William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet a dramatic tale of forbidden young love

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a dramatic tale of forbidden young love that ends in tragedy, remains one of the most iconic plays in history. Conflict and violence are major themes in the play, with the main conflict being the ancient family feud that makes their love forbidden. Dramatic tension is used throughout the play, adding to the suspense and keeping the audience hooked.From the prologue, the audience is aware that there is strife between the Capulet and Montague households, which is “ancient” and defines the lives of the families. The prologue uses words such as “death mark’d love” to allow for dramatic irony by letting the audience know the lovers’ fate. The “new mutiny” described in the prologue is embodied in Act I Scene I, when an argument between the servants of the two families escalates to a violent “civil brawl”. This scene also sets the tone for the play and makes the audience aware of the violent undertones in the play. The first scene expands on the consequences of the feud between the Capulets and Montagues. Sampson, a servant of Capulet, bites his thumb at Montague’s servants, a simple action which highlights the extent of the hatred between the two families, as well as hinting at the senselessness of the violence. The reason for the feud between the families is also never given, which makes the brawls seem all the more irrational. When Tybalt enters, he says “peace! I hate the word”. This foreshadows the continuance of the violence with Tybalt at its center, especially since he is not heard from again until the party scene, where he once again threatens the Montagues with death (“to strike him dead I hold it not a sin”). The readers are left to wonder what happened to him after this scene, and anticipation builds for his return and the There are no detailed stage directions given for the fights, leaving it up to the play directors and the readers to imagine the scene for themselves. This makes the scene easier to visualise and more immersive. Benvolio’s character is presented as a calm peacemaker, a perfect foil to the aggressive, confrontational Tybalt. The juxtaposition between the two characters serves to highlight their differences and add to the strained atmosphere. When the Prince enters, he demands that everyone leave “on pain of death”, foreshadowing the fatal consequences of future violence. The second half of Scene I brings a sudden change in tone and pace, juxtaposing a lovelorn, despondent Romeo against the hot-headed instigators of the brawl for dramatic effect. The slower pace carries on into Scene II. This scene has no direct conflict, but mentions the Capulets’ party several times to set it up as a turning point. In Act I Scene IV, just before Romeo leaves for the fateful party where he meets Juliet, he says “my mind misgives/some consequence yet hanging in the stars”, sharing his apprehension with the audience, building up anticipation for the party.Act I Scene V, the scene of Capulet’s party, introduces one of the most important types of conflict in the play – familial conflict. Lord Capulet prevents Tybalt from going after Romeo, and Tybalt responds ominously with, “this intrusion shall / now seeming sweet convert to bitter gall”. This line adds to the sense of foreboding surrounding Tybalt, and builds the audience’s anticipation for a confrontation between Romeo and Tybalt.The party scene is a turning point because it is the scene when Romeo and Juliet first meet and fall in love. The dramatic irony in the party scene is that they meet, exchange words of love and kiss without knowing each other’s identities. The scene ends on a high note, with the lovers realising each other’s identities, and the fact that they should be enemies. The audience is kept on the edge of their seat, waiting for them to find out. When Romeo discovers who Juliet is, he exclaims, “my life is my foe’s debt”, foreshadowing his death. Before she knows who he is, Juliet is horrified by the possibility that Romeo may be married, saying “my grave is like to be my wedding bed”. When Nurse tells her who he is, she calls him her “only love sprung from [her] only hate”. The fact that she hates him already shows her loyalty to her family – due to her implied confinement to her home, she is unlikely to have had any previous interactions with any Montagues, and so hates them simply because her family does. Her The nurse’s reiteration of his identity as her “great enemy” serves as a reminder that their love is forbidden, heightening the tension.In the beginning of Act II, Romeo enters Juliet’s orchard, a setting associated with hope and blossoming love. The peaceful, romantic setting is in direct contrast with the fast paced ending of the previous scene. In movie interpretations of the play such as Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, techniques of swinging cameras, loud music, and rapid changes in angles are used in the party scene to create a bigger impact on the audience and increase the contrast between the two scenes. The garden represents the lovers’ hope – and the audiences’ – for a peaceful future between the feuding families. The audience knows from the prologue that it will be their deaths, not their love, that will bring peace. and the anticipation heightens as the audience appreciates what they know to be one of very few moments that the lovers get to share. This scene would have been even more appreciated during Shakespeare’s time, when romantic Italian poetry and courting were extremely popular in literature and plays.Internal conflict is a major part of Act III. It begins in Scene I, when Romeo is torn between his loyalties to his wife’s family and to his friend. When he allows his rage at Tybalt to take precedence over his love for Juliet, he takes part in the ancient feud for the first time and kills a Capulet. His sudden shift from being an honourable, peace-loving man to being a killer shocks the audience, and they are kept on the edge of their seat, wondering if his newfound anger will lead to more violence. Romeo’s rage at Tybalt is fuelled by his grief for Mercutio, making it more relatable to the audience, and making them more invested in his character, wondering what he will face next. The physical confrontation between Tybalt and Romeo that has been building since the first act finally occurs, decreasing the tension momentarily, but increasing it again rapidly as the audience anticipates the consequences of their fight for Romeo. A more overt depiction of familial conflict occurs in Act III Scene V, when the Capulets order Juliet to marry Paris. When she refuses, Lord Capulet rages at her and Lady Capulet’s demeanor turns frosty, suggesting that they see her refusal as a sign of ungratefulness and betrayal. This would have been the expected reaction to her disobedience for most of Shakespeare’s audience, who lived in a patriarchal society where girls were the property of either their father or husband. There is dramatic irony in this because she is actually behaving as society demands of her, putting her husband before her family, but her family is unaware of it. The tension builds as the audience wonders when the Capulets will find out about Romeo and Juliet’s marriage.The audience’s anxiety increases dramatically when Juliet and Romeo each threaten to kill themselves in Act III. This shows the depth of their love, and emphasises the fact that separation is worse than death for the lovers. The audience is reminded of their youth by the contrast between their impulsiveness and Friar Lawrence’s sensible words. Juliet is distraught when her Nurse makes it seem as though Romeo is dead, far more than she is when she realises her cousin Tybalt is. This shows the shift of her loyalties and her affections over the course of the play, emphasised when she calls Romeo “dearer” to her than Tybalt. Juliet’s turmoil as she goes through thinking Romeo is dead, thinking both Tybalt and Romeo are dead, and then realising that Tybalt is dead and Romeo has been banished also delves deeper into the theme of internal conflict.In the beginning of Act IV, the Friar proposes the plan to have Juliet fake her death and then run away to be with Romeo. Juliet’s immediate approval may be because to her, betraying her parents is worse than death, and she would rather think that she has died than think she has betrayed them. However when she goes to drink the potion, she struggles with internal conflict and is plagues with doubts about what could go wrong, highlighting her youth and inexperience.The levels of violence escalate sharply throughout the play – the play opens with a brawl that leads to no major injuries. This increases to Tybalt’s continuous threats of violence, and Mercutio’s provocative, belligerent talk which eventually is a factor in his death and then Tybalt’s. The final, tragic act of violence is the double suicide of the eponymous lovers. At this critical moment, the dramatic tension that has been building for the entire play comes to a head. Reminscent of` the earlier connection between love and violence they kill themselves knowing that their love can only be preserved through their deaths.In conclusion, Shakespeare’s use of conflict and violence contribute to the dramatic tension, which intensifies through the course of the play. The use of multiple types of conflict, such as violent, internal and familial, adds variety and heightens the audience’s anticipation as well. In conclusion, Shakespeare creates and sustains dramatic tension throughout the play, chiefly through the use of conflict between the characters, internal conflict and violence.

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