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Romeo and Juliet - The Dramatic Importance of Act 3 scenes 1 and 5 - Plus an analysis on the how the themes of violence, passion, love and death play a part in these scenes.

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet The Dramatic Importance of Act 3 scenes 1 and 5 - Plus an analysis on the how the themes of violence, passion, love and death play a part in these scenes. Rome and Juliet is undoubtedly one of the most powerful and widely known love stories ever written. But why is the tragedy of "two star-crossed lovers" so famous and memorable when it only covers four days in the lives of these "two households"? In this play Shakespeare uses the audience's expectations and undercuts them at almost every point. Shakespeare also explores a wide variety of themes in this tragedy. These themes of violence, passion, love and death are easy for anyone of any generation to relate to and that is why over four hundred years later this "tale" of "woe" is still remembered and cherished by millions. Initially Romeo and Juliet begins as the traditional age-old tale of boy meets girl and young love flourishes. But there is always something ominous lurking in the backround. Their names are constant reminders of an "ancient grudge" and both worry about the future- Romeo worries about the significance of a dream he had in which he predicts that "some consequence" will begin on the night of Capulet's "old accustomed feast", the dark imagery used here reminds the audience of the melancholic ending. However, for a time love manages to prevail and the audience is content to see that with Friar Lawrence's help, Romeo and Juliet begin to conquer the "ancient grudge" that stands between the two households. But in the first scene of the third act the situation takes a turn for the worse. The murders of Mercutio and Tybalt changes the fate of the lovers and makes their lives much harder. Though the Friar helps and advises the couple even after Romeo's sentence of banishment is given, Act 3 Scene 5 adds yet another obstacle to their troubled marriage. ...read more.

Middle

The play is set in the Verona during the 13th century. At this time, men had to be strong, rational, powerful and proud. During this scene Romeo feels ashamed to have let his feelings of love overpower these expectations of basic masculinity. Upon this change of heart Romeo acts more like a "proper man" and kills Tybalt, however this changes his fate and destroys his chance to have a successful marriage with his love Juliet. In Act 3, Scene 5 again the audience sees the themes of passion, love, violence and death reflected. This scene allows the audience sees how a family already faced with death and violence behave and the tensions that arise from tragedy. This scene brings with it another unwelcome development: this is the news that Juliet is to be married to Paris at St Peter's church in just two days. This acts as another turning point and is the final obstacle for the troubled lovers and triggers a series of errors that leads to the deaths of Paris, Romeo and of course Juliet. In this scene, Shakespeare makes a political statement about his own Elizabethan culture and how arranged marriages such as this lead to trouble and in extreme cases even death. The scene opens with the lovers parting after consummating their marriage. The mood is sombre, Romeo must leave for Mantua immediately or stay and be "put to death". However Juliet is desperate for "her Romeo" to stay and tries to persuade him that it is night and the nightingale is singing rather than the lark and that "the light is not daylight" but "some meteor that the sun exhaled". Initially Romeo disregards her words but soon she has some impact and he says "let me be put to death, I am content". This comment seems to scare Juliet and she realises that Romeo must leave, she says that it was the lark that sang "straining harsh discords and unpleasing sharps", this musical imagery is similar to that used by Mercutio in Act3, Scene1. ...read more.

Conclusion

From here on violence, passion and love push the lovers to their premature and devastating death and here is where we see those themes grow in importance. Scene 1 makes Romeo's death likely as the group of competitive, hot headed men proved a fatal combination. All were trying to show power and masculinity in this scene and all key characters become "worms' meat" by the end. In Scene 5 Juliet's promise to die rather than marry the "lovely" Paris made her fate inescapable. In this masterpiece, Shakespeare makes several social observations. He shows how arranged marriages that were common in Elizabethan England are dangerous and often disastrous. Although Shakespeare opted for a more romantic, Italian setting, it is clear that he made little effort to recreate the Italian customs of the thirteenth century. For example the prologue refers to "star-crossed lovers" - this means that their horoscopes do not match up. This comment is typical of the superstitions of Elizabethan times with its values of spirituality, life and love. Within the play, some comments mock Italian customs, for example in Act 2, Scene 4 Mercutio mocks Tybalt's "passado" and "punto reverso"- these are traditional Italian fencing moves that were respected rather than mocked by Italians of the time. I think that the idea of a distant country being much more exotic and romantic than England would appeal to Shakespeare's audience who were unable to travel and went to the theatre to see life from other perspectives as well as be entertained. There is no doubt in my mind that Romeo and Juliet is a powerful and beautiful piece of literature. It is about love but also the complexities of life and shows how anyone, not matter how 'wholesome' they seem can be flawed by emotion, especially that of violence, passion, love and death. This tragedy is truly timeless and will hold a place in millions of people's souls, not because it is a romantic, sweet story of love but because it is a realistic depiction of life and human nature. Kate Rintoul ...read more.

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