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How does Shakespeare create tension for the audience in Romeo and Juliet Act 1 Scene 3?

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Introduction

Rosy Martin-Ross 11a Ms. Davids English coursework assignment October 2005 In Romeo and Juliet Act 3 scene 1, how does Shakespeare create tension for the audience? Act 3 scene 1 is a pivotal point in the play, where a substantial amount of tension is created for the audience in many different ways as we work our way through such a crucial point. The essence of what takes place in the scene is that Mercutio dies in a fight with Tybalt as he took Romeo's place because Romeo rose above the fight. However in a state of disarray and distress caused by of his friend's death, Romeo went on to kill Tybalt. Resulting in the Prince banishing Romeo from Verona where the play is set. Act 3 is shown throughout Shakespeare's plays to have always been such a pivotal act, for example in Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra and many other Shakespearean plays. The reason for this being that Shakespeare followed the ancient Greek structure for tragedies in all of his tragedies, Act 1 being the introduction and the beginning of a series of questions. For example in Romeo and Juliet in act 1 we meet the characters and at first Romeo is in love with Rosaline, but at the end falls for Juliet, this leads us to question the authenticity of his love. ...read more.

Middle

This is because, in turn, the understatement primarily has a counter effect of creating tension as the audience already know that Mercutio is about to die - they are just waiting for it to happen. A last technique used to create tension for the audience in Mercutio's final speech is when is when he takes his last chance to say what he thinks of Tybalt. He says "a braggart, a rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of arithmetic" (i.e. there is no personality to the way he fences). This creates tension because the audience would have been waiting to see what happens next. Another way that Shakespeare creates tension is not through a literary technique, but through the story line, how both Mercutio and Tybalt die. Mercutio is close to Romeo, and Tybalt to Juliet. So in a way the score is evened when some one from each side dies. The resulting factor is that the tension is up in the audience; they are waiting to see which way it will go next. Even though the audience know that Romeo and Juliet are both going to die, the tension is still augmented because it is Romeo who killed Juliet's cousin, and the audience are eager to see how she will react to this - she is stuck in the middle. ...read more.

Conclusion

To conclude, Shakespeare uses many different techniques in order to create tension for the audience. These being: dramatic irony, euphuism, the language, the story line, the Prince and entrances and exits. Throughout the scene the levels of tension increase and decrease because of these techniques. At the beginning there is only slight tension because the Capulets are about, it then increases when Tybalt arrives and even more so when Mercutio and then Tybalt die. However the tension decreases slightly after their deaths, but rises steeply when the citizens arrive and again when the Prince arrives, from then on it falls gently whilst Benvolio recounts the story because the audience already know what happened. However the tension climaxes at the end when everyone is in a frenzy about the punishments to be made and the Prince makes the decision. This is for the reason above - the Prince decides what should happen so therefore there is tension when he is about to speak; this is why Shakespeare left his speech until the end so as to end the scene on a climax of tension. Word count = 1546 ...read more.

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