Analyse the Dramatic Effect of Act 1 Scene 5 in Romeo and Juliet’ commenting on Shakespeare’s Use of Stagecraft and Language
here are several techniques exemplified in Act 1 Scene 5 that bring around numerous emotions among the audience. These can promote a variety of reactions, sometimes humorous, others gut-wrenching. Either way, all the techniques illustrate to the spectators how illustrious this play, based upon two intense lovers and the extremes that they pass through to withhold their passion, can be.
To begin with, Romeo and Juliet’ begins with an exhilarating prologue consisting of various forms of word play to produce a synopsis of the upcoming play. After finishing, this prologue’ leaves the audience awaiting the forthcoming after formulating vivid perceptions in their head, or perhaps even frustrated that the whole play has been revealed. This places knowledge of the upcoming play in the spectators’ minds.
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To understand why Shakespeare decided to use this absurd technique that nowadays would be considered to ruin the play from some points of view, one must trace back to the conditions inside theatres way back in the 16th Century.
Usually, theatre wasn’t really reserved for the higher class’ people for it was the only form of entertainment. People would be found standing, not seated, in a central ring. These conditions usually result in the audience conversing rather then devoting their attention to what was about to be performed in front of them. Hence, Shakespeare produced a clever technique that grips the spectators. When words such as mutiny’ boom across a hall back in Shakespeare’s era, the males were most probably intrigued by the prospect of violence and sword fights.
This perception of hate, evil and struggling paints a colourful, if not bloody prospect in the audiences’ imagination. This no doubt produces a lust to see and hear the inevitable bloodshed. Through lines such as Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.’ the audience can infer that the upcoming will involve the taking of lives. This is further substantiated by lines like Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.’ clearly displaying that the two lovers Romeo and Juliet are going to die simply through the cold word, death. The audience is further captivated and seek more detail. Shakespeare has achieved this much, but not everyone attends the theatre for pure blood and gore.
To satisfy this issue, Shakespeare introduces the theme of love into the prologue. However, the way he uses this theme is very sophisticated, because of the simple fact that this play was a tragedy. The prologue couldn’t possibly be entirely hugs and kisses, or the entire plot could crumble. Instead, he places love related lines alongside the evil lines. Somewhat like a comparison, or maybe even an equation; to solve hate, one must love, yet this love can involve the most heinous cruelty before a result is achieved. Lines such as The fearful passage of their death-marked love’ clearly demonstrate this view. If one is to examine the above, they can see that the negative issue, the death of Romeo and Juliet is present through the love they have for each other. The text before this line informs us that Romeo and his Juliet are from opposite families, and would naturally hold hate against each other. This tells us why these lovers must dread a fearful passage’, for there are great threats present.
At the time, the passion that was foretold was supposedly highly controversial, for relationships, rather then be blossoming with love, would be arranged. Hence, the audience is again captivated to know how two people could risk their dignity to place themselves in the position they have.
With the bringing together of these two highly evocative and powerful emotions into one context, Shakespeare increases the integrity of his work, by capturing everyone in some way that they somehow become desperate to witness the upcoming scenes. One questions why this play seems to have a negative atmosphere placed about it, even at such an early stage. It is through human nature’s natural empathising abilities that one is forced to ponder about what happened to these lovers that could have been so happy.
Act 1 Scene 5 is like a junction in the play, where all these themes in the prologue seem to meet and wrap together; hence, the audience is deeply focused at this scene so they can answer the questions they had in the prologue. How is it that these two absurd, individual characters came about to meet. All the answers lie here.
n Act 1 Scene 5, the play’s central characters are all brought together; friends and foes alike. The effect of this is immense, with the ferocious Tybalt alongside Romeo on the same stage. Yet there is the harmony between the two, the wonderful Juliet who seems to be a splinter of peace between the two colossal forces bred of hate.
This Scene leads to some dramatic consequences from the events that arose at this party. For example, the death of Mercutio was through Tybalt’s awareness of Romeo’s presence at the party. Tybalt intended to kill Romeo later, but Mercutio was murdered in Romeo’s place when he backed down from the fight.
As in the prologue, one can see the opposite forces, love and hate, positioned side by side, or rather opposite each other in a situation where only one of these powerful feelings can show its presence. It is perfectly justifiable to see Romeo flirting as that was the intention of the party. This is because without knowledge of who the intruder’ is the actions would be mutual among the guests. However, if Tybalt was to strike Romeo at any point, then the honour of the Capulets would dip, especially when they have been threatened by the Prince to not commit an act of similar nature.
When the audience witnesses Tybalt’s extreme rage, a sudden eerie atmosphere is added to the already tense environment. To start with, Romeo and his companions should not be at the party, and it is terrible if, of all people, Tybalt becomes aware of their presence. One may assume that there is going to be a large row possibly resulting in someone’s death. Who?’ remains the question.
In one corner, you hear Romeo muttering his feelings for Juliet, such as Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!’ whereas Tybalt is steaming away. The audience is taken aback by the grave danger Romeo is placing himself in. Some may believe his time is almost up as they were told in the prologue, that Romeo will inevitably die at some point in the play. This builds up a sense of suspense among the audience.
Other people may recognise this Scene as the point where Romeo and Juliet are brought together, their love is blossoming, keeping in mind the fact that hate has brought these two together. It seems somewhat ironic how opposites of this extreme attract.
hakespeare’s language is one of the most effective dramatic techniques used in this play. The language he uses is unparalleled involving some intense word play that can create atmospheres of all sorts of natures.
To start with, one can examine the extended vocabulary Romeo uses in his soliloquy at the party. His first line, O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright:’ immediately shows us how outstanding Juliet is to Romeo, as how she is brighter then a flame and that she could in fact teach the torches to burn bright.
