Creating Sympathy for Juliet in Act Scene - Shakespeare's Technique?

Categories: William Shakespeare
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We have been studying Romeo and Juliet in school this term, which I have enjoyed but I have found it the most challenging out of all the coursework we have done before.

Romeo and Juliet is a story of two star crossed lovers, they are young and madly in love. Call it love or infatuation, whichever the case, Romeo and Juliet are destined to be together. They meet fall in love, and you would think they live happily ever after. However, there families are arch enemies, they will not make this easy on Romeo and Juliet’s new found attraction to each other.

Juliet’s parents have their heart set on her marrying Paris, a wealthy man. Juliet loves Romeo though, and she knows the only way for her to be happy, is to be with him. So, her and Romeo marry in secret, things have a serious turn of events after this, things only get worse by the minute for Juliet, she goes from having everything, to left alone and with no choice but death, in a course of three days.

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What seemed like perfect love, turned into complete and utter disaster. Romeo and Juliet deal with a lot of different themes through out the course of the play, obviously the main one would be love. Love is the main theme to this play, however there is a lot of hate and anger as well.

It has a very passionate theme to it as well. No matter what is going on in this script, it is being done with great passion.

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The love scenes are passionate like no one has ever loved before; they have the love between them that everybody wants. The hatred is also written with great passion in this script as well. They fight with their heart of their sleeves, and will not give up, even if the consequences they face is death. The main theme in this play though, is not just love, but forbidden love. There is nothing worse than forbidden love, imagine loving somebody that you know you can never be with in peace. There are other examples of forbidden love that have been used in stories and play scripts, for example, Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’. He uses forbidden love in this script as well. This is shown when Hermia and Lysanda fall in love, but her father does not approve of the situation, he wants her to marry Demtreious, but she does not love him. Her father is not willing to give them his permission to be together. This is a milder case of forbidden love, which does not end in the same tragic death.

The key scene in Romeo and Juliet is act three scene five, in this scene Juliet goes from having the love of her life sleeping beside her, to being left with not even a friend to help her. Read examples of lack of communication in Romeo and Juliet

Right before this scene starts Romeo has just killed Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, because of a fight that happened between Mecusio and Tybalt, which ended in Mecusio’s death. Romeo seeks out for revenge and set out to kill Tybalt, shortly after realising he had just killed his wife’s cousin. He then goes back to Juliet where they commence their marriage by making love. Act three scene five brings us to the morning after these events, where the two lovers wake up next to each other.

It takes us to the bedroom where Romeo and Juliet are asleep next to each other. They have just made love, and our now officially married. Romeo wakes up and must leave early morning as he is banished from Verona. Juliet does not want him to leave so she tries to tell him it is still night ‘ it was a nightingale, and not the lark…believe me love it was the nightingale’ Romeo does not want to leave either but he response with ‘ it was the lark, the herald of the morn, no nightingale’. This is showing a contrast between light and day, night and day, and life and death. Shakespeare is using metaphors here, they do not really hear a lark, Juliet is saying that it is not the lark, to tell Romeo that it is still nightfall, so he stays longer. This illustrates their love towards one another, and the use of metaphors creates better language, and keeps people more interested in the story. It sounds beautiful, and does show their love towards one another so much nicer. Imagine Juliet just waking up saying’ Nah, Romeo come back to bed love, its still dark’, it would not have the same effect on the audience or the characters.

