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How do Shakespeare and Luhrmann portray the ideas of masculinity in Act 3 Scene 1 of 'Romeo and Juliet'?

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How do Shakespeare and Luhrmann portray the ideas of masculinity in Act 3 Scene 1 of 'Romeo and Juliet'? Shakespeare orchestrates the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt in Act3 Scene 1 as the turning point of the play. It is significant as their deaths, are the first to result from the fighting between the Capulet and Montague houses and ensue the earlier confrontation between Benvolio and Mercutio. The tension, here comes to a crisis point. The crisis of Mercutio and Tybalt's death largely determines the ominous fate of Romeo and Juliet. Unlike the earlier street brawl, which was quickly abated by the Prince, Act3 scene 1 most easily portrays the qualities of masculinity, mainly through the interaction between Mercutio and Tybalt. Within the speech Mercutio gives, at the beginning of Act3 scene1, he banters playfully with Benvolio. Shakespeare portrays masculinity through repeated use of violent language such as 'kill the other', 'quarrel', and 'quarrelling'. Shakespeare uses this violent language to be indicative of Mercutio's death, as well as give dramatic effect. As the negativity of death associated with the words, and oncoming irony of his own death impacts the audience, it sets the scene for both Mercutio's and Tybalt's deaths. ...read more.


In contrast Tybalt and the Capulets are shown as anything but effeminate. In the film their black clothing and even stance are very threatening. Once Romeo enters the scene, Tybalt loses interest in Mercutio immediately. After-all Tybalt is seeking Romeo, as he is the one he challenged. But Romeo knows nothing of Tybalt's challenge as he has just come from marrying Tybalt's cousin Juliet, and has not yet gone back to the house. This is dramatic Irony, as the audience knows that Romeo and Juliet have been married but neither Mercutio nor Tybalt do. The audience also knows about the challenge to Romeo, which Romeo has no idea has been made. When Romeo try's to placate Tybalt, 'The reason that I love thee Doth much excuse the appertaining rage to such a greeting' (Romeo cannot kill Tybalt, he is the cousin of his wife), then Mercutio says 'O calm dishonourable vial submission'. Mercutio feels that Romeo is dishonouring himself, and perhaps thinks he is showing cowardice by submitting to Tyblat's authority, which is why Mercutio is angry at Romeo and feels he must take on Tybalt himself. ...read more.


Putting Mercutio on a stage as he dies is very poignant, as his character is very much the showman. However, I also think the use of the stage is Luhrmann attributing the Play 'Romeo and Juliet' back to Shakespeare as the play was written to be performed on the stage and the use of it in the film heightens the sense of drama. The expectations of 'Romeo and Juliet' for the Elizabethan audience would be entirely different to that of the modern audience. By the time Shakespeare wrote, the English enjoyed hearing their language used cleverly. As language for them was very important, Shakespeare focused on it, using it to create the concepts of masculinity through masculine traits like wit, puns and sarcasm. Shakespeare's witty use of language is why I prefer his version of the play, as Luhrmann cuts a lot of the speeches. Luhrmann's interpretation of 'Romeo and Juliet', on the other hand, has to be different as he is filming to entertain a modern audience who expect special effects and a new story rather than clever use of language. Luhrmann therefore uses special effects such as the weather and the use of a stage to heighten the sense of drama as well as punctuate the violence in the story. Jessica Everitt ...read more.

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