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Scene Analysis: Romeo And Juliet Essay


Analysis of Scene III Act 5 Lines 1-36

The scene that I will be analysing of William Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet is Act III, Scene 5, in particular lines 1-36. I feel that this scene is one of the most significant and important out of the entire play because it has many critical points essential to the rest of the work.

Before this scene, Romeo has just killed Tybalt. He has been banished and has therefore been advised by Friar Lawrence to visit Juliet at night and then leave for Mantua at dawn. They have now spent their night together.

This scene describes a situation of conflicting wills and opinions, although it is rather tongue-in- cheek. It shows the lovers feeling for each other, and the mood, despite its content, is not shown to be argumentative. I believe that Shakespeare does this through his use of blank verse in the passage, which, to me, is predictable and creates the warm feeling of having just woken up (like the lovers have), because of its security. Sometimes the player (actor) would have to slightly alter the rhythm of speech to keep the meter in blank verse, and I believe that this would give the audience a sense of foreboding, and presages the unpleasant events to come, because of the subtle way in which the meter changes, and this disrupts the predictability. One example of this is Nightly she sings on yond pomegranate tree, which is a slightly longer, 11-syllabled line between two 10-syllabled ones.

The rich imagery, which I will cover later, is poetic, and incredibly romantic, and also plays a large part in the tone and mood. The change in Juliets opinion is almost comical because it is not preceded by anger Shakespeare makes this transition almost seamlessly, which would show the depth of their love to an audience, as there is no hesitation between her changing opinion so the audience would be sure to be shocked, then confused, then amused by Juliets rather adolescent, changing personality. Romeos speech, starting with Let me be taen has 2 meanings and is essentially dramatic irony because Romeo will indeed be put to death but he will not be content when it happens. This ominous foreshadowing is made even more disjointed when it is coupled with the half-joking of Romeo, mirroring Juliets words; he is playfully mocking her with it is not day and lovingly torturing her (this oxymoron shows the dramatic irony again) with the way he resolutely decides to stay.

After this scene, Lady Capulet enters and tells Juliet that she is to marry Paris. Obviously she objects and the father is then very brutal towards her. The first 36 lines of Act III Scene 5 are, despite some ominous content, an island of love and devotion in a play of mostly death and tragedy.

Juliet and Romeo are portrayed here as being incredibly romantic, indeed their words show this, - contradictions in their speech portray their contradictory thoughts i.e. it was the nightingaleit was the lark which in themselves are parts of the rich imagery Shakespeare uses, which I intend to cover later in this essay. This small extract is peppered with similar contradictions and the contrast of each character does not, as one would imagine, pull them further apart, but, as surely Shakespeares intention, pulls them closer together; their concern for each other is touching, while their vagueness and jokiness about what is happening seems all too apparent: Let me be put to deathI have more care to stay than will to go creates an ominous feeling of innocence which is continually laced with more tragic references; Shakespeares subtle use of dark language, i.e. fearful, envious, death and harsh discords disjoints this otherwise beautiful tryst of newly-wed love.

Shakespeare reveals a little more of Romeo and Juliets characters in this scene, indeed, these 36 lines debate whether Romeo should leave at all, when everyone knows that this is his only option. The hesitating aspects of the characters teenage personalities create a feeling of unease, as the point of view changes so often and quickly that Shakespeare would have made the original audience on edge; paralysed with fear by the ever-present possibility of the lovers being discovered. This reveals the innocence, and maybe the naivet and recklessness of the characters, indeed, the audience has already been convinced that fate, one of the main themes of the play, incidentally, is working against the two lovers because of the aforementioned murder of Tybalt by Romeo, so toying with fate once again not only creates suspense but also develops a dark and uneasy setting for future events. Shakespeare has succeeded in making the audience think: If the lovers came so close to getting caught this time, if Romeos reckless personality allows him to not only kill Tybalt, but also to be nearly discovered in a forbidden bedroom, what other things may he unwittingly do to worsen their fate?

Coupled with this are Juliets childish way of sprinkling her sentences with the noun love and the personal pronoun I. By childish I do not mean that this is a stupid and infantile thing to do; clearly Juliets way of speaking further portrays her innocence, and her sdesire to keep herself secure. It is as though calling Romeo and herself by these name, despite the fact that it is obvious to whom she is addressing her words, brings her hope and comfort due to her consequential self-inflicted assurance that what she is saying should, and she believes, must, be the truth. On a different level, it also contributes to the meter of the extract and also the poetic aspect of the passage.

This extract, short as it is, manages to capture some of the most important themes in the play fate, love, power, youth, and death. I will deal with each by breaking the scene down into small parts, thus making it easier to examine for thematic references.

Shakespeare repeatedly highlights fate, the omnipresent theme in the play, mostly through use of dramatic irony. Modern audiences undoubtedly know what comes next, making the dark references Shakespeare creates even more sombre. A lark is the bird of death, which sings in the morning. This is a visual oxymoron, and is therefore written 5 times, repeating itself like an ever-approaching warning of mortality, and, therefore, death. I believe fate is the largest theme in the play, which means that every other theme is interlinked, which brings me to the aspect of power another strong theme; here characterised by the reference to Gods. Romeo talks the most about vaulty heaven and Cynthias brow indeed he therefore believes, selfishly or not, that even the Gods are involved in their fate, and that their predicament is somehow linked to Romeos banishment by the omnipotence of religion and heaven.

