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What do you think are the dramatic functions of the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet? How effective do you think this scene is as an introduction to the rest of the play?

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Introduction

What do you think are the dramatic functions of the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet? How effective do you think this scene is as an introduction to the rest of the play? The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet the full name of a play to which for 400 years every other romantic tragedy has been compared "for never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo". A story of forbidden love between two so young but also of hate between two houses ages old and how it destroys the hearts and minds of men. It also shows us, in a way that love conquers over hate because even though in the end the lovers die they do "with their death bury their parents' strife". In the opening of the play Act I scene I we see the many of the aspects of the whole play embodied in one scene. We have the hate between the two household manifest themselves in their servants and citizens of Verona when they start a fight. It seems that everybody is affected by the hate everyone is drawn in and infected by it. ...read more.

Middle

In this fight we also see the introduction of Tybalt and Benvolio, the polar opposites of the two families. We see straight away that Benvolio is the peacemaker, he tells the servants to "Part, fools! Put up your swords," upon which enters Tybalt and his words are totally different to Benvolio's "Peace? I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues." The way Tybalt and Benvolio are introduced to us emphasizes the contrast between the two. We need to dislike Tybalt so that when he is killed by our hero, Romeo later on we don't mind and don't resent Romeo. As well as this we can see from the period of time that the hate that Tybalt conveys would have meant an awful lot more than today. In a society that that was centered around the church hell would have been a place violently feared by all and a reality to them which only furthers the dislike for Tybalt. We also see Tybalt's feisty character being developed in Act I Scene V upon seeing Romeo at the Capulet's party Tybalt says he will "strike him dead I hold it not a sin." Shakespeare next focuses us on the reality of this feud and gives us a look into the history of the feud through Prince Escales. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that in this, the opening scene we see all the major themes and character of the play introduced is quite important. Its kind of Romeo and Juliet in miniature except without the death at the end. It gets the emotions roaring, we already dislike Tybalt and like Romeo and Benvolio. Its like a child being told what is right from wrong, Montagues are good Capulets are bad and like a child these concepts must be introduced to the audience early on. We also get a good overview of the history from the Prince's speech and an idea of the magnitude of the hate from the fight and Tybalt's vicious taunts. We learn a lot about Romeo and his emotions and reaction to certain things, we know that he thinks he is in love but is he? The scene basically introduces the story and leaves the audience wanting more thus introducing the play very well. In the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet many dramatic functions are used and all are used to set the audience up for what is to come. They are tools to make the audience think what Shakespeare wants them to think and react how he wants them to react. In this way the scene is a very effective introduction to the play as a whole. ...read more.

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