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How does Shakespeare use language, structure and dramatic devices in Act 3 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet to make it such an exciting, interesting and important scene? How does Zefferelli interpret this to maintain tension in his film version?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare use language, structure and dramatic devices in Act 3 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet to make it such an exciting, interesting and important scene? How does Zefferelli interpret this to maintain tension in his film version? In William Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' he tells the story of the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. They are from rival families, the Capulets and the Montagues, locked in an endless feud with each other, and their love is hidden. When Romeo is banished from the city after slaying Tybalt Capulet, the couple, with help from Friar Laurence, concoct a plan to allow them to be together. However due to several unfortunate incidents, the plan falls into disarray, resulting in the lovers' suicide. 'Romeo and Juliet' is a very dramatic play and Shakespeare uses a variety of dramatic devices, language variation and structure to achieve this. Shakespeare performed before Queen Elizabeth 1 and later James 1 who became an enthusiastic patron of his plays. As though in parallel the English 'Golden Age' of literature arose with Elizabeth's deepening authority and the nation's blossoming prosperity. Several purpose built theatres were built around the city of London after her accession, the first being 'The Theatre' in Shoreditch 1576 by James Burbage. When James Burbage died his son Cuthbert, dismantled 'The Theatre' and had is moved to a site in Southwark near the 'Rose' Theatre. This was the first 'Globe Theatre'. ...read more.

Middle

The plague at that time in Elizabethan England was an incurable and horrific disease that ruined the life of anyone who had the misfortune to catch it. Mercutio wishes it on both Tybalt and his former friend Romeo. His loyalty and allegiance to Romeo has cost him his life, so he no longer feels that loyalty. The contrast between this scene and its predecessor has now increased, with the deaths of Mercutio and then Tybalt. Irony is also an important dramatic device in Act 3 Scene 1. It is dramatic irony that the audience knows about Romeo's wedding to Juliet in this scene, and the other characters don't. This is important as it is because of this irony that Tybalt is looking for a fight with him. Romeo says, "But love thee better than thou canst devise ... And so, good Capulet, which name I tender, As dearly as mine own, be satisfied." Romeo is telling Tybalt that he loves him more that Tybalt can now, and that he treasures the name Capulet as dearly as his own name, Montague. Tybalt does not know about the wedding however and so persists with provoking Romeo. When Mercutio is lethally stabbed he says, "A scratch, a scratch". This is repetition and irony. It is ironic because he knows it is not a scratch and that he has been fatally injured. Mercutio has been seen as a joker throughout the play, and he keeps up this persona during his final moments as well. ...read more.

Conclusion

Sound effects such as shouting, echo's, swords clanging, running, dogs barking, and many more add to the tension in the scene. There is a thin layer of dust on the floor, which during the fight is kicked up by the actors. This adds to the dramatic effect. A steady rhythm is created during the fight, that is destroyed at the arrival of the Prince. This rhythm change helps keep the audience's attention and creates a feeling of unpredictability which is both enthralling and dramatic. There are very little lighting effects used in Zefferelli's interpretation, just natural light, which keeps the film grounded and easier to follow. The plot would seem more complicated if light sequences had been used. Camera angles vary throughout the scene, from birds eye view to give you a view of the whole set, to up-close when Zefferelli wants you to focus on a particular character's facial expression or speech. This variety in camera angles creates an almost frenetic feel keeping the audience hooked on the action. The actors play a crucial role in this scene, as without them, there would be no scene. John McEnery and Michael York play Mercutio and Tybalt, and there is a definite connection between the two actors as they fight. Shakespeare uses a wide variety of dramatic devices, language variation and structure to make Act 3 Scene 1 a dramatic and absorbing scene. It is the pivotal scene and most important scene in the whole play and the Bard manages to keep not only his raucous Shakespearean audiences entertained, but modern day audiences as well. ...read more.

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