How does Shakespeare Highlight the Tragic Waste of Young Life in Act 5, Scene 3

The play “Romeo and Juliet” was written in the 1590’s by William Shakespeare. He based his ideas and play from folk stories made popular in Italy and France and also from Arthur Brooks’ poem, “The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet” which was written in 1562, way before Shakespeare’s version was produced.”Romeo and Juliet” was one of Shakespeare’s earlier tragedies, so it could have possibly been an experiment before he wrote “Macbeth” for example.It is a piteous play which examines the devastating effects of prejudice.

The two powerful families, the Montagues and the Capulets, have been feuding with each other for years. The reason for this however is unknown. In the prologue it is said,”From ancient grudge break to new mutiny.”This shows the dispute has been going on for years. It is a big shock to the couple, Romeo and Juliet, when they first meet as they are supposed to be prejudiced against each other. Just because Juliet is a Capulet, Romeo believed he should hate her.

”Romeo and Juliet” also displays a lot of violence. The fact that the two families can not even tolerate each other leads to a lot of violence. The fighting and violence in this play is usually the consequence of the power and strength of young love. For example the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt happened because Romeo did not want to fight a Capulet due to his love for Juliet. This led to the fight between Romeo and Tybalt.

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The shows that the influence of love can be very powerful.Shakespeare’s intention in writing “Romeo and Juliet” was to entertain whilst also trying to show that;Love is stronger than hate,True love is powerful,Violence leads to more violence,Parents have responsibility to set a good example to their children,Love triumphs over hate,Young people have minds of their owns and shouldn’t be controlled,Young people shouldn’t enter into serious relationships too soon,And importantly that young life is important.In Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of this classic love story he highlights these points brilliantly. I think that he shows the dramatic fight between Mercutio and Tybalt and the change to the fight between Romeo and Tybalt and includes many flashbacks to highlight the point that violence leads to more violence.”Romeo and Juliet” is also a story showing that it takes the death of five young people to finally put aside two families’ differences.There are six deaths in Romeo and Juliet and five of these are young people. Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, Paris and Tybalt all die in the play plus Lady Montague which is due to her son being banished. All these deaths are as a result of true love.In Act 5, Scene 3, Romeo and Paris fight over Juliet as they both love her. Paris is killed after this fight. Tybalt and Mercutio are killed as a consequence of Romeo’s love for Juliet, and Romeo and Juliet die for the love of each other.The prologue of “Romeo and Juliet” states,”A pair of starcrossed lovers take their life; whose misadventure piteous overthrows. Doth with their death bury their parent’s strife.”This prepares the audience for the deaths of the protagonists and also tells them the final outcome. The prologue is to prepare the audience for play and also to create effect.The deaths of the protagonists, Romeo and Juliet, are left till the final act of the play to give maximum impact and effect. If the deaths of these two happened in the middle of the play, the climax would not be the ending where it is most effective and the play could seem to drag. The dramatic irony used throughout the play also helps the final act create maximum impact on the audience when Romeo and Juliet take their lives.The timings of deaths in “Romeo and Juliet” happen very fast. The amount of time between the deaths of Paris, Romeo and Juliet is remarkably little. The timing highlights the unnecessary waste of young life. The time between the couple’s deaths can be very frustrating for the audience as they are almost re-united. In Act 5, Scene 3, Juliet says,”Thy lips are warm.”This shows that it was a short space of time between Romeo’s death and Juliet’s wake. In Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation, he highlights this part of the scene to show how close the two where to be re-united by showing Romeo dying just when Juliet wakes up. Romeo gets a great shock after drinking the potion, seeing Juliet wake up. Luhrmann’s interpretation of this scene is different to Zefferelli’s interpretation.The setting of Act 5, Scene 3 is in a churchyard and the Capulet’s Tomb. Shakespeare has described the settings to create a negative atmosphere. He used vivid, graphic descriptions to remind the audience that death is nasty and unnecessary.From lines 100 to 105 Romeo personifies death as a monstrous lover,”And that the lean abhorred monster keeps” -“And