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Romeo & Juliet: Language Use

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 8 (1790 words)
Categories: Book Review, Books And Reading, Language, Linguistics, Literature, Shakespeare, Shakespeare Tragedies
Downloads: 34
Views: 2

Introduction

Romeo & Juliet is set in Verona – Italy. Presumably in Elizabethan times (late 1500’s early 1600’s) at the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance period. The prologue informs the audience of the ‘star crossed’ lovers fate which sets the scene for a tragedy. Leading up to Act 3 Scene 5 (which is the halfway point) many events occur such as the Capulets and Montagues being told by the Prince that if they continue their feuding their lives would be taken to keep the peace, Romeo & Juliet are married in secret by Father Lawrence, Mercutio is murdered by Tybalt thus making Romeo avenge his death by slaying Tybalt, Romeo was then banished to Mantua by the Prince, this is where Act 3 Scene 5 begins.

Language is one of the key points of any play

Language is one of the key points of any Shakespeare play but in Romeo and Juliet it not only adds to setting the scene and makes the many speeches poetic and romantic, but it contributes to the dramatic effectiveness of the entire play.

Shakespeare is famous for his poetic verses which are referred to as iambic pentameter which is the way which he phrases his verses. There are drastic changes between poetic verse to blunt monosyllables this contrast makes this scene more dramatic and effective “Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops, I must be gone and live or stay and die.” Is a prime example of this.

At the opening of this scene the mood is very much portraying a love filled atmosphere filled with hope, this quickly degenerates as they have to say goodbye this makes the audience feel great sympathy for the couple, the way Shakespeare lets them have time together and then cruelly rips them away from each other adds to the drama and effectiveness of this scene.

Shakespeare utilises imagery to its full potential in this scene especially when Juliet and Romeo are at the balcony and Juliet says “Methinks I see thee now, thou art so low, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb” the audience already know of their fate but this increases the suspense and adds to the drama. The way Shakespeare has written this play makes the imagery a main focal point and allows the audience to fully imagine the picture that he is painting with his fancy words, this would make the stagecraft less vital and would only need the bare minimum to make the play look believable as if it was actually in Verona.

The certain poetic quality of language

Language is something that nowadays we seem to take for granted but in Shakespeare’s day everything said in the play was carefully measured and had a certain poetic quality to it even in everyday speech, it wasn’t direct and to the point the way we talk now, but it is rather beautiful and I’m certain the audience would have enjoyed this specific quality. Personification is a technique Shakespeare uses – “Night’s candles are burnt out” he’s referring to the night time as if it is alive and is a person this contributes to the effectiveness of Romeo’s speech.

Shakespeare makes the scene more dramatic and effective by using double meanings when Juliet and her mother are conversing in her bed chamber “Juliet: Would none but I might venge my cousin’s death. Lady Capulet: We Will have vengeance for it, fear thou not.” Lady Capulet doesn’t even notice that Juliet is not in face grieving for Tybalt but grieving for her loss of Romeo, she even almost openly admits that she loves Romeo but her mother interprets it completely differently.

Metaphors add to the effectiveness of this scene the best example being Capulet referring to Juliet as a downspout, and then a ship a sea and the wind “Thou counterfeit’st a bark, a sea, a wing: For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea, Do ebb and flow with tears, the bark thy body is, sailing in this salt flood, the winds thy sighs, who raging with thy tears and they with them, without a sudden calm will overset thy tempest-tossed body.” The way Shakespeare portrays Capulet as perhaps trying to cheer Juliet up, he doesn’t appear to know how to calm his daughter down, or he could just be very unfeeling, ultimately I think Capulet just wants his daughter to be happy, safe and well provided for but I think Shakespeare made this open to interpretation so the audience could decide about Capulet’s character this adds to the dramatic and effectiveness of the play.

