Act 1 Scene 5

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This scene is an important scene to the entire play because it starts the journey for Romeo and Juliet when the two young lovers eyes first meet each other. Romeo and Juliet follows a typical love at first site story. Shakespeare describes them as ‘two star-cross’d lovers’ and in this scene the audience see when they first set eyes on each other showing the significance of the scene.

The audience are aware of the different rival families Romeo and Juliet belong to, they are also aware that Romeo and Juliet will end up taking there life, in this scene the audience are left eager to find out the rest of the story that leads to such woeful ends.

Act 1 scene 5 begins with a short dialogue between servants rushing around to prepare for the Capulet dinner. This is a frantic dialogue setting the scene for an important moment.

This shows how significant this scene is as when everyone is rushing around during the party and excitement the audience suspect Romeo and Juliet might meet amongst the chaos and fall in love. It is important that the ball is masked as Romeo and his friends are at a Capulet party in disguise, the masks symbolize Romeo and Juliet being strangers to each other. When Romeo and Juliet meet Romeo removes his mask, Shakespeare does this to show the start of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship as now they can see each other properly and are no longer two love struck strangers and are ready to start to get to know each other.

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Romeo And Juliet Act 1 Scene 5

When Romeo first sets eyes on Juliet he contradicts him self from scene 4 of act 1. Romeo believes his true love is ‘fair Roselyn’ and he says,

“I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe:

Under love’s heavy burden do I sink”

This quote gives the impression of Romeo being cast away by the love of his life, but with more insight the audience can see this is just a crush, though Romeo believes his one true love is Roselyn his mind can easily be changed just by the sight of Juliet showing he is confused.

Romeo, when he sees Juliet is elusive to the fact she is Capulet and she is elusive to the fact he is a Montague, the audience however are fully aware of this though being caught up in the love story the audience always know the two lovers will have to find out that they are from two warring families creating a strong atmosphere of tension in this scene and anticipation for the moment they find out. Whilst the audience are focused on the love story, Shakespeare brings them back to think about the impending bombshell that they are enemies when Tybalt interrupts what Romeo is saying. The audience are know aware even more so that Romeo and Juliet will soon discover their families conflict. Tybalt says,

“This, by his voice, should be a Montague. Fetch me my rapier, boy.”

This shows the sheer strength of the hatred between the two families. Tybalt, the instance he sees Romeo seeks his sword to kill him just for being inside a Capulet household. Another quote that highlights the seriousness of the rivalry between the two families is,

“It fits, when such a villain is a guest, I’ll not endure him.”

Here, Tybalt, being a character that believes in honour and respect is lightly prepared to argue with an elder Capulet just for the right to kill Romeo. Tybalt is so angry here he goes against all he has been taught growing up. The elder Capulet has to set Tybalt back in line telling him Romeo ‘shall be endured.’ The Capulet has to use such stronger language as to make sure Tybalt knows who’s decision is more important, Tybalt’s or the elder Capulet’s. He says,

“Am I the master here, or you?”

The Capulet’s words have the effect of setting Tybalt straight, this provides a sense of relief to the audience but creates a large sense of tension as had the Capulet not been there or should Tybalt meet Romeo elsewhere there is the potential of conflict. The extent of anger from Tybalt even before he knows of Romeo’s desire to have Juliet shows what will stand in Romeo’s way when he attempts to woo Juliet.

All of this helps to build tension through this important scene in a variety of ways such as Romantic tension and physical tension of the possible quarrel between Tybalt and Romeo.

When Romeo and Juliet meet, the language and imagery they use is very effective. Romeo uses words with a variety of religious connotations to woo Juliet, these efforts are playfully denied, as Juliet is so young she has not had much experience with boys and finds Romeo’s clever language hard to resist. Juliet tries to not play to easy to get and flirts by making Romeo work to woo her. This is shown when Romeo says,

“Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?” and Juliet replies,

“Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.”

