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Discuss the role of the Nurse in 'Romeo and Juliet'. Paying particular attention to three scenes where the nurse plays an important role. You may wish to focus on the way she adds humour to the play and the dramatic impact she has on the audience.

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet By Ben Gowland Discuss the role of the Nurse in 'Romeo and Juliet'. Paying particular attention to three scenes where the nurse plays an important role. You may wish to focus on the way she adds humour to the play and the dramatic impact she has on the audience. In this assignment I am going to discuss the role of the Nurse and how she adds humour to the play. Firstly I will talk about the social and historical background of the play 'Romeo and Juliet'. William Shakespeare wrote 'Romeo and Juliet' in the Sixteenth century based on some ideas taken from Arthur Brooke's poem 'The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet' written in 1562. The poem was thought to be boring, so Shakespeare used his ample skill with language to change it so that it would be dissimilar and much more exciting. The play is set in fifteenth century Verona. Romeo and Juliet are children of two very important families, the Montague's and the Capulet's, who loathe each other and are still feuding after many years. His play focuses on the forbidden love affair between the two youngsters, Romeo and Juliet, and the difficulties they have to face to be together. For example Romeo is banished from the city for slaying Tybalt in retaliation and Lord Capulet insists that Juliet marries Paris even though she doesn't love him at all; Juliet is not happy with this at all. The story ends in tragedy when Romeo thinks that Juliet is dead and takes some poison so that he can be reunited with her again. Juliet then wakes but when she sees that Romeo is dead she takes her life by stabbing herself with Romeo's dagger. The play closes with the two grieving families vowing to be reconciled. There have been many different versions of the play going back to the performances at The Globe in Shakespeare's time on a bare stage with very few props and brilliant actors. ...read more.

Middle

(Act 2, scene 4, L171) In Act 2, scene 5, Juliet awaits the Nurse's return with news of her marriage to Romeo. In this scene Juliet proves very fond of the Nurse by using sweet names for her; 'O honey Nurse.' (Act 2, scene 5, L18) Here she is calling her 'honey', which is a loving word and it also makes the audience feel warm. The play is happier now and this scene creates a happy medium in the audience. One of the reasons why Juliet is being so nice to the Nurse is because she wants to know what Romeo has said. She is very clever here, but it does not work as the Nurse prolongs in telling her. The Nurse delays giving Juliet information about the marriage, which creates tension for the audience. This also makes the play much more interesting, creating suspense and drama. The audience are willing the Nurse to tell Juliet. It takes the Nurse from her entrance on line 18 until line 68 to tell Juliet about Romeo awaiting her at Friar Lawrence's cell. This contrasts from how the Nurse is portrayed in the beginning of the play, as she is usually eager to tell Juliet news. The Nurse's effusive language contrasts to Juliet's who uses a direct approach. In Act 3, scene 2 the Nurse tells Juliet about Tybalts death. There is a misunderstanding and Juliet thinks that Romeo is dead. This is a very solemn scene. The Nurse shows that she is upset by using repetition, which is also used when Juliet is thought to be dead too; 'He's dead, he's dead, he's dead!' (Act 3, scene 2, L37) You can see that she is quite shaken as she uses repetition again in line 39, but this time, she repeats the 'he'; 'He's gone, he's killed, he's dead!' (Act 3, scene 2, L39) Later in this scene, the Nurse makes the situation worse. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Act 4, scene 5, L23) The atmosphere and emotion between the characters is intensified as the Nurse tells Lord Capulet bluntly that Juliet is dead. She demonstrates her emotional personality once again, proving that she is never quiet. It is ironic that the Nurse shouts 'my lady' when Juliet is dead, as throughout the play she called her 'my child'. Nurse is so shocked because she thinks Juliet has passed away. She finds it hard to find words, which is emphasised by the way she repeats things. This is ironic because she talked a lot throughout the play. She also uses a lot of alliteration, which is extremely effective in creating the atmosphere. Even in this scene the nurses humour is evident as for once she has nothing to say. In the final scenes the nurse is not included. You could argue that Shakespeare ignored her character because she had betrayed Juliet. In conclusion the role of the nurse is an important one, as it is she who creates tension. The audience is able to gain a further understanding into the roles of both Romeo and Juliet, because of the way they interact with the nurse. Although it may not apparent at first, it is clear that the nurse is the character who makes the play work. Her role is such that if her character were absent from the play, it would definitely not have concluded in the way it does. It is the nurse who has a major role in developing the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, and at the same time it is her who is partly responsible for their deaths. It can be argued that the nurse has many functions within the play. To summarize, these are that of a go between, a surrogate mother and to add humour to the play. She creates dramatic irony and enables development of the plot and other characters. Overall, Shakespeare uses the nurse as a tool to move the play forward. The nurse's role is of paramount importance and it can be said that the play would not function without her. ...read more.

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