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Using scenes from the play Romeo and Juliet, show how Shakespeare's use of language and his knowledge of stagecraft, maintains the audience's interest.

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Introduction

Using scenes from the play Romeo and Juliet, show how Shakespeare's use of language and his knowledge of stagecraft, maintains the audience's interest. Most of the play takes place, as the chorus explains, in 'fair Verona'-an attractive little city in the north of Italy. The action moves quickly to the hall of Old Capulet's house, to the orchard below Juliet's balcony, to Friar Lawrence's lonely cell, and finally to the vault where the ancestors of the Capulet's are entombed. The Elizabethan stage had no curtains, and of course the theatre sold no programmes, so the characters themselves tell us where they are; they even indicate the time of day. The play starts on a Sunday morning in the middle of July; less then five days later-just before the dawn on the following Thursday-it is all over. The theatres could hold several thousand people; most standing in the open pit before the stage, though rich nobles could watch the play from a chair set on the side of the stage itself. Theatre performances were held in the afternoon, because, of course, there was no artificial lighting. Women attended plays, though often the prosperous woman would wear a mask to disguise her identity. Further more, no women performed in the plays. Female roles were generally performed by young boys. Shakespeare had once been an actor himself, so he knew how the audience would react and this helped him to write plays that gave the audience what they wanted. Shakespeare was fascinated by language and its techniques. He especially favoured repetition and the way it could be used to increase tension during the play and give depth to characters. "Marry, that 'marry' is the very theme... ...How stand your dispositions to be married?" (Act 1 sc 3 lines 63-70) Important characters mainly spoke in blank verse, when they spoke in prose it was a mark of informality. ...read more.

Middle

Although, after Romeo kisses Juliet, is seems they will start another sonnet but are interrupted by the Nurse, who brings them back to the real world and they must understand what has happened to them. This particular part in the play made me feel as if they were always meant to be together, it was just a matter of finding each other. They're caught in a trap of the way they live, their families are enemies and no one would let them be together. Capulet is presented as a jovial host and a happy, content man. Other characters seem like they have no cares in the world and are having a good time at the masquerade. The problems between the families are forgotten, apart from Tybalt noticing Romeo is at the party, but Capulet restrains him from doing anything, and instead wants to enjoy the party. This introduces the character of Capulet as a nice man. The Nurse seems supportive of them, telling Romeo who Juliet is and vice versa, she warns them about what might happen and why they should be cautious too. Romeo and Juliet stay in their own little world together, where they can forget the trouble between their families and not let it affect them and their plans together. They will again meet later that same night. This intense love duet scene between Romeo and Juliet is followed by the chorus, giving the actor playing Romeo a break from leading the character to a terrifying appreciation of the dangers of Romeo's position. The fourteen lines of sonnet by the chorus allow the actor to regain his breath and move around backstage. Later on in the play, after the solemn interview between the Friar and Romeo, the mood and scene of the play change completely. In the city square Romeo's two friends, Benvolio and Mercutio, are fresh and full of energy. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Act 5 sc 3 lines 305-310) This last speech is also a sonnet, with rhyming ababcc. All of the characters come together for the death of Romeo and Juliet, and all feel somewhat responsible for their deaths. The way Shakespeare wrote that Romeo should die moments before Juliet acts as fate for the couple. If only h had held on a little longer they could have been together. The audience would have been on the edge of their seats to see if the lovers did indeed get to spend the rest of their lives together, but sadly not. I think that Shakespeare's use of language and some of the techniques he used enables you to feel the play and its meaning. It teaches you to forget petty problems because of the affect they might be taking on other people, maybe some relevance to how people lead their lives now and in Elizabethan times. Some of the things the characters say might appear to be a bit obvious, for example, the County Paris exclaiming that he is slain after Romeo kills him, but this is to ensure that the audience knows what is happening in the absence of props. I personally liked this play. I liked seeing how the play can be read in a cultural context in order to find out more about traditions and every day life in Italy at that time. Throughout the play there is suspense and questions. There is tension created and contrast between scenes. This keeps the audience interested, for instance, after a close, personal and quiet scene, there would be a loud, happy humorous scene. This keeps the play moving and doesn't allow anything to become mundane. Everything is fast paced, rarely would so much happen in the space of a week. But it is a play, and the audience would loose interest if things happened on a natural time span. Shakespeare used stage craft and many language techniques ingeniously throughout the entire play thus creating one of his most famous works that will stand the test of time. Stephanie Case 1 ...read more.

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