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How does Shakespeare engage the audience in the First Act of

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How does Shakespeare engage the audience in the First Act of "Romeo and Juliet?" "Romeo and Juliet" is one of Shakespeare's most famous plays. Perhaps part of the reason for this is because of how well he manages to grab the audience's attention in the first act. After all, if the first part was boring, nobody would bother to read the rest. One of the main factors which Shakespeare uses to interest the audience is with humour and puns, which is why the play may not seem as appealing today as it did in Shakespeare's time, since we don't understand most of the jokes. Even the jokes we do understand may not seem very amusing by modern standards. Here is such an example from the first page of Act One: SAMSON: 'Tis true; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore I will push Montague's men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall. In terms of modern English, Sampson is saying that he will kill all the men of the Montague family and rape the women. For those who have read Shakespeare's work before, the joke is not very difficult to decipher; but even those who do know what he is saying are unlikely to find it funny. ...read more.


The quote written below is from page seventy six; it is what Romeo tells his friends of the dream had had (this takes place shortly after Mercutio's explanation of 'Queen Mab'). "Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, shall bitterly begin this fearful date with this night's revels and expire the term of a despis´┐Żd life, closed in my breast, by some vile forfeit of untimely death." Oxi-morons are another factor which draws attention in this play. Oxi-morons are two words strung together in a sentence which contradict each other in meaning (eg. Dark light). Here is a Romeo quote from page sixty one, where he is describing to his cousin Benvolio his feelings of lust for Rosaline. "Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!" What Romeo is trying to prove in this intense speech, is how strong, passionate, and indescribable his feelings are towards Rosaline. It is also one of they extremely few situations throughout the play where multiple oxi-morons are used in sequence. If there is one other thing which Shakespeare is very famous for, it is for his regular use of sonnets and poetic language. ...read more.


His continuous use of 'O' and 'Alas' also seem to signify the pain and grief that he is feeling. On the previous page, I mentioned conflict in the meanings of words, known as Oxi-morons, but the much more interesting conflicts come from the clashing personalities of the varied characters from both families. Obviously both the families are constantly engaged in an on-going and often violent feud, the cause of which is completely unknown to the audience. However, it is quite interesting how in the first act of the play, Shakespeare seems to be trying to make it look like the Capulet family are more in the wrong than those in the house of Montague. For example, at the beginning of the play, it is the servants of Capulet who start a violent quarrel in the street. Romeo's cousin Benvolio (which is Latin for 'Peace loving') tries, and nearly succeeds in ending the fight peacefully. It is at that point that Juliet's cousin Tybalt (which is Latin for 'War-monger') steps in, and his presence causes the fight to escalate to the point where Prince Escalus (the Prince of Verona) has to be called in to halt the brawl. All the points I have listed above, and possibly others, show how Shakespeare manages to engage the audience in the Act One of "Romeo and Juliet." ...read more.

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