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Romeo and Juliet

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet coursework. How do the scenes of violence act 1 scene 1 and act 3 Scene 1 contribute to the enjoyment and understanding of the play Romeo and Juliet? In the 16th century the theatre was a major form of entertainment. Shakespeare had to make sure that his plays were suitable for all ages. In the theatre the audience were disrespectful and if they didn't like the play; they would react in a very ill mannered way. Shakespeare's plays were watched by people of different statuses; from rich to poor, farmers and noblemen. In Act 1 Scene 1 the theme of violence is represented by having a dramatic opening to grab the audience's attention. The play starts with a fight straight away this then interests the audience as they were familiar with sword fights. The prince then answers the question that may linger on many of the audiences minds, what consequences are there going to be? The prince answers this question by making his speech "the next person that disturbs the peace of our streets, their lives shall pay the forfeit of that peace." This is a key quotation of the play. The language used is archaic and would have been familiar to audiences at that time. Also insults would have been taken very serious at that time "do you bite your thumb at us sir?" this was a serious insult at that time. Moving on, the servants attempt to outwit one another and exchange jokes, they deride. The word "Sir" is often said by the servants of both houses, and doesn't suggest any trace of formal addressing, instead a sheer mock of one's polite addressing to another. As does the line "I do bite my thumb" appear to be mocked. The characters' inner selves begin to emerge as dim, foolish boys; their unoriginal and un-justified lines prove that. The idea of mockery is poorly kept because ever so slowly tension is arising. ...read more.

Middle

Other characters such as Sampson and Gregory, who are the servants of the servants of the house of Capulet don't have a bit part in this scene. However they entertain the audience by insulting the house of Montague and insulting women "I'll cut off their maiden heads." These two characters challenge each other, each one trying to be better than the other; they also show attitudes to women "thrust his maids to the wall." This shows the little respect they have for women; they are being arrogant to make out that women are inferior. Women were treated with lack of respect, by all people including their families; some were forced to marry men who they didn't like "thrust" shows the aggression and violence that Gregory feels towards women. Act three Scene one starts with the quotation "tis the mad blood stirring," demonstrating the belief that hot weather caused madness. So Benvolio being a peacemaker warns Mercutio and tells him to go inside "let's retire." This reminds the audience about Benvolio's character a true peacemaker; I think that the audience would probably wonder if he will be so calm and peaceful when it comes to family honour. This scene is a major turning point of the play afterwards the play has less comedy, more aggression and sorrow. This scene continues with the theme of violence through insults and puns "good king of cats; nothing but one of your nine lives," "you rat-catcher Tybalt." Animal imagery is also used "zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat, to scratch a man to death!" this shows how serious Mercutio is and the continuous use of insults show that he cannot express what he is trying to say. This also reminds the audience that Tybalt was referred to as a prince of cats- mainly because he always gets himself into a fight and then appears unharmed. Risks his life a lot just like a cat and finds a way out of it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Just then Romeo realises what he has done, he was too ignorant to see it coming before and was too busy worrying about his reputation. "I am a fortune's fool," "Fortune" means fate, or chance; in this case it's affected by what he's done. He demonstrates that he sees himself as humiliated and unintelligent, and nearly ridicules his life's improvements and developments. He was so eager to get back his status and refraining from cowardice that he ended up getting himself banished. This violence is quiet effective because it interests the audience, building tension after each character's speech. I think that Shakespeare has carefully chosen the words he wants and put them where they are most effective and most enjoyable for the audience. Varying the length of the sentences; short snappy sentences increasing the pace and tempo. All adds up to the build up of violence and suspense at once. Exciting the audience. I think that the violence would not help an audience today because feuds are not common anymore. The insults used n the 16th century were only understood by Elizabethan audiences. Insults like biting your thumb and calling someone a villain would not insult anyone, in fact it might humour them because they don't know what you're on about. Sometimes stupidity also creates humour. But the violence would be helpful as to grabbing the audience's attention and keeping them at edge. In my opinion the play Romeo and Juliet would not make sense without these two violent scenes. The play would just be meaningless and would have no direction is was heading towards. Since the audiences were volatile, they would not stay to watch the rest of it. This play in my opinion is a major success as Shakespeare combine comedy and tragedy. The structure of Act one Scene one was laid out so that each point leads onto the next. Mercutio's death leads to Tybalts death, which leads to Romeo's banishment. This structure is not spotted at first but at the end the audience would have gradually picked up that they were all linked. ...read more.

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