This morning scene between them is showing us how Juliet starts the scene off, so happy and in love, everything going perfectly, she is caught up too much in her emotions, that she is not thinking about the consequences of her actions. Juliet then starts to think, and events start to hit her, the fact that Romeo is banished and if he is found he will be executed. Whilst Romeo is leaving Juliet turns to Romeo and says ‘ O think’st thou we shall ever meet again?’ This gives her a sense of foreboding. Shakespeare makes Romeo’s character very optimistic and he responses ‘ I doubt it not, and all these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our time to come.’ He assures Juliet that they will see each other again, even though every body in Verona is out to get him. Juliet still feels worried, showing that she is a much more sensible character than Romeo is, and she thinks realistically. She starts to have premonition of the next time she sees Romeo he will be dead ‘ as one dead in the bottom of a tomb, either my eyesight fails, or thou look’st pale’. She knows something bad is going to happen, she is a smart girl, she knows that their actions do have consequences, she turns to Romeo for re assurance though. He does leave optimistic, and tells us her what she wants to believe, that everything will be okay, and they will be back in each others arms, more in love than ever. ‘ Trust me love, in my eyes so do you: dry sorrow drinks our blood’.

I think that Shakespeare started the scene with the two main characters, to set the scene, and it helped with the audience getting a strong sense of sympathy towards Juliet. If the scene had started off with Juliet mopping around, love sick, could not be un-happier, then the whole scene would have had a completely different effect on the audience. The fact that she was so happy, is the reason why we get a sense of great sympathy towards her, because we just see her so happy, and then her life tumble in front of her. You can not help but feel sympathy, but without the happy love morning scene, this would not have had the same affect on the audience.

There is great confusion through out the rest of this scene when her mother comes in to Juliet’s room. Juliet is in tears as Romeo has left her, her mother jumps straight to the conclusion that she is morning over her cousin’s death. This has a great affect on the scene as what Juliet says through this scene now has double meanings, and the audience knows what she really means by it. Her mother says to her ‘ what, wilt thou wash him from his grave tears?’ she says this as she assumes Juliet is crying over Tybalt’s death. This line also has a metaphor in it; Shakespeare has an incredible way of writing in such beautiful language. What she is meaning here is, telling Juliet to stop crying, and wipe her eyes dry. By using metaphors it just makes the language so much more pleasant to read. Her and her daughter now have a conversation with double meanings throughout it, she just still keeps to the assumption that she is weeping for Tybalt. Lady Capulet thinks that Juliet is upset with Romeo as well, for killing Tybalt, she uses emotive language to make Romeo sound bad. ‘ As that as the villain lives which slaughter’d him’. Juliet starts to have sympathy towards Romeo, as of course she is not really mad with him at all, she loves him with all her heart.

She says to her mother ‘ God pardon him, I do with all my heart’, Lady Capulet goes on to say that he is a traitor and Juliet agrees and pretends to be just as angry as her mother is ‘ from the reach of these hands. Would none but I might venge my cousin’s death.’ This is where things first start to go down hill for Juliet, and we start to get a sense of sympathy towards to poor child. Her mother breaks the news to her daughter that she has people out looking for Romeo, and when they find him, he will be killed. What a great thing to hear from your mother, that she is out trying to kill the man her daughter is in love with, in fact her husband. ‘ I’ll send one to Mantua…… Shall give him such an unaccustom’d dram that he shall soon keep Tybalt company.’ Juliet is quite clever here, and does not break down when she hears this, she pretends to her mother that she will never be satisfied until Romeo is dead. Juliet is saying one thing but meaning the complete opposite throughout this whole scene, she can not risk her family finding out about her and Romeo, they would disown her. I personally did start to feel sympathy towards Juliet when her mother breaks the news about her plans with Romeo. The poor girl, the love of her life is banished from his home, so he can not be with her, is if that is not bad enough, now her mother is trying to murder him!