A bit of a revolution in Shakespeare’s play

Shakespeare’s play was a bit of a revolution for its era because it was set in Elizabethan times women’s position in society was very much that they were dominated and ruled by the men they didn’t work and were considered to be fit only for house work and if they were poor looking after their children. In those days only ladies from noble families would have been educated, but they wouldn’t have been allowed to go to university, marriage was the only sort of future a woman had and Shakespeare seems to challenge people’s view points of women’s place in society by giving Juliet the freedom to make her own choices such as her decision to marry Romeo this paved the way for open thinking and a re-evaluation of women. Shakespeare’s views made the play very dramatic and effective instead of having the usual subservient women he created a new ‘breed’ of woman – Juliet. Although her decisions ended in her death it did end in a truce between the Montague and Capulet families.

The characters – the way they are portrayed is crucial to the dramatic and effectiveness of this scene and it lies heavily on their dialogue and what they are like. Capulet acts superior, caring and polite, but when Juliet disobeys him he shows a completely different side of him and he gets very angry and resorts to near physical abuse, this would get a lot of people thinking about the way people are treated and whether they deserve the freedom to make their own choices. Lady Capulet seems to be a model example of a proper Elizabethan woman she acted posh, and is very subservient to her husband because even though we had a female on the throne it was a very patriarchal society and woman were seen as second best. Romeo comes across as being brave, romantic, and unafraid of death, he appears to care greatly for Juliet he seems to come across as a very open character who wears his heart on his sleeve “Romeo: Farewell I will omit no opportunity that may convey my greetings love to thee.” He never seems to hold back his feelings and acts on them impulsively I think Shakespeare set him to be like this so he could be almost a role model to people who hesitated about making decisions and didn’t act on their feelings.

Juliet is probably the character who everyone favours she is the one who grows the most in maturity at the beginning of the play she comes across as the perfect model daughter that any father would be happy to have, she is incredibly obedient but as the play progresses she develops a strong will and is less inclined to do as she is told the way Shakespeare has developed Juliet makes the play more dramatic and effective.

The Globe theatre

In Shakespeare’s day plays would be performed in the Globe theatre in a big ’round’ the stage would have all the props such as a makeshift balcony and lighting such as candles would have been used to represent night/day. The scenery wouldn’t have stood out very much so a lot of the drama and effectiveness lies in the actors’ ability to play their characters well and Shakespeare’s language. The scene where I think the most effort would have been made would be this where we have the most famous scene the ‘balcony’ scene it represents Romeo and Juliet’s relationship it’s where they first properly meet, and also where they have to say goodbye “Juliet: Then window let day in, and let life out.” The way Shakespeare has set up this scene would make it really stick in the audiences mind.

Romeo and Juliet really challenges the way people in Elizabethan times thought not only their opinions of women but such questions like ‘Is it selfish to follow your own desires?’ Shakespeare seemed to sympathise with the couple but some of the audience might have thought that their fate was exactly what they deserved for going against everything they had been taught. Another question people would wonder about would be is suicide justifiable? The audience might have thought that Juliet was within her right to do something so drastic but part of the dramatic effect of this play is it challenges your opinions and beliefs.

Conclusion

I think that this scene is one of the most Important ones out of the entire play it is a turning point for Juliet because she is thinking for herself and openly refusing her fathers wishes for her to marry Paris, her love for Romeo changed her. All together I think the techniques that makes this scene dramatic and effective lies with the language Shakespeare wields, and the way he portrays the characters especially Juliet.

As a piece of theatre I think it would be full of suspense and very beautiful to watch the stagecraft would be much better with elaborate scenery and costumes and better lighting than Shakespeare could have used back in his day, the thing that would be lost on us though is the woman’s position in society as we don’t have much of a problem anymore we would be thinking ‘why on earth didn’t she just run away with Romeo instead of killing herself’ but that is part of what makes Romeo & Juliet dramatic and effective because in Elizabethan times it would have challenged their beliefs and nowadays it still manages to do that, and I must admit I was not very intrigued by his use of language it just seemed like a lot of waffle to me but now I have read and studied the play in particular this scene it has definitely started to grow on me so overall I think that Act 3 Scene 5 is full of dramatic effects, it shows lots of different perspectives and poses a lot of questions, as a piece of theatre I think lots of people would be very interested in seeing it myself included.

 

Cite this essay

Romeo & Juliet: Language Use. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/romeo-juliet-language-use-essay

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