This essay sample essay on Balcony Scene Romeo And Juliet offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion are provided below.
The balcony scene, Act 2 Scene 2, in Romeo & Juliet is considered to be the most famous, romantic scene in the history of theatre & film. Discuss this scene & how it is effective as a piece of drama, pay particular attention to the different attitudes of Romeo & Juliet to their love & to their predicament.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is by far the most famous historic love story of all time. It has been studied and performed all over the world and has been adapted into many films. Famous directors such as Baz Lurhmann  and Franco Zeffirelli  have interpreted it and made numerous Hollywood productions. Also musicals such as West Side Story  have been adapted from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to create modern, yet entertaining versions of this story.
Still today, hundreds of years after it was written, the balcony scene is parodied in television adverts and sketches. It has become part of our culture; even people who are generally not familiar with any of Shakespeare’s other works know the reference to ‘Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo?’
I intend to focus this essay on how Act 2 Scene 2 is effective as a piece of drama firstly by analysing Romeo and Juliet’s different attitudes to love and their predicament and then by looking closely at the structure and language which Shakespeare uses.
I will begin by discussing Romeo and Juliet’s different attitudes to love. It is immediately obvious in this scene that Romeo looks at love in a much less realistic way to Juliet. Romeo’s love is more magical in the way that he thinks he can overcome his difficulties, such as Juliet’s guards, with his faith and determination.
‘With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls,
For stony limits cannot hold love out.’
On the other hand Juliet’s views on love are very different to Romeo’s in that she is more down to earth.
‘How cam’st thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art.’
At the beginning of the scene she is not willing to play games with him; this is maybe because she is shocked to see him in her orchard and is worried about his safety.
‘If they do see thee, they will murder thee’.
At this point I do not think Juliet quite believes that Romeo’s love for her is real but as she comes to trust him she stops being so practical and enters into Romeo’s fantasies.
‘My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee
The more I have, for both are infinite’.
Shakespeare uses these two different attitudes to love to create dramatic tension rather than them both falling in love instantly.
At the beginning of the scene Shakespeare uses the dramatic effect of having Romeo overhear what Juliet is saying about him and deciding not to let her know he is listening.
‘Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?’
He uses this to create tension amongst the audience who wait for Juliet to speak indiscreetly, telling us her true thoughts as she would not if she knew she was being overheard. However, once she realises Romeo is there she changes her mind and her reluctance to admit that she loves him and his attempts to persuade her form the basis for the rest of this scene.
Different contemporary directors have used this to create their concept of an ideal love scene. In a traditional version such as Zeffirelli’s he tries to make it seem more natural as if it is a conversation between two teenagers. He lights the scene with moonlight which plays on their faces allowing us to concentrate on their expressions as they discuss their emotions. In this version Romeo climbs up onto the balcony whereas in a later version by Baz Lurhmann Juliet comes down to him. This could be an indication that Zeffirelli saw Romeo as a more masculine character going out to get what he wants rather than waiting for Juliet to come to him. Lurhmann’s whole approach is more stylistic and feminine. With fairy lights and a blue swimming pool into which they fall he looses much of the romanticism of the earlier version. Both directors stick fairly closely to Shakespeare’s language which is so well known that it would be difficult for them to change it.
Romeo’s language in the Balcony Scene includes many references to objects or events usually connected with the sky and heavens for example ‘light’, ‘sun’, ‘moon’, ‘stars’, ‘heaven’, ‘birds’ and ‘bright angel’. He also makes a number of references to things to do with vision for example ‘wond’ring eyes’, ‘gaze’, ‘twinkle’ and ‘brightness’. The effect of this is to show us that he idolises Juliet as a heavenly angel or even a god. The overwhelming power of their love is emphasised by Shakespeare’s choice of phrases such as:
‘… Although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract tonight,
It is too rash, too unadvised, to sudden.
He uses this to the effect that their love is too powerful at this time to endure. Shakespeare chooses Romeo’s language to be flattering in parts of this scene as he attempts to woo Juliet and win her over. He uses language which is poetic and soft yet still masculine, so he is romantic but still a heroic man.
‘Alack, their lies more peril in thine eyes
Than twenty of their swords. Look thou but sweet,
And I am proof against their enmity.’
In this scene Juliet appears to be a strong female character in that she does not allow Romeo to tell her what to do but makes up her own mind. As well as her attitude changing throughout the scene Juliet’s language also changes. She starts the scene being simple and practical,
‘My ears have yet not drunk a hundred words
Of thy tongue’s uttering, yet I know the sound.
Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague?’
Her language then develops into being more sophisticated and less innocent,
‘Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.’
This line is also pointing to the ending of the play which the audience already know the outcome of. Modern audiences know the ending because the story is so well known but in Elizabethan times they used to tell the audience the basic plot to help them follow it.
The Elizabethan audiences enjoyed the use of puns in Shakespeare’s plays. He uses them throughout this play particularly with certain characters such as Mercutio, however, although there are not many puns in this scene Juliet does refer to:
‘So stumblest on my counsel?’
which could refer to her plan which she was making to change Romeo’s name or to her secret – the fact that she loves him. Metaphors are also used to great effect such as ‘The mask of night is on my face.’ and similes such as ‘My bounty is as boundless as the sea.’
In conclusion, my views on this scene are that it is the most romantic and poignant of all the scenes in this play. It is by far the most beautifully written scene and possibly one of the important in that this is the scene where they first admit their love to each other. If I had not read this scene before and had not known the outcome of it, it would have seemed extremely tense in that Romeo could get caught at any time by the guards or Juliet’s Nurse who could come out at any minute.
One of the main points of the scene is the transition which Juliet goes through from her first cautious steps to her full commitment by the end. This scene is one of the most important in all English literature. It contains phrases which have become part of the English language; ‘Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’ ‘What is in the name?’ ‘That which we call a rose, By any other word would smell as sweet.’ ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow.’ In this scene Shakespeare uses powerful imagery to convey to us the depth of the love of these two young people which we know will end so tragically, so soon.