never from this palace of dim night.”The personification of death as a monster creates a nasty, mean image of death.The death of Paris in “Romeo and Juliet” is included to emphasise the needlessness and tragic waste of young life. Paris’ death is caused by the lack of communication because of the prejudice between the Montagues and Capulets. If Paris and Romeo had been able to be friends then Romeo might have known that Paris was at the tomb because he felt the same as Romeo about Juliet. It was only at the scene that Romeo finally realises that the two feel the same.”He told me Paris should have married Juliet” -“I’ll bury thee in a triumphant grave.”These quotes show Romeo has realised they both loved Juliet. Most directors don’t include the death of Paris in their films, this is because they feel his death isn’t an important part of the play and isn’t good enough to happen in the final scene.Shakespeare uses the dramatic device of soliloquy in “Romeo and Juliet” especially in the final scene. Shakespeare uses this dramatic device to allow the audience to empathise with the characters and so the audience can recap on what has gone on. The language used in the soliloquy is used to empathise with the emotions in the play, such as the love, the grief and the despair. All these emotions are used when Romeo is describing and talking about Juliet. Romeo’s soliloquy begins after he and Paris have fought which resulted in Paris’ death. When carrying Paris into the tomb Romeo sees dead Tybalt and Juliet. Romeo, with dead Paris over his shoulder and Tybalt and Juliet in the tomb represents the tragic waste of young life. From lines 85 to 120 in Act 5, Scene 3, Romeo is speaking his thoughts aloud about Juliet. This soliloquy includes three linguistic devices, one is personification.”That unsubstantial Death is amorous,And that the lean abhorred monster keepsThree here in dark to be his paramour?”The quote from Romeo’s soliloquy personifies death as a monstrous lover. Romeo is jealous that death, or this monster, has taken Juliet.Romeo’s soliloquy also includes similes when he’s talking about Juliet.”Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath”Also in Romeo’s soliloquy imagery is used relating to light,”For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makesThis vault a feasting presence full of light.”This quote from Romeo’s soliloquy means that her beauty makes the tomb and her death more bearable. Using the imagery relating to light, it helps the audience believe she must be very beautiful.In the final scene the audience are given numerous reminders about the waste of young life within the play. The reminders begin when Paris was slain and Romeo saw dead Tybalt. With Paris dead, being carried by Romeo into the tomb where dead Tybalt is, really shows the young lives that were wasted. This also reminds the audience about Mercutio’s death.In Romeo’s soliloquy he says;”O no, a lantern, slaughtered youth.”This line is used to remind the audience that all the deaths in the play were youths.The final scene is made more dramatic due to the use of dramatic irony. The deaths are made more painful as the audience all know Juliet is not dead. When Romeo is about to take the poison the audience will be nervous and anxious as they know it will be only moment before she wakes up. The fact that Romeo was unaware of Juliet’s and Friar Lawrence’s plan makes the scene very intense for the audience. When Friar Lawrence is talking to Juliet he says,”Hath thwarted our intents” this quote means, “Has ruined our intentions/plan” this shows that dramatic irony was used for their plan to be ruined.Throughout the play both Romeo and Juliet show great courage and determination. Even though the two are both only 14 they show a lot of bravery to be together. The characters are portrayed as very fearless, courageous youths this is shown as they were willing to kill themselves for love.The first sign of Romeo’s courageous character was when he sneaked into the Capulet’s grounds when first meeting Juliet. This showed that Romeo was determined to be with Juliet from the beginning. Another example of Romeo’s determination to be with Juliet was when Tybalt offered to fight Romeo and he refused due to him not wanting to fight with a Capulet.A sign when Juliet was brave and stood up for herself was when she stood up to her father. Juliet refuses to marry Paris as she is already married to Romeo.Most of all the most courageous way they show their determination is in the final scene when they kill themselves just to be with one another.In the final scene Shakespeare portrays other characters’ reactions in different ways. When Friar Lawrence finds out about Romeo and Juliet being dead he feels guilty. Friar’s intention was just to keep them both happy. He believed that if he could get Juliet out of marrying Paris and keep her with Romeo then maybe the families could be civil. All he wanted was reconciliation between Capulets and the Montagues. In Friar’s summary at the end