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How Does Act 1 prepare the reader in 'Romeo and Juliet' for the events that are to come in the rest of the play?

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Introduction

English Coursework: How Does Act 1 prepare the reader in 'Romeo and Juliet' for the events that are to come in the rest of the play? In Act 1, the audience are introduced to the major conflicts of the Capulets and Montagues, via the fighting of the servants. Whilst this is happening, Benvolio is convincing Romeo to take his mind off of the one he "loves," and go to the Capulet ball, however Romeo insists that he has eyes for no one except Rosaline, that is until he meets Juliet. It is important that the audience are able to make links to predict events because it helps them to feel involved in the play. Act 1 Scene 1 is set on a street in Verona, where we see two Capulet servants: Sampson and Gregory, who are bragging about their part in the feud with the Montagues. This is where we first see Shakespeare's use of puns and double meanings, for example we hear Gregory say "To move is to stir, to be valiant is to stand." They appear to be talking about courage, but "to stir" means to have sex and "to stand," means to have an erection, which also introduces Shakespeare's uses of Bawdy language, which becomes a major part of the Nurses character. This is a link to the rest of the play as it shows that bawdiness will be a part in the play. The Audience may feel that this is an unusual opening to the play, as it is humorous and fast paced, therefore the audience would probably know from the prologue "death-marked love" that it is a tragic storyline that would expect it to be slow paced and emotional. ...read more.

Middle

He says that Hate causes turmoil in the streets whereas Love causes turmoil inside of himself. This links to other events in the play as it shows the contrast of love and violence, such as the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, they both committed suicide due to the one they love being dead. Other deaths caused by love were Tybalt's (Romeos love and respect for Mercutio,) Paris' (Romeos love for Juliet and him wanting to visit her tomb) and Lady Montague's (Her love for Romeo when he was exiled) The Audience would think that Romeo is a very emotional character at this stage in the play and when Benvolio makes the suggestion that Romeo should "Go thither (Capulet Ball) and compare her face with some that I shall show," they might think that Benvolio is insensitive as Romeo is so persistent that he does not want to do this. However, this is ironic as Romeo meets Juliet at the Capulet ball and falls in love with her. In Scene 2 we see Capulet and Paris talking about Juliet and the possibility of Paris being wed to her. Paris asks Capulet whether he could marry Juliet but Capulet believes she is two young as "she hath not seen the change of fourteen years" but he states that his "will to her consent is but a part" therefore it is Juliet's decision. The audience may think that Capulet is a respectful man that is not the stereotypical father of the time who forces his daughter to get married, however, this is ironic as he does force her to marry him in Act 3 Scene 5. ...read more.

Conclusion

She also states that whoever "can lay hold of her shall have the chinks." Which sounds as though she is trying to set Romeo and Juliet up, rather than stop it whilst she has the chance. This links to the balcony scene, as the Nurse had the ability to stop the relationship there as well, as she knew that Romeo was a Montague. But, I think that the Nurse did the right thing in letting the relationship continue as it is not her position to decide on Juliet's love life and it shows her respect for Juliet. With this, Romeo realises that he has fallen in love with a Capulet "My life is my foe's debt," and Juliet herself discovers that she has fallen in love with her 'enemy.' She then says to herself that her "only love sprung from her only hate. Too early seen unknown, and known too late." Showing that she feels far too much for him to be able to stop the relationship. Juliet then hides her thoughts and feelings from the nurse and goes off to join her mother. In conclusion I think that there are a great deal of links between act 1 and the rest of the play that help to prepare the audience for the up and coming events. It gives a taster of the characters and their traits and shows the audience what will happen in the form of the contrast between fighting and love. The prologue gives away the storyline but still leaves the audience asking questions. Altogether, I believe that Shakespeare included links to the rest of the play in act 1 so that the Audience could get a feel for the play and become more involved. Mark Tugwell I ...read more.

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