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Consider the dramatic significance of Act 1, Scene 5

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Introduction

Consider the dramatic significance of Act 1, Scene 5 William Shakespeare introduces the story of Romeo and Juliet by using a prologue. The function of the prologue is to explain the situation, setting the scene in Verona and the quarrel between the families is old, 'ancient grudge'. The prologue informs the audience that the lovers are 'star-cross'd' and that their death ends the feud between the families; the prologue creates the dramatic back-drop of the play. By using a prologue, Shakespeare introduces the theme of love, informing the audience of the lovers. During Shakespeare's time, it was not unusual to introduce the play by using a chorus. The chorus would silence the audience and create an appropriate mood for the first scene. The chorus emphasizes that the lovers are fated and their love is 'death-marked'. The prologue helps create dramatic irony, the audience are aware that the play is a tragedy. Shakespeare's audience did not mind being given the same narrative structure; however, Shakespeare introduced a new level of contemporary entertainment. It is said that for this particular play, Shakespeare relies upon a narrative poem, "The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet" published in 1562 and translated into English. However, Shakespeare's play is not an adaptation of the poem because the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is much deeper and dramatised; the couple do not have many scenes together. ...read more.

Middle

Romeo talks a lot in rhyming couplets, which makes his speech sound more like a well-rehearsed speech than a true expression of emotional torment. When Romeo meets Juliet, his language becomes more sincere and passionate. Romeo seems desperate to fall in love, but it is an idealised kind of love that he wants; he is realistic, uncompromising and given to extremes, which helps the audience to prepare for his headlong fall into passionate love in Juliet. The audience can conclude that Rosaline is only his fancy and he could be cured if he would follow Benvolio's prescription and 'Examine other beauties'. In Act 1 Scene 2, the real twist of the play begins. The audience have not yet met Juliet but hear Paris confidently asking Capulet for Juliet's hand in marriage; this therefore produces tragic complications for Romeo and Juliet although they have not yet met. Capulet uses imagery to describe how young and unprepared Juliet is to become a bride. Juliet's 'ripeness' to be a bride is talked of in the same breath as summer 'withering'. Montague talks about Romeo being blighted like a bud bitten by a worm. These hints in the imagery prepare the audience for the upcoming tragedy. The love of Romeo and Juliet is full of promise and hope but doomed by fate. ...read more.

Conclusion

The interruption by the Nurse brings the lovers back into the real world from their state of isolation and they begin to understand what has happened. From the Nurse, Romeo learns that Juliet is a Capulet, the family so bitterly at odds with his own and whoever marries her will be very rich, although her wealth is of no interest to Romeo. Juliet wants to know if Romeo is married; if he is then her wedding bed will be her grave. Juliet's character has changed from an obedient child to determine and strong-minded young woman; however this could lead conflict with her parents' wishes to marry Paris. Again the Nurse is the source of information as Juliet learns that Romeo is her enemy; 'My only love sprung from my only hate', the audience feel sorry for the ill-fated lovers. Romeo and Juliet's hearts are tearing up as they learn that it will be difficult to be with their love, although it will be painful to be without; no matter what they do, they will suffer. This underlines the folly of the feud; if the two families would just accept each other, the feud would end and the lovers' would be able to be with their other-half. The audience will want to know how the next scene is laid out. The stage is at a tense and worried atmosphere after many opposites and contrasting moods, it is at an appropriate mood for the tragedy to unfold. Tangena Sultana English Coursework- Shakespeare 1 ...read more.

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