This is only a mere example. Romeo is continually making comparisons about Juliet’s beauty against dull subjects. In the gloom of the masked ball, Juliet is like a white angel, pure and fresh. For example, Romeo describes Juliet As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’. Ethiop is an Ethiopian, and Ethiopians are generally very dark skinned, perhaps the darkest in the world. Put aside a rich jewel such as a diamond, one would see a striking contrast. It is in this way that the text suggests that Juliet stands out so much against the other masked guests at the ball.
Romeo’s soliloquy is most definitely a sonnet. This is suggested by its fourteen lines in length and the fact that it is constructed upon an iambic pentameter (ten beats/syllables per line); there is also a regular rhyme scheme (A-B-A-B-C-D-C-D-E-F-E-F-G-G). Sonnets are usually love poems, so it is justified why Shakespeare decided to use this type of poetry writing.
When Romeo and Juliet kiss, the language is densely descriptive for several reasons. If Romeo was to touch Juliet it would be considered disrespectful, so a kiss would be beyond the word controversial. Hence, Shakespeare focuses a lot of attention upon this very moment.
From the text, one can infer that this kissing scene is sacred. The way lips are symbolically made out to be pilgrims’ travelling to their Saint, which is Juliet’s body on some holy journey to a shrine. The journey is passion and the shrine is the pure Juliet herself. Lines such as My lips, two blushing pilgrims’ and For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,’ clearly show this view. This part of the text only describes the kissing of Juliet’s hand, to smooth that rough touch’ that Romeo’s hands made upon Juliet’s hands.
The kiss itself was Romeo’s attempt at purifying himself and Juliet subjects to this, labelling it as the answer to a prayer. The following lines show this:
Juliet – Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Romeo – Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.
He kisses her
Thus from my lips by thine my sin is purged.’
Here, Juliet is saying that Saint’s grant prayers, knowing well enough what Romeo longs for, and subsequently his prayer is answered. Juliet later says that she herself has been coated in this sin, and Romeo kisses her again to purify her. This shows the audience what Romeo believes of Juliet hand how she is regarded as a virgin life form, much like an angel.
Meanwhile, whilst Romeo and Juliet are engaged, Tybalt’s rage can only multiply as he watches Romeo enjoying himself at the party however unto his Tybalt’s knowledge that Romeo was dragged to the party against his will. To convey this to the audience Tybalt’s language starts to rhyme. When it does, its impact is several times more effective. For example, when Tybalt says:
A villain that is hither come in spite,
To scorn at our solemnity this night’ and
I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall,
Now seeming sweet, convert to the bitterest gall.’
These lines most definitely imply Tybalt’s extreme rage to Romeo’s presence at the Capulet mansion. Each rhyme sounds as though immense pressure is being placed on it, as though the words were being said through bitter frustration and agony. One can picture an annoyed person violently spitting out these words. If one examines what Tybalt is saying, they can see how angry he is, when he mentions Now seeming sweetgall.’ Tybalt is saying how he will get his revenge for Romeo’s appearance at the party, and his withdrawal from killing Romeo was all in withholding the Capulet’s honour, which won’t last for ever.
omeo and Juliet’ includes many devices which capture the audience’s attention from start to finish. This was absolutely crucial, for as I have mentioned before, in Shakespeare’s time, the audience would be found standing, so it would be only natural for ones attention to drift as they would be standing for two whole hours. SO it would be absolutely essential to sustain the audiences’ attention.
To begin with, Shakespeare maintains a flow of writing that is intriguing in every aspect. It contains vivid description so that a clear picture can be painted visually as well as physically on stage. Examples exist within Romeo’s sonnet-like soliloquy, which itself is a dramatic technique. Lines such as So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,’ produce a clear comparison between Juliet and the other dancers.
The fact that all the dancers at the ball were mask builds up a lot of tension, due to the fact that no one knew who was who and the chances of two foes crossing each other was extremely high. This supposedly created as stir among the audience and intrigued them further so that they could witness what happened.
Soliloquies are ways of conveying to audiences what exactly is running through the character’s head. Today it is a rare technique due to the electronic devices available. Yet in Shakespeare’s time, these computer generated electronic voiceovers were unavailable and narration is a poor dramatic technique if not performed well. A soliloquy can be crucial; for one’s thought can affect the repercussions throughout the rest of the play. This fact probably meant the audience strained themselves to hear what one was speaking; hence, they could attain a greater understanding of why some of the events that happened in the incredible prologue actually happened.
There is an element of irony, that two enemies could be brought together without prior knowledge, or actually attacking each other. Instead, one member of the enemy falls for the beauty of the opposing side. This mockery creates a tension of what the after-effects of this could be. Will the embarrassment of loving the enemy trigger more bloodshed, or will the two families become neutral?
fter examining Romeo and Juliet, one can clearly see how Shakespeare has effectively used his divisive techniques to formulate a play that is so enchanting and emotionally capturing that it is hard to look away from what is going on during the exhilarating performance, say at the theatre.
Shakespeare constantly engages the viewer through the tension he builds by placing his characters in eerie situations and formulating a negative conclusion throughout the play whilst suspending an element of hope especially towards the end when the time has come for Romeo and his Juliet to inevitably die. This suspense is a naturally enjoyable experience for most people, as it is a supreme form of entertainment.
Examples of this mainly exist in Act 1 Scene 5. The concept of a masked ball where friends and foes alike meet is frighteningly attractive. One may not want to see the consequences, but Shakespeare includes techniques so that the audience does not break away. These are either the soliloquies or the stage actions, such as kissing, so the audience is somewhat forced into viewing the rest.
I personally believe that the play is an exceptional piece of work, leaving no space for improvement for it continuously withholds the audience’s attention and thus, achieves its goal.