How Does Shakespeare make this scene Interesting and Tense for the Audience?

Act 1 scene 5 is one of the most important scenes in this play. Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet for the first time and fall in love instantly this happens during the big Capulet feast, even though earlier that day the Montague and Capulet servants had a big fight in Verona. Shakespeare uses a variety of different techniques to create tension for the audience.

At the beginning of act 1 scene 5 the servants are preparing for the Capulet party. The mood of this is mainly happy but there is a lot of hustle and bustle, this is shown by all of the last minute preparations and the servants rushing around to get everything ready for the party.

The servants are also getting ready for their own party

“Good thou, save me a piece of marchpane; and, as thou loves me, let the porter let in Susan Grindstone and Nell.”

The servants don’t speak in verse because they are not big important characters and would have been considered as common.

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Lord Capulet is in an extremely good mood and is jesting with the guests as they arrive at the party.

“Welcome Gentlemen! Ladies that have their toes unplagued with corns will walk a bout with you.”

The scene starts with a good mood this is also quite tense for the audience because in act 1 scene 4 Romeo tells all of his friends especially Mercutio that he had a dream that something terrible was going to happen, something deadly, as a result of the fray that happened that day this is echoed later on in act 1 scene 5 when Romeo is leaving the party.

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This would be as a result of the anger that Tybalt has against Romeo for being at the party this is also because Juliet is set to marry Paris and but she met Romeo first*. This is while Romeo and the other Montagues and friends are on their way to gatecrash the party The Montagues are going to the party because of two things the first one been that they were invited by the Capulet servant in act 1 scene 2 and secondly because Benvolio is trying to show Romeo that Rosaline isn’t the only women in the world. Romeo is besotted with Rosaline but she has vowed to live a life of chastity and Romeo is love sick because of this. This is one way that Shakespeare has created tension but has also made it very interesting for the audience.

Romeo is in love with Rosaline until Romeo and the other Montagues arrive at the party and Romeo first lays eyes on Juliet. This is very interesting because the audience know that Romeo is a Montague and Juliet is a Capulet this is a form of dramatic irony because the audience know something that the characters don’t. There is a release of built up tension when Romeo arrives at the party and the audience see how warm Capulet is to him and the ease of Romeos entry to the feast.

When Romeo enters the room he is captivated by the sight of a beautiful girl not known to him. The many images of light used by him when he first sees her tells the audience how her beauty lights up the room:

“O she doth teach the torches to burn bright!

It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night

As a rich jewel in an Ethiops’ ear –

Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!

For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”

In these lines there are many similes for example the simile of light when he speaks about the torches and the jewel upon an Ethiops ear, this works because an ‘Ethiop’ is actually an African person and some but not all Africans are black and Romeo uses this to symbolize light by talking about a bright jewel against a dark colour. Romeo also says that he had never seen true beauty till this night but in act 1 scene 1 all he could talk about was Rosaline.

While speaking those lines he also says;

“So shows the snowy dove trooping with crows”

That is an echo of what Benvolio said to Romeo in Act 1 Scene 2. It is an echo because Benvolio is trying to prove to Romeo that Rosaline isn’t his true love even if he thinks that he is betrothed with her it is not true. Benvolio manages to do so but with dark consequences.

“And I will make thee think thy swan a crow”

Tybalt over hears the speech and recognizes it as the voice of a Montague.

“This by his voice should be a Montague.”

This makes this part of act 1 scene 5 tense this creates intrigue among the audience into what Tybalt will do to Romeo. The contrast from Romeo’s quite romantic speech to Tybalt’s anger is an example of one method that Shakespeare uses to keep the audience interested and could be compared to a modern ‘Soap Opera’ this is because modern ‘Soap Operas’ have a similar ebb and flow technique, one moment it is calm and tranquil then from one extreme to another straight to anger and hatred. This is known as a cliff-hanger because you’ll want to know what happens next but the focus of the scene will be changed just before you find out.

Tybalt goes on to report to his uncle that a Montague is present at the party and is surprised and I am sure that the audience are too when Lord Capulet knows that it is Romeo,

“Young Romeo is it?”

Tybalt wishes to attack Romeo but Capulet refuses’ to allow Tybalt to attack young Romeo due to what happened earlier that day. The fight in act 1 scene 1 when Prince Escales made his decree. Capulet has no grudge against Romeo attending his party, Capulet is also mindful of what the prince said. It is my opinion that he would rather have Romeo attend the party, even if he is the son his enemy, than to start another battle.

“Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone,

‘A bears him like a portly gentleman;

And to say truth, Verona brags of him

To be a virtuous and well-governed youth.”

This teaches us about Capulet’s nature and that he is only really at war with Lord Montague and is not bothered about his son. This shows Capulet has a temper which is shown again later in the play when Capulet announces to Juliet that she is to wed Paris. This could also have been stopped because he is trying to convince Paris that he wants to marry into the family but if a fight took place then Paris would think that the families are always getting at each other.

This also shows how nasty Tybalt is as it is shown in his speech.

