Act 1 Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet

Categories: Romeo And Juliet

Analyse the different types of dramatic action in Act 1 Scene 5 of 'Romeo and Juliet,' and show how this scene links with other parts of the play. What contribution does this scene make to the play as a whole

In this essay I will be analysing the different types of dramatic action used in Act 1 Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, and seeing how it links to the play as a whole. Before Act 1 Scene 5, the play starts off with the street brawl between people of the Montague and Capulet households, and we are told about the conflict between the two families.

We afterwards find out that Romeo is in love with Rosaline, but had been rejected. Romeo and Benvolio are then invited to the masquerade feast by the Capulet's uneducated servant as they are assumed to not be Montagues, and Benvolio convinces Romeo to go in order to get over Rosaline and see other women of Verona, although Romeo is still infatuated with Rosaline, and goes since she will also be there.

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Juliet at this point has been planned to marry Paris in the future, and that is a main reason for her being at the feast. On their way to the feast, Romeo predicts that by going to the feast it will result in untimely death (which it later does). This leads up to Act 1 Scene 5.

The themes of this play include tragedy, disorder, fate, nature, time, hate, age, hope and doomed love. Of these themes, the ones seen most in this scene are doomed love, hate, age and fate.

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As a whole, this play is very tragic; however it has comedic moments which can be seen in this scene through characters like the Nurse. This scene is very important in the structure of the play, and all of this will be explained later in this essay.

Shakespeare uses language as a form of dramatic action to create atmosphere at the beginning of Act 1 Scene 5 in a variety of ways. This scene, which essentially builds up to make the Capulet's party where Romeo first properly meets Juliet, has different sections to it. The beginning of this scene is the setting up of the party - it is frenzied and rushed, and the servants who are helping are hectic. Their language reflects this; it is constructed of colloquial phrases which relate back to their lower class background and short, non-poetic sentences which show their need to rush around. The language used, for example, "Where's Potpan, that he helps not to take away? He shift a trencher? He scrape a trencher!" helps to emphasize the atmosphere that Shakespeare is trying to create at this point of the scene. The use of a common, peasant name such as 'Potpan' greatly contrasts with the noble names of the Capulets, and the short, snappy commands paired with different types of punctuation show the quick pace. His use of language which is different from the rest of the language generally seen in Romeo and Juliet make the beginning of this scene have a different atmosphere from the rest of the scene - whereas the rest of this scene is filled with the upper classes, this is filled with the peasants and gives an insight into the pace of their lives. Read why change is constant and inevitable

Although the atmosphere of the scene in the beginning is rushed, this later changes as we get to lines 43-52 of the scene. This is where Romeo is speaking about Juliet - the mood in this section is very calm and romantic, and almost dream-like. He has just seen Juliet, and begins speaking about her to the servant or to himself. In his monologue Romeo uses a range of literary techniques to give more depth to the intent of his words. He uses imagery, poetic rhyming and metaphors in order to express his views. For example, imagery used in this monologue includes references to the ideas of light and dark - "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night" - with the dark/night imagery relating back to the secret nature of their love, and the light imagery showing how he sees Juliet as divine and shining brighter than a natural force like the sun. As well as this, the sun is a star, and stars are associated with the term 'star-crossed,' which means ill-fated; this gives a hint of the tragedy to come.

He then continues on with a simile ("Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear; Beauty too rich for use, for Earth too dear!"), which shows how much Romeo thinks that Juliet stands out from the rest of the crowd at this party. This is later followed by him saying: "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." This is the point where Romeo realises his earlier love for Rosaline was artificial in comparison to his genuine feelings for Juliet. To further back this up, the language techniques and words he uses in this monologue are far more poetic and complex compared to his flat and juvenile descriptions of Rosaline in earlier scenes. As well as this, his grammar and language contrast with that used by the servants as earlier described, which demonstrates the class change.

However, the mood and pace of the scene changes once again merely one line later. Tybalt's speaking from about lines 53-95 of the scene brings up the ever-present conflict of the rival families of Capulet and Montague. It displays the conflict not only across the family, but across the generations. He is speaking to Capulet, his uncle, about the uninvited Montagues at the party. He believes that they have come to mock and sneer at their celebration, and later cause trouble. This is shown in lines 54-56; "What dares the slave come hither, cover'd with an antic face, to fleer and scorn at our solemnity?" He is extremely passionate about the family feud and reputation of the Montagues, leading him to say, "Now, by the stock and honour of my kin, to strike him dead, I hold it not a sin." This shows that because of his preconceived notions on Romeo being at the party, he is prepared to kill him. If he were to kill a Montague, he wouldn't see it as a sin as he believes he would be doing it to defend his family's name and honour. This intense loathing for the Montagues coupled by his willingness to go to drastic measures for his family name creates a very powerful and verbally violent atmosphere.

