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In what ways does Shakespeare create suspense, tension and dramatic interest for the audience in Act 1 of the play 'Romeo and Juliet'?

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In what ways does Shakespeare create suspense, tension and dramatic interest for the audience in Act 1 of the play 'Romeo and Juliet'? How far does an understanding of the social, historical and cultural contexts of the time enhance our appreciation of this section of the play? Arguably one of the most well known love stories of all time; Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' is the story of two young "star-crossed lovers" who come from two families holding an "ancient grudge". This play has stood the test of time for over four hundred years and probability could only suggest it will be around for much longer. In a number of plays, Shakespeare has created the dramatic interest that worked not only in his day but has managed to remain a classic today. However, not many people ask the question of which of his plays does this the best as we all share the opinion that it is 'Romeo and Juliet'. The basis is that love stories have always been popular as we all feel love in some way at some time in our lives and we can therefore relate to this play. Yet, the "ancient grudge" between the lovers families creates an obstacle in their relationship and makes the audience wonder if the love is strong enough to overcome the hatred. From reading the opening prologue; the plot of the story is given away and we know before the play even begins that there is a "death marked love" waiting to conclude it all. Shakespeare intentionally used this to create suspense and to get the audience asking questions. ...read more.


The scene then cuts back to Romeo and his problems with courtly love. Benvolio who is aware of Romeo's problem tries to be a useful friend by giving him advice. His advice is "one fire burns out another's burning", this is a metaphorical way of putting; you should find someone else and forget about Rosaline. Then as 'Clown' from the Capulet family is struggling to read a party invitation he asks Romeo and Benvolio to read the list out for him. Romeo notices that Rosalie's name is on this list and the pair therefore decide to find a way of going to the 'masqued ball' to give Romeo a chance of fore filling his dream of meeting Rosaline. The fact it's a masqued ball means they can get in whilst in disguise and probably get away with it and this thought enters Benvolio's head. In scene 3 we meet the Nurse. A nurse is the Elizabethan equivalent to a child minder, however in these days they were hired out commonly by wealthy upper class families and were pretty much part of the family, they would raise the children and even breast feed them when they are babies. This particular Nurse raised Juliet and the two of them are very close. She is a bubbly character who often tells sexual jokes or sexual innuendo's and tells Juliet stories about when she was younger usually embarrassing her. From seeing the play myself I remember the nurse being an entertaining character and was an audience favourite which was most noticeable by the applause she got at the end. ...read more.


This means that the Montague's have to make a swift exit effectively making Romeo and Juliet's 'moment' short with a sudden end. This leaves the nurse and Juliet alone together. Juliet finds out from the Nurse that Romeo is in fact a Montague and is clearly devastated by this when she says "My grave is like to be my wedding bed" and "My only love sprung from my only hate. All the way throughout this scene; Shakespeare juxtaposes love and hate. The first sight of love is at Romeo's first glimpse of Juliet and the whole 'love at first sight' event, this is interrupted by Tybalt noticing Romeo and wanting to cause a violent act but he is stopped by Capulet. This allows Romeo and Juliet to have their first speech in the form of the love sonnet although when the two realise each other's identity, the hate between the two families takes over leaving the audience wondering if the power of their love is strong enough to overcome the hate. In conclusion to the opening act of the play; Shakespeare creates many 'untied' ends to the story. This makes the audience want to carry on watching to get an answer to their questions; questions such as will Tybalt fore fill his threat towards Romeo? Are Romeo and Juliet going to die and if so how? Will Paris marry Juliet? And will there be any more fighting? The only possible way for the audience to find an answer to these questions is to carry on watching the play. This was Shakespeare's objective for the opening act and he has therefore successfully completed it. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ben Pomlett 10G2 1 ...read more.

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