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Romeo and Juliet Act 3 Scene 1

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How does Shakespeare make Act 3 Scene 1 such a dramatic scene? William Shakespeare makes Act 3 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet crucially dramatic to emphasize its importance to the play as a whole. The use of tense dialogue, provoking language and aggressive action creates dramatic tension and conflict which engages and interests the audience to the scene. These techniques highlight the scene’s significance as the main turning point of events from a romance to a tragedy. The scene opens up into an extremely tense and irritable atmosphere which foreshadows conflict and hostility. Benvolio introduces the tense mood by saying ‘The day is hot,’ which presents connotations of anger and frustration, creating drama which interests and engages the audience. Benvolio then says, ‘the Capels are abroad, And if we meet, we shall not ‘scape a brawl,’ foreshadowing conflict and drama, immediately catching the audience’s attention. Despite Benvolio’s request to withdraw from the public areas, Mercutio refuses and attempts to provoke Benvolio into aggression, by listing the reasons that Benvolio would quarrel.

Mercutio lists ‘Why thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more or a hair less, in his beard than thou hast,’ showing Mercutio’s rebellious and hot-headed nature. Mercutio then explains Benvolio would quarrel by saying ‘Thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of meat’ demonstrating dramatic irony and creating humour because of Benvolio’s role in the play as the peacekeeper. The irony is Mercutio’s conversation with Benvolio highlights the tension and aggression in the character at this point of the play which indicates the feuds and tragedies that will occur later in the scene. The tension and aggression that is introduced at the beginning of the scene gradually develops as the scene continues. Tybalt enters the scene looking for Romeo to seek revenge on his presence at the Capulet Ball. Mercutio then begins to provoke Tybalt into a fight through the use of insults and ridicule.

When Tybalt says Mercutio ’consort’st’ with Romeo, Mercutio answers, ‘Consort? What dost thou make us minstrels?’’ in an attempt to aggravate Tybalt by ridiculing his choice of words. Tybalt then discovers Romeo and tries provocation to engage him in a conflict. He calls Romeo a ‘villain’ which was an extreme insult for a noble man during the Elizabethan Era. Despite Tybalt’s attempts, Romeo remains calm and tries to soften Tybalt’s fury by telling him ‘Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee, Doth much excuse the appertaining rage.’ These lines create unease and dramatic irony as the love Romeo feels strongly for Tybalt contrasts with the deep antipathy Tybalt holds for Romeo. As a result tensions and emotions build as their conflict flares. Tybalt again insults Romeo by calling him ‘boy’ an offending term during the Elizabethan Era and says, ‘this shall not excuse the injuries’ creating drama as the audience realizes how deep Tybalt’s hatred is. Tybalt orders Romeo to fight but Romeo refuses saying ‘I do protest I never injured thee’ adding to the drama as Tybalt’s hate and thirst for conflict clashes with Romeo’s love and yearn for peace.

Mercutio is furious at Romeo for denying a fight and provokes Tybalt to generate conflict by saying ‘Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk?’ mocking Tybalt’s name by referring to a cat in a story with the same name. Tensions and aggressions finally explode as Tybalt agress to Mercutio’s request, engaging the audience in anticipation and excitement. The duel between Mercutio and Tybalt creates dramatic tension and suspense that engages the audience in interest and provides an essential turning point in the play. Romeo tries to discourage Mercutio and Tybalt by telling them ‘Gentlemen for shame! Forbear this outrage. Tybalt, Mercutio! The Prince expressly hath Forbidden brandying in Verona Streets,’ in an effort to systain peace. The stage directions then state, ‘Tybalt under Romeo’s arm thrusts Mercutio in and flies’ creating suspense and shock as the audience anticipates the future events.

While Mercutio dies, he yells at Romeo, blaming him for his death. Mercutio repeats his famous line, ‘A plague o’ both your houses!’ numerous times. This would have caused fright and shock among the audience as the plague was greatly feared during the Elizabethan Era. Mercutio’s curse on the Capulets and Montagues, foreshadows tragedy and misery, leaving the audience in shock and anticipation of future events. Mercutio tells Romeo, ‘Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm,’ transferring blame of his death to Romeo. The impact of Mercutio’s harsh words on Romeo provides an intense transformation of his character. Romeo says ‘And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now,’ providing a dramatic contrast from his passionate and romantic personality in earlier scenes to an aggressive and furious individual full of hatred. Tybalt arrives and challenges him for a fight by taunting him and saying ‘Shalt with him hence’ meaning Romeo will join Mercutio in death.

Romeo answers ‘This shall determine that,’ accepting Tybalt’s request and building tension and suspense as the two duel. Tybalt is eventually slain by Romeo, providing shock and anticipation among the audience, as Romeo realizes his murder of a Capulet. Romeo says ‘Oh, I am fortune’s fool!’ garnering sympathy from the audience as Romeo associates with his helpless destiny, a major theme throughout the play. To the advice of Benvolio, Romeo flees to escape penalty. After the murder of Tybalt, the citizens, Montagues, Capulets and the Prince arrive to the scene. Lady Capulet is shocked and distressed upon seeing Tybalt’s corpse. She wails, ‘Tybalt, my cousin! O my brother’s child! O Prince! O cousin! Husband! … O cousin, cousin!’ The emphasis on exclamation marks, disjointed sentences and repetition of ‘O’ and ‘cousin’ in Lady Capulet’s dialogue highlights her bewilderment and intense sorrow. This adds to the strong tension of the scene as it displays Tybalt not as the apathetic villain full of hatred but a human who was loved, adding to the anticipation of the audience. However Montague pleads to the Prince for mercy. He begs, ‘Not Romeo, Prince, he was Mercutio’s friend.

His fault concludes what the law should end, The life of Tybalt.’ Montague’s desperation to save his son creates tension and a sense of helplessness which garners sympathy. Lady Capulet says, ‘Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live.’ Providing drama and suspense as the audience anticipates Romeo’s fate. The Prince finalizes the actions taken and orders, ‘And for that offence, Immediately we do exile him hence…Else when he’s found that hour is his last.’ The Prince’s decision of the banishment of Romeo supplies even more anticipation. Romeo’s exile influences the latter half of the play greatly as it places his and Romeo’s relationship is jeopardy. The impact of the Prince’s decision foreshadows the tragedy at the end and engages and interests the audience to the play. The dramatic impact of the scene is intensely enhanced to engage and interest the audience to mark its significance in the play as the major turning point in ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ This is done mainly through the placement of the scene after Act 2 Scene 6 which is the marriage scene.

The positions of the scenes provide sharp contrast, highlighting the continuous conflict between love and hate in the play. The romantic and passionate mood of the marriage scene contrasts strongly with the tense, aggressive and suspenseful mood of the fight scene. These distinctions enable the enhancement of suspense which interests the audience and makes the scene more significant and essential. Act 3 Scene 1 is essentially dramatic and thrilling to the audience as it is one of the most important scenes of the play. The attitudes towards love, hate, family, honour and revenge are questioned during this scene and provides the audience with detailed information about the play’s social context. The use of tension and suspense engages the audience, marking its significance as the play’s turning point from a romance to a tragedy. It’s key events set many important events to course from friction in Romeo and Juliet’s relationship to their eventual deaths. Using a wide range of textual devices, William Shakespeare has created a vital and dramatic mood that emphasizes the scene’s significance to the play.

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