The opening of a theatrical piece is perhaps one of the most important parts of the entireshow. While setting the atmosphere for the upcoming show, it also gives the audience their firstimpression of the piece. The first scene also often foreshadows the events following it. The firstscene of William Shakespeare s Romeo and Juliet is a perfect example of this: an intriguingopening setting the mood for an intriguing play.
While capturing the attention of the audiencewith humor and activity on stage, it at the same time gives the audience a good idea of what theshow following it will be about. The first scene makes clear the themes present throughout theplay: the rivalry and violence between the Montagues and Capulets and the ill-fated love whichcan prove to be destructive. The first scene reveals the violence and rivalry between the Montagues and Capulets,which is a major force at work throughout the entire play.
This is demonstrated from the verybeginning of the scene, which opens with Gregory and Sampson (both Capulet servants) talkingabout their hatred toward Montagues and their will to confront and fight them. A dog of thehouse of Montague stirs me (I i 8) is one of the first lines spoken in the play, giving the audiencethe feeling that this rivalry is an important aspect of the piece. Gregory and Sampson s desire forviolence is soon met when a fight arises between them and two Montague servants theyencounter.
Even though neither side does anything especially offensive to trigger this fight, the blind hatred and rivalry between the two families is enough to initiate a full-fledged brawl. Thisblind hatred and stubbornness which eventually destroys the young lovers plays an very importantpart in the play. Another theme which the first scene demonstrates is the ill-fated young love which can bedestructive, as demonstrated by the tragic death of Romeo and Juliet.
This ill-fated love isdestroying Romeo from the very first scene, where he is in a deep state of depression because ofhis unrequited love for Rosaline. While the ill-fated love prevalent in the play is not between himand Rosaline, the concept of this love is introduced from the very first scene. Although Romeo s love for Rosaline fades quickly when he falls in love with Juliet later in the play, the love for Julietproves to be destined for ruin as well. It is this innocent love between Romeo and Juliet (and theirparents bitter rivalry) which brings them to their premature end.
Using Romeo s love forRosaline to demonstrate, this grevious end is foreshadowed from the very first scene. This issummed up well by Benvolio when he says Alas that love, so gentle in his view,/ Should be sotyrannous and rough in proof! (I i 174-175). This proves to be quite true. The rivalry and ill-fated love which are so evident and important throughout the play aremade quite clear in the first scene of Romeo and Juliet. However, while in the first scene thesetwo themes are separate, as the play progresses their cause-and-effect relationship is made quiteclear.
It is the bitter hatred between the Montagues and Capulets which is the obstacle in thisyoung innocent love, a love which proves to be strong enough(and an obstacle which provesstrong enough) to kill the young lovers. It is only the death of these two children, who are soloved by the warring families, that can finally end the age-old feud between them and take off theblindfold of hate they had been wearing for so long. The introduction of these very importantthemes in the first scene is a very good beginning to the play.