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

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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.

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