It is argued by many critics that Act 3 Scene 5 is the most dramatic scene in the play. How did Shakespeare utilise language and dramatic devices to highlight the dilemma facing Juliet at this crucial moment?
The turmoil that Juliet faces in this scene is strengthened by the stage directions and language utilised by Shakespeare. It is imperative to explore the relationships in this essay connecting Juliet with her close circle of family and friends, who all reject her idealistic ideas on marriage as Juliet’s world deteriorates into a state of uncertainty. I will also explore the language and imagery, which is a focal point of this scene’s analysis, as Shakespeare’s consciously crafted language ensures ironic windows are left open for his audience to peer through in order to see the plot before it happens. This scene highlights the anxiety and emotional pain of characters, such as Romeo and Juliet, and the rivalry of Paris for Juliet’s hand, along with the selfishness of the Nurse and Friar Lawrence, whose deceitful minds cast doubts upon the audience as to whose interests they are acting in, their own or Juliet’s?
Many would argue that the awkward situation, which Juliet finds herself in, can be surmised as, the foolish naivety of a teenager. Upon setting her sights upon Romeo she instantly became love lost, and began to see the world through rose tinted glasses. Just as the modern world has horoscopes, fortune-tellers and palm readers and so forth, the people of the sixteen-century also looked towards the stars and the heavens above for guidance and advice. Having noted this, I would imply that in Act 1 Scene 3 lines 70 – 100, the ideals of marriage and love had been thrust into Juliet’s head. Therefore she goes to the feast with the knowledge that Paris will be looking to her for a show of affection and a
‘Move in the right direction’, so to speak. In addition to this, could Juliet be looking to find another suitor in order to make Paris jealous? In doing so could she have unintentionally lured Romeo into an uncomfortable emotional trap? Either way the unanswered questions leave the audience intrigued by the sequence of events, which provide a catalyst for what is to follow.
During Act 3 scene 5, the emotional thoughts and feelings developed by Romeo and Juliet, are displayed and emphasised by Shakespeare’s use of stage direction and imagery. For example, lines 1 – 59 “Nights candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops”. This language highlights the maturity of Romeo who is the antithesis of Juliet. We are already aware that, she is younger than Romeo, however so far in the play we have seen quite a different character, I mean this in terms of actions and the choice of attitudes, which Shakespeare has cleverly included for us. Also, the reference to the light of day showing the safety and lack of awareness to the adjacent dark night, which illustrates the scarce amount of security and protection in and around the dark streets and alleys of Verona. Some people may not be open to the idea that the streets of a ‘fairy tale’ can at all be compared to that of the modern day, however this highlights once again the public perception of the works of Shakespeare. Shakespeare intended to bring to his audience a sense of
fantasy and fiction yet at the same time make them aware that the differences between the streets of London and Verona were not at all too dissimilar. After the young lovers’ night of passion where they finally gave in to their longing for one another, Juliet wishes for Romeo to stay a little while longer, despite the dangers due to his banishment, and this leads to Romeos teasing of Juliet and her naivety. In my opinion, Juliet is very impressionable at this stage in the play because I feel that she hangs on every statement made by the argued “love of her life”, this also shows that there is an age gap between the couple and that Romeo has a higher degree of maturity to Juliet. However no matter how serious the mood, the excitement of getting caught must have appealed to both of their desiring personalities; as in lines 37 – 63,
“Nurse: Your lady mother is coming to your chamber. The day is broke, be wary, look about.”
“Juliet: Then window let day in, and let life out. Romeo: Farewell, farewell! One kiss, and I’ll descend.” This metaphor tells us that Juliet already at this early stage has an intuition, that it will be the last time that she will see Romeo in his true, original form. After so long apart they will both be different people with different lives. Romeo also talks lightly of death through the words “farewell!” and “descend”. When people die you give them their last farewell, and they descend (go down) into the earth and this is the last glimpse of your loved ones.
“Juliet: O god, I have and ill divining soul! Methinks I see thee now, thou art so low, As one dead in the bottom of a tomb. Either my eyesight fails, or thou look’st pale. Romeo: And trust me, love, ion my eye so do you: Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu, adieu!” the imagery and effect on the audience enables them to relate to the star crossed lovers’ pain and confusion as they have already heard of the lovers’ fate in the prologue.
Juliet still returns to catch another glimpse of her beloved Romeo even though her mother is present at that moment in time. This impulsive act keeps the audience enthralled, as they are aware of the dangerous predicament she is faced with.
Romeo: And trust me, love, ion my eye so do you: Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu, adieu!
Juliet: O Fortune, Fortune, all men call thee fickle; If thou art fickle, what dost thou with him That is renowned for faith? Be fickle, Fortune: For then I hope thou wilt not keep him long, But send him back.” The audience can relate to these quotes as in the prologue they are made aware of the “star crossed lovers” future deaths and ultimate sorry fate. Romeo and Juliet make several references to death, including reunion with one another in the tomb and how Juliet will eventually look upon Romeo’s pale face, it could be that her vision is only a premonition, or is it? It is this sense of uncertainty that keeps the audience intrigued.
Once again the movement about the stage, implied by Shakespeare allows the actors to conduct their performance in a more effective and natural manner. The idea of a balcony in Shakespeare’s theatre lets the audience to once more peer through a window into the lives of the Capulet family. In a similar way the speech made by Lady Capulet gives Juliet time to move between the balcony and the apron of the main stage. The employment of time and space creates an atmosphere full of emotion and irony, which is much appreciated by the audience. For example, lines 68 -110,”…Lady Capulet: That is because the traitor murderer lives. …
Juliet: Indeed I never shall be satisfied With Romeo, till I behold him – dead – Is my poor heart, so for a kinsman vexed. Madam, if you could find out but a man To bear poison, I would temper it, That Romeo should upon receipt thereof Soon sleep in quiet. O how my heart abhors To her him named and cannot come to love him, To wreak the love I bore my cousin Upon his body that hath slaughtered him!” Lady Capulet is under the impression that her daughter with whom she frequently shows the unfamiliarity of their relationship, weeps for her cousin Tybalt, nevertheless the love lost which Juliet speaks of is for, Romeo, that information is only known to the informed spectators. These double meanings are frequently utilised by Shakespeare in order to create tension and effects for the audience’s benefit.
