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Shakespeare's Use of Language in Act 3, Scene 1

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Introduction

Discuss the way Shakespeare uses language to portray the characters Mercutio, Tybalt and Romeo in Act III, Scene 1. The compelling and tragic drama of "Romeo and Juliet" tells the story of two young "star-crossed lovers" whose blossoming romance is forbidden and jeopardised by the age-old rivalry of their families, which together, with chance and accident leads to fast-paced action on Verona's streets. Ultimately this leads to the premature deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt in Act III, Scene 1. The scene is a pivotal point in the play as the unfolding events trigger a chain reaction. However, it will eventually create a silver lining, which despite the surrounding heartbreak; will result in the resolution of the "ancient grudge." Throughout the play, as is evident in Act III, Scene 1, the main characters were given language by Shakespeare which would intensify the drama, set the scene and portray their emotions. Mercutio's greatest strength lies in his facility with words. This aspect of his character is illustrated when Benvolio says: "By my head here comes the Capulets." and Mercutio replies: "By my heal I care not." (3.1.30-31) Mercutio takes Benvolio's word "head" and replaces it with "heal" showing that he holds the completely opposite view as head and heal are opposite ends of the body. ...read more.

Middle

The statement is very hypocritical of the current situation with Tybalt referring to "the love I bear thee": Tybalt at that point is being disrespectful as he is unaware of the new family connection, which should actually create a love between the two of them. Much of what Tybalt says to Romeo is very insulting, although it is straightforward insulting due to Tybalt's lack of way with words. For example, he refers to Romeo with the term "thou", this was a familiar expression which was used between people who were close to one another and as Tybalt and Romeo are not it is therefore very discourteous to use, especially to someone of Romeo's status. Tybalt further invectives Romeo when he uses the word "afford": we commonly use "afford" when we talk about an object, practically buying an object so Tybalt takes away Romeo's sense of being a person with feeling and a living life. A great weakness of Tybalt's is that he is not very good with words especially when compared to his excellent swordsmanship. This aspect of his character is illustrated when he says: "I am for you." (3.1.75) In order to not display his weakness to everyone he subsequently speaks very little and when he does speak it is in short, simple sentences as above. ...read more.

Conclusion

Tybalt was the better swords man and there were times when this course of action could have changed; to put this simply and effectively "fortune's fool" works excellent for that is what he is. Throughout the scene Shakespeare has carefully selected words and phrases which engage the audience and enable the unconscious portrayal of qualities in the main characters. These words show that Romeo is a true romantic and not yet matured into the way of the world. Whilst Tybalt is typical of the time, good with a sword and holds family honour high. Meanwhile Mercutio is a great extrovert and much fun which coupled with his ability with words enable him to fit in. Altogether, the three characters are very unique and show how the typical man of the time (Tybalt) can actually be less appealing and not who you truly fall in love with. The language allows the audience to understand the true colours of the characters and without this they would not be able to get true satisfaction from the play. Shakespeare was a veritable master at his work and consequently his language has made "Romeo and Juliet" a play that throughout all of history and every generation is perfectly fitting. ?? ?? ?? ?? English Coursework Shakespeare Essay Quotations from "Romeo and Juliet" Cambridge School Shakespeare Cambridge University Press - ISBN978-0-521-61870-0 Caitlin Bones ...read more.

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