This is another twist to the scene; Romeo is meant to be a good peaceful person and is not at the party to disrupt things. Tybalt decides that he does not want Romeo to be at the party but Capulet puts his foot down and tells him to leave Romeo alone.

This part of act 1 scene 5 Tybalt speaks in soliloquy and makes his threat,

“Patience perforce with willful choler meeting

Makes my flesh tremble their different greeting:

I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall,

Now seeming sweet, convert to bitt’rest gall”

This is a dark turn to the play as Tybalt decided that until he gets the chance to attack his hatred for Romeo will get stronger.

This makes the audience interested in the play and creates tension because the audience wants to see what Tybalt will do to Romeo.

In the time that Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet the audience would have had many different people in it so Shakespeare would have had to make the play appealing to all also a similarity with a modern ‘soap opera’ as these have many different audiences and want to please them all. This one reason why the play has an ebb and flow pattern.

The Capulet feast is an annual event but is extra special this year. Capulet has set up this party so that Juliet can meet her suitor Paris. Paris is betrothed to Juliet with an arranged marriage and he wishes to marry Juliet straight away but Capulet wouldn’t allow him it was the hope of the party for Juliet to fall in love and then eventually they would get married but this doesn’t happen, another twist to the play.

When Romeo and Juliet first meet they do a bit of role play. Romeo pretends that he is a Pilgrim and Juliet is a Saint because Romeo is making a sign of respect by saying that she is a saint. Romeo and Juliet’s conversation is written in the form of a sonnet. A sonnet is a fourteen line poem used mainly for love poems.

“My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”

“Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,

For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,

And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.”

“Have not saints lips, and holy palmers’ too?”

“Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.”

“O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do!”

“Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.”

“Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.”

In this small conversation Romeo and Juliet are taking on the role of pilgrim and saint and by doing so play a little game until they finally kiss. The lines above are just the important lines from the conversation to show the fact that Romeo and Juliet are in love from the start but they play a game at the end of the conversation there is a stage direction which states that Romeo kisses Juliet.

This creates a feeling of tension in the audience as neither Romeo nor Juliet realizes that they are the only children of their only enemy. This has great problems as Juliet is in a situation were she has an arranged marriage her mother spoke to her about Paris before the party but didn’t tell her that it was a sure thing that they got married.

Towards the end of this scene Juliet finds out that Romeo is of the house of Montague and she says

“My only love, sprung from my only hate!”

Juliet speaks to the nurse when the guests are leaving and asks her to go find out Romeos’ name.

“Go ask his name.-If he be married,

My grave is like to be my wedding bed.”

This is Juliet saying that she will only marry Romeo and no one else those words also describe similarly what Romeo said at the end of act 1 scene 4 because he had a premonition and it was of deadly consequences and Juliet has just said what he meant. *The other part of the premonition is when Juliet finds that Romeo is a Montague and what she says

“Prodigious birth of love it is to me

That I must love a loathed enemy.”

The audience would get intrigued at this point as they know that Juliet was meant to fall in love with Paris on this night not the only son of her enemy. When Romeo found out that Juliet is a Capulet Romeo doesn’t quite understand straight away

“Is she a Capulet?

O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt.”

By this Romeo means that his life is in her hands which is similar to what Juliet said after him.

The audience gets quite a few hints about the future in this scene. The main hint of the future is probably Tybalt and what he is going to do to Romeo and possibly what will happen about Juliet and Paris or Romeo and Juliet. This is a classic technique known as leaving a cliff hanger. Your favourite ‘Soap Opera’s’ probably use the same technique today. The audience possibly get hints about the future but if you don’t listen carefully and watch the play all of the time the hints wouldn’t be picked up because Shakespeare puts them in subtly and manages to do so very well.

Shakespeare creates the right amount of tension to keep the audience interested which was a good technique in the time that it was written because if the play wasn’t very good it would be booed off and possibly rotten fruit was thrown at the actors. This technique has being picked up by the writers and creators of ‘Soap Opera’s’ this is where the phrase sitting on the edge of your seat came from because you really want to know what will happen with one character but it will cut to the next character. Shakespeare uses more than one technique to keep the audience interested with the play but this is probably used more than the others.

In conclusion act 1 scene 5 is an extremely important scene. Shakespeare’s use of techniques can only be compared to a modern ‘soap opera’. This scene also has many hints about the future embedded into it. The use of language used by Romeo and Juliet shows that it isn’t just a one night stand but shows how serious they are about each other. The techniques used in this scene are numerous and doesn’t even cover the amount of techniques that Shakespeare uses throughout the plat or indeed any of the many plays that he wrote. This scene is all about the future because as we see Romeo meets Juliet and Juliet meets Paris. Tybalt gets angry and adds another part to the future of the play and by reading the first act of this play you can almost use it as a jigsaw to piece together the rest of the play.

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How Does Shakespeare make this scene Interesting and Tense for the Audience?. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

How Does Shakespeare make this scene Interesting and Tense for the Audience?

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