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For a tragedy, there is plenty of comedy to be found in Romeo and Juliet.' Discuss. There is comedy present throughout Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but what has been a typical romantic

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Introduction

'For a tragedy, there is plenty of comedy to be found in Romeo and Juliet.' Discuss. There is comedy present throughout Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but what has been a typical romantic comedy until the pivotal Act III Scene 1 then rapidly descends into a tragedy. The humour is still there, but turns more to black comedy. The obvious humour is provided by the deliberately comic characters such as Mercutio and Nurse. Peter and the musicians have smaller parts but are brought in specifically for comedy. Mercutio can be described as witty or even fantastical, whereas Nurse's personality gives us the crude and earthy comedy. The play opens with a type of comedy but underlying it is a sense of danger and violence. Sampson and Gregory are bickering over how working is difficult and express their hatred for the Montagues through some very crude jokes about rape - "and thrust his maids to the wall"; yet it is all delivered in a comic manner. The famous line "Do you bite your thumb at us sir?" is the beginning of a comic but violent sequence of events. We can see examples of Mercutio's comic part in such scenes as Act II Scene 1 and Act III Scene 1. In Act II Scene 1 we have Mercutio trying to draw Romeo out to him by provoking him using elements of comedy. ...read more.

Middle

The nurse's crude comments are ever present throughout the first half of Romeo and Juliet and include such unsubtle phrases as: "No less, nay bigger women grow by men." and "Go girl, seek happy nights to happy days" in Act I Scene 3.This scene involved Juliet and Lady Capulet having a serious conversation about her pending marriage but all seriousness is taken away by random inappropriate comments by Nurse in between sentences. Lady Capulet is very embarrassed by Nurse yet tries to hide the fact that she is even talking which adds to the comedy. Nurse actually brings out the comic personalities in Juliet and Lady Capulet here and in other scenes. Another example is Act II Scene 5, when Nurse arrives back to Juliet after her meeting with Romeo and Mercutio. Nurse's constant delaying of her answer to Juliet's questions is highly amusing to the audience (if frustrating to Juliet) At one point she even replies with, "...and a kind, and a handsome, and I warrant a virtuous, where is your mother?"; this is a very off-the-wall comment which confuses the audience but is very funny. The audience notice that Juliet rarely uses comedy - she is mainly a serious character - focusing on the main aspect of the play, thus "Romeo and Juliet". Nurse ends the scene with an anticlimax which destroys the meaning of this scene- she tells Juliet to go and ask Friar Laurence about the terms to the marriage while she searches out a rope ladder! ...read more.

Conclusion

The ironic black comedy is ever present in this scene, especially when Capulet orders Nurse to wake Juliet - "Go waken Juliet, go and trim her up". In the scene directly after that, Nurse is sent to wake Juliet, but she does not know she is dead. For twenty lines Nurse waffles on; "Sleep for a week, for the next night I warrant The County Paris hath set up his rest" - Nurse is making crude jokes to Juliet (which are indeed amusing). But then suddenly she realises Juliet is 'dead', "Alas, alas, help, help, my Lady's dead" and the comedy is at an end with Nurse genuine grief. This uncomfortable irony (Juliet previously mentioned she would rather kill herself than marry Paris) ends the Nurse's humour and in fact, ends her part in the play. This black comedy is used for contrast and as an effect against tragedy itself. It is noticeable that comedy is in fact present through most of Romeo and Juliet, both where we would expect - times of great joy and celebration (crude and earthy humour; Mercutio's fantastical humour and the double entendres which are ever present in the first half of the play), and in times of sorrow and pain, which turns to black, ironic humour to make the audience feel uncomfortable, and throughout the play humour is used as a foil to contrast with the violent and later tragic undertones which threaten the peace. ?? ?? ?? ?? Edward Gooch ...read more.

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