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How does Shakespeare initiate and maintain audience interest in Romeo and Juliet with particular emphasis on Act 1 scenes?

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How does Shakespeare initiate and maintain audience interest in "Romeo and Juliet" with particular emphasis on Act 1 scenes? In "Romeo and Juliet" one of the methods that Shakespeare uses to initiate and maintain audience interest is by his use of a prologue. The prologue would initiate the groundling's interest as it gives a brief synopsis of what is to come. However the prologue would also initiate the interest of the upper class, educated members of the audience as it is a sonnet. These members would appreciate the prologue's structure and would respect the fact that it is a fine piece of poetry. The prologue would be recited by a "chorus", this method that Shakespeare uses stems from the Greeks, who also performed this way. The play proper starts with Shakespeare using comedy in the form of puns to maintain audience interest for example in Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 1-5, Shakespeare uses the puns: "carry coals", "colliers", "in choler" and "the collar". The Elizabethan audience would have found this word joke to be the height of comedy and this would most certainly maintain their interest. However in my opinion; I (speaking on behalf of a modern audience) do not find this joke remotely amusing and it would most certainly not if anything aid in reducing my interest in the play. ...read more.


Sampson: I do bite my thumb, sir Abram: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?" This would provoke the audience to shout and jeer at the characters, which makes them feel somewhat included in the proceedings, this ability to somewhat interact with the play would not only maintain but certainly increase the interest of the audience. Shakespeare also uses violence as an aid to maintain audience interest, In Act 1, Scene 1; Line 61 onwards, a fight takes place between the two families: Tybalt: "What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio. Look upon thy death. Benvolio: I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword, or manage it to part these men with me" This fight would certainly captivate the audience and command their total attention. Shakespeare has created the character "Benvolio", his name derives from the word "Benevolent" meaning kindly and willing to help others. I believe that when Shakespeare uses this character he means for the audience to disagree with him; for example in this fight, the audience would not take too kindly to Benvolio's refusal of combat as they favour fights. This point in the play is just one of many where the tension peaks, which leads me on to the next technique that Shakespeare uses. The method that I shall now discuss is the way that the tension on "Romeo and Juliet" oscillates between low tension scenes to scenes that will leave you clinging to the edge of your seat, which could be compared to the oscillation of a seismograph. ...read more.


This maintains the audience's interest as it too allows them to assume the outcomes; in this case will Juliet marry Paris? A different technique Shakespeare made use of was his inclusion of a vast array of description: Act 1, Scene 4, line 53 onwards; The Elizabethans were great believers in fairies and in this piece Mercutio describes Queen Mab, Queen of the fairies. He describes as having a chariot which is "an empty hazel-nut" and a "whip, of crickets bone". This description would be found as extremely appealing by the Elizabethan audience, especially the more educated members of the audience. Another method harnessed by Shakespeare is his use of imagery in the play: Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 41-50 Romeo is talking to himself about Juliet (soliloquy) the descriptive language would allow the audience to imagine Juliet's "beauty", therefore holding their interest. In "Romeo and Juliet" omens are included as an aid to maintain the interest of the audience: "star-cross'd lovers". This then gives the audience a warning prior to the events occurring, giving them an insight of what is in store. Finally, when Romeo and Juliet meet the opening lines are a sonnet which again would be noticed and appreciated by the educated audience. The sonnet contains many words which refer to holiness which describes Juliet as a "holy shrine" and a "saint". This shows the audience that Juliet is angelic and pure, which would certainly attract the audience's attention towards her. ...read more.

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