Yet more dark references come in the shape of dramatic irony, when Juliet says it is some meteortolight thee on thy way to Mantua. She makes light of Romeos tragic situation with this reference to heaven and extra-terrestrial circumstances somehow paralleling them to the Friar a powerful figure who helped them, and Romeos aforementioned words about heaven and Gods seems to mirror the uncontrollable authority of the Prince over them. There is a small but note-worthy contradiction here: Romeo describes Cynthias brow as pale, which creates connotations of weakness. Maybe Shakespeare was giving us an insight about how Romeo and Juliet are flouting, and intend to flout, the law? This seems to be to be a likely hypothesis for this use of language I indeed am of the opinion that the pale adjective was not merely an aesthetic reference to the colour of the moon.

Youth, another prominent theme running through the play, is easily portrayed here; the mere age of the characters shows this, their romantic and innocent speech shows this (love), their joking contradictions (it is not day) show this, as does their comparatively familiar way of talking by this I will mention the flippant way in which Romeo talks, for example: Let me be put to death, I am content, so thou wilt have it so and Come death, and welcome! He is taunting fate, it would seem joking around with death whilst at the same time knowingly tormenting Juliet. The playfulness shown here shows the concept of youth in a sentence, whereas, in fact, the whole extract, save the last few lines, is a complete representation of youth, as every line is either a supposition, a hypothesis, imagination or merely wishful thinking proof that these characters are young, inexperienced, romantic and wistful, with their feelings and thoughts based on hope, not based on experience, past events, fact and certainty as they would be for an older adult.

Death is so obviously portrayed here, but because of Romeo and Juliets innocence, youth, recklessness and mere normal lack of being able to see into the future, it does not seem overly menacing. Romeo uses it, mostly, as not an awful and very possible event, but as the butt of jokes used to torment Juliet in that fateful phrase: Come death, and welcome!

I have already made references to the meter of this extract at the beginning of this essay the fact that iambic pentameter is ever present is significant to me, and various comments about this are written in earlier paragraphs. It is here, however, that I will venture to further analyse this scene.

The rich and emotional imagery in this scene is fantastic ranging from the small detail of the lark being the morning bird of death and the nightingale being the bird of night and slumber, to the huge religious references to envious streakssevering clouds in yonder east and vaulty heaven. Shakespeares use of words like severing, stands tiptoe and exhales personify the world around the lovers, creating not only an atmosphere that feels alive, but also giving a feel of the pursued and precarious state that the characters are in. Morning- here shown by the playwright as envious streaks lac[e](ing) the severing clouds and jocund day stand(ing) tiptoe on the misty mountain tops mirrors the future pursuit of Romeo with its ever-approaching dawn.

One important word to pick out is the significant lark. Not only is it an obvious contradiction to nightingale, it is also the bird of death, as I have mentioned, causing this word to become menacing and also creating an off-putting oxymoron because of the weight of the contradictions. Indeed, a bird to signify morning with an underlying meaning of death is very relevant here, not only because of the obvious contradictions and parallels, (i.e. morning for Romeo could very realistically mean death) but also that morning, usually a time of light and thus enlightenment, new beginnings and sunlight, is in fact the beginning of Romeos banishment, and of course, unbeknown to him, the troubles which will eventually lead to his death. Also, the simple parallels that can be made with the play on words between morning and death, i.e. mourning, are oxymorons and contradictions in themselves.

Another interesting point to make is Shakespeares out-of-character use of the word jocund to describe day. Whereas before, Shakespeare has always made day seem ominous and bad news, here Romeo calls it cheerful and joyful (the definitions of jocund.) I believe that Shakespeare could be highlighting Romeos innocence, naivet and hope for the future, because at this point in the play, despite everything, Romeo still calls the day jocund. It is a point that highlights the sad, pathetic aspect of the situation, and comments on how day behaves in the same way no matter what things are happening on earth. This increases the uncertainty if Romeos character because it further poses the question Is he being ironic, pathetic or tragic? it is an example of how Shakespeare used to play with and torment the audience.

On the subject of interesting words, or diction, one of the most remarkable plays on words in this extract is that of sweet division. How relevant Shakespeare has made this; taking into account both its literal meaning of separation and its less-commonly-used meaning of melody. This is a wonderfully placed metaphor, which again refers back to the oxymoron of a lark, the bird of death, signifying the morning, dividing the lovers with its song.

An additional important use of language Shakespeare employs is the antithesis, which is used regularly. Some examples include I must be gone and live, than stay and die; therefore stay yet, thou needst not be gone and I have more care to stay that will to go. All of these sentences, despite obviously portraying their literal meanings, at the same time portray the precariousness of their situation, and the stability of their feelings for each other.

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