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Focusing on Shakespeare's craft as a playwright and the way in which he is able to manipulate language for effect, discuss the dramatic significance of Act 3 Scene I of "Romeo and Juliet"

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Introduction

Focusing on Shakespeare's craft as a playwright and the way in which he is able to manipulate language for effect, discuss the dramatic significance of Act 3 Scene I of "Romeo and Juliet" Act 3 Scene I in "Romeo and Juliet" plays a very important part in how the play is altered dramatically from a love story to a tragedy. "Romeo and Juliet" is the story of how two lovers from rival families died together for their love. In Shakespeare's time it would have already been a well known story, having been written originally based upon a long poem called "Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet" which was written in 1562, with "Romeo and Juliet" only being published as a play 35 years later in 1597. However, the poem was also based on other versions of the play, and these in turn based on other sources, so in fact the tragedy of two lovers dates back to ancient myth with the tale of "Pyramis and Thisbe". Because the audience was already familiar with the story, the success of "Romeo and Juliet" in Elizabethan time, relied upon Shakespeare's craft as a playwright and the way in which he can manipulate language. Before concentrating on how Shakespeare's language and craft as a playwright make this scene dramatically significant, the context in which this scene is in must first be considered. ...read more.

Middle

Firstly, Mercutio's name itself means 'mercurial', a word which means 'mood is changeable'. This suggests that whenever Mercutio is around anything could happen. He is only in four scenes throughout the play, Act 3 Scene I, but also Act 1 Scene IV, Act 2 Scene I and Act 2 Scene IV. In Act 1 Scene IV, Mercutio changes the mood of Romeo an persuades him to come to the party; in Act 2 Scene I the group of friends, including Mercutio, see Romeo jumping over the orchard wall to get to Juliet; and in Act 2 Scene IV Mercutio comments on how Romeo's mood is now "sociable" and not "groaning for love". In Act 3 Scene I, Mercutio changes the mood from the friendly teasing of Benvolio, to an argument with Tybalt which results in Tybalt's and Mercutio's deaths. His presence and the consequences of his actions also change Romeo's mood from wanting to love Tybalt and be at peace with him, to wanting to kill him. The way that Shakespeare has also formatted Mercutio's speech as prose in stead of iambic pentameter, suggests that the mood of the scene could be changeable. It also suggests something about Mercutio's character, because in plays from Shakespeare's time, people who spoke in prose could be considered as clever and witty, but also verging on madness at the same time, leading the audience or reader to believe that Mercutio could be disruptive to peace and cause a tense atmosphere. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another grammar technique that is used is where Mercutio is dying and repeats, "A plague o' both your houses" three times, on lines 90, 98-99, and 106. This accentuates the curse that he is placing on them, and he even repeats it in a shortened form as he is being carried away, just saying, "Your houses!" This creates more suspense and because they are the last words we hear Mercutio say, we think that his curse alters the course of the story. Rhyming couplets are also used by Shakespeare. In lines 142-145, Benvolio speaks in rhyming couplets, for example: "O noble Prince, I can discover all The unlucky manage of this fatal brawl." It is used to emphasise this short speech because he is speaking truthfully and it is a summary of what has happened so it sticks in the reader's head. Therefore, when something terrible happens later in the play, the reader's mind is cast back to this memorable speech. The same applies to Prince Escalus' speech from line 186-197. He also uses rhyming couplets, for example: "But I'll amerce you with so strong a fine That you shall all repent the loss of mine." Shakespeare uses rhyming couplets in this case so that we remember that Romeo has been exiled from the city and if he returns he will be killed. So, when Romeo returns to the city later on in the play, we will remember what Prince Escalus said, and the dramatic tension will already have been built up. ...read more.

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