Discuss the dramatic effect of act1 scene 5

Romeo and Juliet is a very famous play, which was written around 1595 by William Shakespeare; it is also one of his most universal and popular plays. Romeo and Juliet is a romantic tragedy about two, young, star-crossed lovers and their controversial relationship; who suffer dire consequences when their rival families who have been feuding for generations, refuse to change their inflexible attitudes towards each


The main characters in the play are Romeo and Juliet (hence the title of the play) and also their respected families, the Capulet’s and the Montague’s.

Even though it belongs to a romance genre, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has many different themes. One of the main themes featured in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is love and romance, along with courtship (although courtship is not exactly featured in act1 scene5). Love and romance is basically portrayed throughout the play, but as we are looking at act1 scene5 an example of love and romance is at the Capulet party; when Romeo and Juliet meet each other for the first time and cannot help but fall in love with each other.

Another theme is fate and tragedy. These themes are shown more towards the end of the play, where Romeo and Juliet take their own lives when fate takes its toll on them.

Lastly, another theme that is portrayed in the play is violence and also honour. The theme of violence is demonstrated at the opening scene of the play, when the Montague’s and the Capulet’s provoke each other, ending in a violent brawl.

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The theme of honour is demonstrated in many of the violent scenes; because the only reason why the Capulet’s and the Montague’s fight is because they are simply defending their family’s honour.

Act1 scene5 in particular is dramatically effective, because this is the scene where the two main characters (Romeo and Juliet) first meet and fall in love with each other. However this is also when the two, young lovers discover each other’s true identity; one is a Capulet, one is a Montague and their families are great arch enemies, but this is what keeps the audience interested because it creates dramatic devices such as tension and suspense. Act1 scene5 is also dramatically effective because this is where Lord Capulet humiliates his nephew Tybalt, leading him to take out his anger on Romeo and resulting in the unintended death of Mercutio later on in the play. Overall, I think that the characters in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ help make act1 scene5 dramatically effective because of the different contrasts in their language, actions and moods.

At the beginning of act1 scene5 Lord Capulet is very happy; he is in a festive mood and is encouraging everybody to dance:

‘Welcome gentleman! Ladies that have their toes unplaqued with corns will walk about with you.’

Here, Lord Capulet is urging everyone (the women in particular) to dance. He is very crafty about it, stating that unless anybody was suffering from very, ugly corns on their feet they would have no excuse not to get up and dance. Which I think is very clever really, because no woman would want a man to think this of her if she was sat down, so they are encouraged to join in. So not only is Lord Capulet auspicious, he is very persuasive too, which suggests to me that he is light-hearted and wants his guests to have fun.

However, Capulet is not only making his guests at the party feel welcome, he is making the audience feel welcome:

‘You are welcome. Come musicians play. A hall, a hall- give room! And foot it girls!’

It is almost as if Capulet is inviting the audience to come and dance too, because of his positive, welcoming attitude which adds drama to the scene. Another way in which act1 scene5 is dramatically effective, is the fact that Capulet is in such a good mood that he does not even notice when Romeo and his friends gatecrash the party; this adds tension and drama to the scene because it is dramatic irony.

I think that act1 scene5 would look particularly impressive to an audience, because of the settings that the director might use to display the excitement of the party; which include lighting, music and costumes. Costumes add drama to the scene so the director might use showy, flamboyant costumes with psychedelic colours so that the characters can express to the audience that a party is going on. The bright lighting will be so vivid and lustrous, that it’s chromatic colours will take over the whole stage; attracting the audience’s attention. And lastly, the music will have a merry, jubilant theme to show the audience that a joyful occasion is taking place. Again this makes the audience feel as though they are being invited into the scene, because the cheerful atmosphere is sending off good vibes. Overall, I think that a modern audience would enjoy watching this on stage because it is a visual, spectacular aspect.

