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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? In most plays the first act is the most important as it sets the atmosphere, characters and the themes that are to follow in the rest of the play. The first act is used to introduce the main concepts of the play such as the characters, plots, themes, settings and language. "Romeo and Juliet" is a dramatic and emotive play and has many key themes. These themes include love, hate, death, family loyalty and conflict. William Shakespeare uses the opening scenes of his play "Romeo and Juliet" to spark the interest of his audience by giving them an insight of what is to come without giving too much away so that he loses their interest. At the opening of "Romeo and Juliet" there is a prologue. The purpose of a prologue is to give a very brief and vague outline of the plot in the play to come. The prologue to "Romeo and Juliet" is a Shakespearean sonnet which consists of fourteen lines in iambic pentometer and ends in a rhyming couplet. The subject of a sonnet is usually love so this indicates that love will be a strong theme in the play. It tells how the play will end with the deaths of two lovers, but not how this will come about. "From forth the fatal loins of these two foes a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;" this is dramatic irony as ...read more.


This aggressive behaviour is presented to the audience so that it can be developed in later scenes and prepares the audience for the act of killing Mercutio, and we understand more why he has done it as it is in his nature. Another character who is introduced in this first scene and developed later in the play is Benvolio. His name, Benvolio, is very close to the latin, 'benevolus' meaning friendly so this would give the audience an insight into his character before he even spoke. At the time when the play was written this would have been more effective because lots of the audience would have known latin and would be able to anticipate what his character would be like. The first thing that Benvolio says is "Part fools. Put up your swords, you know not what you do", this immediately presents to the audience his role as a mediator which is developed later in the play and used especially in Act III. The way in which William Shakespeare presents the characters and their natures to us at the beginning of the play prepares the audience for the roles that they will play in the following drama. The setting of the ball is introduced in scene II. Within the play, the purpose of the ball is so that Juliet can meet Paris and decide whether or not to marry him, an early indication that romance will develop at the ball. ...read more.


When Romeo and Juliet finally meet and then kiss the mood is very agreeable and there is a general feeling of goodwill. This mood dramatically changes when they find out what households they each come from and that they are lifelong bitter enemies. This is shown when Romeo says "Is she a Capulet? O dear account, my life is my foe's debt." and Juliet later says "My only love sprung from my only hate!" This is the first strong indication that tragedy will arise and the audience can now more clearly predict why the eventual death of the two lovers occurs. The first act has therefore established the themes of love, hate, death, family loyalty and conflict. It has effectively primed the audience for the subsequent acts in the play and prepared them for the drama to come. The controlled release of information allows the audience to anticipate what is going to happen later in the play. Allowing them to know what is going to happen at the end of the play is effective because it helps to hold their attention and makes them want to find out and understand why it happens. By providing the audience with good insights into the characters of the main players, laying the foundation of the main themes and giving background plot knowledge, the audience is well prepared for the drama that is to come. Jennifer Brown 10Z 28/04/07 Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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