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How does Shakespeare introduce dramatic tension and some of the key themes in Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare introduce dramatic tension and some of the key themes in Romeo and Juliet? During the following essay I am going to discuss how Shakespeare uses dramatic tension throughout the prologue and Act 1, Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet. In the prologue Shakespeare introduces dramatic tension straight away by breaking the established rules of the sonnet. A sonnet is a fourteen-lined poem from a lover to his beloved and was normally concerned with the subject of love. Instead, Shakespeare talks of love, feuding and death, the main themes of this play. An Elizabethan audience would have been likely to recognize these changes straightaway whereas a modern audience probably wouldn't because we are exposed to a wider variety of poetic forms and less likely to recognize one individually. However the subject matter of the sonnet would still increase tension for a modern audience. Shakespeare also tells you the whole story, which would create dramatic tension because he tells us that death will occur and that it is children that are going to take their own life, which makes us feel sorry for them. ...read more.

Middle

Banter between Sampson and Gregory increase tension. His fellow servants know Sampson as a coward but Sampson says he will not be a coward to the Montague slaves. "I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montagues". Shakespeare is using the slave's hate for each other to show how deep the feud goes. . Tension is brought into the play when the servants say they will be civil to the maids by cutting off they're heads, "I will be civil to the maids, I will cut off they're heads." This is not really being civil, the servant is being sarcastic. This raises tension because he is talking about death in a jokey manner, when really it is very serious. Benvolios attempt to break up the fight together with lady Capulet and Lady Montague's pleas for their husbands not to join and for the fight to stop, "down with the capulets, down with the Montagues," shows the fight is stupid and people die for no reason. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is in order to show that Romeo is not in real love with what the audience think is Juliet. They presume that Romeo is going to die for no reason. What they don't know is he is talking about another women, which they find out later in the play is called Rosoline. Benvolio tells Romeo to look at other women "by giving liberty unto thine eyes, examine other beauties." We know that if he does this he will die, this is called retrospective irony. Shakespeare uses irony so much to keep us reminded that Romeo is going to die and to maintain the tension he has already built. In the above essay I have demonstrated how Shakespeare has built up dramatic tension in a variety of ways. The audience now probably regard the feud as silly and that Romeo and Juliet died for no reason worth fighting about. By the end of this scene the audience are well prepared for the action that is to come. Robert Kemp 10D 09/05/2007 ...read more.

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