During the Capulet party in act1 scene5, Romeo first notices Juliet and is so stunned by her beauty, that he asks a Capulet servant her name and who she is:

‘What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand of yonder knight?’

Already we know that Romeo is interested in Juliet, but soon enough he becomes so infatuated with her, that he starts to comment on her splendour by using light and dark images to portray how she stands out:

‘So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows.’

Here, Romeo is using the light image (‘snowy dove’) to represent Juliet, and contrasting it with the dark image (‘crows’) to emphasize her individual beauty and how she stands out among everybody else, just like a snowy dove stands out amongst black crows; it is clearly love at first sight.

Romeo is so distracted by Juliet that he forgets all about Rosaline, Juliet’s older sister:

‘For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’

Apparently, Romeo was extremely in love with Rosaline, as she was the only reason why he came to the party in the first place. We also see Romeo at the beginning of the play, where he is wandering about on Verona beach unaccompanied, looking depressed and confused (lovesick). But when we see Romeo be so volatile about his feelings, when he speaks as if he has never been in love before, it gives us the impression that he is fickle:

‘Did my heart love till now? Foreswear it sight!’

Romeo seems to be able to just change his mind and his feelings just like that, which suggests to me that he falls in love quickly and takes it seriously when he does. However, maybe Shakespeare is indicating that Romeo is a typical courtly lover. In the time that Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, young men were quick to fall in love in order to find a mistress as courtly love was considered to ennoble a man to improve himself in every way. It would make him concerned to show an example of goodness, to do his utmost to preserve honour, never letting dishonour touch himself or the lady he loved. On a lower scale, it would lead him to keep his teeth and nails clean, his clothes rich and well groomed, his conversation witty and amusing, his manners courteous to all. He would curb all arrogance and coarseness and never brawl in front of a lady’s presence.

Romeo’s speech is very different to Capulet’s party speech:

‘O she doth teaches the torches to burn bright. It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night.’

His serious language portrays his intense emotions and shows that his words are meaningful. Capulet’s speech on the other hand is more cheerful, showing that he is more relaxed and easy-going:

‘Ah, sirrah, this unlooked-for sport comes well! Nay sit, nay sit, good cousin Capulet.’

This is effective because Romeo’s profound speech contrasts with Capulet’s happy-go-lucky speech, and keeps the audience


The drama is built up again in act1 scene5 when Tybalt discovers that Romeo and his friends have gatecrashed the party. Tybalt instantly recognises Romeo as being a Montague; a name that has filled his family with great bitterness over the years:

‘This, by the voice, should be a Montague. Fetch me my rapier, boy.’

Already we know that Tybalt is angered by Romeo’s presence; he speaks of violence and death, which are one of the many themes featured in ‘Romeo and Juliet’:

‘Now, by the stock and honour of my kin, to strike him dead I hold it not a sin!’

To Tybalt, his family’s pride and reputation were obviously very important to him. So because Tybalt feels intimidated by Romeo, he believes that he has to avenge his family by portraying a violent attitude towards him. However, Tybalt thinks that he is not wrong for doing so, as he is only defending his family’s honour. Honour is one of themes in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and in Shakespeare’s time, a person’s pride and reputation were very fundamental; especially to those with a respected family, name such as Capulet. If a member of either family felt insulted or injured by the other, they might respond to this by seeking revenge. This could therefore develop into a difficult situation, where a strong sense of family honour could often resort to violent acts of revenge and family feuds.

Angrily, Tybalt reports his discovery of Romeo gate-crashing the party, as he thinks that Romeo and his friends have come to make a mockery of the Capulet’s:

‘A villain that is hither come in spite, to scorn at our solemnity this night.’

However, Lord Capulet has heard good things about Romeo and decides to leave him be as he does not want to cause a disturbance in front of the guests:

‘I would not, for the wealth of all this town, here in my house do him disparagement.’

