Romeo and Juliet Coursework In Act 3 Scene 1 of Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare raises the excitement and the tension throughout the scene by using dramatic tension between the characters, provocative and threatening dialogue, strong language effects, and sharp vital violence. The scene begins with Benvolio and Mercutio coming on to stage, with Benvolio suggesting they should go home in case they meet the Capulets and the violence ensues. “The day is hot, the Capels are abroad, And if we meet we shall not scape a brawl, for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring. This pathetic fallacy and strong image of mad blood creates an expectation in the audience of violent events to come. This expectation seems to be met fulfilled quickly as Tybalt enters with other members of the Capulet family and some servants and immediately a dramatic tension is established between the two factions. We are shown that Mercutio is in a difficult frame of mind. “ ‘By my head here comes the Capulets’ ‘By my heel, I care not. ’ ” Clearly Mercutio is in an aggressive mood. Tybalt addresses Mercutio and Benvolio. ‘Gentlemen, good den, a word with one of you’ ” Up to this point, Tybalt is courteous – his quarrel is with Romeo, not with Benvolio or Mercutio. However Mercutio is extremely provocatice and he responds to Tybalt, asking a word with one of them with, “Make it a word and a blow. ” The audience feels there is a fight in prospect. When Tybalt says that Mercutio consorts with Romeo, Mercutio sees an insult where there is none. “Consort? what, dost thou make us minstrels? an thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords: here’s my fiddlestick; here’s that shall make you dance. Zounds, consort! ” A gentleman cannot accept being compared to a lowly musician, but this is not what Tybalt meant and the audience feel expectation of fear and violence. Now Romeo enters, and now the focus of the tension shifts as a dramatic tension is established between Romeo and Tybalt. Tybalt says to Mercutio: “Well, peace be with you sir, here comes my man. ” It is strange that Tybalt is prepared to swallow such provocation from Mercutio, just as Romeo will soon swallow his.
Tybalt puts Romeo in a situation in which almost no gentleman could refuse to fight. “Thou art a villain. ” he says but Romeo does not respond with aggression. Now a new element of intrigue and excitement comes with a kind of dramatic irony. The audience knows why Romeo does not want to fight Tybalt –they have just become relatives- but the other characters do not know. Romeo seems quite unmanly when instead of fighting Tybalt for his honour he swallows the insult, saying “I do protest I never injuried thee, But loved thee better than thou canst devise. Again the audience knows, can “devise”, the reason, but Mercutio sees it as cowardice. Now the excitement moves up a notch as Mercutio starts the violence and we are to have the sword fight the audience has been expecting. Mercutio condemns Romeo’s peaceful ways. “O calm, dishonourable, vile submission! Alla stoccata carries it away. (Draws) Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk? ” The ‘vile submission’ shows what a humiliation Mercutio believes Romeo is accepting; the insult ‘rat catcher’ makes it almost certain Tybalt will have to fight.
Now the sword play begins, and the audience not only have the excitement and great dramatic action of two fighters trying to kill each other but also the sight of Romeo trying to stop the fight for the reasons only he and the audience know. With a tragic irony it is Romeo’s efforts to separate the two men that give Tybalt the chance to stab Mercutio, a friend of Romeo’s on the Montague’s side. Now the audience has put in suspense wondering whether Mercutio is going to die or not. Romeo raises their hopes that he may live. (“Courage man, the hurt cannot be much. ); but Mercutio seems to know that he is a dead man. “A plague o’ both your houses! They have made worms’ meat of me: I have it, And soundly too: your houses! ” The dramatic and terrifying image of worm’s meat makes Mercutio’s last words very powerful; and his cursing of the Capulets and the Montagues shows that he blames their useless feud for his death. The scene now takes another turn as Romeo puts aside all thought of peace, and becomes warlike. Benvolio tells him that Mercutio is dead, and Romeo decides on revenge in spite of his marriage to Juliet. This day’s black fate on more days doth depend; This but begins the woe, others must end” The audience is put on more suspense with this foreboding of more strife and death. Tybalt returns, perhaps to continue his quarrel with Romeo but strangely this time, alone and Romeo resolves on violence. “Away to heaven, respective lenity, And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now! ” With the passion of this language and the dramatic tension once again onstage between Romeo and Tybalt, the scene approaches its climax.
Tybalt declares that he will send Romeo’s soul after Mercutio’s. “Thou, wretched boy, that didst consort him here, Shalt with him hence. ” The audience understand that either Tybalt or Romeo must die. Now we have the second sword fight in this scene and this is the climax. As Romeo kills Tybalt he takes his revenge for Mercutio’s death, he gets rid of his main enemy in the Capulet camp, and he puts his relationship with the love of his life in grave danger – this is the peak of the excitement and tension.
Now Shakespeare lets the audience relax a little as Benvolio explains what has happened and the Prince orders Romeo exile but not death. From foreboding at the very beginning of the scene to mortal insults and provocation, to sword fighting and death, to the audience’s realization that something terribly wrong has happened to Romeo and Juliet’s romance Shakespeare uses a wide range of dramatic and language devices to make the scene one of the exciting and enormous tension.
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