Tybalt's language is drastically different from Romeo's, perhaps because the topics they are speaking about - Romeo talking about love and admiration, and Tybalt talking about disgust and hatred - are polar opposites of one another. In this section, Tybalt alternates from speaking with rhyme, to speaking without rhyme, which reflects the volatile mood. Despite this, he consistently uses eloquent language which reflects both his wealthy upbringing and the passion which the topic of the rival family brings into him. He often uses very authoritative verbs. For example, in reply to his uncle he says, "'Tis he, that villain Romeo," and, "I'll not endure him." Both of these show very stern views, and a certainty that he thinks Romeo is a villain based on his name, despite the fact that Verona boasts of Romeo as being gentle. Capulet backs up this point when saying, "Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone; he bears him like a portly gentleman; and, to say truth, Verona brags of him to be a virtuous and well-govern'd youth." Despite Capulet's efforts to calm down Tybalt, Tybalt continues to reply to Capulet in a rude manner. This causes Capulet to see Tybalt's disrespectful nature as, especially in the 16th century, it was considered extremely rude to go against or question those older than you.

Lord Capulet's dialogue with Tybalt displays the social customs of the time. Despite the fact that Tybalt replies disrespectfully to Capulet, in the end he is forced to accept his word as final. This is a reflection on the patriarchal society - men were viewed as the rulers, and also expected to be commanding. Capulet has the control of the family as demonstrated from the dialogue - he was angry at Tybalt for potentially creating a fight in public, something which he did not want as he didn't want to be humiliated at his event. Capulet's commanding language, ("You are a princox; go: be quiet, or - more light, more light! For shame! I'll make you quiet") shows his position of power again by using certain phrases such as "I'll make you", "You are" and "Be quiet." This quote also shows how Tybalt distracted him from being the host, but he is able to deal with both matters at once.

Lord Capulet's ruling presence is first seen at the beginning of the scene. It is here, when he enters with Capulet and the others of his house to meet the guests, that we are shown his importance through his lengthy monologue. This section of the scene, although still displaying his position as top of the family, has a very different atmosphere from his dialogue with Tybalt. This scene has a very cheerful, joking and sociable atmosphere, which contrasts to the tense and powerful atmosphere he provides later. Capulet's teasing and humorous manner is shown in his monologue various times, for example, "Which of you all will now deny to dance? She that makes dainty, she, I'll swear, hath corns; am I come near ye now?" This shows that he is determined for his guests to dance and have fun, joking that the ladies must have corns on their feet if they refuse to dance. Capulet also reminisces about his youth; "For you and I are past our dancing days," "I have seen the day that I have worn a visor and could tell a whispering tale in a fair lady's ear, such as would please: 'tis gone, 'tis gone, 'tis gone."

This shows his age and that he must be at least middle-aged by now. There is also a sense of nostalgia, shown by the repetition of "'Tis gone." This is played on again when he talks about the passing of time. Capulet mentions the unexpected fun of the party, saying to another Capulet, "How long is't now since yourself and I were in a mask?" To this, the second Capulet replies, "By'r lady, thirty years." Lord Capulet seems astounded by this, continuing on, "What, man! 'Tis not so much, 'tis not so much: 'tis since the nuptials of Lucentio, come Pentecost as quickly as it will." The second Capulet tells him that the son of Lucentio is now thirty, to which Capulet remarks, "His son was but a ward two years ago." This shows that Capulet is seemingly unaware of the time flying by, and also shows the theme of youth versus age.

After Tybalt and Lord Capulet's dialogue, the dramatic pace of the scene changes once again. In this section of the scene, Romeo sees Juliet for the second time, but speaks to her for the first time. The atmosphere changes from aggressive to romantic and captivating. This is achieved primarily by the sonnet form taken for 14 lines and the rhyming and imagery used within it. A sonnet is a form of poetry that Shakespeare is well known for using; it is usually about love, consists of 14 lines, and follows the rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. The sonnet is shared by both Romeo and Juliet at the same time, and this signifies their deep bond. Shakespeare probably chose to use this form of poetry in a play as it is very effective; it is about love, and so relates to the romantic mood, and also has a lot of rhyming which, when spoken aloud, gives a very graceful and enchanting sound. This would affect the audience as the sound it gives would emphasize the atmosphere and emotions of the characters.

