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How does Shakespeare create interest and tension for his audience in Act 1 of 'Romeo and Juliet'?

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet How does Shakespeare create interest and tension for his audience in Act 1 of 'Romeo and Juliet'? William Shakespeare was a famous and successful play writer who lived in the Elizabethan times. Some of his most memorable and famous plays were Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Twelth Night and Hamlet. He was successful because he was able to entertain a whole range of people from groundlings to royalty. He used a technique that would grab the attention of anyone, his dialogue. He would use different genres like comedy, romance, action and violence, so it would appeal to all ages and genders. Often he would add a rude joke to lighten things up. In the Elizabethan era it was not known for theatres such as the Globe and Rose to use scenery, props and costumes. In most plays the audience would not know where the scene was set, the time or the weather, but Shakespeare would describe all of these things in the dialogue. The audience could visualise the surroundings of the actors better with this technique. Humour was one of the main genres which contributed in grabbing the audience's attention. Shakespeare uses humour before the fighting because he wants to show the audience how the two enemies provoke each other before the violence starts. This is effective because Sampson and Gregory have an exchange of harsh and rude jokes, the audience now knows that there is going to be fighting but yet are amused. At the start of Act 1 Scene 1 Sampson and Gregory start the scene off with humour. Sampson and Gregory start an argument over a simple misunderstanding. Sampson says 'Gregory, on my word, we'll not carry coals'. Gregory takes what Sampson says the wrong way and replies with 'No for then we should be colliers' this is the misunderstanding between the friends which starts of controversy. The character who brings laughter and entertainment is the nurse, her characteristics are big and bold.The Nurse is a very important character in the play of Romeo and Juliet as she is the surrogate mother to Juliet. ...read more.

Middle

Tybalt notices that Romeo is a Montague and has interest in Juliet, maybe Tybalt's wife-to-be. He grows angry and immediately wants to fight Romeo. He runs to old Capulet and expresses his anger about the trespassing Montague (Romeo), he wants to take action but old Capulet restrains him, calms him down then tells him not to start a fight. This shows how protective Tybalt is about Juliet and if he has this sort of reaction when seeing Romeo just look at Juliet then what might if they were to fall in love the audience might ask themselves. In Act 1 Scene 2 lord Capulet protects his only daughter, Juliet from an early marriage with Paris. Paris asks Capulet for his daughters hand in marriage, but Capulet refuses because he thinks Juliet should have a say in who she marries. Capulet then tells him he should hope for Juliet's love. Capulet tells Paris ' My child is yet a stranger in the world, She hath not seen the change of fourteen years; let two more summers wither in their pride. Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.' Capulet shows the problem then gives a solution to Paris. He first tells him that she is still young at 13 years old and she is a stranger to the world meaning she is not mature yet. He then tells him he should wait another two years and then she will be at the right age. He refers to her being 'ripe' as a fruit would be. This shows that Capulet is protective of his daughter and truly does care for her. For time and era it was unusual for the parents of a girl to give her a say in who she marries, so this would gain the attention of the audience. In Act 1 Scene 3 the audience meets Lady Capulet for the first time, but also accompanied by Juliet and the Nurse. ...read more.

Conclusion

This kind of caring and calm talk softens up the audience and they realise that the nurse is not just a servant to Juliet but also a friend who she can talk to. Shakespeare creates poetic language when Mercutio is carried away by his speech of 'Queen Mab'. Here Mercutio's energetic imagination is used to create a great speech. After talking about Queen Mab he starts to talk about ambushing the enemy, it hasn't got any relevance but he speaks in way that is very poetic and interesting. This grabs the attention of the audience. When Romeo and Juliet first meet at the ball they have a small conversation which forms a sonnet. This grabs the attention of the audience as the sonnet is made by two people who have just met; this is very romantic as they have only just met. Shakespeare is hinting here that it could be the start of a relationship. Sonnets were very popular in the 16th century and they were famously known for being used when talking about love. The sonnet is made up by both Romeo and Juliet; this shows that they are thinking almost the same thing, the love of each other. This is effective as the audience can see that the two lovers are so into each other it will be hard to break them apart. In Act 1 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare has used a number of techniques to capture the audiences attention. He has used a number of genres including Comedy, Violence and Action and Romance and Sex to grab the audience's attention and to make it appealing to different types of people from groundlings to Royalty. The variety of characters would add more interest as each character was unique. Dialogue and poetic language make it more appealing and creates tension and suspense. Tybalt was aggressive and was a famous swordfighter; this would give tension as the audience would know with Tybalt's temper a fight would start. Overall Shakespeare has created interest and tension for his audience of Act 1 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet. ...read more.

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