Now comes strike two. Her mother says to her, you know stop weeping I have news that will cheer you up. It is now she tells Juliet that they have arranged a date for her and Paris’s wedding, its in TWO days! ‘ Shall happily make you his joyful bride’. Juliet is now really clever by what she says she tells her mother she can not marry Paris and uses a double meaning again, by saying if I were to marry anyone on Thursday I would rather marry Romeo, the man who killed my cousin. She does this to show her mother how much she does not want to marry Paris, as her mother thinks Juliet could never possibly marry Romeo. Of course Juliet is using double meaning, as she is already married to Romeo. ‘ I will not marry yet, and when I do, I swear it shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate.’ Shakespeare has used dramatic irony here.I feel great sympathy for her now, after her mother breaks this news to her here. You have to remember Juliet is a religious girl, she is a true catholic. She has morals. She is already married, and it was a great scene to marry twice back then, and there was no such thing as divorce. If anyone were to find out, she would be executed. This shows a historical aspect of the play, the religious points, even though people are still religious today, someone would not be killed for marrying twice. Juliet must be feeling absolutely terrified at this point, no knowing what to do, who to talk to. Also, there is the fact not only can not marry Paris, but she loves Romeo and wants to be with him! I really feel for her in this part, but this is not even the half of it. Shakespeare continues to make us feel increasingly sympathetic towards Juliet.

Juliet did use double meaning throughout the whole scene with her and her mother. These double meanings suggest quite a lot about Juliet and Lady Capulet’s relationship. I think this shows that they are not close at all, Juliet feels she can not be honest with her mother, about how she feels, and what she is doing. Most girls feel comfortable communicating with their mother about issues. Then we have to remember, times were different then, I guess they would not be very close, as the mother would not look after the child, the nurse would. So, Juliet and her mother would not have a close relationship at all. This shows a historical aspect to the play, mothers and their children were generally not very close to them, as they did not have the time to spend with them, and look after them. The nurse would have the full mother duties.

Juliet’s father now comes in, he is incredibly angry that she is disobeying him. We have to remember that back then, the father was the ruler of the house, and he was the boss. He would have been the absolute leader of the household, everyone has to listen and do as he says. Children back then, would not even think twice about disobeying or talking back at their father’s orders. This is why Juliet’s outbreak is such a complete shock to her mother and father, and they warn her that if she does no obey, she will be out on the street. He puts pressure on Juliet, saying if she does not marry, he will disown her, without her fathers love and support she is out on the street. ‘ Get thee to church on Thursday, or never look at me in the face again.’ Another historical aspect of the play, back then if children disobeyed their parents, that was it, out on the streets.

Life is not like that in this day, teenagers rebel as part of every day life. Although, this helps people in this day and age get and even stronger sense of sympathy towards Juliet, as we can not begin to imagine being disowned by our parents. The thought of this happening to some one does make me feel great sympathy towards them. However, this factor would not have had this exact same affect on the audience back then, as it was a normal thing to them. Again argument with her father is another hit on Juliet, and yet again Shakespeare manages to make the sympathy level go up. This poor child has gone from everything to next to nothing. She has know idea how to handle the situation, and it is not like Romeo is there to support her. Shakespeare uses metaphors here ‘my fingers itch’. Capulet is saying that he is going to strike out and hit Juliet at any minute. Again the use of metaphors just makes the language so beautiful and flow more. ‘My fingers itch’ is also an example of imagery used throughout this play, you get an image of him itching his fingers frantically, when really he is striking out at Juliet. Her father gets very angry, and rages out, he is getting violent and is very disappointed in her.

Capulet’s attitude towards Juliet does seem different to that in other scenes, before he was very calm around her, she was his angel, and he was very protective of her. I think he is hurt as well that Juliet is going against his orders, as he feels he is doing it for her benefit, and they spend a lot of time and effort trying to find the perfect man for her, and she is giving them no credit. Juliet begs for more time to her mother, we would expect Lady Capulet to understand, but instead she says she can not get out of it, and she will be marrying Paris. Juliet is left completely hopeless, she has no one to support her now, her family have turned against her, and she has no where to go. The last hope she has left is her close friend, her nurse. However, the last thing that really punctured a hole in Juliet’s heart, the nurse her dear friend, tells her to forget about Romeo ‘ I think you are happy in the second match’. Juliet is completely gob smacked, she can not believe her dear friend is not on her side, the last hope she had. The nurse is more like Juliet’s mother, as then the nurse would nurture and look after the children. Juliet and the nurse would have had a very tight bond, and been very close, the fact that she turned against Juliet would have broken her heart. The nurse acted very different in this scene, than previous, as before she had been helping Juliet and Romeo marry.