of the play he mentions feeling guilty about running out on Juliet as that could have stopped her killing herself.When Caption on the Watch enters the scene he is very confused. He is very bemused as there are three fresh dead bodies in the tomb, one of which being Juliet which confuses him even more as the funeral had been a number of days beforehand. A quote to show his confusion is:”And Juliet bleeding, warm, and newly dead, who here hath lain this two days buried.”When the parents of Romeo and Juliet enter the scene, they too are confused. When explained they feel to blame. Along with Romeo dying, Lady Montague died from grief when Romeo was banished. Lord Montague is filled with grief and feels to blame as the feud caused all these deaths. The truce between the families only happened because of their children’s deaths. They hold a truce by putting up statues of each others child.”For I will raise her statue in pure gold.”Shakespeare’s use of language in the final scene of the play makes the scene overall more dramatic. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony at the beginning of the scene when Romeo is telling Balthazar that he is going into the tomb to steal Juliet’s wedding ring.”But chiefly to take thence from her dead fingerA precious ring, a ring that I must useIn dear employment; therefore hence, be gone.”This excuse is known by Romeo and the audience to be a lie.”Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death,Gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth,Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open,And in despite I’ll cram thee with more food.”This quote from when Romeo is yelling at the tomb creates effect. It makes the audience believe the tomb has “eaten” Juliet. Romeo is saying that he will kill himself so the tomb will have “more food.”Later in the scene Shakespeare makes use of a pun. He used the same word twice of different meanings:”We see the ground where on these woes do lie,But the true ground of all these piteous woes”Also he uses a few play on words, such as;”Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while.”This play on words, spoken by the Prince could mean one of two things, “close your mouth” or “close the tomb.”Shakespeare’s use of puns, dramatic irony, soliloquy’s, personification etc. make the tragic waste of young life have greater impact and affect on the audience.Towards the end of the scene, Friar Lawrence creates a summary of events. This dramatic device is to fill in all the missing pieces for the characters in the play but most of all to remind the audience of all the tragic events throughout the play. As the play would have been watched in theatre, members of the audience may have missed parts of the play due to toilet breaks and so forth. Friar’s summary re-caps all the major events. In the summary Juliet’s grief is explained, Romeo and Juliet’s wedding is explained, that their marriage was on the day of Tybalt’s death.”I married them, and their stol’n marriage day was Tybalt’s doomsday”This explanation also reminds the audience of the death which will also remind them of Mercutio.Friar Lawrence explains the whole story which re-caps everything for the audience and also reminds them about the tragic waste of young lives within the play.The character of Prince Escalus is used to pass judgement and to lay blame but most of all to establish order at the end of the play. Prince Escalus is the head of everything in the play; he is in charge of laws and in charge of punishment. At the end of the play he wants everyone’s part explained. This is to help the audience recapitulate, within the play it is for him to punish the people who need punished. As Friar Lawrence explained in his part, he got off being punished. Friar explained and said,”Myself condemned and myself excused.”This antithesis meant that he is guilty but not for the murders.Prince believed that he could have stopped the family feud and the fighting if he had been stricter.”Capulet, Montague?See what a scourage is laid upon your hate,That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!And I for winking at your biscords tooHave lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.”This quote explains how the feuding between the two families has affected the outcome of the play. If the feuding had not started, the couple would have been together in the open so there would have been no need for the deaths.Prince ends the play by saying,”For never was a story of more woeThan this of Juliet and her Romeo.”This rhyming couplet ends the play as it finishes off the whole story. Shakespeare often ended his plays with a rhyming couplet to finish off the play with a final impact and conclusion.

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How does Shakespeare Highlight the Tragic Waste of Young Life in Act 5, Scene 3. (2019, Jun 20). Retrieved from

How does Shakespeare Highlight the Tragic Waste of Young Life in Act 5, Scene 3
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