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How far does Act 1 prepare the audience for the drama to come?

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How far does Act 1 prepare the audience for the drama to come? Shakespeare has written a tragedy, hoping to prepare the audience for the events that are to come. This is mainly done in Act One, as he uses this to introduce the main characters (not including Friar Lawrence), and the type of people they are. He also introduces essential themes, like the fighting between the two households, and the important role that love plays. However, even though Shakespeare has prepared the audience for what is to come, he has not said how, and therefore the audience are still in suspense as to why the whole episode occurred. The first thing that the audience are presented with is the prologue, or the chorus. This conjures up many thoughts and themes, as it is used to comment on the events of the play. Shakespeare uses a technique called dramatic irony, which means that the audience already know what is going to happen before it actually takes place. Therefore, the dramatic function of the chorus is to inform the audience of the outcome. Many images are presented in this. The first two lines immediately set the scene. The quote "two households" automatically tells the audience that there are two different families involved in the play. It then goes on to say "both alike in dignity", telling the audience that both families must be quite high standing and worthy. "In fair Verona" in Italy is where the play is set. This is probably because the Italian community were known to be very arrogant, fitting in with the theme of fighting and dignity. Also, if the play was set in England then the English community may have been offended, and therefore the play would not have been as successful as it was. The audience then discover a little more about the play as, they know that is an ongoing feud, or an "ancient grudge" between the two families. ...read more.


This already brings some confusion to the play, as the audience should have already noticed that Romeo and Juliet are destined to be together. Therefore Paris is a potential threat to Romeo, and the audience can make more predictions as to what future events make occur. Plus, Lord Capulet talks of his other children like the "earth hath swallowed all my hopes", implying that Juliet is his last chance to show his success through his children. Then the first reference of the ball is made when Lord Capulet asks Peter, a servant, to find all the people "Whose names are written" on the invitation, and to ask them to attend the ball. Coincidentally, Peter cannot read so therefore goes out searching for help, bumping into Benvolio and Romeo. Peter then asks Romeo to read for him- "I pray can you read anything you see". Romeo and Benvolio then find out about the ball, and that Romeo's love, "fair niece Rosaline", will be attending too. This is the first time Rosaline's name is mentioned, and the audience can see that Romeo is already at risk for being with Rosaline, as she is the niece of Lord Capulet. In the rest of this scene Benvolio persuades Romeo to go to the ball, and see other "beauties of Verona". He also says that he will make "thy swan", Rosaline, look like "a crow". Romeo is reluctant at first, but then agrees to go along- "I'll go along"- not thinking about the risk he is taking by going to an enemy's ball. In this scene the audience are prepared for Romeo's first sight of Juliet, because Benvolio's remarks create a sense of anticipation-"Compare her face with some that I will show". The quote "...some other maid That I will show you shining at this feast" shows the future, because when Romeo gets to the ball, a girl does stand out above every other one, and it is not Rosaline. ...read more.


Unfortunately, the perfect meeting of the two lovers disintegrates once Romeo discovers that Juliet is a Capulet. When Romeo says, "Is she a Capulet", he is talking to himself, as he has just realised that his life is his "foe's debt". Juliet also discovers the truth from the nurse- "His name is Romeo, and a Montague". Now Juliet knows Romeo is the "son of your great enemy", the Montague's, Juliet feels the same as Romeo- "only love sprung from my only hate". Juliet then makes a very important statement- "Too early seen unknown, and known too late". By this Juliet means that before she knew Romeo was a Montague, she fell madly in love with him. Now, that she knows who it is, it is already too late, as she has already is in love with "a loathed enemy". This reflects the importance of names and secrecy, as Juliet is not allowed to tell anyone, apart from her nurse, that she loves an enemy. This adds tension to the surroundings, and prepares the audience for the drama to come, as they now know how much in love Romeo and Juliet are. In conclusion, it is obvious that Shakespeare has used Act One to prepare the audience for the drama to come. He has used it as a crescendo, so the events are being built up as time goes by. There is also a lot of dramatic irony, which in this case is very effective. The audience know what is going to happen, but not how it is going to happen, leaving them in suspense. Therefore Act One also develops some of the mysteries that were mentioned in the Chorus. Act One also ends on a cliffhanger, as the lovers have just met, and nothing drastic has happened, so the audience are still left in suspense. Shakespeare has used a very interesting technique, because the preparation in Act One has made the rest of the play much more effective. Over all, Romeo and Juliet was a successful play due to the abstract and dramatic techniques that Shakespeare used. 1 ...read more.

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