This playful sense adds to the tension of the scene because all the while these two teenagers are flirting and talking the are entirely unaware that they come from rival families and the true strength of this rivalry has just been emphasised by Shakespeare showing that the families are prepared to go so far as to kill for just stepping foot in one another’s house. Having wooed Juliet, Romeo kisses her and they fall deeply in love. Soon after Shakespeare brings the audience back to realize the rivalry and it starts to dawn upon Romeo his love is a Capulet. He talks of his life being owed to his enemy. Here in the scene there is a sense that Romeo is now lost and suddenly chaos starts to break out as his cousins rush him from the Capulet’s house and the banquet comes to an end. Romeo feels distraught here and doesn’t no what to think and a feeling of worry comes over him.

Shakespeare builds up to Juliet discovering Romeo is a Montague as she talks to her Nurse of her desire to wed him,

“Go ask his name: if he be married. My grave is like to be my wedding bed.”

The use of contrast here with ‘grave’ and ‘wedding’ gives the thought of turbulence in Romeo and Juliet’s relationship. Here Juliet is elusive to the fact Romeo is a Montague and having met him once wants his hand in marriage. Tension is very high here as Juliet is a lovable character and her innocence has led her to believe that Romeo is an invited guest to the party, the audience wait for the moment she discovers he is a Montague but do not want it to happen as she will be devastated, this is a good tension building technique used by Shakespeare. By dragging on Juliet’s innocence then dropping a bombshell the audience is more involved and in any situation someone is involved where there is tension they feel more for the characters.

She is almost brought to tears and she is upset and confused when as she is talking of her wish to marry Romeo she is suddenly told he is a Montague. This is especially obvious when she says,

“My only love sprung from my only hate!

Too early seen unknown, and known too late!

Prodigious birth of love it is to me,

That I must love a loathed enemy.”

Shakespeare’s use of rhyming couplets here brings a sudden mood change. Juliet has gone from being on top of the world having found her sole mate to suddenly finding out he is her enemy. She is distraught and speaking as if angry shown with Shakespeare’s punctuation, he uses two exclamation marks and many commas to show the pauses in her speech changing from a flowing happy tone just a few lines earlier in the script. Her speech has taken a more formal tone showing she is now less relaxed and more on edge giving a tenser situation. A greater sense of romantic tension is created because they are even more in love because their families are fighting; they are able to just put their quarrels behind them reinforcing their relationship. This engages the audience, as it is quite rare creating a tenser atmosphere. Romeo seems dazed towards the end of act 1, scene 5 as all the chaos of the Romeo’s friends rushing him out. He doesn’t speak much and seems quieter and less bold than when he was with Juliet. More tension is created when Juliet seems scared as her nurse doesn’t immediately understand Juliet’s problem and she is in a similar situation as Romeo emphasizing to the audience they are meant to be together makes the audience worried and eager to find out if they do meet each other again adding even more so to then tension created already by Shakespeare.

The emotions in this scene start with a slightly chaotic yet happy and peaceful banquet and slowly stem through from hatred with Tybalt into love between Romeo and Juliet then sadness upon the couples discovery of their families rivalry. This is shown on stage in a variety of ways, in Shakespeare’s time there would have been few ways of showing the emotions, only acoustic music, props and different ways of acting would show the emotions. However in modern day theatre lighting and music technology are available to producers.

This play was written over 400 years ago when people thought about love in a very different way from today. This is shown simply as Juliet is roughly 14 to 15 and already being pressured to wed from her mother. This was seen as not only acceptable but expected for a girl of Juliet’s age. It is clear from Romeo and Juliet that as soon as girl hit puberty she was expected to settle down and make a family. Love was also thought of as religious, the theme of Romeo and Juliet flirting is religious throughout as Juliet refers to Romeo as a ‘pilgrim’ and Romeo refers to Juliet as a ‘Saint.’

All of this builds tension in Act 1 Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet because it keeps the audience having a greater knowledge than the characters, from the opening scene (prologue) of the play the audience are aware that Romeo and Juliet will take there lives and Shakespeare keeps them guessing with twists and turns as to how such a young couple end up in such a terrible way.

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Act 1 Scene 5. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Act 1 Scene 5
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