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"Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare By what means does Shakespeare engage his audience in the Prologue and first three scenes of 'Romeo and Juliet'? What are our expectations?

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"Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare By what means does Shakespeare engage his audience in the Prologue and first three scenes of 'Romeo and Juliet'? What are our expectations? Right at the beginning of any text, it is vital that the author is able to engage the audience or reader's attention. Shakespeare was almost thirty years old when he wrote the successful play, 'Romeo and Juliet'. Although 'Romeo and Juliet' was popularised by William Shakespeare, it actually originated form an Italian prose writer called Meccucio Salerintano. Salerintano first wrote it in 1476; however, Shakespeare's source may have come from a minor Elizabethan poet called Arthur Brooke. He wrote a narrative poem with the name of 'The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet'. Before 'Romeo and Juliet', Shakespeare had completed two tragedies, 'Richard III' and 'Titus Adronicus,' both of which included pride, envy, murder and intrigue. Then, in 1595, 'Romeo and Juliet' was produced and the characters from this play, acted like the characters of his previous romantic comedies. The play is a sorrowful tragedy, which includes laughter, happiness and sensitivity even though we already know the ending is dark and painful to everyone. Shakespeare created a strong narrative that always keeps the audience interested in what happens next, but at the same time, he also looked into the ideas of; ways in which happiness turns to suffering where the characters do not even have the full understanding of love, how good intentions are not enough and how the imagination of those in love can make everything else. The play was widely known around Europe already and therefore, had a vague understanding of it. However, Shakespeare altered it in a way where the audience wants to know how the story unfolds. The audience were not interested in what the story was about but were more concerned in how the story is revealed. The very first section includes the prologue, which tells us in brief what the audience is to expect. ...read more.


Although Lady Capulet got married at a young age, she too supports Capulet. Juliet as a young lady has neither choice nor power in any social situation. Impetuous love is another main theme Shakespeare uses to engage his audience. Love is initially presented tragically in the prologue, 'a pair of star across lovers take their life,' implying that it is their destiny to die for the love of each other. We are told in the prologue that they are rivals, but towards the end, it is shown that nothing stands in their way of achieving what they want. Love is almost immediately introduced in scene I, by the servants. Sampson indicates, 'I will take the will of any man or maid of Montague's,' and continues, 'I will push Montague's from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall,' due to his hatred of them. This is a sexual innuendo. This also refers to the role of women as the man dominates. Love here, has been transferred to hate and has motivated Sampson to speak of 'rape' in a cruel context. Sampson mentions quite a few sexual innuendo's including, 'their maiden-heads- take it in what sense, 'me they shall feel while I am able to stand; and tis' known I am a pretty piece of flesh' and finally, 'Draw thy tool.' Shakespeare includes this not only to demonstrate sexual bravado but for humour to keep the reader interested. The beginning of scene I is mostly about the brawl and concentrates more on conflict between the two families, however, as we near the end of that particular scene, we are found to be more involved with Romeo and his love situation. Even before Romeo appears, his father talks of him because Romeo avoids them, symbolising that he does not want to talk about his affairs. Benvolio reveals that he found Romeo 'underneath a Sycamore tree,' which is a pun relating to the French word, amour. ...read more.


This event is not mere coincidence, but manifestations of fate that help bring about the unavoidable outcome of the young lovers' deaths. Fate in the play is influenced by the social situations and the personalities of each character. In scene II, Capulet recalls that he has nothing to live for but for his daughter, but because he is at war with whom Juliet loves, she dies as a consequence of this. It is bad luck to him and for both Romeo and Juliet. Peter's obvious flaw of not being able to read is Romeo's chance to meet Rosaline, but this is his fate to first meet Juliet. Meeting Peter was a fateful coincidence. Benvolio himself said to look for other women and this is what happened when he went to Capulet's party. Benvolio urges Romeo to go to the party for the women, but Lady Capulet urges Juliet to go to meet Paris, giving the audience the benefit of the doubt. The audience at this point is now aware of how Juliet and Romeo meet. In scene III, the Nurse comments, 'An I might live to see thee married once, I have my wish,' implies that she will see Juliet's marriage with Paris, but not only does she miss it, but Juliet's husband to be is a different man. The nurse's speech is significant and refers to the death of her own child. The audience by now is much more interested as they now know more about the events. Overall, we can see that Shakespeare has created an atmosphere, which engages the audience right from the beginning. He uses imagery, emotive words, dramatic irony and various other techniques to do so. In the beginning, the prologue tells us what we are to expect, and as we near the end of scene III, our expectations are answered, but we are curious of how the events happen. Shakespeare has successfully completed his task to seize our mind. Rhodalie A. Nebrida 11E -1- ...read more.

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