Act 3 Scene 5 of William Shakespeare(TM)s Romeo and Juliet is a dramatic clash of different perspectives of love and individual freedom. How does Shakespeare use language and dramatic devices to bring out its full dramatic potential?

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Will Dixon                                   Romeo And Juliet Coursework                                 11/10/2008

Act 3 Scene 5 of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a dramatic clash of different perspectives of love and individual freedom.  How does Shakespeare use language and dramatic devices to bring out its full dramatic potential?

Romeo and Juliet, a tragedy by William Shakespeare, is the story of a fearsome love that can never be, between two adolescents. The families of Romeo and Juliet have been at ‘war’ for a long time and what the couple do crosses a line that should never be crossed; therefore consequences are inevitable. Act 3, Scene 5 falls at a fundamental point in the play. Romeo and Juliet wake up the morning after consummating their marriage and what happens next changes the direction of the play completely and turns it from a love story to a potential (and predictable) tragedy. In this scene there are various episodes, involving different characters, which change the look and the audiences’ perception of some characters. There are battles of free will and love between the characters and we see different perspectives of love come through in the relationships. Overall – Act 3, Scene 5 is where Shakespeare shows the depth of Romeo and Juliet’s love, as well as The Capulets’ unpredictable nature along with collating all the main themes of love, death, betrayal and war into one scene and the final climax of the Nurse’s betrayal.

Juliet wakes up as Romeo is getting ready to leave, and asks ‘Wilt thou be gone?’. This shows uncertainty and also sets a negative tone, which foreshadows the death that will come from their relationship and the destabilization of their love. Along with this she also foreshadows death with ‘gone’ having a double meaning. Following this she says ‘It was the nightingale, and not the lark; that pierced the hollow of thine ear.’ Light and dark imagery is used to show how time is against them and that if they only had more time then they could be saved. Also, she is fantasizing because she knows morning has arrived, really; this is a good dramatic device, because it shows how everything can be reversed and the love can be threatened, because the darkness is always there, even if just in the background. This is Juliet naively idealising love, which accentuates the dramatic irony of her still being a child and not knowing what could happen.

Romeo uses blunt language as a reply in order to apply a sense of urgency to their situation and also to bring Juliet out of her fantasy that it is still the night and they can still be together. ‘It was the lark, the herald of the morn, No nightingale’ which shows he is more mature and aware of the dangers of their love; as well as being more realistic to the possibilities of where their love can go from where they stand at the moment. This infers that even if Romeo and Juliet both want to be together and love each other, fate is against them and they do not have much, if any, free-will.

He also tells Juliet ‘what envious streaks, do lace the severing clouds.’ This small phrase has multiple connotations linked with the various themes - such as love, marriage and also the ending and death of love and people - which are present throughout the play. Using the word ‘envious’ could be interpreted as being about Romeo’s feelings towards Paris, as Paris has the approval of Juliet’s parents and he does not. On the other hand it could also have the meaning of the feud going on between the two families in the play. The word ‘lace’ has many connotations of its own; it foreshadows the end of the play when Romeo poisons himself. Moreover, lace is a very fragile fabric, representing the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, which is also quite fragile; lace is also a material that can come undone very easily, showing that Romeo, Juliet, The Nurse and The Friar’s hard work will all come un-done in the end. Finally, lace also connotes the marriage of Romeo and Juliet earlier in the play. ‘Severing’ is another strong word used in this phrase; it infers the separation of many things in the play, such as Romeo and Juliet during this scene and then the families during the whole play. Looking at the phrase as a whole it is, in fact a metaphor for the whole play: the word ‘envious’ represents the families; the word ‘lace’ represents the marriage and then the word ‘severing’ represents the separation of Romeo and Juliet and then their death too.

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Shakespeare uses some very apparent techniques to convey the love between Romeo and Juliet in this section of the scene in the play. Iambic pentameter is used by both Romeo and Juliet to show their want for each other. Inferring that there is a beat and that both of them are using it shows their hearts are beating, together; which represents the strength of the love within the play and also the passion between them – at the end of the play (after their death) iambic pentameter is no longer used, showing the stopping of their beating hearts. Also, ...

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