In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, act three scene one becomes a very important part of the play. This is the scene that the play has dramatic changes in, whether it is from a classical comedy to a classical tragedy. To express the desired effect on the audience, staging has its large amounts of importance to play in order to gain impact on the rest of the play.
Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies, it was written in 1595.
It is a play about two young people who fall in love and marry each other despite the fact that the families they come from are worst enemies from ancient times, through ancient grudges. This play is considered to be one of the greatest ever written because of the enormous change which takes place in this scene. Plays of Elizabethan England and earlier were divided into genres. Some examples of genre would be comedy, tragedy, and romance and these genres would follow certain patterns.
Comedy and tragedy were completely unrelated, therefore, by having the two plays unite would make it very popular.
Today, the genre of “comedy” is associated with happiness and hilarity and is defined by a story or a play that deliberately causes the audience to laugh; this is a different understanding of the word “comedy” in Elizabethan England. In Shakespeare’s England, comedy was usually a story of two lovers who wished to get together but was held back by their elders, the play would then result in a way that the couple would end up married.
Shakespeare’s tragedies were usually quite bloody and ended with the death of a main character; an example of this is in the play of “Macbeth”. They showed a lot of people suffering and dying, usually because of bad rulers.Romeo and Juliet was not any typical comedy or tragedy, Shakespeare showed his spectators that genres could be combined to create a diverse story. He transformed Romeo and Juliet from a comedy to a tragedy in just one individual scene, which makes this one of the most momentous plays in history.
It may be difficult for a modern audience to understand the value of this scene in the play due to the Shakespearean language used. I am going to explore how I could make this easily suggested to a modern audience that this is a very important turning point in the play.Act three scene one, this is just after when Romeo and Juliet secretly get married. Tybalt has now become Romeo’s relative, but still, he doesn’t know it. Romeo tries to keep calm when Tybalt demands a fight because Tybalt is Juliet’s Cousin.
The reason why this scene is so significant to the play is because it is a major turning point for the entire play. As mentioned before, act three scene one has a combination of comedy and tragedy. Because of this, it makes it a lot more important than usual. Act 3 scene 1 takes place in a public place. As Mercutio, Benvolio, page and servants enter the scene, they already are having small, immature arguments. This pre-empts the beginning of the scene. Benvolio is the moderate person, the pacifist, the type of person who hopes for no trouble, nor will he cause it. We know this because of the first disagreement between the Montague’s and the Capulet’s in Act 1 Scene 1.
The beginning of Act 1 Scene 1 is also similar to this scene, friends are talking among themselves and the other houses come on scene, causing trouble. Right at the beginning of Act 3 Scene 1, Benvolio says:I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire:The day is hot, the Capulet’s abroad,And, if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl;For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirringThis shows that Benvolio does not want any trouble, but it also prepares us for any arguments that will happen during this scene. A tragedy will happen, and it is inevitable that something bad will happen.
The love between Romeo and Juliet brings the tragedy, as we know that during this scene they are already married. The phrase “these hot days” that Benvolio says reflect on the heat of the day which equals with the tempers frayed which also shows a possibility of fighting. The next phrase that Benvolio says “mad blood stirring” is also important, as this gives us the suggestion that the heat and the conflicts combine to cause stirring emotions.As Mercutio replies, he tells Benvolio that he is being hypercritical about fighting.
Because Mercutio replies Benvolio in a critical way, this prepares the audience for conflict, even between Mercutio and Benvolio, but we know that Benvolio is not like this, he will stop the trouble, whereas Mercutio will be the centre of trouble, he seems to like the sound of his own voice, so even if he dies, he will make a final speech. Benvolio replies in a calm way to Mercutio after he has accused Benvolio of being a hypercritic, he asks “am I such a fellow?” and it seems as if he has no opinion to what Mercutio has just said about him, he does not get provoked whereas Mercutio is trained in dialectal.
Mercutio then argues his case, with the longest possible answer to Benvolio’s question, but to the end, all that he says is that ‘why are you telling me that you wont fight, but yes you will, like you have done before’ Benvolio answers his speech with a few words, he tells Mercutio that giving the right circumstances, he will quarrel, but he will not cause the trouble, just to quarrel.Before Tybalt enters the scene, Mercutio says “By my head, here come the Capulets” but Mercutio obviously does not care, and replies with “By my heel, I care not.” This gives us the idea that Mercutio will try and cause trouble.
Tybalt then asks Mercutio or Benvolio for a word with one of them, straight away, Mercutio says:And but one word with one of us? Couple it withSomething; make it a word and a blow.With Mercutio saying the words above, it provokes the Capulets; therefore, Tybalt will say things to provoke Mercutio, such as “Mercutio, thou consort’st with Romeo” this means that he is calling Mercutio and Romeo the vagrancy, petty criminals. Both Mercutio and Tybalt end up having an argument that grows every second, using different ways to insult one another.
