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Romeo and Juliet

This essay is going to explore the dramatic structure of Act 3 Scene 5 in the Shakespearian play ‘Romeo and Juliet’. I will look at the character’s actions and see how they influence what happens in this scene. An example of one of these actions that influence the play would be that Juliet turned down Paris’s marriage proposal because she already wife to Romeo. I will also be exploring other aspects, such as history, cultural and social contexts, and how these affect the character’s behaviour throughout the play. This scene is central to the play, having been influenced by the scenes leading up to it, and helps lead up to the tragic ending that befalls the play. It begins with the two lovers, Romeo and Juliet, waking up together after their wedding night, or have they slept? Juliet tries to deny the fact that morning has come and Romeo has to leave with lines such as ‘Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Line 1) and ‘Yond light is not daylight, I know it,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Line 12).

She soon changes her mind, however, when Romeo mentions ‘Let me be tane, let me be put to death,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Line 17), after which, Juliet can’t seem to get him out of the bedroom fast enough. Then, as if to clarify the fact Romeo has to leave, the nurse comes in and gives them the news ‘Your Lady mother is coming to your chamber,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Line 39). When Romeo has climbed down off of the balcony and is looking up, Juliet begins to fret she will never see her love again, and asks things such as ‘O think’s thou we shall ever meet again?’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Lines 51). In their exchange of romance, they bring to the surface a feeling of doom with talk of the grave, ‘As one dead in the bottom of a tomb,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Line 56), and light and dark imagery, ‘Either my eyesight fail, or thou look’s pale,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Line 57).

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After Romeo has departed, Juliet’s mother, Lady Capulet, enters Juliet’s room with ‘Ho daughter, are you up?’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Lines 62). Soon enough Juliet and are caught up in a conversation of ambiguity, with Juliet saying one thing and letting her mother take it the way she wishes, instead of what Juliet actually means, leading to a lack of understanding and proper communication. Because of this, Juliet’s mother comes to believe Juliet is grieving for Tybalt when she is actually upset because of Romeo. Some examples are when Juliet says things like ‘Yet, let me weep for such a feeling loss,’ which Lady Capulet believes means she feels a loss for Tybalt, but Juliet means ‘How can I help but weep when my husband has just left?’ and ‘Madam, if you find a man to bear poison I would temper it, That Romeo should upon receipt thereof soon sleep in quiet,’ which leads to Lady Capulet thinking Juliet would feed Romeo poison if she could, but Juliet really means ‘I would water the poison down so it couldn’t hurt my Romeo.’

These ambiguities have a large impact on both the scene and the play. The audience would know what Juliet means and know-how Lady Capulet has taken it in the wrong way. They would probably be thinking ‘Wait! Juliet is not mourning for Tybalt!’ This gives the audience a greater understanding and pulls them into the play more than it would have without the ambiguities and dramatic irony. After this, Lord Capulet enters the bedroom, expecting to be greatly thanked for his effort in getting someone for Juliet to marry someone. He, along with his wife, believes Juliet is grieving for the loss of Tybalt and compares her to a ship on a sea of tears, which is just one of many metaphors involved in the play. When he finds Juliet is not receptive of his gift of a husband, he flies into a rage and uses lines such as ‘Out you green-sickness carrion, out your baggage,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 line 156) to describe her and tell her what to do if she didn’t accept the marriage offer.

This is how many of the fathers in his day and age would have reacted in his position, as you could say he almost ‘owned’ Juliet, so her defying him would not have put him in the best of moods. His daughter was classed as nothing on her own, and so he had to find some man to take her who was worthy to do just that. During his outburst, his wife stands by him, because she has no choice, as she is almost a possession herself, but thinks he goes too far with his insults and tries to tell him ‘You are too hot,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Line 176). It’s not just Lady Capulet who tries to calm him, the nurse also puts in an effort with ‘God in heaven bless her. You are to blame my lord to rate her so,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Line168-169).

During this moment of fury from her father, Juliet would go through a lot of trouble, because she would be wanting to tell her father why she cannot marry the one she has chosen, but cannot. The audience would also be feeling sympathy for Juliet because her father is threatening to throw her out if she does not marry the person he wants her to. They would also know why she cannot marry Paris, and feel for Juliet as she already has a husband, and she loves him. If she has told Lord Capulet, what might he have done? Would he have gone as far as having her killed? Shakespeare could not let Juliet die at that point, as he had based the whole story on a well-known poem, and it might well have ruined the tension he has built up to this point.

Lady Capulet tells her daughter ‘Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word. Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee,’ (Act 3 Scene 5 Line 203-204). This would have felt like a knife in the back for Juliet. The audience would’ve felt sorry for Juliet, but also known what position Lady Capulet was in. Juliet had also gone and married someone without her parent’s consent, so maybe she deserved the position she was in now. Nowadays, the audience wouldn’t know how Lady Capulet is, with equal rights and all that, so they don’t have to rely on men to keep them afloat, they would just be thinking ‘how can her own mother do that to her?’

This play is a tension-building masterpiece, which has been derived from an older poem to form what is now one of Shakespeare’s most famous pieces of work. The characters are detailed and have their weaknesses and strengths, which all played a part in the storyline and made it a real drama for a Shakespearean audience. Shakespeare’s use of language, characters and setting all help to build tension and draw the audience into the play, even more, making it very popular even today. All of the characters, whether they are main or just someone with one line, all have a part to play in the tension building, dramatic effect and end tragedy. His language use is superb, even if it is difficult to understand nowadays, and makes it a brilliant play to watch. The reading of it is not the best, because it is not meant to be read, but is meant for a stage with cast and such. The sympathy for the love of Romeo and Juliet is built up with the tension, until, in the end, it creates an eye-watering piece of work.

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