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Act III Scene Five is a very dramatic and significant part of “Romeo and Juliet”. There is the parting of the lovers, the forced marriage arrangement to Paris. As well as the useless advice the Nurse gives to Juliet, almost in a sense a betrayal. This poignant and important scene shows the true, beautiful romance of “Romeo and Juliet”; the harsh contrast between the Capulet parents; and the rash decisions they make. This Scene is a turning point in the play and slowly helps with the progression and effectiveness of the plot.
The Scene begins with a beautiful and joyful conversation with Romeo and Juliet. The couple now have to part, and Romeo makes a rapid exit. This section establishes an uplifting and happy mood, with the poetic exchanges of words that the lovers make, with the Romance of the entire play being seen so greatly here. It is first noticed when they call each other “love”, they both use this word for each other, just showing how in unison their minds are and how perfect they are for one another.
The poetic language that is used is spread across this first section, but one in particular creates great imagery:
“Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.”
This includes one of the first references we see to light and dark, day and night, which also link to life and death. This is through the representation of the night and stars, and the day and morning.
The “jocund day” that is being described shows just some of the irony that is included in the play, because for many of the characters this day is going to actually be quite distressing. The personification of the ‘day’ tiptoeing on the “misty mountain tops” is a very creative image that is describing the sun rising up over the valleys and mountainside. We can see how this section is intended to be calm and tranquil also because of the soft consonants that are used, the m’s create this relaxed gentle effect. Read how certain events change our impressions of life
The urgency that Juliet then shows when she wants Romeo to stay, “thou need’st not be gone”, is just another reminder of how the couple have fallen so deeply in love and cannot bear to be apart. Juliet thinking that the bird song is from the nightingale, the night singer, wills her to persuade Romeo to stay. But when she does realise that it is in fact the lark, the dawn chorus, she shows great urgency. “It is, it is: hie hence, be gone, away!” Juliet’s short and sharp phrases that she then begins to blurt in her hast, introduce this fast pace that we begin to see in the play. This pace builds a much more hectic atmosphere compared to the calm and gentle mood seen moments before. This sudden change in mood begins to show great emotion between the couple, and strong meaningful language is produced as they say their farewells. The couple then imply how ‘the lighter the morning gets, the darker their sorrows’:
“O, now, be gone; more light and light it grows.
More light and light; more dark and dark our woes!”
The rhyming Couplet here shows how the couple’s minds are in tune, and also the use of “O” by Juliet represents how she is feeling, almost as a sigh, how much she is really going to miss Romeo. This may seem a very unhappy and difficult time for the couple, but the way they show their love, even at this time represents their true love.
Even though this section seems full of romance and love. There are many parts where foreshadowing and dramatic irony is used. Romeo in many instances foreshadows his own death: “Let me be ta’en, let me be put to death”, “Come, death, and welcome!”, “…In our time to come”. These foolish words from Romeo foreshadow his death, and Juliet does much the same: “let day in, and let life out”. “As one dead in the bottom of a tomb”, “Either my eyesight fails, or thou look’st pale.” These sorts of premonitions that Juliet has about seeing Romeo look pale and unwell, and almost certainly near death, add dramatic irony, as the audience know what is going to happen. The numerous times that these death references occur begin to seem like the couple are toying with fate, willing the deaths to happen. Although this is not true it is jus the dramatic effects of the play, which greatly impacts on the audience. The audience cringe at the mention of these foreshadowed events, because they know that the tragedy is drawing ever closer.
The conversation between Juliet and Lady Capulet sparks Juliet’s emotions, and greatly implies Juliet’s intent on not marrying Paris. This brief, slightly heated, conversation between Lady Capulet and Juliet is intended to add to the development of characters and to the tension and effect of the overall play. This tension is also leading and building up to the inevitable tragic end. The conversation also provides a contrast for the very dramatic argument that is soon to take place with Lord Capulet. We see a completely different side to him in the next section and it is a stark contrast to how he first treats Juliet and others around him.
When Capulet enters, the first impressions of him are a caring, calm and loving Father, he shows this through his description of Juliet, even though she is crying:
“Thou counterfet’st a bark, a sea, a wind;
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”
These metaphors that he uses to describe Juliet emphasise his love and affection for his child. Comparing Juliet to something as strong and valuable as a ship, “a bark”, is just showing how he sees her. The soft calm sounds that are shown through the alliteration also convey Capulet as quite a cool calm character. These sounds and the metaphors in this piece conjure up beautiful descriptive imagery that creates a tranquil picture for the audience, a great contrast to what is about to be seen. When Capulet then asks if Juliet has accepted the marriage to Paris, Lady Capulet replies:
“Ay, sir; but she will none, she gives you thanks.
I would the fool were married to her grave!”