Again, Benvolio tries to stop the arguments, trying to remove the conflicts as he says:We talk in the public haunt of men:Either withdraws unto some private place,And reason coldly of your grievances,Or else depart; here all eyes gaze on us.Benvolio’s efforts fail, with Mercutio saying let the others stare let their eyes pleasure them. Romeo then enters the scene, we know that he is married to Juliet, therefore, he will not tempt to fight with Tybalt, as Tybalt, is now Romeo’s cousin.Romeo should have never interfered into the argument of Tybalt and Mercutio.
It was like a law for fights and arguments to be one on one as if it was a wrestling match. Romeo says:Tybalt, the reason that I have to love theeDoth must excuse the appertaining rageTo such a greeting: villain am I none;Therefore farewell; I see thou know’st me not.This speech of Romeo makes him sound as if he is backing away from Tybalt and the up coming fight, the speech is ambiguous, what ever Romeo decides to say from now is quite so ambiguous. Romeo repeats what he says about loving Tybalt.
When Mercutio sees that no fight will happen, he turns immediately draws his sword. This is important because the calm atmosphere changes automatically when Mercutio is certain no fight will happen, so he draws to cause one. Tybalt then draws his sword too, “I am for you”. The etiquette of fighting would be that Romeo would not intervene into the fight, as mentioned before; it was seen as an unwritten law of fighting.I have divided the Act 3 scene 1 into 3 parts, the beginning has been described above and I believe that this first part of the scene is important because the atmosphere changes from the calm talk between the Capulets and the Montagues, or even the minor arguments have unexpectedly transformed into a fighting scene involving weapons to slaughter.
I also believe that it is an important part of the overall scene because the etiquette of fighting has been broken; meaning that this can show us that many other cultural things in the play may have a slight change.The second section of the play is all about the fight that is between Tybalt, Mercutio and Romeo. It is about Mercutio’s death, and the curse that will fly upon both the Capulets and the Montagues. Because Mercutio and Tybalt are fighting, Romeo tells Benvolio:Draw, Benvolio; beat down their weapons.Gentlemen, for shame, forbear this outrage!Tybalt, Mercutio, the prince expressly hathForbidden bandying in Verona streets:Hold, Tybalt! Good Mercutio!
As Romeo interferes into the fight, as he steps in between them, Tybalt, under Romeo’s arm stabs Mercutio, and flies with his followers. Tybalt runs when he realises what he has done, he has little retribution. Yet still, Mercutio speaks whilst he is hurt, he likes the sound of his own voice. After he gets stabbed, he says:I am hurtA plague o’ both your houses! I am sped.Is he gone, and hath nothing?When Mercutio says this, it is as if the Montagues and the Capulets are pre-destined for something bad to happen. Benvolio is much more concerned than Romeo; he shows this by saying “what, art thou hurt?” Mercutio’s reply sounds as if the wound is not much at first, he says “Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch” but, when he finishes his sentence with the words “marry, ’tis enough.”
We know that Mercutio is seriously injured, and with that one stabbing under Romeo’s arm, has done enough to kill him. He also asks his page (servant) to go and find him a surgeon; this shows us that he still wants to live, that he’d rather die with pride, and not through a misfortune.Then, Romeo is being very insensitive with the words he say, “courage, man; the hurt cannot be much” Mercutio still keeps up with his character with all the intelligent talk that he says even when he is slowly dying.
Mercutio is a very important person because he is the kinsman of the Prince, during the speech after Romeo’s comment, he says “grave man” at one point. This is a metaphorical phrase to show his decaying in life, with these words used, Shakespeare is showing that his intelligence is still with him. Within the same speech, he says “a plague o’ both your houses” again, this is repeated o the audience of the play understands and remembers that Mercutio is now wanting both the Montagues and the Capulets to fall from their top position.
When Mercutio says: “Why the devil came you between us? I was hut under your arm.” Here Mercutio is talking to Romeo, he wonders why he interfered. This quote also shows that Mercutio did not want to die through an accident, and he hopes he wont, because he would rather loose a fight and die because of Tybalt, and only Tybalt. Romeo’s response was that he thought all for the best of Mercutio, but, he was not thinking at all, the traditional law of fighting was not to get in the way of two peoples fight, but Romeo did.Mercutio once more reminds us that he hopes for a plague to attack the Montagues and the Capulets.
He says “they have made worms’ meat of me” with reference to “grave man” his last words are imperative too. He knows that he does not have a sufficient amount of breath to tell us a plague should hit both the Montagues and the Capulets, so he cautiously and wisely says “your houses”. Both Benvolio and Mercutio now exeunt this part of the scene and leave Romeo to think about his actions. Romeo, to himself says:This gentleman, the prince’s near ally,My very friend, hath got his mortal hurtIn my behalf; my reputation stain’dWith Tybalt’s slander, Tybalt, that an hourHath been my kinsman! O sweet Juliet,Thy beauty hath made me effeminate.