As previously mentioned, the relationship between Juliet and her mother, Lady Capulet, is built upon blood rather than mental recognition. I think that Juliet is there, as and when her mother summons for her. This is backed up by the lack of “one to one” contact and discussions between the two characters. Juliet seeks her mother figure in her Nurse. Obviously, Juliet’s mother was absent throughout most of her child’s upbringing and childhood.
What sort of psychological damage could this have caused Juliet to suffer? Juliet expects little from life; unlike her mother her expectations are quite low, seeing as she has fallen for the first male that she has laid her eyes on! It is hard to say whether or not she wants children, however she does not believe that social standing or financial stability is a necessity. Lady Capulet is a loyal wife who respects her marriage and follows out orders given from her over ruling husband. Juliet on the other hand is a new generation of females who wanted independence and therefore is not afraid to stand up to her father. In a way I believe that Lady Capulet envies this in the fresh new blood of her daughter and this enables the audience yet again to see the distance spread between the characters. Also the atmosphere created by the two characters when, very rarely, they are on stage together, might be possible to describe as to much of a much-ness. Simply meaning, that they are more similar to each other than they would like to admit.
Juliet is very much a young lady who refuses to allow her age to interfere with the childish attitude and emotion, which she frequently throughout the course of the
play displays towards her father and consequently is able to wrap her father round her little finger, so to speak. Thus when her persuasive ideas run out, failing to make an slight impression, upon her father’s strong minded decision surrounding her arranged marriage to Paris during their argument, (lines 126 – 200) she felt lost and in new territory. Having witnessed this, she requires the assistance of Nurse, who steps in to the argument only to be pushed away with insults from her employer. In this scene Lord Capulet shows his intolerance to Juliet’s negligence to her duties as his daughter. Again the Capulet family shows how selfish they are through their disagreements and through Lord Capulet’s single mindedness. Apart from the fact that the Lord Capulet thinks that he has done the right thing by his only child, by” Lord Capulet: …
How, will she none? doth she not count her blest, Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought So worthy a gentleman to be her bride?” he is almost saying to her, that she would not be able to find a suitable bride of her own choosing, whether he is saying this out of spite or simply expressing his own views and opinions, he manages to purvey his own ideas. However this just makes Juliet older headed and more strong willed towards what she wants, but is what she ultimately gets going to be what she desires? This is another key point where Shakespeare’s techniques capture the audience’s imagination, thoughts and feelings. The audience are also given the opportunity to put themselves in the place of Romeo and Juliet to reveal how they would cope in the situation.
With the Nurse, being the closest character to Juliet, she is the first person that the troubled teenager turns to for comfort once all her family have deserted her. It later becomes apparent during lines 204 – 242 that Nurse, by caring for Juliet could actually be looking after herself “Nurse: I think it best you married with the county O, he’s a lovely gentleman! Romeo’s a dishclout to him.” The Nurse shows her selfishness through her ability to sweet-talk Juliet into forgetting Romeo and her marriage to him, and to marry Paris. In spite of their close relationship, a gap is soon apparent, through Nurse’s inability to see through Juliet’s faï¿½ade, she falls for Juliet’s tales and actually believes that she will go through with the arranged marriage to Paris. Nurse contributes to Juliet’s confusion by changing her opinions to suit her own needs, or as she would have them hidden behind, Juliet’s needs. However the Nurse’s selfishness can be understood, by looking into the consequences that she would suffer from, if her employers were made aware of her part in this whole situation surrounding Juliet’s love interests.
I agree that Act 3 scene 5 is the most dramatic scene in the play, and that Shakespeare’s utilisation of language and dramatic devices to highlight the dilemma facing the youngest Capulet holds great significance in preparing the audience for the death of Romeo and Juliet. At the end of this scene, Juliet turns to Friar Lawrence for reassurance and for a solution to her problems, seeing as her close circle of friends has forsaken her. Through the contribution of Shakespeare’s implied stage directions and use of imagery, the emotions and
thoughts felt by Juliet are widely appreciated and developed, by audiences all over the world. During this scene, the young lover is deep in sorrow and turmoil. She accentuates the use of imagery, to show that she is vastly bewildered and in a predicament, which only she can get herself out of. Shakespeare shows how lost and alone she is and almost provides a monologue to the audience explaining her feelings of rejection and betrayal by Nurse and by her parents.
Having looked at all the suggestions of blame and studying all the evidence within the scene. I believe that the real person responsible for the death of Romeo and Juliet is Tybalt. I think this because, if he had not been the one seeking a fight and wishing death upon Romeo Montague, Mercutio would not have been slain. It is also worth noting here the point that when Mercutio was slain, he wished “a plague on both your houses”. Evidently Romeo would not have been seeking vengeance, and to draw blood from Tybalt therefore Romeo would not have been banished. Lord Capulet would not have seen reason to renegotiate with Paris as to his wedding to Juliet and would have let two more Summers pass before beginning discussions and possibly by that time Romeo and Juliet’s relationship may have been out in the open. Also nurse and Friar Lawrence would not have as bigger weight hanging above their heads. But most importantly, with Romeo by her side or at least still in Verona, Juliet would see no reason to use a potion to freeze her body and fake death.