How does Shakespeare use language, characters and dramatic devices to evoke sympathy for Juliet?
In Act 3 Scene 5 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet a modern audience would respond by feeling sympathy for Juliet because she sees a premonition of Romeo’s death, she and Romeo never get to say a proper goodbye, Juliet’s father is angry and comes across abusive, Juliet has to lie to her mother’s face and by the end of the scene Juliet has no one to talk to, or to be her friend. In these ways Shakespeare uses three devices of language, characters and dramatic devices to create sympathy for Juliet, and I think that the most effective is dramatic irony because it is used throughout the whole play and as the audience knows Juliet and Romeo will die and are powerless to stop it happening.
The first way Shakespeare creates sympathy for Juliet in Act 3 Scene 5 is her foreshadowing Romeo's death. Juliet says “Methinks I see thee now, thou art so low,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb.” Which creates sympathy by using a dramatic device of foreshadowing, where a character sees into the future, without them knowing that they are doing it. The audience feel sorry for Juliet because they know that indeed the next time Juliet does see Romeo, he will be dead, but she is unaware and can’t do anything to stop it, and it makes them feel powerless because they can’t do anything to stop it either.
The second time the audience feel sorry for Juliet is how she and Romeo don’t say a proper good bye to each other and they believe that they will still meet again and be able to run away together and fall in love. Shakespeare’s use of language creates sympathy of how Juliet asks Romeo, “ Think’st thou we shall ever meet again?” which shows that she doubts it and wants to find comfort in Romeo, showing the strength of their relationship, and Romeo replies to Juliet, “I doubt it not.” Showing he is certain and doesn’t have a doubt that they will meet again and Juliet trusts and believes him, but the audience feel sorry for Juliet because they know that they will not meet again in life and that when they do, it will only be in death.
This is a preview of the whole essay
The next way that Shakespeare creates sympathy for Juliet is his use of a dramatic device getting Juliet to speak to fortune. She says how men say that fate is fickle and how now she wishes for him to be fickle, “Be fickle fortune” she says. This soliloquy creates sympathy because it’s the first time that the audience see how she really feels and just how desperate she really is for Romeo that she is speaking to fortune. It’s sad because the audience now know how upset she is, and how she knows that she is very unlikely to ever see Romeo again, and if they do, it won’t be a happy reunion.
When Capulet is angry with Juliet and comes across abusive a modern day audience would still feel sympathy for Juliet because they see how she is being forced into a loveless marriage and how she loves Romeo, and in modern times that would be unacceptable. When Capulet shouts, “Out, you green-sickness carrion! Out you baggage.” He uses dramatic irony, we know why she can’t marry Paris, but Capulet thinks its just because she’s spoilt. A modern day audience see how that is rude, and in current times you wouldn’t speak to your parents or children in that way, but an Elizabethan audience would have understood what Capulet was feeling, and would understand his anger since in Elizabethan times children were spoilt due to high mortality rates so for Capulet to be willing to cast his child out it shows his anger and disgust of Juliet. Whilst a modern audience would feel that Capulet is over reacting and Juliet has done nothing wrong, and Elizabethan audience would be sickened by Juliet and outraged that she would love Romeo let alone go behind her parents back to marry him. A modern audience would feel sorry for Juliet because we see how the hierarchy is different and no matter any ones efforts no one can change his mind.
When Juliet uses language that deceives her mother to make her mother feel that Juliet is angry with Romeo for killing her cousin Tybalt, instead being upset for Romeo having to leave, Juliet says, “I shall never be satisfied with Romeo until I behold him – dead.” You see how Juliet has to lie to her own mother about the man that she loves. Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony here of how the audience know that the reason she wants to behold Romeo is because she loves him and she wants to be with him, and how she gets so caught up in her words she has to hesitate before she adds the word ‘dead’ to her sentence, but her mother thinks that she wants to behold Romeo dead because she hates him for taking her cousin Tybalt’s life. Although the modern audience would feel sorry for Juliet that she has to lie to her mother and that she can’t be with the man she loves an Elizabethan audience would be disgusted that she could lie to her mother’s face after she’s gone behind her family’s back so many times, however they would also feel sorry for her realising how much she has been through that she would have to lie to her mother, and being at a God fearing age disrespecting your parents goes against one of the ten commandments, “honour thy father and thy mother”, and so Elizabethans would see this as a sin. Shakespeare has created sympathy through how you realise that she can’t even tell her mother something so you realise that she must be feeling a lot of pain.
Finally when the Nurse leaves Juliet and changes her mind and tells Juliet that she should actually marry Paris and forget all about Romeo, abandoning Juliet and Romeo as well, “I think you are happy in this second match,
For it excels your first, or if it did not,
Your first is dead, or ‘twere as good he were.” Shakespeare creates sympathy by making it clear about how alone Juliet really is now, throughout the play she doesn’t have any friends except the nurse who acts as a motherly figure towards her, so when she is abandoned by the nurse you realise how little options and guidance Juliet has by the end of the play. He also includes hierarchy, which would have worked on an Elizabethan audience, showing how now Capulet the top of the hierarchy has left her, and also nurse, who is at the bottom of the hierarchy, has also left her, they would feel sympathy for her and shame for her that truly no one is her friend, but they would also think that she had brought it on herself, and it is her fault and punishment for rebelling. Juliet is now completely alone, making a modern and an Elizabethan audience feel a lot of sympathy towards her.
Overall a modern audience feel sympathy for Juliet that she is forced into marriage and that she is in love with the wrong person so young in her life. They would feel sorry for her that she has to lie to her mother and go behind her back so much when in modern times families accept one and other no matter who they are or who they love. An Elizabethan audience however would feel angry and maybe even disgusted with Juliet to lie to her family so much and go behind their backs, and that she would disobey her parents so openly and disrespectfully and maybe some of them would be jealous because they have never truly fallen in love and has always been in a marriage with a man their parents picked out. However an Elizabethan audience would also feel sorry for Juliet because she is in love with the wrong person and there is no way of them being together and being alive.