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Romeo and Juliet was written by William Shakespeare in 1595. It could easily be said to be his most famous play. Romeo and Juliet is the story of two ‘star crossed lovers’ who are cruelly separated by their parents, who are of rival families. The Montague’s and the Capulet’s. It is set in Verona in Italy.
Ridicule is a key feature used to show the characters feelings towards one another. ‘Tybalt you rat-catcher, will you walk?’ This shows the emotion of hate.
It shows that Mercutio dislikes Tybalt; it is ridicule of his title, King of Cats. This is backed up by the use of ‘…Nothing but one of your nine lives’. Mercutio is one key character who uses this technique to portray his feelings, he also ridicules Tybalt’s fencing skills, ‘…Come sir, your passado’. This shows that Mercutio believes Tybalt’s fencing moves are predictable and unimaginative. Mercutio also uses a word used by Tybalt, with intent of ridiculing him and making him appear foolish, against him.
‘Consort! What, dost thou make us minstrels?’ and also with the inclusion of ‘…Here’s my fiddlestick’ as a reference to his sword. As this has a musical connotations it is using Tybalt’s ridicule against him. Ridicule is also used to show the differences in social class during this time. Tybalt refers to Romeo as ‘…my man’ this is also a derogatory term because the use of ‘my’ at this time was seen as incredibly rude.
The line as a whole implies that Romeo is his servant, this is later justified by the use of ”…I’ll be hanged sir if he wear your livery’.
This is drawing attention to the belief Tybalt has that Romeo is of a lower social status than himself. He then makes this belief even more prominent by the inclusion of ‘-thou art a villain’. At this time this word had a different meaning than it has now, it meant that he believed Romeo to be worth as little as a peasant.-This is then shown in a different context when Mercutio is stabbed and he refers to his page as a ‘villain’, which shows that the page is of a lower social standing than himself- Whereas, nowadays it means someone who is inherently evil or who has committed a crime, this therefore is important as it may come across differently to audiences nowadays than it would then. Romeo is also referred to as ‘Boy’ which shows that Tybalt has no respect for him.
Strong visual imagery is used throughout this scene, especially visual imagery with emphasis on musical instruments and terminology. ‘…Look to hear nothing but discords.’ Also the inclusion of ‘…Here’s my fiddlestick’ as a reference to Mercutio’s sword shows strong visual imagery with a musical theme. Effective visual imagery is also evident in the following quote: ”…Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door.’ This image directly relates to religion, with emphasis on death and shows that Mercutio truly believes that the wound is not fatal and that he will not die as a result of it. The fact that he uses a church door as a comparison for the size of his wound is significant as it could show that his death is imminent -a church is where you go for a funeral- this is then backed up by the inclusion of ‘…You shall find me a grave man’. Another example of visual imagery used by Mercutio is this scene is ‘A plague o’ both your houses! They have made worms’ meat of me: I have it, and soundly too: your houses!
Firstly this shows anger towards Tybalt and Romeo as he blames them for the fatal wound he has sustained.’ The use of the word ‘plague’ as a reference for something unpleasant also has religious connotations and this adds further evidence to the theory that Mercutio knows that he is going to die. I believe that this line shows that he has realised that his death is inevitable and due to the amount of blood he is losing the sentence is very confused and not in any discernible order. His thoughts seem to be in disarray. In my opinion this line could also be a warning to the audience about the end of the play, culminating in the tragic suicide of Romeo and Juliet. The significance of Mercutio saying ‘both your houses’ is that the tragedy he wishes on Romeo and Tybalt will affect both of the rival families, which the death of Romeo and Juliet does. This itself has religious connotations as the original concept of plague ended with the death of the first born children. Neither Romeo nor Juliet have any siblings which are mentioned in the play, this satisfies the criteria for the final stage of a plague.
The way that language is used also contributes greatly to the way in which the emotions of love and hate are portrayed in Romeo and Juliet. Characters speak in either prose, or rhyming verse and this can emphasise the importance of what the character is saying. It can also indirectly show the character’s attitude towards the character they are addressing. Prose is used in the scene to give a more serious tone to the speaker, this is used primarily after Mercutio’s death which is significant as Mercutio is the main character to use rhyming verse during the scene and provides a stark contrast between before and after he dies. ‘Away to heaven, respective lenity, and fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!’ This shows that the scene is suddenly a lot more serious as Romeo has been holding back his emotions until this point even though Tybalt has been provoking him, when Tybalt kills Mercutio his rage culminates until he can no longer hold back even though he does not want to upset Juliet by engaging his ‘kinsman’ in combat.