And in my temper soften’d valour’s steel!Here he blames Juliet for Mercutio’s death; he never blames himself for nothing, he blames Juliet here, and soon, he will blame fate. After Benvolio tells us that Mercutio has died, Romeo says:This day’s black fate on more days doth depend;This but begins the woe, others must end.This is when Romeo finally realises that what has happened will have very big consequences, repercussions, he is saying that the future is being destined, and it will end up in a strange way.
As mentioned before, Romeo and Juliet is a play that is different to a normal Shakespearean time comedy or tragedy, the two have been combined, so we will, from this point forward will also have the idea that diverse things compared to the original will happen.As Tybalt enters the scene again, Romeo immediately says:Alive, in triumph! And Mercutio slain!Away to heaven, respective lenity,And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!Again, Romeo is not thinking, and he again, causes trouble. Here, as both Romeo and Tybalt fight, Benvolio does not interfere, but, Tybalt has fallen to the ground, and as mentioned before, Romeo will blame anything but himself, even fate, just like in this situation, where he says “o, I am fortune’s fool.” Benvolio then tells Romeo to run, he does not run with Romeo, as we know, he has nothing to run from.
The second part of the scene is important because of the fight between Tybalt and Mercutio, where Mercutio dies, and the vengeance fight between Romeo and Tybalt, where Tybalt falls. The part before this second part of the scene shows that something bad will happen, here, something bad does happens. I believe that it is an important scene because it shows how Romeo, Tybalt and Benvolio are really like. Tybalt and Romeo are similar in personality, they both are stubborn and they will not give up on a fight once started. They both do not think before they speak, and they do not think before they act either.The final part of the play is about the authority and the citizens questioning Benvolio for the truth.
Also in this scene, the prince decides upon a punishment for Romeo to suite both the Capulets and the Montagues, so no more trouble will be caused. When the prince arrives on scene, he does not take any notice of the biased person’s comments. He asks the one who has witnessed, in this case Benvolio, “Where are the ville beginners of this fray” the prince does not ask who killed Tybalt, nor does he judge, but what he does do is try to understand the nature of the brawl, who, what, why, when and where. Benvolio’s answer to his question is all accuracy; he seems to have no emotion at all, the way his speech is written also seems dispassionate.
Lady Capulet then says her point of view about the death of Tybalt. She is an emotional out pour; however this is understandable because Tybalt is her kinsman. The word she uses “O” is an appeal to God, to the prince to do something about the death of Tybalt.The prince then asks Benvolio “who began this bloody fray?” again; he is asking Benvolio for a truthful answer, and not a pack of lies. Benvolio again does what he does, he is the moderate, he is a peace keeper, and he talks truth if he is asked for it, unlike Romeo and Tybalt. In his speech, when he says “how nice the quarrel was” he does not mean nice, he means petty, immature, it should not have happened. Secondly, I quote “with gentle breath, calm look, knees humbly bow’d” here, Benvolio is trying to make the situation for Romeo easier, he placates it. He does not blame Romeo, nor does he blame Tybalt, but he does ease the trouble for Romeo, this is understandable because Romeo is after all, his friend.
Thirdly, Benvolio says “of Tybalt deaf to peace” this is saying that Tybalt would not listen to Romeo’s thought and Mercutio ” who all as hot”, his anger equivalent to Tybalt’s, and yet still they both fought the battle with one another, causing more trouble as Mercutio died, because now, Romeo is seeking revenge on behalf of Mercutio against Tybalt. The quote “who had but newly entertain’d revenge” tells us that Romeo is seeking for the vengeance. The very last line of this speech reads “This is the truth or let Benvolio die” this shows that Benvolio was so certain that he told the truth, he knows he will not die because of defamation. His statement is all accurate; the audience also knows this too.After Benvolio has told the story, we know that is true, the Capulets want Romeo dead, whereas the Montagues prefer him alive.
The prince now needs to make a decision to benefit both houses because if it does not, more conflicts will be caused out of this. The prince has listened to the story of Benvolio, he has heard what both Houses want, so he needs to make a decision at that particular time. He says:Romeo slew him, he slew Mercutio;Who now the price of his dear blood doth owe?”This shows that the prince is thinking effectively and he does not want the houses to have any more trouble caused. He also says one last final speech at the end of the scene before everyone exits:And for that offenceImmediately we do exile him hence:I have an interest in your hate’s proceeding.
My blood for your rude brawls doth lie a-bleeding;But I’ll amerce you with so strong a fineThat you shall all repent the loss of mine:Nor tears nor prayers shall purchase out abuses:Therefore use none: let Romeo hence in haste,Else, when he’s found, that hour is his last.Bear hence this body and attend our will:Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.This speech of the prince shows us that the prince is hurt he does want Mercutio to be alive, and because he is dead, he will ask both the Montagues and the Capulets to pay a fine.
Overall, this scene has much importance to the play, it has a major turning point, and this scene is where the comedy of the Shakespearean time and the tragedy combines to create an interesting and exciting combination. I have included many quotes, and have described this to support my initiative.