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How does Shakespeare make the prologue and act 1 exciting, dramatic and memorable for the audience? How does he prepare us for the tragedy to come?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare make the prologue and act 1 exciting, dramatic and memorable for the audience? How does he prepare us for the tragedy to come? "Romeo and Juliet" is a tragedy that tells the story of two lovers and their tragic death, "a pair of star cross'd lover's take there life" due to the hatred that exists between their families, "from ancient grudge breaks new mutiny". The themes are love and hatred with fate overshadowing the entire play. Tragedy originated in ancient Greece, more specifically in Athens where it formed an important part of Athenian culture with the word tragedy itself coming from the Greek word meaning "goat-song". Of the thousands of plays wrote during the 5th century only 31 have survived of which 3 are complete texts, they are Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. Tragedy is written adhering to certain rules. The featured characters are from aristocratic backgrounds and the play must end with the tragic death of the heroes. This is displayed in the play by Romeo and Juliet who are both from wealthy families and the ultimatum of the play is their deaths. Shakespeare wrote "Romeo and Juliet" in 1595/6; plagiarising an earlier poem entitled "the tragicle history of Romeos and Juliet" by Arthur Brooke in 1562 although Brooke himself copied earlier novelettes from Italy named "la Juileta". The most obvious differences between the play and poem is that the chronology spans five days in order to make it more engaging for the audience compared to the poem which takes place over nine months and Shakespeare's inclusion of the characters Mercutio and the Nurse. These are both important characters, with the Nurse acting as a link between Romeo and Juliet, whilst Mercutio guides Romeo and leads him to the party where the lovers first meet. His fierce temperament match's Tybalt but also contrasts with Benvolio's temperament balancing the effect on Romeo. ...read more.

Middle

Just like the chance meeting with the servant, this is fate. Scene 5 starts in a light-hearted way, showing the contrasting way in which the play is structured, with the Capulet servants providing the comic relief in order to balance out the dourness and austerity of Romeo's demeanour in the previous scene, which helps the audience to relax. As the servants exit, the hosts Capulet and Lady Capulet, as well as Tybalt, Juliet, the nurse and their party guests enter. Capulet starts the party with a short speech welcoming the guests and encouraging them to dance. When the dancing begins, he reminisces with his cousin about their youth. It's now that Romeo first see's Juliet and is at once smitten with her beauty, this shows that she is the embodiment of pure beauty. He professes over this saying "so shows a snowy dove trooping with crows, as yonder lady o'er her fellows shows". This being ironic as he earlier stated to Benvolio that all other girls compared to Rosaline are crows which proves to be untrue. Romeo's voice is overheard by tybalt who reacts viciously demanding his sword "this, by his voice, should be a Montague, fetch me my rapier boy". This signals the return to violence and bloodshed is only stopped when tybalt storms past lord Capulet who enquires to where he is going leading tybalt to explain Romeo's presence. Capulet forbids tybalt from confronting Romeo, arguing that Romeo is conducting himself in an orderly manner "He bears him like a portly gentleman". Capulet's reaction shows that he may not be a especially violent person and may welcome peace. Tybalt obeys his uncle but is still aggressive and promises revenge saying "I will withdraw , but this intrusion shall, now seemingly sweet convert to bitterest gall". This threat is foreshadowing the latter violence in which Tybalt kills Mercutio and also the fact that it refers to gall again pointing to Romeo's death. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shakespeare uses a series of dramatic devices throughout the first act and the prologue in order to prepare us for the tragedy to come. For example dramatic irony is used when Romeo talks about his love for Rosaline and how he is unable to love any other girl while the audience knows that he will fall in love with Juliet shortly after. Foreshadowing is used extensively during the first act to hint at the events to come. For example when Romeo describes love as a "choking gall" it is describing his own death by poison which he does not realise making this also dramatic irony. Gall is referred to twice more in the first act reinforcing this point and showing how the deaths are perhaps fated. Dramatic contrast is used not only in act 1 but throughout the entire play with love intumescing the bleak hatred and violence and comic relief from the dourness of both love and haste when the two integrate. The use of language throughout the play is vastly significant from the obviousness of the servant's blank verse dialect in contrast with the elocution of the main characters prose "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night" to the more specific features like oxymorons "O brawling love, o loving hate". Oxymorons are used to show the contradiction of some of the themes such as the aforementioned example spoken by Romeo showing that love and hate and not to far apart. The queen Mab Overall, Shakespeare makes the first act exciting and dramatic by setting the scene excellently while introducing more and more of the story preparing with his use of foreshadowing. He makes each character necessary providing them with play shaping roles and in the case of some such as Mercutio gives them memorable lines and traits. The prologue is very effective for opening the play while the first scene is extensive in content of dialogue, action, characters and the opposing themes. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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