet is so fraught as to threaten to take her own life. In Juliet’s eyes, the nurse betrays her by urging her to marry Paris despite her knowledge of Juliet’s marriage to Romeo. Even Lady Capulet tells her husband, “You are too hot,” but refuses to help her daughter, despite this. Her heartrending final attempt creates a summit of pathos amongst the audience – “Is there no pity sitting in the clouds?”

The isolation Juliet feels as this point in the scene is quite the opposite of the way she felt as of Act 1, Scene 3 closed, when she was excited by the prospect of attending the banquet and seeing Paris. Her character exit makes it clear that she is very abandoned and as each other character leaves, their rejection of her is reinforced. She turned to each for some facilitation, but none could nor would give her what she needed. Again, there are acute differences with this exit when compared to that of Act 1, Scene 3, in which Juliet is enthusiastic about the banquet and Lady Capulet, her father and the nurse are supportive towards her. This makes the audience even more stunned at the way she has been treated, because the change is so dramatic. The nurse is the last to leave because in spite of her rejection of Juliet, she doesn’t turn away from her completely as Lady Capulet and her husband have. The audience are left with suspense yet again, not knowing how the inevitable sequence of events will progress. Juliet resolves to visit the Friar, and has already spoken of Potions and poisons earlier in the scene. They are in trepidation and wait expectantly.

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