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Discuss the dramatic effect of the contrasts and opposites in Romeo and Juliet

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Discuss the dramatic effect of the contrasts and opposites in "Romeo and Juliet" In the play The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare creates tension and dramatic effects by his use of contrasts; this is illustrated in the variety of characters, the language they use and the many themes within the play: fate versus freewill, love versus hate, youth versus age, Mercutio versus Tybalt, comedy versus tragedy and light versus dark. This constant interchange between what is expected and what is actually presented is the key to the drama; Romeo himself notes "... here's much to do with hate, but more with love." An Elizabethan audience were perhaps a challenge to keep entertained, were often easily bored and impatient and required not only the balance between active, violent fight scenes and those of a more gentle, romantic nature but also within scenes, characters themselves are contrasted in terms of age, status and personality. Additionally, there are contradictions and interesting opposites revealed in the actual language used. For example, many arguments expressed in this play serve to highlight the complex and conflicting emotions felt by the characters; all of which would have intrigued an audience of the 1590's as much as it does now. Firstly, in the Elizabethan age theatre productions did not have at their disposal the array of sophisticated technology that are able to create spectacular effects on modern stages. Shakespeare's dramatic effects were achieved through language: Elizabethan audiences relied on the spoken word to carry them through a play. In "Romeo and Juliet" Shakespeare exploits language for dramatic effect most particularly in his use of oxymoron to highlight the contrasts and opposites in the play. ...read more.


This causes the audience to feel empathetic towards her. However, the audience sees glimpses of the women she will become in this scene. For instance, Juliet makes many witty replies to her mother like, "It is a honor that I dream not of". This gives the audience a sense of fore boding for her future. The third example of youth and age in Romeo and Juliet is between Tybalt and Lord Capulet. The most predominant difference between these characters excluding age is the difference in personality. This is clearly shown to the audience at the Capulet's Party. When Tybalt realizes that Romeo was present he fumes up and tells Capulet that he "will not endure it". This argument between the two characters is very short though intense. This has a dramatic effect as the audience has a sense of apprehension. This scene is made more dramatic as Romeo and Juliet's first meeting immediately follows it. There is dramatic irony here as Romeo is unaware that the Capulets know he is at their party. Within the romantic scene underlying it is hate and danger. Furthermore, a contrast to be considered is between fate and freewill. As unexpected, there is a lack of freewill within the play. For example, the one major performance of free will is the deaths of Romeo and Juliet - their suicides. Although Friar Lawrence did have a major role to play in the build up to their deaths, it was their own decision to kill themselves as illustrated by Juliet, "... O happy dagger! / This is they sheath; there rest, and let me die". The fact that there is a contrast within that line, "happy dagger", shows the complexity of death that followed immediately after that line. ...read more.


This is intensified even more as in Act Three, Scene Two, after the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt is Juliet mourning for her cousin and her husband. Yet again increasing the audience's empathy and grief for the married couple. In conclusion, one can confidently propose that the dramatic effect of the contrasts and opposites in "Romeo and Juliet" derives from the variety of different themes, protagonists and language. By having this, Shakespeare makes the play more interesting and gripping. Unlike modern times, Shakespeare did not have the diverse range of facilities to make his play more attention - grabbing, such as lighting and sound effects that technology provides today, instead he achieves this through his use of language. He also uses many contrasting themes such as Youth and Age. He shows distinct contrasts in age between Lord and Lady Capulet. This creates tension in the audience's mind, as their relationship is full of flaws and mistakes. Shakespeare also decides to include the opposite, fate and freewill in his play. There is a lack of freewill throughout the entire play, only the suicides of Romeo and Juliet themselves. Opposing this, there are several events of fate, for example early on in the play the audience realise that Juliet is fated to be married and that it is fortune that prevents Romeo and Juliet from being together. In order to keep the audience involved in the play Shakespeare uses the contrast between comedy and tragedy effectively. By using the structure of the play, he creates the two emotions by using these dramatic techniques to keep the audience's attention. All these clever techniques used by Shakespeare make the play gripping and enjoyable to watch. ...read more.

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