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How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in Act 3 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

English Language and English Literature GCSE Coursework How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in Act 3 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet? Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' was set in the medieval period in Verona, Italy. Shakespeare wrote the play in 1595 and got the idea for the play from a poem by Arthur Brooke. In Arthur's version of the play it was set over 3 months yet in Shakespeare's version it was set over a few days to make the play more dramatically effective. Like most of Shakespeare's plays, it has a main plot with many subtexts, the main plot being related to love and tragedy. In Act 3 Scene 1 there is a lot of dramatic tension where the audience constantly have their suspense built up. Throughout the scene tempers are gradually rising and the atmosphere is full of honour, aggression and violence. Act 3 Scene 1 can be seen as a turning point in the play of Romeo and Juliet. It is at this point that things start to go badly wrong resulting in the death of Mercutio and Tybalt, and the banishment of Romeo.This scene is a highly significant part of the play and Shakespeare uses some key devices to keep the audience entranced, that amazingly still satisfy the audience of today. The play deals with numerous themes such as honour and revenge and doesn't forget the necessity of upholding the family name, all of which a Shakespearean audience would be very familiar with. ...read more.

Middle

The actors on stage are confused by Romeo's love for Tybalt. He explains to Tybalt that he harbours no hatred of the Capulet house. Tybalt is unsure of how to deal with Romeo and is determined to challenge Romeo to a duel. Romeo refuses the challenge. "Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries thou hast done me, therefore turn and draw". Here Tybalt insults Romeo and asks for a fight, notice he uses the remark 'boy' emphasising his disgust at Romeo. Romeo himself cannot understand what he has done wrong and is oblivious to the fact that Tybalt saw him at the party. Mercutio is outraged and gives a list of disapproval, "O, calm, dishonourable, vile submission," he thinks Romeo has surrendered. He is disgusted at Romeo for not being loyal, and not upholding the family honour. As a fight begins, between Tybalt and Mercutio, Romeo attempts to stop it by referring back to Act 1, Scene 1 where the Prince warns the two families. He speaks in prose, as it is important and the Shakespearian audience would have understood its meaning and also the language change promotes more tension. When Mercutio is stabbed his initial reaction is to curse both houses. The curse is extremely important as in Elizabethan times people believed in curses and would have been very scared. He mentions how it's their feud that has killed him and threatens them. ...read more.

Conclusion

At this stage the audience will be on the edge of their seats and their minds will be pondering the Prince's reply. Here the audience will have chosen which family is right and if they think Romeo deserves a punishment or was he just taking the law into his own hands? They will either be sad for Tybalt's death or sad for Mercutio's. They will be either happy or mad at Romeo for acting upon his thoughts of revenge, and when the Prince decides upon the punishment, they will be grateful or annoyed at his choice. The Prince passes judgement and banishes Romeo, but the audience will realise the problem when they remember the marriage of Romeo and Juliet. The audience will be very tense and highly laden with questions of what will happen next. Such as, will Juliet ever forgive Romeo? Or even, will they ever see each other again? As you can see, throughout the scene Shakespeare has used many various methods to create dramatic tension within the audience. I think it was highly successful because of these different methods, such as when he has the characters on stage all with completely opposite personalities; it keeps the audience guessing as to how they will react towards each other. Revenge is a key factor in how he accomplished at creating the tension, as it is something that we can all relate to. Within the audience the tension is constantly mounting throughout the whole scene, I think that this is partly due to the questions that are always in their minds, because of Shakespeare's skill as a play write. ...read more.

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