• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why is Act 3 Scene 1 such an important part of Shakespeare's tragedy, "Romeo and Juliet"

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Why is Act 3 Scene 1 such an important part of Shakespeare's tragedy, "Romeo and Juliet"? Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies. The story is set in Verona, Italy in the 16thcentury. It is about two young lovers, each from two different feuding families - the Montagues and the Capulets - which have a historical hatred for each other. Shakespeare describes the lovers as "star-cross'd" - meaning that their love for each other is blinded by the reality of the feud between their families, as if dazzled by the stars. The play ends with the deaths of these lovers, as well as the deaths of many other characters throughout the play. The first two Acts of the play have a comedic, love-story feel and there has hardly any sign of tragedy or death. Shakespeare also uses the first two Acts as an opportunity to introduce both the central characters of the play and the history of the family feud. The reader has little knowledge of the dramatic events that will unfold, nor the tragic ending, as Shakespeare gives little hint of this. The only place in the first two Acts where Shakespeare demonstrates signs of violence are in Act 1 Scene 1. Shakespeare demonstrates that even with minor characters of the play, the family feud is apparent. Samson and Gregory are both servants to Capulet, who meet with Abraham, a servant to Montague. They give rude gestures to each other ("do you bite your thumb at as sir?") and are only separated from fighting by the entrance of Benvolio, a nephew to Montague. In Act 3 Scene 1, Shakespeare shows us how violence can lead to the destruction of love and life by killing the characters of Mercutio, a friend of the Montague, and Tybalt, a Capulet. Shakespeare puts all the characters in Act 2 Scene 1 under pressure by putting them in situations that could result in injury or death. ...read more.

Middle

The dramatic irony is shown with Mercutio's lack of knowledge upon the situation. He does not know that the reason for Romeo's politeness towards Tybalt, is an act triggered by the love between Romeo and Juliet. Instead Mercutio sees this as a weakness and thinks that Romeo is being cowardly and is opposing the "Honour Code" of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, as does Tybalt. So to reconcile Romeo's pride and honour, Mercutio draws his sword in place of Romeo, and challenges Tybalt to duel. "Mercutio: O calm, dishonourable, vile submission! Alla stoccata carries it away. [Draws his sword]. Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?" Here, Shakespeare shows Mercutio's obvious disappointment to Romeo's refusal to duel by using a list of three. This emphasises Mercutio's anger. The verbal fight between Mercutio and Tybalt has now escalated, as Mercutio wished, to a physical duel, when Mercutio draws his sword and challenges Tybalt. Tybalt willingly accepts probably due to the constant provocative, offensive slander he had to endure from Mercutio previous to Romeo's arrival, but also because he is a violent, fiery tempered person who finds it hard to deny a challenge, and he is eager to fight, after Romeo refuses to battle. To Romeo's consternation, Mercutio and Tybalt engage in a sword duel. Romeo attempts to stop the duelling men, and calls for Benvolio to help him "beat down their weapons". "Romeo: Draw, Benvolio; beat down their weapons. Gentlemen, for shame, forbear this outrage! Tybalt, Mercutio, the prince expressly hath Forbidden bandying in Verona streets: Hold Tybalt, good Mercutio!" Romeo tries to make Mercutio and Tybalt think of the consequences and heavy retribution they will be subjected to if the Prince was to find out about their duel. Tybalt, entranced in battle, ignores Romeo's warnings and, under Romeo's arm, mortally wounds Mercutio. "Tybalt under Romeo's arm stabs Mercutio and flies with his followers." Mercutio carries on with humour, even though he is dying. ...read more.

Conclusion

Bear hence this body and attend our will: Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill." Again, the reason this speech is written in iambic pentameter along with rhyming couplets, is to install the peace and the reconciliation of the previous, wild situation. The short, simple sentences he uses are there to make it clear that he is dead serious. There is neither comedy nor romance in any of his speech and therefore shows the audience that what he is saying is truthful. In conclusion, Act 3 Scene 1 can be perceived as being the most important scene in the whole of the play due to the fact that is the pivotal point from, "comedy and love" - to - "tragedy and death". Everything up to Act 3 Scene 1 has been comedy and love and everything during and after it is tragedy and death. Also by putting scenes that contrast with Act 3 Scene 1 either side of it, Shakespeare has effectively increased the tension and importance of Act 3 Scene 1's dramatic high point. Shakespeare makes it obvious that this scene is important to the play by using many cases of dramatic irony, which overall, help to emphasise to the audience, the play's message: violence leads to the destruction of love and life. Shakespeare also creates scenes of such drama and suspense that it lets the audience think that they are partially involved in the play. His use of different language techniques in Act 3 Scene 1, including alliteration, simple sentences and lists-of-three all help to increase the significance of the scene. The stage becomes busy many times during the scene which helps to create a chaotic atmosphere, this leads to the build up of tension and trepidation, and for the audience it becomes exceptionally hectic and hyped during the scene. Mercutio's last words prophesise what happens after his death, nothing but a tragedy. "A plague O both your houses!" ?? ?? ?? ?? Leon Simmons - 0185 Centre Number - 53617 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Romeo and Juliet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Romeo and Juliet essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and Contrast the characters of Mercutio and Tybalt.

    3 star(s)

    Showing they may have a grudge but none would be strong enough to actually fight. It's fairly difficult to see the similarities as these two beings have very few parts; however what we do know is they'll do almost anything to destroy one another.

  2. How Does Shakespeare Present The Character Of Romeo Montague?

    The romantic script explained how the drug would taste foul, but it would eventually lead his spirit to Juliet's in death, "bitter conduct / unsavoury guide", and after saying goodbye to her body, he took the poison to join her in the afterlife.

  1. How does Shakespeare create a sense of tragedy in the final scene of 'Romeo ...

    This is another point at which the play is spelt out to be a tragedy to the audience. In the case of 'Romeo & Juliet', and many other tragedies, the ending has to be tragic because of the nature of the tale.

  2. Discuss The Theme Of Hatred And Vengeance in Act 3 Scene 1. How Does ...

    This is because he finds the Capulet family unbearable. Tybalt wants to fight Romeo in Act 3 scene 1 because they have learnt to hate each other while growing up, because the quarrel is an 'ancient grudge'. A family name is very a precious feature, they believed they had to honour their family name and be strong in all

  1. Evaluate the Significance of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet

    Mercutio's significance in the play is also apparent though the drama and humour he adds to the play. Act One Scene Four is a good example of this element of his character where he adds drama though his wordplay because it creates such vivid and unpleasant images to foresee the inevitable tragedy of the play.

  2. How does Shakespeare create tension in act 1 scene I of Romeo and Juliet?

    he is confirming whether Sampson bit his thumb at them or someone else. - Sampson: 'I do bite my thumb sir.' (act 1 scene 1 line 38) Sampson is trying to act intelligent at this stage. He would possibly hold his sword, ready to withdraw it, with a smirk on his face.

  1. In this scene (act 3 scene1) Tybalt finds Mercutio and Benvolio while looking for ...

    the point were Romeo's banishment is declared along with the prince also disclosing that no tears or any other payoff will cease his punishment. Likewise when Tybalt remarks "Follow me close, for I will speak to them." At this particular moment we just see Tybalt entering while Benvolio is still trying to convince Mercutio to leave.

  2. How does Shakespeare create interest and tension for his audience in Act 1 of ...

    We see Lady Capulets type of character. She is a cold type of woman who relies on the nurse. Her relationship with Juliet is strained and quite formal. She unlike her husband wants Juliet to have a quick arranged marriage with Paris.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work