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Act 1 Scene 5 of "Romeo and Juliet" is full of dramatic contrasts

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Act 1 Scene 5 of "Romeo and Juliet" is full of dramatic contrasts. Explore how Shakespeare achieves these changes of moods and atmosphere. Act 1 scene 5 is a vital scene in Romeo and Juliet as it set ups the plot of the play. Its importance is stressed through the dramatic contrast in language, mood and imagery, creating both tension and excitement for the audience. The play begins with violence in the streets of 15th century Verona, between the servants of the Capulets and the Montagues. Benvolio, previously trying to stop the conflict, takes part himself after the arrival of Tybalt. The ruler of Verona, Prince Escalus, then declares that any Capulet or Montague that provokes violence is to be killed. Soon after, Romeo falls in love with Rosaline, a woman who is not fond of Romeo. A friend of Romeo, Benvolio, advises him to find another love; Romeo remains defiant. Meanwhile, Capulet organises a feast for her daughter to see Paris who seeks Juliet's hand in marriage. Benvolio suggests they attend a feast organised by Capulet so he could find another woman, though Romeo only attends as Rosaline will be there. Act 1 scene 5 begins with the servants working hurriedly while Capulet welcomes and encourages the guests to dance. ...read more.


The sudden change in atmosphere creates tension as atmosphere changes from romantic to a fierce and violent atmosphere. Here Shakespeare uses a sudden change in atmosphere to create a sudden contrast and tension. Shakepeare also uses a change in character to create make a scene dramatic. Capulet, after seeing Tybalt in anger, makes his allegations of the "villain" Romeo being present. Capulet begins politely, "Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone." Capulet then begins to get slightly annoyed and declares, "I would not for the wealth of all this town here in my house do him disparagement." This hints that the party may also be valuable for Capulet's social status and does not want anybody to ruin it. He also demands respect from Tybalt: "It is my will; the which if thou respect, show a fair presence and put off these frowns." Capulet orders Tybalt to "putt off these frowns"; however Tybalt remains defiant and claims that the frown is suitable to fit the occasion as Romeo is present - "It fits when such a villain is a guest." This again reinforces the hatred between some members from the families. Capulet then changes his mood completely from before; he becomes very angry at Tybalt and orders him to leave: "Am I the master here or you?", "Go to", "You must contrary me." ...read more.


The two lovers speak in the sonnet form, which is poetic, whereas the quests speak in blank verse, and the servants speak in prose showing that they are of lower rank. Romeo and Juliet were enjoying a peaceful conversation however the servants are rushing around joking amongst themselves as they clear up after dinner. The conversation between Romeo and Juliet starts with tense atmosphere as Tybalt threatens to harm Romeo and ends with distress as Nurse informs them of each other's identity. The servants' part begins on a dark and threatening note too with Romeo having a premonition of his death, however tension is relieved by the jolly atmosphere created by the servants. It ends on high note too by Capulet welcoming everyone to the feast. To make this scene the most important in the earlier part of the play, Shakespeare uses contrasts in language, imagery, and mood in order to create dramatic contrasts. Contrasts in language and mood separate some characters from others: Romeo and Juliet speak poetically in a sonnet form contrasting form the lower-class servants speaking in prose. The changes of moods and use of dramatic irony increases tension in the play, most noticeably when Romeo's soliloquy is overshadowed by Tybalt's violent threat. The contrasts make the scene perfect to set up the tension and plot for the rest of the play. Grade - C/B ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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