In this essay I will explain and show how Shakespeare makes the audience feel increasingly sympathetic towards Juliet in Act 3, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet. This play is one of the most well known love stories in history. Shakespeare’s uses of dramatic devices cleverly create twists and tension throughout the entire play. Towards this climax Shakespeare uses the following events that build up to the scene. These are traditional/historical aspects of marriage and family loyalty; cross purposes (Romeos exit) dramatic irony and use of language. Before this scene there are several things that make us feel sympathetic. Juliet is 13 and is in the midst of all the action. She is helpless and Is unable to cope with it. This puts her under a lot of pressure. This makes us feel more sympathy as she has no comfort from her mother or farther Her relationship with her mother is very formal, she does this by addressing her mother “mistress” or lady.
This shows her relationship with her mother is unlike a normal relationship, but more like a respectful relationships, this makes us feel sympathetic towards her as she cannot explain or tell her things. Juliet’s relationship with her nurse is more like a mother daughter relationship. Another reason to feel sympathetic towards Juliet is that her cousin Tybalt has been killed by her husband Romeo. This is a blow to Juliet as she slept with Romeo. I feel that this is a big factor to the build up towards act 3 scene 5. The traditional and historical aspects of this marriage and family loyalty also play a large role in the build up towards the climax. Juliet must abide by her parents rules in order to say in the house. This brings us onto the marriage, normally in this era in time, rich families arrange there children’s marriage so they can have more land and wealth.
Juliet breaks this rule and marries Romeo. This makes us feel sympathetic as she has to hide the fact she has feelings towards Romeo. Just before this scene Romeo leaves for Verona; this makes us feel even more sympathetic towards her as she has lost her husband and has no idea of the day of his return. Shakespeare makes us feel sympathetic in this scene by making Juliet use ambiguous language like “Madam, I am not well.” This has two meanings – she’s either physically ill or love-sick (she’s missing Romeo). This makes us sympathetic towards her as being ill is generally not a pleasant thing to experience.
Shakespeare makes us feel increasingly sympathetic in this scene as Lady Capulet says “Evermore weeping for your cousin’s death?” This shows us Juliet is misunderstood by her family – this plays a part in making us feel sorry for her along with the fact that she has just lost her cousin brutally.
In Act 3 Scene 5, we feel sorry for Juliet as she says “…Till I behold him -dead- is my poor heart.” The word ‘poor’ makes the readers obliged to feel sorry for her as it makes us feel she is suffering. This phrase is ambiguous – it can mean she will never be satisfied until her holds the killer of her cousin dead, or will never be satisfied because her ‘poor’ heart is dead. We feel sympathetic as she is being continually misunderstood – she does not want to hold the killer of her cousin dead, but her poor heart is dead because she misses Romeo.
When Lady Capulet breaks the news of Juliet’s marriage to Paris, and Juliet rejects this, her mother passes her onto her father – like a burden or a ‘baggage’. We feel sympathy as she is not receiving love from her parents like we’d expect. We feel that she is neglected, unwanted and unloved.
When Capulet is fuming over Juliet’s refusal to marry the ‘young and noble’ Paris, he calls her a tallow face and other words meaning pale and tells her that if she does not go to church on Thursday morning to marry Paris, he will drag her to church, similar to how a criminal would be dragged through the streets for doing a crime. He also calls her a ‘green-sickness’, a ‘tallow-face’ and ‘baggage’. This makes us very sympathetic towards her as we don’t expect a father to drag his own daughter through the streets like a prisoner, and to call her spiteful names.
Near to the end, the Nurse changes her mind and advises Juliet to marry Paris; “I think it best you married…O, he’s a lovely gentleman!” Juliet feels betrayed and feels like the Nurse is a traitor. This action from the Nurse makes Juliet feel very alone. We sympathise with her as we feel sorry for her being all alone, we want to do something but we are powerless. Overall I feel that this scene gives most impact and makes us make sympathetic towards Juliet’s most in the entire play due to its twists, it is also the epicenter of the play as it gives most effects. The scene was shocking enough with Juliet being attacked by her father but when her nurse turned on her, this was the turning point in the entire play.
Courtney from Study Moose
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