This extremely ironic phrase from Lady Capulet gives the idea that Juliet is marrying death, which in a way is true. This dramatic irony that is constantly seen through the play has an immense effect on the audience, as it seems to tempt fate because the audience know what is going to happen. Therefore all the hints and ironic clues that are dropped during the play make the realisation and tragedy of the conclusion even more heart wrenching.
Once Capulet receives the news he unleashes a number of insults towards Juliet that shock and stammer the audience. For a Shakespearian audience the way that Capulet reacts may have been seen a little more acceptable, because of the way she seems to have betrayed her family by being ‘in love’ with a Montague. But an audience of today would have seen it as completely out of order. The way Capulet seriously verbally assaults her is just sheer abuse and could not be tolerated, but the impacts of this dramatic section are phenomenal. Just some of the insults that Capulet throws at Juliet are: “you baggage!”, “You tallow-face!”, Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!”, “Whining mammet.” These words and phrases that Capulet uses to describe Juliet are highly offensive, for example, “tallow-face” means Capulet is describing Juliet has having a pale and pasty appearance, tallow is actually animal fat so this quite disgusting image is also insulting. The fact that Capulet is also referring to Juliet having a pale appearance links to when Juliet refers to Romeo looking pale, these are yet again premonitions of the couples deaths. Another of Capulets insults “whining mammet”, obviously refers to Juliet’s constant crying, but a mammet is a puppet so Capulet is referring to his own daughter as a puppet, and himself most probably the puppeteer. The word baggage is used a couple of times when Capulet insults Juliet its meaning is often seen as offensive in this case and it means prostitute. A father calling his daughter a prostitute is probably one of the most disrespectful and horrible things to say, it also refers though to Romeo and Juliet’s consummation. This stark contrast we see from when Capulet first entered shocks the audience and conveys Capulet as a completely different character.
When Juliet responds to her father’s insults and stern answers she begs for him to listen to her, but to no avail.
“Good father, I beseech you on my knees,
Hear me with patience but to speak a word.”
She tries to explain to Capulet, but he just shouts over her and almost comes to the point of hitting her when he says, “My fingers itch”. When Juliet hears what her father has to say, I think she feels very unworthy and put down, almost feeling distant and unaccepted by her own family. By Juliet strongly refusing to marry Paris causes Capulets anger, his language shows this anger through the many insults he throws at Juliet, Lady Capulet and the Nurse. Also the way in which he seems to take the refusal to marry Paris personally is bizarre. All of the ‘me’s’ and ‘I’s’ he includes almost make it seem as if he is the one being rejected. The way he speaks to his own wife and the Nurse also show his angry and fiery character; “Peace you mumbling fool!” and “hold your tongue”.
At this point in the play we have already seen the vast change in mood already, but Capulets last words, if he were to stick to them, are simply heart wrenching:
“Graze where you will you shall not house with me:
Look to’t, think on’t, I do not use to jest.
Thursday is near; lay hand on heart, advise:
An you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend;
And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in
For, by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee,
Nor what is mine shall never do thee good:
Trust to’t, bethink you; I’ll not be forsworn”
This dramatic exit leaves Juliet, and the audience in pieces. The words of Capulet echo as he leaves and their meanings are unravelled. Threatening Juliet with death is probably the most physically dreadful act he could carry out, but when he says “…I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee” it is the epitome of disgust; he is basically saying he will disown her if she is not to comply with his orders. The fast and ruthless pace of the soliloquy also adds to the tension and dramatics of Capulets exit. For Shakespearian and contemporary audiences this part of the play is heart wrenching, it is an extremely harsh and powerful thing for a father to say to his daughter and it leaves Juliet with no other choice but to comply.
As a friend and guardian to Juliet the Nurse persists to help Juliet meet with Romeo in earlier scenes. But when she sees the reactions of Capulet she gives Juliet some obscene advice:
“Then, since the case so stands as now it doth,
I think it best you married with the county,
O, he’s a lovely gentleman!”
After this Juliet pretends to agree, and lets the Nurse go and tell Juliet’s parents, when really Juliet now feels seriously betrayed by her best friend. Juliet’s final soliloquy closes the scene well, but also leaves fear and the thoughts of the destined tragedy in the minds of the audience:
“I’ll to the friar, to know his remedy:
If all else fail, myself have power to die.”
Juliet is now saying that if she cannot obtain poison from the friar, she has the will to commit suicide. She believes that without her Romeo, and without the love and care of her family it is not worth living, especially if she is to be wed to someone she does not and never will love.
The scene overall is one of the most diverse in the entire play. It features hugely significant and dramatic parts with tense and effective contrasts between mood, character and emotion, which are frankly unreal. This amazing scene impacts greatly on the audience leaving them in despair as they hear countless foreshadowing from the characters and have to prepare for the inevitable tragedy. It is also a significant turning point in the play as it shows the couple properly together for the last time, the fickleness of the nurse, the wild and frightening emotions of Capulet, and the sorrows and fears that Juliet has. I feel that this scene is a very well constructed and effective part of the play.
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