That Romeo immediately spouts a rhyming couplet after hearing of Mercutio’s death could show that his thoughts, feelings and emotions are in a state of disarray as this is almost contradictory to the belief we have that the rhymes used by Shakespeare are synonymous with a light-hearted tone and certainly not with serious incidents such as this one. Mercutio also uses prose when the fatal wound is inflicted on him. ‘…A braggart… a villain, that fights by the book of arithmetic!’ this shows a serious change of tone as Mercutio has until this point been portrayed as a comical, relaxed character who seems unphased by the tribulations faced by the other characters. ‘I will not budge for no mans pleasure, I’.
This scene shows the first major tragedy which occurs in the play, until this point nothing serious has happened, it also sheds light on the severity of the rivalry present between the two rival families as it shows that the divide is so great that the rival parties are willing to shed blood. It is the turning point of the play, as the light-hearted joviality of the scenes before is over and the whole play is soon to take on a much more sombre tone.
In the Zepherelli version of the play, a lot of actors are on stage during this scene and in my opinion this contributes to how the emotions of the characters come across as it therefore becomes more difficult to focus on any one character, instead forcing the viewer to notice the group as a whole. It makes the scene look a lot more confused and cluttered, giving it a chaotic feel. However it could be said that this lends itself to the film as it could make the audience feel more involved as it provokes emotions, the scene has a gang mentality and this makes the audience want to contribute to the scene they are viewing as humans are naturally curious and a large group of people will automatically seduce the emotions and curiosity of the audience. The chaotic feel also makes it more difficult to hear what each character is saying as it does not focus on a character at a time, therefore this contributes to how difficult it is for the audience to understand what is happening in the scene. This however, also has a beneficial effect on the scene, as it allows us to view the body language of all the characters in relation to one another. For example, the reaction which Mercutio has when Romeo refuses to be cajoled into fighting when Tybalt starts to provoke him.
Whereas in the Baz Luhrmann version of the film, the camera pans in on one or two characters at a time-usually when the character in question is about to start on their dialogue- this gives the scene a more personal feel as it firstly ensures that the viewer understands what is happening. It also shows who is speaking and who the dialogue is intended for as well as showing clearly the emotions felt by each character as the camera will focus solely on their facial expression. This method of filming also ensures that the character’s body language can clearly be viewed and interpreted and this contributes to the way that the emotions of love and hate come across in this scene and in the play as a whole.
The emotions of love and hate are also prominent in other scenes, a key one being act two scene 2. The famous balcony scene. This scene is heavy in visual imagery and this certainly contributes to the way the emotions of the characters come across. ‘What’s Montague?… nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man’. This shows that Juliet believes that if Romeo were anything other than a Montague by name, he would still he the same as he is now. This represents the feelings of frustration Juliet harbours for her and Romeo’s predicament. It makes the audience think about tangible objects, which is a comparison to the figurative, conceptual subject of the name Montague.
I believe that this indirect comparison is effective as it portrays Juliet’s frustration and also her desire for Romeo. It also targets the emotions of the audience as it effectively vies for their sympathies that something which is essentially a concept and therefore could be viewed as not being important, is preventing Juliet from being with whom she loves. This is also justified by ‘that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.’ In this section of dialogue, a rose is used as a metaphor for Romeo, which communicates to the audience how Juliet sees him, as something precious and beautiful. This appeals to the senses of the audience as well as the emotions and implores you to empathise with Juliet’s apparent infatuation.
Both love and hate are mentioned in Act one Scene 1, wherein Romeo remarks ‘Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love’. Both emotions are strong ones, he believes that hate cannot be without the feeling of love. That although they are polar opposites they have much in common and one can easily turn to the other in certain circumstances. This gives the audience an insight into Romeo’s feelings about the feud between the two rival families and also how he believes it must have started., this is significant as little is given to the audience by way of an explanation as to why the feud began, this gives a vital clue. It shows that Romeo’s belief is that it started because of the emotion of love, which turned to hate when something which is not elaborated on, occurred. It seems as if he feels he can relate to these feelings as he believes he is experiencing love first hand himself, that which is unreciprocated, which could also offer insight in to the reason for the feud. ‘In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.’
In conclusion, the emotions of love and hate are effectively portrayed in Romeo and Juliet using a combination of stagecraft, language and visual imagery, centered primarily around the use of metaphors to provoke the emotions of the audience.
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