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'Act One immediately engages the audience.' Do you agree with this statement? How does Shakespeare achieve this

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* 'Act One immediately engages the audience.' Do you agree with this statement? How does Shakespeare achieve this? Act One of 'Romeo and Juliet' by William Shakespeare does indeed immediately engage the audience. Shakespeare does this by using several language techniques to create an interesting opening scene. Shakespeare uses humour, action and romance all in Act One and it is this variation that keeps the audience's attention. The play begins with a prologue that is written in the form of a sonnet. The Prologue gives a summary of the play but does not give away too much of the plot, in order to keep the suspense. Shakespeare tells of the great tragedy that will follow. The sonnet form is used because it is more interesting when performed on stage than simple prose. Shakespeare uses clever language in the Prologue to build suspense. For example, on line four he writes, 'From ancient grudge break new mutiny.' 'Ancient grudge' suggests that the disagreement between the Montague and Capulet families has been going on for a very long time and the mutual hatred between them has grown stronger and stronger. The word 'mutiny' is used to mean a sudden outburst of violence, which suggests there will be an exciting, action-packed scene somewhere in the play. Then, on lines six and seven, Shakespeare writes about the 'misadventured piteous overthrows' of the 'pair of star-crossed lovers'. ...read more.


It is at this point that Romeo's friend Benvolio persuades Romeo to forget Rosaline and attend the feast despite being enemies of the Capulets. By telling the audience of the plan to attend the banquet before the event, Shakespeare builds up the audience's suspense, which allows him to keep the audience's attention up until Romeo and Benvolio go to the feast itself. In Scene Three, Shakespeare brings up a controversial issue. Lady Capulet and the Nurse discuss whether Juliet is of a suitable age to be married. This would have provoked an interesting reaction from the audience because Shakespeare was suggesting that the traditional age for a girl to get married (fourteen) was too young. Maybe Shakespeare held these views or maybe he was just trying to gain the audience's attention by raising his different views on a social issue. The nurse then reminisces about a funny story from Juliet's childhood. The nurse uses crude humour and sexual innuendo to liven up the story. She tells Juliet that she will 'fall backward when thou [she] has more wit [knowledge]' which has an obvious sexual meaning. The nurse's rude humour is added to by her defiance to Lady Capulet's attempts to get her to stop being so vulgar. Act One Scene Four contains arguably the liveliest speech in the play: Mercutio's explanation of 'the fairies midwife' 'Queen Mab' and what she does while people are asleep. ...read more.


Then Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time. They exchange loving words and kiss. Shakespeare writes about the meeting of the two lovers in the form of a sonnet. This emphasises the poetic nature of their meeting. The sonnet is split up into three sections. Romeo speaks first and he says that he is not worthy enough to kiss Juliet. He says 'If I profane [make dirty] with my unworthiest hand...This holy shrine [Juliet's hand]'. In the second section of the sonnet, Juliet tells Romeo that he does 'wrong his hand too much' meaning that he is not as unworthy as he says. Then finally, they ask each other if they should kiss. They kiss twice but are then interrupted by the Nurse. It is at this point that the couple find out that they come from different sides of the rift between the two households and the audience realise the problem the two lovers face. Act One does immediately engage the audience due to the variety that it contains. Shakespeare uses humour, in particular sexual innuendo, to great effect. The act full of exciting speeches, especially Mercutio's entertaining explanation of 'Queen Mab'. Also, he uses fight scenes for moments of action. There is also lots of emotion displayed by the characters, like Romeo's depression and love-sickness while pining for Rosaline in the opening scene. Shakespeare creates an intriguing opening act that grabs the audience's attention and keeps it well into the next acts. Jonathan Boland 4G Romeo & Juliet Essay Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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