But as Tybalt protests, Capulet begins to lose his temper with him for threatening to disturb the party:

‘He shall be endured. What, Goodman boy? I say he shall! Go to! Am I the master here, or you? Go to! You’ll make a mutiny among my guests!’

Tybalt backs down from going to confront Romeo, because his uncle has embarrassed him in front of everyone and has made him look like a fool, but his scheming mind begins to plot revenge against Romeo.

During the confrontation between Tybalt and Lord Capulet, Tybalt refers to Romeo as a ‘villain’. In Shakespeare’s time, this was an insult to a man’s birth and his behaviour. It suggested that he was both low-born and of bad character, and if Tybalt was to say this in front of Romeo, it would surely be enough to provoke a duel; which is just what happens later on in the play. Tybalt’s aggressive attitude and language when he speaks of violence and death (themes of play), contrasts with the relaxed but idyllic attitude and language of Capulet, who is more interested in enjoying the party than worrying about gatecrashers. Tybalt’s speech also contrasts with Romeo’s who speaks about love and romance (themes of play) when he notices Juliet. Tybalt also speaks in rhyming couplets just like Romeo does:

‘But this intrusion shall, now seeming sweet, convert to bitterest gall!’

However, his bitter feelings are very different to the passionate feelings of Romeo:

‘As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear- beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.’

I think that this sudden change of mood will interest the audience, so again it will help make act1 scene5 dramatically effective.

When Romeo and Juliet fist meet, their meeting is both dangerous and controversial. It is controversial because we already know that Romeo is a Montague and that Juliet is Capulet, (which is something they both don’t find out till the end of act1 scene5 – another example of dramatic irony) so their love for each other will not be accepted because of the hatred between their two families, therefore causing problems. In the time that Shakespeare wrote ‘Romeo and Juliet’ it was not always possible for two people to simply fall in love and get married. Wealthy families (like the Capulet’s) would have arranged marriages for their children, for various reasons that had nothing to do with love. This is just what happens in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (later on in the play), when Juliet’s mother and father want her to marry Paris, just because he has a noble title. I think that this is so insensitive of Lord and Lady Capulet as they are expecting her to marry a man she hardly even knew, and so soon after the death of her cousin (Tybalt). But in those days fathers in particular were very powerful figures, and their children were expected to do as they were told; especially daughters who, by law, were legally their father’s property until they were married. Because of this, it was more likely that Shakespeare’s audiences would have sympathised much more with Juliet’s parents then many modern audiences do today, because they expected parents to have complete authority over their children.

Romeo and Juliet’s meeting is also dangerous because the audience is already aware that their love is doomed and not to succeed, when we are presented with a brief summary of the play from the prologue:

‘A pair of star-cross’d lovers.’

In Shakespeare’s time, people were very superstitious. They believed that fate controlled people’s lives and that the future was written in the stars, so they would have noticed and understood all the references in the play to ‘the stars’. Shakespeare also uses superstition to interest the audience in many of his other plays. In ‘Macbeth’ he uses the number ‘three’ a lot because back then it was seen as a supernatural number. At the start of ‘Macbeth’ there are three witches who give Macbeth three predictions, three apparitions and even speak with reference to the number ‘three’:

‘Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine and thrice again to make up nine.’

However, most people today no longer believe in astrology or fate and tend to put Romeo and Juliet’s tragedy down to a case of simple bad


When Romeo and Juliet first meet, they both speak in the form of a sonnet. Sonnets were usually fourteen-line poems, often used in Shakespeare’s time; they were a traditional and respected poetic form that usually dealt with a theme of requited love. Romeo uses this popular form of poetry in order to woo Juliet:

‘If I profane with my unworthiest hand, this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this, my lips two blushing pilgrims stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.’

