O I Am Fortune's Fool Techniques

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Throughout the play Shakespeare maintains the interest of his audience through an array of dramatic techniques. Act Three Scene One sees a turning point in the play when what had originally been a comedy orientated genre, which traditionally ended in a marriage (as seen in Act 2 of the play), is replaced with that of a tragic nature.

During his time in the play Mercutio maintains a humourous relationship with the audience with ‘Could you not take some occasion without giving?’ This is an example of bawdy or sexual humour that would have appealed to the Elizabethan working class. Since he has kept comedy appearing in the play his final appearance, which involves his death, is a mixture of comic language and dramatic suffering.Mercutio’s final speeches reflect a mixture of anger and disbelief that he has been fatally injured as a result of the ‘ancient grudge’ between the Capulets and the Montagues; he repeatedly curses, ‘A plague on all your houses’.

Even his characteristic wit is embittered as Mercutio treats the subject of his death with humourous wordplay: ‘Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.’ In the final irony of the scene he never learns the cause of his demise and believes it was because of a fight not love.

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The significance of ‘curses’ lies firmly in Elizabethan culture as a dramatic phrase meant to cause harm to an individual. The use of it in this passage powerfully conveys Mercutio’s chaotic and maddened state of mind at his death.The entrance of Tybalt is also dramatic in that it has been foreshadowed by Benvolio and the Prologue at the beginning of the play: ‘therefore turn and draw.’ Tybalt is the very essence of violence in the play and the very antithesis of all that Romeo stands for. Earlier in the play Tybalt is angered at the behavior of Romeo at the ball and so this creates situational tension for the audiences who are aware of this fact and so expect conflict to occur later in the play.In Shakespeare’s time, audiences would have expected actors in tragedies to speak in verse. The poetic style was thought to be elegant and expressive, particularly useful in tragic themes in scenes of high dramatic or emotional intensity. Higher status characters such as the Prince would have been expected to use this formal style as it carried with itself a great deal of dignity in Elizabethan England as it was most usually associated with the upper classes. Much of Shakespeare’s verse is written in Sonnet form. Sonnets were at the time very popular and they are used frequently in the play. Although much of it has rhyme there is a great deal of blank unrhymed verse throughout the play in iambic pentameter. The use of different forms of speech in Romeo and Juliet identifies the seriousness of the text with rhymed verse as the most serious and prose rather more casual.Prose, which is blank speech, was traditionally used by lower status or comic characters such as the servants of the families; it is very informal. Notably Shakespeare breaks this rule when he has the character Mercutio, who as a family friend of the Montague house would be considered high status, speak in prose at his death.’I am hurt. A plague o’ both your houses! I am sped. Is he gone, and hath nothing?’Tragic death scenes would almost always be spoken in verse; however the use of prose in these lines emphasizes the significance of Mercutio’s death and adds a sense of urgency and panic to the scene.Within the scene Shakespeare demonstrates the hostility between one character and another by references to rank. When Romeo enters Tybalt addresses him as ‘my man’ which refers to Romeo as his servant and therefore of lower hierarchy than himself. Family pride was very important to both the play and Elizabethan culture so references to class were an effective insult.What is notable is the manner at which Tybalt addresses Mercutio in this scene. At first he uses addresses like ‘you’ and ‘gentleman’ which are associated with formality and class. However once Tybalt has accused Mercutio of ‘consort’d with Romeo’ his attitude towards him quickly turn hostile and he starts to address Mercutio informally and less respectfully with ‘thee’ and ‘thou’. This foreshadows the conflict that will occur later in this scene and sets a feeling of unrest over the drama.Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to create tension in this scene or to draw the attention of the audience. This occurs when a character on stage is ignorant, but the audience watching know his or her eventual fate.At the beginning of this scene Romeo, by contrast to the other characters, is cheerful and contented with having wed Juliet a moment beforehand. Until Mercutio’s dies Romeo remains emotionally detached from the other characters by thoughts of peace and harmony between the two houses. In response to Tybalt’s insults Romeo tells him ‘the reason I have to love you, doth much excuse the appertaining rage.’ Ironically Romeo’s refusal to fight brings about the very violence he had hoped to prevent and Mercutio, fuelled by family pride decides to fight Tybalt instead. Thus Romeo’s gesture of peace results in Mercutio’s death and he becomes ensnared in the family conflict once more.This is also known as cosmic or ‘fate irony’ in which unseen beings are seen to be toying with the minds of the characters with deliberate ironic effect. This is often seen between the contrast of human ideals and reality such as Friar Lawrence’s choice to bring the two lovers in marriage in hope of turning ‘their households’ rancour to pure love’. By the end of the play this is achieved but at the hands of death not matrimony.The prologue is ironic in that the eventual fates of the characters are told on stage right from the beginning. In the line ‘A pair of star crossed lovers take their lives’, Shakespeare informs his audience that the death of the lovers was preordained, the deliberate act of misfortune.Tybalt’s death brings Romeo a moment of clarity as he realizes he is the helpless victim of fate: ‘O, I am fortunes fool!’ he cries, struck deeply by a sense of frustration and injustice. The speed with which Mercutio and Tybalt’s death occur, together with Romeo’s marriage and subsequent banishment, all contribute to a sense of inevitability-that a chain of events have been set in motion over which the protagonist has no control.In conclusion the dramatic intensity of the story heightens with the opening of Act Three as a result of fate and conflict between the rival houses. The violent clash between Tybalt and Romeo escalates the drama around whether or not love will ever be able to exist openly between the two lovers. The prologue sets up a sense of hopelessness by the audience who know how the story will conclude and foreshadows the eventual death of the two lovers – a death made more tragic by the grip fate has on the helpless protagonist.

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O I Am Fortune's Fool Techniques. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-what-dramatic-techniques-does-shakespeare-use-in-act-three-scene-one-of-romeo-and-juliet/

O I Am Fortune's Fool Techniques
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