Now suddenly she has turned against the idea. I think she may be advising Juliet to marry Paris, because Capulet strike out on her, when she tried defending Juliet. The nurse is probably worried about loosing her job, and also being left with no where to go, or someone to turn to. Juliet feels the only thing left to do is die, she can not go on like this. Her family have disowned her, then man she loves is no where to be seen, and she can not get in contact, or her mother will murder him. Then the tiny bit of hope she had, of getting help, and her beloved friend turns against her, and leaves her abandoned with nothing to do but wait to die. Shakespeare has done an incredible job at starting us off with Juliet happy and in love, life can not get better. Then it turns into a chain reaction and shock after shock Juliet gets struck down. She goes from having all she could possibly want at the start of the scene, to nothing, no hope and the only way out is suicide.

In this scene there are many opportunities for physical contact. This could have been between Capulet and Juliet and Capulet and the nurse. Capulet strikes out at both Juliet and the nurse in this scene, when they go against his orders. This shows he thinks very highly of himself, and no one knows better than he does. There is no physical contact between Lady Capulet and Juliet, they stick to talking about the situation, rather than turning it into violence. However, in the script the impression I got from reading it, it did not sound like they acted it with any physical contact, I did imagine physical contact being used though, whilst reading it. If I were to direct this scene, I would use physical contact between Capulet and Juliet, as I think this would help in the audience feeling greatly sympathetic towards Juliet. They may not even have to physical hurt one another, but give the impression off to the audience that Juliet did get a beating, this would get another sympathy vote. As violence towards women is always given sympathy and concern.

Whilst studying the play, we watched two film version of Romeo and Juliet. The one I have chose the talk about was the older interpretation by Franco Zeffirelli made in 1968. I think he did do a fairly decent job of displaying the story, although some of the speeches were not how I had imagined them to sound like. I think he did manage to stick to the way Shakespeare would have wanted this to be portrayed as best he could. I think the music that was used, was very effective, especially in the love scenes, it really drew you in, and made them more passionate. I think music changes everything in plays and films, and you need to choose the exact right one. Zeffirelli definetly did a great job with choosing the right music. The way it was all staged out was done nicely and was pretty much exactly how I imagined it to look like. I think it was a good interpretation of the play, but a play is a play and I think a live performance is always going to be better than a movie version. I would very much like to see this acted out.

Juliet’s character does change through out the play, at the start she is a very loyal girl, listens to exactly what her parents say. She is no way going to disobey them; she does what she is told with out a word. This is of course until she meets Romeo. I think he reminds her of the life she really wants, she wants passion, connection, excitement and most importantly true, real love. He changes her, and makes her in to a determined girl, who knows what to wants, and is not going to let others change her mind now, she is far to in love with Romeo to let her fathers disappointment change her mind.

I personally think that many people watching this play when Shakespeare first wrote it, may not have felt very sympathetic towards Juliet, as they would have all been very religious, they may have been disappointed with Juliet’s behaviour, marrying behind her fathers back, disobeying family, suicide. I am not to sure how they would respond to all of this; they may not have too much respect towards her. But then again, Juliet is a true catholic and did not just jump into bed with Romeo; she made sure he loved her and that they were married, before their relationship progressed. It is hard to tell how they would have reacted.

So, Shakespeare makes us feel increasingly sympathetic towards Juliet through out the play, as it is just one gunshot after another in to heart, with no stopping them. She started off with everything, and ended up with not even hope of happiness.

I have enjoyed studying this play, but I did find it very challenging, but I feel I understand Shakespeare’s language a lot better now.

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Creating Sympathy for Juliet in Act Scene - Shakespeare's Technique?. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Creating Sympathy for Juliet in Act  Scene  - Shakespeare's Technique?
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