The sonnet contains a lot of religious imagery. For example, Romeo speaks to her, "This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this: my lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss." Juliet, in reply, says, "Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devotion shows in this; for saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch, and palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss." The religious imagery shows the spiritual nature of their love, and the purity toward it. This is because spirituality often goes hand in hand with religion, and religion gives connotations of devotion and purity, similar to Romeo and Juliet's love. As well as this, religious imagery is used to contrast, most notably in the contrast of saints and sinners. The use of these two words ("O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do," "Then have my lips the sin that they took,") shows the paradox of the imagery and emphasizes the moral dilemma that Romeo and Juliet face. This dilemma is their constant battle of deciding between loyalty to their family and loyalty to love. The contrasting language also helps to show the deepness of their love. Romeo likens himself to a pilgrim seeking forgiveness for his 'sin' from a saint. As he views Juliet as a 'saint,' he believes that by kissing her his sin will be purged ("Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged,") which then leads to their first kiss.

This section of the scene also contains dramatic irony, where the audience knows more about the situation than the characters in the play currently do. We are already aware that, despite their love and pure flirting, it will inevitably end in tragedy due to the star-crossed nature of their love, something that they are unaware of at the time as they do not know that they are from opposing families when they first meet. Romeo, when he is in the presence of Juliet, becomes effeminate due to the intensity of his feelings for her. This contrasts with the patriarchal society and masculine code of violence, and ultimately if he had not 'softened' when around Juliet and not fallen in love with her he could have avoided his destiny. The use of dramatic irony makes the audience more sympathetic toward their situation of not knowing their fate, and also makes the dialogue have more impact as we know that this is a genuine love.

Romeo and Juliet kiss a second time, and after this the Nurse comes into the room telling Juliet that her mother is calling her. It is then that Romeo asks the Nurse who Juliet's mother is, to which she answers, "Her mother is the lady of the house." This indicates that her mother is Lady Capulet, and therefore Juliet is a Capulet herself. Having previously been unaware of this, Romeo is full of shock and realises that this puts him in danger for loving a Capulet ("Is she a Capulet? O dear account! My life is my foe's debt.") The Nurse, revealing this to Romeo in a relatively casual tone, changes the atmosphere from intensely romantic to full of shock, dread and confusion for what he should do. After this, Romeo leaves with Benvolio as the party is now over. Lord Capulet indicates this with a light-hearted speech, reflecting his sociable mood ("I thank you all, I thank you, honest gentlemen; good night.") Lord Capulet's speech indicates the time of the day (that the party is over, meaning that it must be reasonably late), which is a reminder that the play was written and performed in Shakespearean times when all plays were performed during the day time and needed indication of time changes.

Once everyone is leaving, in an attempt to find out who Romeo is, Juliet discreetly asks the Nurse by first asking who other men are before asking to find out Romeo's name. Juliet states, "Go ask his name: if he be married. My grave is like to be my wedding bed." This statement shows that Juliet would rather die than marry anyone other than him. This is a form of foreshadowing, as later in the play, she does end up taking her life to avoid being without Romeo. Whilst the Nurse is finding out Romeo's name, dramatic irony is used again. This is because although Juliet has yet to find out that Romeo is a Montague, her enemy, the audience is already aware of whom he is, and this enables us to predict the ominous events to follow and sympathise with the dramatic revelation that Juliet will hear.

Once the Nurse tells Juliet that he is a Montague - her being unaware of Juliet's love for him at the moment - the atmosphere becomes similar to how it was when Romeo found out about Juliet being a Capulet. Juliet is filled with shock and dismay: "My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me, that I must love a loathed enemy." Juliet calls love a monster for making her fall in love with a family enemy before she knew of his name; it is very dramatic and very effectively displays her reaction to the fatality their love might lead to.

The Nurse's language, although nowhere near as eloquent as Romeo and Juliet's, is better-spoken than the servants at the beginning of the scene. Her light tone and oblivious approach to Romeo and Juliet discovering that one another are of enemy families provides a bittersweet comic relief. It does this in the way that she makes light of the unknown impending doom for the lovers. She believes that she is being helpful in providing information for them, when in reality, she has just made them realise their awful fate.

The themes which appear most clearly in this scene are the themes of love versus hate, youth versus age, light versus dark, star-crossed lovers and doomed love. Star-crossed lovers and doomed love are, predictably, the most prominent, as this is what the play is based around. Romeo and Juliet have only just met in this scene, and before they can let preconceptions based on their family names deter them, they have found themselves in love. The forbidden nature of their love means that it is unavoidably doomed. This links back to the theme of love versus hate. There is the love that Romeo and Juliet have which is constantly challenged by the hatred shared between their families. It is an ever-present theme in the play; the idea of loving someone who you are expected to hate.

