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Explore the ways that Shakespeare makes Act I Scene I of 'Romeo and Juliet' dramatically effective.

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Introduction

Eleri Williams February 17th 2005 Essay Question Explore the ways that Shakespeare makes Act I Scene I of 'Romeo and Juliet' dramatically effective. The predominant themes of the play are love and hate, and the idea of honor, which are dramatized into a tragic love story. We learn this from the prologue " A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life". Also in the prologue it outlines these themes- hate from two families (set in Verona, Italy), which have been quarreling for decades "From ancient grudge break to new mutiny" that convey an element of conflict in the play. The theme of love is a young man (Romeo) from one family that falls in love with a young woman (Juliet) from another family; which results in both the families being involved in this feud. In this scene Shakespeare introduces these main themes immediately. In Act I Scene i we see this being acted out by Tybalt and Benvolio. Therefore with an opening full of rousing action it captures the audience's attention instantly. We also get an insight into the other key characters of the play in this scene; Montague and Lady Montague, Capulet and Lady Capulet, Romeo, the servants of Capulet; Sampson and Gregory. The origin of the brawl starts with the two servants quarrelling. ...read more.

Middle

When the men refuse to refrain from fighting he calls them "Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace". As they were fighting he does not consider them as being civilized, so refers to them as "beasts". Shakespeare uses a very powerful metaphor to describe their anger "That quench the fire of your pernicious rage" this adds to the drama by emphasizing the passionate anger they feel towards each other. To describe the blood they have spilt he uses the metaphor " With purple fountains issuing from your veins!" This is effective as it portrays a lucid image in the audiences' heads, just how much blood has been spilt over the years. Recently the families have fought three times "Have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets" They have disturbed the peace in their neighborhood three times. The cause of the fight was "Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word". Therefore it indicates the whole fight has started by a small (trivial) remark and after this has blown out of proportion. Prince Escalus is specifically talking to the Montagues and Capulets "Old Capulet, and Montague" He threatens if they "disturb the streets again" they will pay the penalty of death " Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace". His motives for this are because the entire town is impatient with the families' constant feud. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Shakespeare's characterizations are so skillful we get an insight into human nature. It gives us an opportunity to learn valuable morals to guide us through life. In conclusion, Act I Scene I is very dramatic because immediately from the beginning of the scene we see the encounter of the servants battling it out, in honor of their families. After hearing the prologue we see the hate that was mentioned being dramatized by Sampson foolishly biting his thumb at the Montagues. The thumb biting, as an essentially meaningless gesture, represents the foolishness of the entire Capulet/Montague feud and the stupidity of violence in general. Therefore, we get a glimpse of the relevant themes from the start. All of this contributes into capturing the audiences' attention so that this that is happening on stage enthralls them. Shakespeare has purposefully done this, and has been successful in making the scene dramatically effective from the beginning to the ending of the scene. Personally I thoroughly enjoyed this scene as it outlines the entire play just in the opening, so we know what is going to happen from the prologue but we are eagerly waiting to know how it happens. We as the audience get an excellent insight to the contradicting mix of characters and we want to see how they are developed in the play. Therefore Shakespeare gives us a taste, but as the action unfolds we are hungering for more. ...read more.

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