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Throughout the famous and tragic play of 'Romeo and Juliet', William Shakespeare applies various methods to try and increase the sympathy of the audience towards Romeo.

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Introduction

Throughout the famous and tragic play of 'Romeo and Juliet', William Shakespeare applies various methods to try and increase the sympathy of the audience towards Romeo. During the course of the play, Romeo's language varies in style and structure on numerous occasions in an attempt to get the audience to sympathise with him. The playwright also juxtaposes certain key scenes which adds to our empathy for Romeo's situation. Dramatic irony is a clever method which largely increases audience empathy towards Romeo. I will discuss the above methods as well as a few others used by Shakespeare to convey Romeo in sympathetic manner. Shakespeare subtly applies the technique of fate upon the prologue. "A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life; whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows". This is implying that Romeo's relationship with Juliet is ill-fated. This could potentially have some impact on the audience and make them feel sorry for Romeo, as his love affair is doomed from the start, and will never conclude in happiness. In my opinion, this is a good technique to create some sympathy at the beginning of the play so that Shakespeare can build upon it later. During the rest of the play, Shakespeare intensifies his use of fate as horrific things continue to happen to Romeo over which he has no control. As a member of the audience, the realisation that Romeo is a helpless victim further increases the sympathy I have towards him. The theme of fate will continue to manifest itself throughout the rest of the play. ...read more.

Middle

As the play progresses, various people express their views on Romeo, particularly when he behaves in an impulsive manner. In Act 1, Scene 2, we see Benvolio advising Romeo on how to recover from his love for Rosaline. "Take thou some new infection to thy eye, And the rank poison of the old will die" This quote is a rhyming couplet that shows love in a negative manner with images of physical sickness, This shows that Benvolio, though sympathetic toward Romeo, does not take him seriously. Benvolio's attitude is that you can replace one girl with another girl. This makes me sympathetic towards Romeo because his friend is not taking his anguish seriously. By contrast, Friar Lawrence, in Act 2, Scene 6, does take Romeo seriously and advises him to calm down. "These violent delights have violent ends, And in their triumph die like fire and powder Which as they kiss consume" Shakespeare employs a violent light image of explosive love. It forecasts what is going to happen in the next scene. It also reminds me of the fate technique employed throughout the play. I feel sorry for Romeo because he is being offered the correct but annoying advice. This shows his inexperience, foolishness and immaturity. In Act 3, Scene 1, Tybalt calls Romeo "Boy", underlining Romeo's immaturity shown previously. This reminds me of all the foolish decisions which Romeo has made that will later cost him. I think that Tybalt does this to infuriate Romeo, and it works. ...read more.

Conclusion

Juliet then awakes to see Romeo dead, "Poison, I see, hath been his timeless death". Returning to the prologue, we remember that the "pair of star crossed lovers'" relationship was doomed to end in agony and pain. That it did, made me feel compassion for them. In Romeo's death speech, Act 1, Scene 3, Shakespeare diverts from his usual use of very regular iambic pentameter. Romeo's verse is slightly irregular showing the destruction of his feelings. The language Romeo uses in this last speech evokes pity, "arms take your last embrace". "Thou take desperate pilot, now once at run on, the dashing rocks thy sea sick weary bark". The image here is that of Romeo steering a ship which is out of control and Shakespeare is using the metaphor of a doomed boat to describe Romeo's doomed life! "Thus with a kiss I die". I found this quite emotional as he is embracing Juliet for the last time. The amount of sympathy Shakespeare can manipulate an audience into feeling is quite extraordinary, and proves once more why he is still being studied and performed four hundred years after his death. He was absolutely exceptional in the way he perfected the use of each technique. His plan was clearly to build up empathy slowly during the course of the play and end it with a spectacular dramatic finale. His most effective method, in my opinion, was that of dramatic irony followed closely by the choice of language Romeo used and the use of juxtaposition of events. All in all, I think Shakespeare builds up sympathy exceptionally well which makes the play surprising, emotional, exciting and enjoyable. Karim Kadri 10/A1 ...read more.

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