“Discuss the Importance of Act 2, Scene 2, in the Context of the Play as a Whole”

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September 11th 2001 "Discuss the Importance of Act 2, Scene 2, in the Context of the Play as a Whole" Act Two Scene Two is a very important scene in Romeo and Juliet. In this scene, William Shakespeare demonstrates development of characters, development of themes, and demonstrates linguistic and theatrical techniques. In this essay I shall explore and deliberate all these different areas. The characters in this play mature throughout this scene. This scene also enables us to look closely at Shakespeare's language. We already know from previous themes, that Romeo is young and naïve, and his behaviour over one of his previous love interests, Rosalind, that he is a very simulated, courtly lover. "She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow Do I live dead to tell it now" (Line 221, Act 1, Sc 1) However, the language used is romantic, but at the same time elaborate, in the way that Juliet is spoken of. He uses clichéd, formal, beautiful verse, but whenever Shakespeare speaks, we are made very aware that Romeo wants to have sex.


In this scene, Juliet appears to be the exact opposite of Romeo; her sudden falling in love with Romeo is the only exemption. In the beginning of this scene, when Juliet realises that there is somebody present in the garden below, watching her and listening to her, she cries: "What man art thou, that, thus bescreen'd in night, So stumblest on my counsel?" (Line 52, Act 2, Sc 2) Here Shakespeare is trying to convince his audience that Juliet is a proper lady, and that she was not used to men behaving in this shocking manner. In the time in which this story was set, the idea of two lovers becoming intimate before marriage was unacceptable. This is another possible cause for the traumatic end that the lovers come to. Shakespeare hints that Romeo's intentions were not all pure- perhaps he wanted to marry Juliet because it would mean the two could be close. Juliet was only fourteen, and Shakespeare wanted to reassure us with the above quotation that she was a decorous young woman.


When either of the families lose a dispute, they compete again in order to show Verona that they are not afraid, and they strive to come out on top. Shakespeare shows us that the many conflicts between the families are taking their toll- there have been a number of casualties within both the Montagues and the Capulets. The residents of Verona are sick of the fueding. Shakespeare achieves dramatic continuity between scenes by using recurring images and linguistic references. An example of this is when Shakespeare makes references to whether it is night or day in the characters' speeches. "Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops." (Line 9, Act 2, Sc 2) From Romeo's verse shown above, we can tell that dawn is breaking. Shakespeare uses this technique in order to distinguish between night and day. In the Globe theatre, it would not be possible to show this change; therefore Shakespeare has used certain dramatical techniques to convey to the audience the passing of time. Another theme which is constant throughout the play is that of light, and heaven.

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