Act 3, scene 5 represents the very mood and feel of Shakespeare’s play in its totality, it is almost the very turning point expected by the audience as tragedy is foretold by the prologue. After this scene, the plot unfolds in a downward spiral of heartache, death and suffering. With Romeo’s departure from Verona, goes any strand of hope that the two lovers lives would end happily.
After spending the night together, Romeo was to leave the very city in which his love, Juliet lives and the play is based.
He had been banished for the vengeful though regretful murder of Tybalt, and the audience is constantly aware that he was to leave soon during the beginning of the scene, they are kept in anticipation of the real outcome for a few moments when Romeo and Juliet quarrel over him leaving. To ensure that the audience knows what feelings are building up within Juliet she is shown to have been in denial of the reality of their situation, as the morning draws closer she says “Yon light is not daylight I know it, I.
It is some meteor that the sun exhaled” meaning that she won’t accept that the light it that of the morning and that the time when Romeo must leave is drawing eve closer. Also, the forthcoming hardship is foreshadowed to when in the morning, Romeo says “More light and light, more dark out woes” this is interesting and consistent imagery used throughout the play, representing things which are good and pure with light and dark with things whish are evil or depressing.
The quote shows how Romeo is relating the build up of light outside with the angst he feels within him.
As Romeo is beginning to come to terms with the fact that he would most certainly have to leave soon, they are interrupted with the nurse entering Juliet’s chamber, and, all be it an abrupt entry, the nurse’s actions were most helpful to the two lovers. The nurse warned Juliet that her mother was coming, this gave time, although very little for Romeo to escape and for her to bid him farewell, this time limit created anticipation and tension for the audience. Because any given audience knows this story will be tragic, It is implied by their very separation that the two will not meet again, although not assured. For all an Elizabethan audience knows at this point, they may meet again or they may not.
This was a very effective device for creating tension. Also, to add to the drama we are made aware of the emotions that the characters are feeling, simply by them expressing their feelings through words. Juliet describes her anguish “I have an ill-divining soul” meaning that she has a bad feeling, a sinking if you will which penetrates to her very being or “soul”. A most dramatic description in my opinion, but with Romeo’s re assurance “Trust me love, in my eye so do you.” comes a countering effect, making the audience unsure of what will happen. This maintains tension without diminishing the drama. After Lady Capulet arrives, she and Juliet talk of the murder of her late cousin; all the time she is showing sympathy for the killer, the killer being of course, Romeo.
Once Juliet and her mother have finished talking, her father, Capulet and the nurse enter her chamber. Capulet has brought news, and to an audience he may appear quite pleased with himself with the news he brings. He is suggesting that Juliet, who is very much in love with Romeo, was to marry Paris. This of course was at the very will of Capulet alone, and not that of Juliet. Capulet and Lady Capulet had clearly discussed this arrangement prior to this time and reading Juliet like a book, Lady Capulet takes pity on her and tells her husband that Juliet is thankful but declines the offer of marriage to Paris. This was before Capulet had raised the subject, and, before consulting Juliet, accuses her wife of being soft, his exact words being “Soft, take me with you, take me with you wife.” an almost sarcastic criticism which sparks an argument between the father, mother and daughter.
As Capulet becomes forceful and insulting towards the two of them, to the point where a polite plead is responded to with “Hang thee young baggage, disobedient wretch!” Meaning that he thinks Juliet should stop her insolence towards him, while the audience knows that little insult has been exhibited at all, this makes the father seem like an evil, manipulative character. Also, this very conflict is another perfect device for creating tension as although not physically violent, it feels as though it could become so at any time, not to mention the seriousness of the issues with her marrying once more. And as an Elizabethan audience would know, the father figure had the power to force this marriage upon her.
Once Capulet exits, Juliet turns to the nurse in desperation seeking support pleading “O sweet mother cast me not away. Delay this marriage for a month, a week.” However, the nurse is none so supportive at first, replying with “Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word.” But after much pleading from Juliet she agrees to help. The nurse takes pity and comforts Juliet, agreeing to be he messenger to her parents that she has declined their offer of marriage once and for all, but at the end of the scene leaves Juliet alone in her room. Given that an audience would have been witness to what had just transpired in the scene, this could be seen as almost neglectful. By the very end of the scene, Juliet is contemplating suicide should she never see Romeo again, saying “If all else fail, myself have power to die.” Abandonment of hope like this reminds the audience of what the prologue has told them, that there will be no happy ending, while at the same time not assuring that this is how the story will end.
Shakespeare being such a talented writer used some masterful imagery to enhance the drama of the scene and such well planned storytelling made sure that the audience was kept in suspense throughout. While all viewers knew the story was to be of tragic ends, no one could tell where of when this end would come, this was the key to maintaining the observer’s interest in the plot. The scene is important no only because it contains some of the most story altering events but also because it is the most emotional, with the separation of the lovers and the conflict between father and daughter, this scene important because it excites the audience while disappointing them simultaneously.
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