Romeo tries to persuade Juliet to kiss him by using religious imagery. He compares his lips to ‘two blushing pilgrims’ and compares Juliet to a ‘holy shrine’ in which the ‘pilgrims’ are waiting to worship. With these loving, sacred words, Romeo is trying to convince Juliet that her kiss will purge him of all sins. Here, many people will begin to question whether Romeo is genuinely in love with Juliet, or whether his newfound love for Juliet is just another infatuation (like Rosaline) and he is just getting confused between love and lust. However, I think that this is another example of him being a courtly lover. In Shakespeare’s time, couples that were engaged in a courtly relationship conventionally exchanged gifts and tokens of their affair. The lady was wooed according to elaborate conventions of etiquette, and was the constant recipient of songs, poems, bouquets, sweet favours and ceremonial gestures. Yet on the other hand, courtly lovers were pledged to strict secrecy. The foundation for their affair was that the rest of the world (except for a few people) was not to know. In effect, the lovers composed a universe to themselves; a special world with it’s own place. Which is just what happens in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ later on in the play when they plan to marry, with only the exception of Friar Lawrence, Juliet’s nurse and the close friends of Romeo knowing about their unlawful affair.

In response to Romeo’s attempts to woo her, Juliet stays strong-minded. When Romeo tries to seduce her she does not simper and fall at his feet because she is determined not to let him win her over just like that:

‘Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devotion shows in this – For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch and palm is to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.’

Juliet is not stupid, she has sussed out that Romeo is trying to seduce her and clearly corrects the fact that pilgrims touch a holy statue’s hand not kiss it, so no kiss is called for; she is teasing him even though she wants him to kiss her. But eventually she gives in to temptation and they both share an intimate kiss. Yet again, I think that this is another example of courtly love, because in Shakespeare’s time the lady would be in complete control of the relationship and the man would worship her. Act1 scene5 is one of my favourite scenes because it is very romantic, and there is just so much going on which makes the scene dramatically effective. I definitely think that a modern audience would find this scene exciting, because the two main characters meet for the first time and the audience would know that this is significant.

At the end of act1 scene5 Romeo and Juliet discover that one of them is a Montague and that one of them is a Capulet, and to make it worse their parents are the worst of enemies. Romeo first discovers the truth when Juliet’s nurse drags Juliet away from Romeo, as her mother wishes to speak with her. As Juliet goes, Romeo asks the nurse who her mother is and is dismayed to hear that she is the Lady of the house – a Capulet, therefore meaning that Juliet is a Capulet:

‘Is she a Capulet? O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt.’

Romeo is devastated at the heavy price he is to pay, for loving someone so close to the heart of his great enemy.

Juliet does not yet know who Romeo is but she does not want to ask the nurse outright, because then the nurse will know that she is interested in him, which she does not want. Instead, she finds a crafty way to do it by requesting to know the names of some of the other guests first, before asking to know the name of Romeo; making out she is just being curious.

‘If he be married, my grave is likely to be my wedding bed.’

Juliet feels that if Romeo is already married, it will be likely that she will die unmarried, because she is so madly in love with him that she would not be able to move on and seek another husband. But when the nurse tells Juliet who Romeo is, she is just as shocked as Romeo was:

‘My only love sprung from my only hate!’

Juliet realises that she has fallen in love with a Montague, the family she is supposed to hate. When Juliet says this it reminds me of the themes of the play, love versus hate. This is dramatically effective because love and hate is a very emotional subject so it will keep the audience interested. Also, the tension of Romeo and Juliet discovering each other’s identity will help create the audience’s expectations of what will happen


Having looked at all these points, I can conclude that Shakespeare has made act1 scene5 dramatically effective; there is tension, excitement, and suspense, which help keep the audience interested and makes them want to find out what happens next. A modern audience would still appreciate this scene because love and romance is involved, so it gives it a universal appeal meaning that everybody will be interested.

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Discuss the dramatic effect of act1 scene 5. (2018, Dec 26). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-discuss-the-dramatic-effect-of-act1-scene-5/

Discuss the dramatic effect of act1 scene 5
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