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How does Shakespeare present the idea of contrast in the Play? (Romeo and Juliet)

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Introduction

Katrina Williamson 10R 17/4/04 How does Shakespeare present the idea of contrast in the Play? Romeo and Juliet is one of first tragedies Shakespeare wrote yet one of the most enjoyable plays. One of the reasons that it is so enjoyable is because Shakespeare uses so much contrast throughout the whole play. He contrasts themes, characters, language and structure to make the play exciting and keep the audience on their toes. Some of the main contrasting ideas are life and death, love and death and light and dark. Right at the beginning of the play, in the prologue there is contrast. Shakespeare uses language to demonstrate the idea of contrast. He includes oxymorons and oppositions such as 'star-cross'd lovers' and death-mark'd love'. These oxymorons are figures of speech that put two opposing ideas together. Ill-fated love, love that is doomed to death and deadly loins are not the sort of terms that we imagine hearing as they are very conflicting. There is a lot of contrasting language in Juliet's speech in Act 3, Scene 2. ...read more.

Middle

Like Benvolio and Mercutio - Benvolio is there to calm Mercutio down and Mercutio helps Benvolio to live a little. To add a bit more excitement Shakespeare places two contrasting scenes side by side. In Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare is trying to change the mood very quickly into its contrasting theme/ idea like happiness and sadness, life and death, weddings and funerals. An example of this would be Act 4 .In Scene 4 it is quite a happy and lively atmosphere as it is the day of the wedding of Paris and Juliet, 'Mass, and well said; a merry whoreson, ha!' says Capulet. He is making wedding arrangements and sends the Nurse to awaken Juliet. Then in Scene 5 everyone is in sadness as they find out Juliet is dead. As you can see these two scenes, one after each other, completely contrast, from life, happiness and marriage to death, sadness and funeral. He contrasts scenes from the very beginning of the play, too. The beginning of the play shows us conflict and hatred, 'Turn thee, Bevolio, look upon thy death'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This could be Shakespeare telling us that we can't have or feel one thing without feeling the other, for example, we can't feel happiness without sadness, there's no life without death and there's no light (day) without darkness (night). Shakespeare has brought all of the contrasting themes together by the end of the play and we have experienced lots of different themes. In my opinion, Shakespeare does not present contrast as two separate things that must not be together, but as two things that should exist for the other one to make sense and must interlink in our life as they did in Romeo and Juliet. The play works so well because contrast adds an extra sense of realism into the play which makes the audience feel more involved in the play. If the whole play was based on only one of the two, like love, happiness, marriage, light and life, we would not accept it as real because we know that life is not really like that. Shakespeare manages to presents the idea of contrast in absolutely amazing way that we are actually fooled into believing it's really happened and feel passionate about it. ...read more.

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