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William Shakespeare's great love tragedy, 'Romeo and Juliet' - a review.

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Introduction

William Shakespeare's great love tragedy, 'Romeo and Juliet', is set in Verona, Italy in the Sixteenth Century. The play is about two star-crossed lovers, on different sides of a family feud between the Montague household and the Capulet household, though through this constant and deathly quarrelling, 'Romeo and Juliet' meet and instantly fall in love, although their love is 'death-marked'. The play opens with servants of the Montague and Capulet households quarrelling. Shakespeare interests his audience not only by using sword fighting, but also battles of wits and words, such as Mercutio's . These street brawls help the audience to understand that their fight is serious and that everyone, from the heads of the households, down to the servants is involved, which contrasts well with the loving mood that follows. The servants at the start of act one scene one use very crude humour, joking abut rape and virginity - 'cut off their heads' - which would have entertained Shakespearian audiences. After the servants begin to feud, Benvolio enters and immediately tries to stop the fight; 'part fools. Put up your swords', showing that there is also the option to be peaceful and rational. Generally, Benvolio is presented by Shakespeare as a peacekeeper, who shows loyalty to his aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Montague and his cousin Romeo. He is portayed as sensible and wise, always giving a well-balanced view, in particular when discussing Roseline with Romeo, 'examine other beauties'. Although he would seem to be a pacifist, he does fight Tybalt when provoked. ...read more.

Middle

Benvolio's conversation where it slows to a lazy tempo, and the love of Romeo and Juliet and hate of the Montagues and Capulets. There is not only romantic love shown in this scene, however. Lord and Lady Montague caring for their son is parental love, as is Benvolio caring for Romeo's wellbeing. The second violent scene in 'Romeo and Juliet' is act three scene one, where Tybalt comes looking for Romeo, following Romeo's unwanted appearance at a Capulet ball. Prior to this scene, a new character has been introduced. Mercutio is Romeo's friend, and although he is not of the Montague bloodline, he does feel loyal to Romeo and his family. Mercutio is primarily portrayed as a boisterous character, who is quite carefree; 'by my head, here come the Capulets. By my heel, I care not'. He is a joker, who accuses his friends of having faults that he himself has; 'thou hast quarrelled with a man for coughing in the street', 'thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more...in his beard than thou hast', hinting as Mercutio's own slightly more provocative side, and regularly plays on words. Later on in the scene, his mood changes, and he dies because of his eagerness to start a fight with Tybalt. Benvolio still holds the same characteristics in act three scene one as in the opening scene. He suggests that he and Mercutio should retire home, as 'now these hot days is the mad blood stirring'; Shakespeare uses very creative imagery in this quote. ...read more.

Conclusion

He makes is visually entertaining, keeping audiences in suspense with the swordfights, and Mercutio's puns and jokes adds a battle of wits once more. The rhythm of this scene is somewhat slower than that of act one scene one, possibly because Romeo arrives late rather than never, and there is more talking than fighting. Mood, in this scene changes rapidly too; Mercutio changes from carefree to serious very quickly, and Romeo arrives calm and polite and leaves an avenging murderer. In conclusion, I think that both these violent scenes add to the story greatly, not just for the storyline but to strengthen and add new aspects to characters. The second scene incorporates a dilemma, which would bring out the best in some characters, but the worst in Romeo, making us realise that he is not so much a moping teenager any more, but has matured to a married man who is thoughtless when he should be responisble. Tybalt, it could be perceived, was the maker of his own death, because he was too cocky, self-confident and, quarrelsome, whilst the same could be said of Mercutio. The first scene is needed to introduce the audience to the idea of authentic loathing between two groups, with large amounts of people being loyal to a particular household, and from people of all classes. Shakespeare uses contrasts to great effect in the very first scene to catch the audience's attention, and expertly secures it until the very end of the play. Both of these scenes are vital to the storyline and without either of them, Romeo and Juliet would not have nearly the same tragic effect. ...read more.

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