Why Did Shakespeare Use The Sonnet Form For The Prologue

This essay sample on Why Did Shakespeare Use The Sonnet Form For The Prologue provides all necessary basic info on this matter, including the most common “for and against” arguments. Below are the introduction, body and conclusion parts of this essay.

Originally written by Arthur Brooke in the form of a long poem called “The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet”, Romeo and Juliet was later rewritten by former actor and playwright William Shakespeare. Shakespeare, a magician with words, added more depth, detail and characters to the tragedy.

The famous play, “The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” more commonly referred to as “Romeo and Juliet,” was believed to be written roughly between 1591 and 1595, in the Elizabethan era. In the Elizabethan era theatres were popular.

Whilst watching a play the audience were not expected to be silent: people ate, talked and fidgeted through the performance. Going to the theatre was like going to a social event thus people would be loud and mingle around; you had to earn the audience’s attention by having a riveting start to the play.

In addition, there were hardly any props for the actors so the story had to be told through words. Shakespeare creates an engaging and gripping opening to Romeo and Juliet with the use of various linguistic techniques, dramatic devices, metaphoric imagery and humour.

Shakespeare ingeniously starts the play with a prologue containing the whole story, start to finish, in a carefully written sonnet; this leaves the audience waiting in anticipation for the prologue to be brought to life.

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He uses this dramatic device to enliven and alarm the audience as well as inform them about the feud among the two families and the effect it causes. It is apt that the Prologue is written in the form of a sonnet; they are often associated with love and as the play is a tragic love story, it is appropriate.

Why Does Shakespeare Start Romeo And Juliet With A Fight

The audience are told that in the play that “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life” and their deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. The phrase “star cross’d” literally means against the stars; the expression links to the texts historical context because during the Elizabethan era nobility had personal astrologers to give them their horoscope and “star cross’d” had meant that their stars were aligned. This would have scared an Elizabethan audience as they strongly believed in the idea of having a destiny and fate mapped out already in the stars.

A modern day audience today would not have believed in fate so strongly. In Act 1 Scene 1, immediately following the Prologue, the scene picks up on the theme of hate; the audience found out in the Prologue that there is going to be a lot of “civil blood” lost and after a short, comical conversation between two servants, the Prologue begins to come to life. The use of humour holds the audience’s attention and makes them laugh. One of the ways Shakespeare incorporates humour into the play is with the use of puns and references to male anatomy.

The scene starts off with a witty and bawdy conversation between two Capulet servants. The joke Gregory says: “‘Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor-John,” is coarse and is used to tease Sampson. In Elizabethan times “Poor-John” was the cheapest kind of dried fish. Dried fish were commonly sold whole and were so thoroughly dried that they were as hard as wood. Thus a dried fish could be compared to a man’s erection. It was vital that the audience were entertained and the vulgar jokes were fun to watch at the start and warm the audience up.

Quickly after the jokes the violence starts to emerge; the silly gags contrast with the seriousness of the fight. Gregory says: “Draw thy tool! Here comes two of the house of the Montagues. ” The servants wonder if they should provoke a fight or start a fight themselves. We knew there was going to be a fight because it was inevitable; it was just a matter of who is involved and when it occurs. The Capulet servants deliberately rouse the Montague servants. We can see this where it says: “Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.

These servants decide to provoke the fight by “biting their thumbs. ” This would be like flipping someone off today. That stirs up the opposing family’s servants and a fight ensues. The provoking makes the feud seem silly and pointless because flipping some off today would not start a fight in which blood would be shed. Here we are shown the full extent of the grudge and introduced to a few minor characters and the antagonist Tybalt. The audience is already made aware of the personalities of each of the characters and their part in the main story: Tybalt is the villain and loves to fight.

This leads the audience to think that Tybalt is the person that comes between Romeo and Juliet and influence’s their feelings to immediately despise him. The Prince’s Speech is engaging because we know the quarrelling families will be rebellious and not listen so there will most likely be more fights; the audience are on stand-by until this happens. Throughout the speech there is a lot of metaphoric imagery which interests us as we imagine the image in our heads. An example of this would be: “With purple fountains issuing from your veins… the word “purple” is used here because in the Elizabethan era nobility were thought to have had blue blood whereas commoners had red and blue mixed with red made purple therefore both noble and common people died.

On the other hand it could be interpreted as a dark or deep wound such as the deep hatred the families have for each other. The Prince threatens the families at the end. We can see this where it says: “If you ever disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. The sinister threat is exhilarating for the audience because they know that it would have to be put into action and people’s lives will be lost. However it seems less real for a contemporary audience as it is not part of the new justice system, yet the modern day adaptation does not fail to hook the audience. In Act 1 Scene 5, at a party hosted by the Capulet family, Romeo sees Juliet for the first time. As Romeo sees Juliet for the first time, all the old romantics begin to swoon and sigh over his amorous sonnet for her.

