How does act one scene one provide an effective opening to 'Romeo and Juliet'?

In Shakespeare’s ‘romeo and juliet‘, the first scene provides an effective opening scene. This essay shows how and what effected the audience in act one, scene one in the classical 1594 play. The factors that will be explored are how the actors play their roles, how action can be manipulated to have a greater effect upon the audience, the effect of a character and dramatic devices and how those factors added effect to the audience in 1595 (when it was first preformed).

The effects of a character can also be added in when the characters are not there. For instance the fact that Romeo and Juliet don’t appear has an effect on the audience. The first thing that happens in Romeo and Juliet is two Capulets appear. This in itself is effective.

It is because the audience would expect two of the main characters to appear, so when the play pushes two ‘nobodies’ out onto the first scene, the audience then know that when the main characters do appear it’ll be more interesting rather then just letting them go in the first second of the play.

The audience would want Romeo and Juliet to appear because of the title, humans – including the audience – want to see if the two characters are worthy of being giving the play title (they wouldn’t call it Romeo and Juliet because they are two boring characters). They do this because they want to judge, ever since the beginning of time humans have wanted to judge, this play lets them do that however Shakespeare deprives them of there desperate judging in this first scene.

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This creates an effect where the audience are so eagerly awaiting the arrival of Romeo and Juliet that they don’t want to take there eyes of the play. In a way it creates suspense, the audience want it but are being made to wait for it. It’s like keeping a child from Christmas but they have paid to be deprived – which makes it worse and has a greater effect. However one could say that they do not appear in the first scene because the first scene is so full of hate that the writer wanted to show that the two main characters are not part of this hatred. “What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell” is what Tybalt says; it foreshadows the whole scene (and maybe the whole play) and shows that the scene will be violent which means that Romeo and Juliet will not appear.

I think that the writer used the scene to show that Romeo and Juliet are not part of the hatred because it engages the audience more, meaning that it will have a greater effect on the audience. An effect where the audience will it will keep the audience fixed onto the stage because they want to see the moment where Romeo and Juliet do appear so it can let them to fulfil there need to judge. The effects of action are also used in Romeo and Juliet. In the first scene there is a fight scene. This can build up suspense. It can do this by differing who is in a more domineering position, so it could show Benvoilio wining in one bit and Tybalt wining in the other.

This has an effect where the audience don’t know who is going to win and will keep watching to see who wins this fight. However the director could use the element of surprise on the audience. This is where the director shows one of the two fighters winning through out the whole fight and then right at the last minute give the loser all the power. This will have an effect where the audience are put in a false state of security and omniscience but then dropped from the ‘omniscient chair’ at full speed. This way the effect will hit them harder because they themselves have lost something, and that something is omniscience.

I think the one that will engage and affect the audience the most is the one where the two fighters are constantly changing positions of who is winning. I think this because with the other idea, there is a risk of the audience getting bored. A huge amount of effect can come from how the actors are playing their roles. For instance, Tybalt is already an angry person from the way he talks but the way he moves can offer the audience a chance to see how violent he is. By showing that Tybalt is a violent person, the audience will be thinking that he might be responsible for the deaths of the two lovers. This has an effect where the audience want to see if they are right, the audience want to be right but at the same time want something different to happen so they can be shocked, so as they wait to see if they are right or wrong, Shakespeare has got exactly what he wanted: the audience’s attention.

The director can do all that simply making Tybalt a hasty character that moves around a lot, the kind that makes a lot of sudden movements. This will show the audience that he is a violent person. Tybalt can also be perceived as violent by saying things as though his life depends on it. This will make it look like that he is truly passionate about what he says. “What drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word, just as I hate hell” is what Tybalt says during a fight between him and Benvolio. If Tybalt was to say that with passion and while he was moving around (because he would be so discomforted by the word ‘peace’), it would have an effect where the audience would think that they know that Tybalt is responsible for the death (which they were informed on in the prologue) but want to see that he is so they can have the glory of being right.

Romeo and Juliet also have a lot of ways it can affect the audience through dramatic devices such as dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is used in Romeo and Juliet in the prologue; it says that two lovers will die to mend the two families of the ongoing fight. The audience know that two people will die (which is more than the characters) however they do not know when they will die. Which is exactly why it effects the audience in act one, scene one. The audience are eager to see the two lovers, the lovers that are bound to die. It creates an effective opening scene because it deprives the audience of seeing the future-dead. The audience want to see them, so they can help them. By this I mean the audience are already so lost in the play that they want to shout out to the lovers and tell them of their incomplete death. They want to be messianic; they want to be the lovers’ saviour.

However you could say that the audience are told of the death because, Shakespeare wants them to focus more on the first scene. So as the audience are looking for the living dead, Shakespeare can throw a fight scene. This will have an effect where the audience are still thinking about something else and watching this suspenseful fight between Benvolio and Tybalt. The effect of sexual innuendos is also used. Sexual innuendos are used in a comedic way but are also relevant to the audience at the time. They are relevant to the audience because at the time, things were a lot more conservative and closed (words such as sex would be the equivalent of the f word). So not only would the audience be laughing at it, they’d also be shocked.

In act one, scene one, there is one sexual innuendo that sticks out. “My naked weapon is out” is what Sampson says, it sticks in people’s minds because it is so outrageously ‘out there’ that the audience want more of it, they want to be liberated from the conservative boundaries. Although one could say that the sexual innuendos are there to give cheap thrills just boost the audience’s interest in the play. By simply renewing the audience’s interest Shakespeare can effectively show something even more effective. The audience for the first time actually know by giving them a cheap thrill that it’ll lead to something better which has a double meaning. Shakespeare wants to subliminally tell the audience to keep there interest but by simply doing that action, the audience are aware that something good is about to happen, which is the effect – Shakespeare had gotten them to take more interest.

“My naked tool is out” is a sexual innuendo that eventually leads up to a fight. This proves the point about sexual innuendos being there to renew the audience’s interest so it can show something more effective such as a fight. There is also another idea that Shakespeare put those sexual innuendos in the play because the people who use to go to them were not that clever (during the 1590s to be educated would be very rare), so they were easily amused. So really he was just making his play entertaining for all types of people.

I think Shakespeare used the idea that the more educated audience members would recognize this as an attempt to gain the un-educated members interest which would also get their interest. The educated people thought ‘he wants their interest, why?’ this made the educated ones pay more attention. So in this situation, Shakespeare uses an effect so it is effective to all the audience – grabbing everyone’s interest so he can show them something much more effective such as a fight. Shakespeare used many ways to create an effective opening scene; people may say how differently he did them but one thing is sure. He did create a good and effective opening scene; I know he did this because through me simply reading it I can imagine the audience’s reaction. If I can see the effectiveness on a page, it’ll be much better on a stage.

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How does act one scene one provide an effective opening to 'Romeo and Juliet'?. (2018, Dec 15). Retrieved from

How does act one scene one provide an effective opening to 'Romeo and Juliet'?
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