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ROMEO AND JULIET

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare use the character of the nurse for dramatic effect in Romeo and Juliet? Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most famous plays. It is set in Verona, Italy and Shakespeare set the play here because the Elizabethans believed it was a very wealthy and romantic city. The play contains a lot of strong passion and love which is violent, ecstatic, and has an overpowering force, along with hatred. Romeo and Juliet doesn't give a stable moral between love, religion and family but it portrays the chaos and passion of actually being and falling in love. It combines images of death leading to the plays tragic conclusion. The well known tragedy is heart wrenching and is centred on the story of two families; the Capulets-(Juliet) and Montagues-(Romeo.) When feuds break out in the street servants and fellow family members are killed. Still, through love at first sight, the star-crossed lovers fall passionately for each other, and all that's wanted is to be together, no matter what! Denying the possible consequences Romeo and Juliet secretly marry, but when Juliet's parents find her a man to marry-(Paris) she gets herself into a mess, and believes that poisoning herself is the only option open to her. During the time Shakespeare wrote the play, the impact parents had on relationships and religion was very strong, it was a male dominated society and it was fathers who were able to make the decisions for their wives and children. ...read more.

Middle

Deep down she mourns for her daughter and husband "And then my husband-God be with his soul, a' was a merry man", "Susan and she-god rest all Christian souls". These quotes show her love for her dead daughter and husband. Yet she still delivers excitement and sexual jokes throughout. In this way Shakespeare makes her a realistic character. Because the nurse is of a lower class she therefore has lower morals in the Elizabethans eyes and she makes very rude sexual jokes in act 1 scene 3 of the play. Shakespeare has done this to keep up the comedy in the play and keep the characters personality. Act 1 scene 3 shows us the nurse's physical view of love, "'Yea,' quoth he, 'dost thou fall upon thy face? Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit!" The quote is a view of sex, making a double meaning of an innocent fall. It brings a more down to earth interpretation of what a young man can do to young women. Interestingly, she knows precisely how young, Juliet is but makes no effort to suggest that is a problem. However, womanhood was seen differently in Elizabethan times, as Paris tells us, "Many younger than she are made mothers." Rude humour occurs as embarrassing jokes are made about Juliet's childhood tumble, "A bump as big as a young cockerel's stone," saying she used to have a bump as big as a cockerels testicle! ...read more.

Conclusion

In Elizabethan society women were not allowed to be a part of the acting profession and men would play all of the parts. It was not considered unusual for them to act out a woman's part as this was what people were used to. The part of the nurse being played by a man would perhaps allow the character to get away with the bawdy jokes. Today in the 21st century this would be most unusual except for the comical pantomime dames. The nurse also shows her lack of education by the language she uses when she speaks not just by her rude jokes. Shakespeare's lower classes speak in prose whilst the nobility speak in blank verse. Prose always gives way to blank verse when the more aristocratic members of the cast deliver their lines. Blank verse tries to capture the natural rhythms of speech, it mainly consists of unrhymed iambic pentameters; an example of this can be: "What says he of our marriage? What of that?" This is a line with 10 syllables, five of which are stressed. When looking at the comical jokes and comments the nurse makes she is using very shocking words. She is a very bold and individual person who is outspoken; and we see this from the language and the way her speech is delivered. She naturally contrasts with Juliet who speaks in blank verse not prose. However, at one point the nurse does speak blank verse and this shows how her position is elevated as she takes responsibility for Romeo and Juliet's situation. ...read more.

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