Explore how effective Shakespeare's use of contrast is in Act 1 Scene 5

Categories: William Shakespeare

Act 1 Scene 5 is a particularly dramatic one. This is because it is the scene where the whole of Romeo and Juliet starts. It is the scene where Romeo and Juliet first see each other.

Most of the parts in this scene come over a range of different moods. This scene begins with a busy and a worried mood. Then the Capulet and his cousin have a bit of reminiscing talk, which is a jovial and coarse. Then very soon after that there is a brief moment when Romeo lays his sight first time on Juliet and is impressed and talks about Juliet's beauty.

After this Tybalt gets in a very angry and a frustrated mood as he over heard what Romeo was talking about. This is where Capulet and Tybalt have a little about letting Romeo be there and not spoil the party. After that, in strong contrast Romeo and Juliet actually talk to each other the first time ever. And then finally the nurse introduces each other.

Get quality help now
Writer Lyla
Writer Lyla
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Explore

star star star star 5 (876)

“ Have been using her for a while and please believe when I tell you, she never fail. Thanks Writer Lyla you are indeed awesome ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The changing moods of this scene are strongly in contrast with each other. As usual Shakespeare has used his language very cleverly and made different moods and also made is tricky. There are many examples for this. For example, in the opening of the scene the servants are in a rush to complete all the decorations. They are also annoyed by the fact that by doing all this they are not going to get any of the fun in the party. The language used in this part of the scene by Shakespeare is tense and worried.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

'Cheerly, boys be, brisk a while, and longer liver take all.' This sentence shows the tension and the worry in the servants. The language is also about the daily day things. The servants are talking about how do put the dishes and things like that. The phrase, 'He shift the trencher? He scrape the trencher?' shows that they are talking about their daily day things. The effect this has on the audience is that there is lot of work to do and the servants are not ready yet.

Right after that the mood changes completely. Capulet starts the party and invites all the guests in a very genial and welcoming way. The language in this part of the scene is jovial and also a bit coarse. Firstly he shouts to all the girls to dance and enjoy the party. 'Ladies that have their toes unplagued with corns will walk a bout with you.' this sentence proves that the Capulet was talking in a coarse way to the ladies in the party. Just after that he has a bit of reminiscing with his cousin. This little part is very genial and encouraging. The phrase, 'Will you tell me that? His son was but a ward two years ago.' Particularly stands out as am example. It's genial, it's jovial and it is also enthusiastic. This gives an impression to the audience that the Capulet's character is jovial.

But right after the jovial bit, the mood changes like the air changes its directions. After that part, there is the brief and the first time Romeo sets his eyes on Juliet and says a little bit, impressing her beauty. This part starts with Romeo asking a serving man about who Juliet was. Then he gets lost into his own thoughts about Juliet's beauty. This little bit particularly catches my eye. This little part is very poetic, which Shakespeare was an expert at. But the main thing is that the language in this part in romantic, passionate and also full of rich imagery. The lines in this part that caught my eye were, 'The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand, and touching hers, make blessed my rude hand. Did my heart love till now?

Forswear I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.' These lines have the every bit of the moods in this whole part. These lines are romantic as Romeo is very impressed with Juliet's beauty. It is also passionate as Romeo feels to be with Juliet. The lines, 'O she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night as a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear' clearly explain why this part is very full of rich imagery. This gives us an image like a rich jewel hanging upon an Ethiopian or a black person's ear, which is again a very brilliant use of imagery by Shakespeare. The impression on audience by this part will be that Juliet's beauty is unmatched and that Romeo is very romantic.

The next part of this scene is again, completely in contrast with the last one. Here, Tybalt overhears Romeo talking about Juliet and comes to know that Romeo is his enemy. So Tybalt goes to the Capulet to talk about this and has an argument. This is where the moods changes from romantic Romeo to angry and frustrated Tybalt full of hatred. This clearly stands out because of the use of the words like foe, villain, choler, bitt'rest gall, etc. The uses of these words give us an idea that the language here is full of aggression and confrontation. This gives an impression to the audience that Tybalt is desperate to kill Romeo. The audience see the jovial side of Capulet earlier and now they see the opposite side of him, which is very important so that they can realise what Capulet is capable of, as later in the scene he just destroys his relationship with Juliet when she refuses to marry Paris.

It was a complete shock when the scene goes straight from this to the part when Romeo and Juliet first time see each other and use the language completely in contrast with then one between Capulet and Tybalt. They use the language of love. The language is also very passionate and in this perfect place Shakespeare places a beautiful sonnet which proves it that this part of the scene is the most loving and the happiest part of all. This part is also my favourite because Shakespeare has brilliantly put in the romantic language with religious language, which gives it a bit of more romance. There are lines like, `O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do: They pray, grant though, lest faith turn to despair', which give an excellent example of religious imagery. Next is the use of the good and holy words which are again in strong contrast with the words used by Tybalt. Here there are words like, 'holy shrine', 'gentle', 'pilgrim', 'pray', etc. which add more of the romance to it as it already has. All this gives the audience an idea that their love is very true and religious.

The last part of this scene, where Romeo and Juliet are introduced to each other as enemies by the nurse, is in strong contrast with the previous part because, in the previous part they were all in a loving and romantic mood while after the introduction, the mood changes straight to curiosity. After this entire romantic mood going straight to a curious mood gives the audience an idea and the feeling that this is going to be terrible.

The last use of the contrast that is the uses of the opposite words gives an extra understanding of the whole thing. Some examples for this are, 'love-hate', 'early-late', 'unknown-known'. The most important part is that these oppositions are used in one sentence. This gives an extra bit of the contrast. Altogether, this help the audience understand the scene properly and also it adds a bit of poetry.

I particularly enjoyed this scene because this scene has got the most use of contrast in the whole play. But the most important thing is that this is the scene where they whole play starts as this scene is where Romeo and Juliet meet each other.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
Cite this page

Explore how effective Shakespeare's use of contrast is in Act 1 Scene 5. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/explore-effective-shakespeares-use-contrast-act-1-scene-5-new-essay

Explore how effective Shakespeare's use of contrast is in Act 1 Scene 5 essay
Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment