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How effectively does Shakespeare set up the tragedy in the opening act of the play?

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Introduction

Louis Franks 10PC 10X2 11/4/02 How effectively does Shakespeare set up the tragedy in the opening act of the play? William Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet is constructed in a way that the audience is prepared for the inevitable tragedy that follows, after the opening act of the play. In the prologue the audience distinguish the feud between the Montague and Capulets. Later in the act it is certain that Romeo and Juliet will meet at some stage and death for both is looming. The exposition explains to the audience a vague idea of the play, plot and characters. There are many key events with prophetic lines, that are meaningful later in the play. The play begins with an argument which leads to a violent street brawl. This effectively demonstrates the high degree of tensions between the two families. There is no explanation for the conflict between the two families, instead there is action . ...read more.

Middle

During the Capulets traditional party Tybalt, Capulets son sees Romeo and is outraged that he has dared to gate-crash the party. Capulet scolds Tybalt for wanting to pick a fight. Tybalt threatens vengeance. This is a prophecy because there is a big fight the next day that takes Tybalts death. Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time, not realising that they are from opposing families. When they are told they are from conflicting families Romeo looks upon it with dismay, whereas Juliet looks upon it ironically "My only love comes from my only hate". It is this part of the play that the audience wonder what will be the outcome. The fact that they are in love means that the audience fear for their future. On the Sunday the feud and brawl in the streets, followed by prince Escales' speech leads to the banishment of Romeo from the city of Verona. Act 3 takes place on the Monday and Juliet suspects Romeo has died. ...read more.

Conclusion

In an act of revenge Romeo kills Tybalt. This key event leads to the banishment of Romeo, which means the failure of communication regarding Juliet's sleeping potion. Romeo thinks Juliet is dead and takes his own life. And so the tragedy unfolds. Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love at first sight on the Sunday evening, prophetically Romeo says "Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear". Gradually Shakespeare cleverly gives away to the audience what is going to happen at the end of the play but keeps them in suspense until the very end. This proves very effective. He does this through linking key events in the first act to events later in the play. Through the characters he uses prophetic language to give the audience an inkling of what is going to happen later. He explores many themes throughout the play, including many types of love: courtly, familial, artificial and genuine. Events in the play highlight that there is an even balance caused by free-will and fate. This balance makes the audience think how certain events could have been prevented, because +++++++++++++++++of the element of failure of communication. ...read more.

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