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How does Shakespeare build up the tension and suspense to make act three scene one dramatically effective?

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How does Shakespeare build up the tension and suspense to make act three scene one dramatically effective? Shakespeare uses a number of methods to create and build up tension and suspense in this scene. These include the choice of characters, the circumstances, the language used, the pace and dramatic irony. The previous scene was one of romance, hope and optimism. Therefore, from the very first line of this scene there is a stark contrast to the previous scene and tension is mounting. The events that play out in this scene mark a turning point in the play for both families as well as Romeo's character and will greatly affect his and Juliet's lives. The first character to speak in this scene is Benvolio. From previous scenes as well as this one the audience learns that the character of Benvolio is a peaceful character who tries to avoid fights and tries to calm other characters down throughout. "I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire." At the very beginning of the scene Benvolio is trying to get Mercutio to go inside so as to avoid fighting because he is feeling uneasy about the circumstances. This is a warning to Mercutio and the audience of what is about to happen. "If we meet we shall not 'scape a brawl, for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring." Benvolio makes it clear that there is already a lot of tension in the air, because of previous events that have occurred on the streets of Verona due to the feud as well as it is very hot. The reason the weather increases the tension is because when it is especially hot people become more irritable and easily annoyed. This is particularly clear by Shakespeare's choice of the words "mad blood stirring". This gives a sense of people responding to the heat in an unreasonable and maybe physical way. ...read more.


Mercutio also calls his sword his "fiddlestick" which would be the bow of a violin, and although it is a joke; he is quite serious about his offer to fight. Benvolio again tries to calm down the situation by asking them to go inside and reason sensibly, however Romeo enters the scene at this point. This immediately increases the tension because Tybalt was out looking for a duel with Romeo in the first place, so the audience knows something has to happen. Tybalt says, "Here comes my man." Again Mercutio takes this as an offence to Romeo, in that he takes it to mean manservant which is someone of a much lower class than himself or Romeo, whether Tybalt meant to be antagonistic or not. Mercutio is very concerned with status in society and honour. Tybalt's first line to Romeo is quite sarcastic and ironic: "The love I bear thee can afford no better term than this: thou art a villain." He begins with the word "love" which is an affectionate term, however he ends with "villain" which dramatically increases the tension because it is such a strong insult that one is honour-bound to duel having been called a "villain". However Romeo has to respond with "love". This is an example of dramatic irony, which Shakespeare uses throughout the scene because the audience knows that Romeo is married to Juliet and has to respect her cousin, however the other characters in the scene do not know this so cannot understand Romeo's response. Tybalt is enraged by this and calls Romeo "boy" which is a contemptuous word and increases the tension because the audience expects a response from Romeo. However, in contrast, Romeo politely calls Tybalt "good Capulet," and once again responds with "love" and alludes to the fact that he and Juliet, Tybalt's cousin, are married. "Capulet, which name I tender as dearly as mine own." ...read more.


Romeo leaves after a moment's hesitation and Benvolio is brought before the Prince. Benvolio falters the Prince and Mercutio with words such as "noble" and "brave". He recounts the story of events, leaving out the fact that Mercutio was the one who started the whole fight between himself and Tyblat. The tension is mounting here because the audience knows that Romeo is guilty of killing Tybalt and they know that the Prince has said that whoever is caught fighting will be killed. The tension is heightened by Lady Capulets plea for Romeo's death. "Romeo slew Tybalt. Romeo must not live." This is especially dramatic because it shows that the feud runs so deep that even the women are ruthless and vicious because of it. The tension is relieved slightly when the Prince and Lord Montague reasons that Romeo killed Tybalt who would have been killed anyway by the law. The audience is given a slight moment where they can think that maybe nothing bad will happen, however the Prince then exiles Romeo on pain of death if he is caught in Verona again. This is important because he and Juliet have not yet consecrated their marriage and may not be able to now if he has to flee, and they are not able to be together. Although the tension is less at the end of the scene, Shakespeare has maintained and built it up throughout this scene because it is the pivotal in the play. Before this scene everything seemed to be going fine, Romeo and Juliet were very much in love and had just been married. Now at the conclusion of this scene they are to be split apart and Mercutio has cursed both families. I think that the most tension was created by the use of dramatic irony, because the audience knew the reason Romeo did not want to fight but Tybalt and Mercutio did not and Romeo did not tell them. This means that the audience feels very tense and may feel like they want to tell Tybalt and Mercutio the reason for Romeo's submission but cannot. Zo� Seager ...read more.

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