Youth versus age is present in the play in different forms. The first is that of a conflict not only between two families, but one that has spread throughout the generations of the families. The older generations that started the feuds have now come to be calm about their hatred without causing a scene, whereas the younger generation (for example, Tybalt) have decided to be openly aggressive and violent about their hatred for the other family. This shows the youths' juvenile attitude toward the situation. This aggressiveness within the young generation is a catalyst for many of the fights in the play, and generally puts more pressure on the relationship between Romeo and Juliet. The second is that of the older generation, such as Lord Capulet, being unaware of the amount of time passing and the idea of time flying by. Lastly, there is the tradition of older members of the community having more say in a matter and being more important, something which is evident in the play and a reflection on the time period it is set in.

Shakespeare uses imagery of light and dark in Romeo and Juliet, especially in this scene. For example, it is used mainly when Romeo is describing Juliet for the first time. I think that the most powerful example of this in the scene is: "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night."

Shakespeare often uses light and darkness as they are two very contrasting things, and he often distorts the connotations they hold. Generally, people think of light as being positive, and darkness as being negative. However, in Romeo and Juliet, it is the opposite. Darkness reflects their secret love and the time of the day that it is safe for them to meet, whereas light relates back to the sun and stars, and in turn, their love being star-crossed and ill-fated.

This scene links to the previous events of the play in a variety of ways, and also sets it up for the drama to come. The most powerful way, I believe, that it links to previous events in the play is by the sonnet between Romeo and Juliet. The prologue to the play is also in sonnet form, and that sonnet tells us about Romeo and Juliet's future death. The contrast between the meeting of the two lovers and the death of them, both being linked by sharing the same distinctive style of poetry, shows the fate that interlinks the two inevitable events.

Romeo's monologue about Juliet the first time he sees her links to his previous love for Rosaline. This is because he gives vibrant, animated descriptions of Juliet, whereas for Rosaline he was whiney and child-like. This scene shows Romeo forgetting about Rosaline and maturing in terms of love, and realising the danger that true love can provide. As well as this, Tybalt's anger and identification of Romeo at the Capulet event links to the street brawl at the beginning of the play; it shows that feuds between the Capulets and Montagues are not one time events, but rather an ongoing event. We had already known this, but the repetition of hatred for the opposing family further backs it up.

The scene helps build up to the rest of the play. It gives the audience a sense of the danger that will happen through the anger Tybalt feels merely seeing Romeo, let alone knowing that he is pursuing a relationship with a Capulet, and also by the shocked and terrified reactions of Romeo and Juliet finding out that their love is forbidden. This builds up the emotions of the audience, and also creates anticipation and tension as the audience are now eager to find out what will happen to these two lovers. It also gives us hints that Romeo and Juliet will not give up their relationship through Juliet's lines near the end of the scene saying that she would rather die than not marry Romeo.

By the end of this scene, the audience is left with a variety of emotions. They feel sympathy and trepidation for Romeo and Juliet due to them discovering their love is fatal, and the audience already knowing that it will end in their deaths. They feel irritation and anger at Tybalt for his infantile views on Romeo based purely on prejudice, and a sense of warmth for Lord Capulet who, despite him being partially responsible for starting the conflict, is portrayed as a friendly, sociable character who half-heartedly attempts to calm down the younger generation.

A variety of dramatic techniques were used to connect to the audience and make the scene more effective. The most prominent is the use of harshly contrasting moods and atmospheres. The change in atmosphere is erratic; it quickly changes from a fast pace, to being relaxed and sociable, to slow and romantic, to angry and violent, back to enchanting and loving and finally to shock and anxiety. The different paces and moods used are very noticeable, and would be even more noticeable when performed on stage. Shakespeare makes this technique work well by constantly changing the type of language used - by varying language from colloquial, eloquent, short, poetic, angry and happy. He also often uses different literary techniques, such as metaphors, similes, imagery, symbolism and motifs. The changing pace and action keeps the audience compelled and interested in the story, and the different language and powerful verbs and adjectives used make the audience empathise with the different characters.

Overall, I really enjoyed this scene. I find that it really highlights Shakespeare's ability to interact with the audience and tell a truly gripping tale through excellent timing and emotive language. I think that it is very important in the development of Romeo and Juliet, as the circumstances under which Romeo and Juliet met - in a place Romeo shouldn't have been in the first place - and the simultaneous events which occur affect the overall events and mood of the play. I think that including a sonnet in the scene helped to build the atmosphere and it is a format that the heavy religious imagery worked very well in. The use of symbolism in the scene meant that it had a profound effect on the audience. I think that this was a very fascinating scene.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Act 1 Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet essay
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