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Romeo and Juliet - How successfully does Shakespeare use Act One to prepare the audience for events that happen later in the play?

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet How successful does Shakespeare use Act One to prepare the audience for events that happen later in the play? The play Romeo and Juliet is set in "fair Verona", Italy. Shakespeare based his play on a poem by Brooke and brought it to the theatre in 1595. Although it is set in Italy many things mentioned could be found in Elizabethan England for example the Capulet's party. This suggests to me that Shakespeare had little knowledge of Italian life. The play also highlights the position of women in Elizabethan times. At the beginning of Act One we are introduced to Sampson and Gregory who are from the Montague's and the other from the Capulet's and they are in the market place of Verona. They are messing around joking to each other and in the process puns are used such as collier, choler and collar. In the time this was set, this would have being considered very funny to the audience. Sampson and Gregory start to mock each other by biting their thumb, which was considered very rude then. This causes a fight to break out and this shows us that the rivalry and hatred between the Montague and Capulet's also continues at all social levels as well. ...read more.

Middle

The audience is introduced to Juliet when she is at the Capulet house and her mother wishes to speak with her about her feelings on marriage and Juliet replies to this by saying "It is an honour that I dream not of", which is ironic because of events later in the play. I think that Juliet is an honest person and will speak the truth given the chance. Finally we meet good Mercutio who is one of Romeo's good friends. In a way he is like a brother to. He is a very witty person and has a quick working mind. Mercutio has a hate fed rivalry going on with Tybalt, but at the same time they have a respect for one another's fighting abilities. Mercutio seems to me as one of the people who likes to be centre of attention as he is always involved in puns, jokes and teases. Shakespeare makes the first meeting of Romeo and Juliet in Act One scene five romantic by the things, which are said to one another like for example "If I profane with my unworthiest hand, this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this, my lips two blushing pilgrims ready stand, to smooth the rough touch with a gentle kiss". ...read more.

Conclusion

The irony to this is the way Romeo expresses his love for Rosaline is very similar to the way he declares his love for Juliet. A lot of poetic language is used in the Act, especially imagery that is connected to light and says that Juliet's beauty would make the moon "envious". Which is in a way linked with what the chorus says in the prologue, which is "star cross'd lovers". Juliet is also associated with wealth and luxury because of her family and where she lives. A bit of Antithesis is also used, for example "my only love sprang from my only hate", "death marked love". The association of love and death is present throughout the play. Juliet talks of her wedding bed as being her "grave". The use of puns was popular in the Elizabethan times and is used rather frequently in the play like for example "collier, collar and choler". The jokes in the play were used by Shakespeare to relieve the building tension. Mercutio's is not just in the play to be a mere jester, with his crazy words he punctures the romantic sentiments that exist within the play. Some examples of this are "You are a lover; borrow Cupid's wings, and soar with them above a common bound", "If love be rough with you, be rough with love; prick love for pricking, and you beat love down". ...read more.

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