At this point it is crucial that the audience believe that Romeo is truly in love with Juliet or else their deaths will not be as heart-rending. One of the ways we are shown Romeo’s strong feelings is through light and dark imagery. An example of this is: “a snowy white dove trooping with crows. ” He is speaking about binary opposites: doves are white and crows are black. This emphasises how Romeo sees Juliet; she stands out to him. Moreover “doves” are seen as symbols of live and “crows” are seen as evil or ugly birds. This is a highly important moment because we realise that Rosaline is the crow in this quote.

This links back to where earlier in the text where Benvolio was telling Romeo to “examine other beauties” and he “will make thee think thy swan a crow. ” Another way Romeo’s love is indicated is through the use of words that appeal to the eyes. Throughout the speech words like “watch”, “light”, “sight” and “beauty” are used. These words imply that Romeo is smitten with her and can’t take his eyes off of her. Alternatively, Romeo can be seen as rather shallow and superficial as well as young and naive; he doesn’t know what love really is.

Shakespeare uses religious imagery to ensure that the love between Romeo and Juliet is perceived as pure and true. Phrases such as: “This holy shrine” and “blushing pilgrims” influences the audience’s feelings by making us feel the love radiating off the character and believe that they are meant to be. The way in which Shakespeare portrays the love between Romeo and Juliet is exceptional however it is less likely for a modern day audience today to believe that the two are really in love; they would see it as an infatuation.

Furthermore, the audience are captivated by antagonist Tybalt because his choleric character suggests to them that whenever he is around a fight may arouse. He speaks in rhyme like Romeo but this time to declare his hate for the Montague family rather than love; this shows that he is of equal status to Romeo. His hate for the Montagues is clear through his use of words which describe hatred and anger. Some of the words he uses are: “scorn”, “sin” and “strike. ” The use of sibilance when he speaks suggests that he is like Satan and is evil.

The words make a hissing sound like a snake and this links to the book of Genesis from the Bible where Satan in form of a snake causes the downfall of Adam and Eve. The audience were familiar with the stories from the Bible and the majority were Christian so this was a strong way of showing evil. They can also see his rage in the way Shakespeare has created the sonnet to have a staccato rhythm. People usually use sharp and quick words when they are angry as they do not use elaborate words. This also makes Tybalt sound like he is clenching his teeth and heightens the sense of resentment.

In conclusion, the moment that all viewers wait for and the moment that is the most important to the play is the scene where Romeo and Juliet, the “star cross’d lovers” meet for the first time and fall in love. From that moment the story builds to the ultimate scene where they go on to “take their life”. In my opinion it is the best scene in Romeo and Juliet because I like romantic scenes; the lines he says about her are moving and even though I would not believe they are really in love, Romeo talks about Juliet the way any girl would like her boyfriend or husband to talk about her.

Moreover this scene is thrilling because both themes run through it in complete contrast allowing the audience to sense the strong emotions better whilst they are forever sitting in the stands waiting for the moment where Romeo and Juliet die; Tybalt is fuming that Romeo intruded and so it seems like a colossal brawl will occur right there and then. In Elizabethan times it was vital the audience were gripped right from the very start. They treated the theatre as a social gathering and the racket was the equivalent to a modern day rock concert.

Nowadays when people go to the theatre it is a more formal gathering where people sit quietly and watch; being noisy would be considered very discourteous and the lack of props would have made the play extremely dull as these days people tend to be more interested in the acting rather than the dialogue. Shakespeare had to capture the Elizabethan audience’s attention right from the beginning but a modern day audience would not need as much persuading which is why the modern day adaptation by Baz Luhrmann is a big hit today.

The Prologue in the Baz Luhrmann’s version is still exciting but more realistic than a person standing on the stage telling you what the story will be; it is told through a news report on a television screen. In my opinion Shakespeare’s opening of Romeo and Juliet is clearly legendary for a reason. It does more than grip the audience’s attention; it seizes it and does not let go. In conclusion, Act 1 is jam-packed with remarkable scenes that would keep you on the edge of your seat (unless you were a stinkard) craving more.

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Why Did Shakespeare Use The Sonnet Form For The Prologue. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-how-does-shakespeare-make-the-start-of-the-play-gripping-and-exciting/

Why Did Shakespeare Use The Sonnet Form For The Prologue
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