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Act 3 Scene 1 is a Major Turning Point in the Play “Romeo and Juliet”

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The reason behind why Act 3 Scene 1 is a major turning point is mainly because it alters the course of events and changes an entirely new route of the play, a death of two major characters. Structurally, this particular scene is in the middle of the play, but more importantly, there is a dramatic change in the atmosphere. Because of Romeo’s change of attitude and his exile, the romantic love of Romeo and Juliet clashes and they become desperate which also makes a huge difference and affects the following scenes later on in the play.

The atmosphere at the beginning is very tense and Benvolio feels nervous and stressed. He senses that if the Capulets come, a fight would most certainly start. Benvolio states that ‘the day is hot’, probably referring to both the weather and their tempers. Mercutio irritates Benvolio that he is ill humoured by telling him:

‘thou wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes.’

Mercutio uses a pun to exaggerate Benvolio’s temper. This quote also builds up the audience’s expectations for the up-coming events. When the Capulets enter, the atmosphere tightens even more. Shakespeare uses juxtaposition by showing a perceptible contrast with this and the scene before. The secret and loving atmosphere juxtaposes the hatred and publicity of Act Scene 1.

By naming Romeo a ‘villain’, Tybalt intends to infuriate him to fight. However, Romeo gives his love to Tybalt, which he finds extremely insulting and bewilders the rest of the characters on stage by saying:

‘…Love thee better than thou canst devise,’

The dramatic irony that Shakespeare uses creates a greater tension in the play. However, the reaction towards the audience is not surprising.

Mercutio’s death falls around the mid-point of the play. Shakespeare might have done this for the following reasons. Mercutio’s death was the main turning point in the whole plot, and it was when everything had changed; Romeo would not have killed Tybalt, Romeo wouldn’t be exiled out of Verona and the solution of ‘the ancient grudge’ would not have ended. Shakespeare emphasizes this event with Romeo saying a soliloquy:

‘O sweet Juliet, thy beauty hath made me effeminate, and in my temper softened valour’s steel.’

After Mercutio’s death, there was a sharp pang of guilt, because he knew that his death was not meant for Mercutio but for him, so if he had fought at first, he would not have to owe him his life and he might not even get killed. Romeo describes how love had overtaken his bravery and blinded him until the death of Mercutio and wakened him back to his senses. Also, many problems and complications occur in the middle because it gives the audience a contrast between the start and the end.

After Mercutio’s sudden death, Romeo’s senses start to rush back into him, making an abrupt change of mood towards Tybalt. He blames himself for Mercutio’s death and he feels that Juliet’s love and beauty had blinded him and dishonored his family’s name by not fighting. He takes revenge on Tybalt:

‘…fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!’

The use of alliteration in ‘fire-eyed fury’ emphasizes his strong hatred, anger and revenge in his voice. The staging for this part of the scene is very important because it delivers a strong message to the audience, however, having Romeo slightly over Tybalt would show his determination and his enraged emotions during he fight. When Tybalt falls to his death, Romeo describes himself as a ‘fortune’s fool’. It describes how foolish and how unthinkable his actions were. On the other hand, he was fortunate that his fate lied where Tybalt was killed instead of himself. Benvolio urges Romeo to flee for safety and informs him that the consequences of his action would ‘doom thee death’, which again, Shakespeare uses alliteration to emphasis the danger of Romeo staying in Verona. Shakespeare also chooses strong, emotive vocabulary to make Benvolio’s influential words more effective.

There may be a log number of causes that lead up to this very scene. If it wasn’t for Rosaline, then Romeo wouldn’t have gone to the Capulet ball and meet Juliet and her love. Tybalt saw Romeo and intend to kill him, but it was the life of Mercutio that was gone. The consequent effect of Tybalt’s aggression was immense but Romeo slew the life out of Tybalt. The scene is a major turning point in the play because the consequences that were created caused Juliet and Romeo’s despair of not being together after their secret marriage. It also generated huge desperation and an even stronger bond between Romeo and Juliet. This had made Juliet turn her determination to be with Romeo to Friar Lawrence. Friar’s plan did not succeed. The play ended with both the death of Romeo and Juliet. Act 3 Scene 1 is a major turning point because it had converted a normal and peaceful life into a tragic and sorrowful ending.

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