In this essay I intend to explain the reasons for and the ways in which Shakespeare prepares the audience in act one, scene five for the ultimate tragic ending. I will briefly explain the details of the scene and its significance to the entire play. Furthermore I will examine in detail Romeo’s thoughts upon seeing Juliet for the first time and the couple’s first conversation. In addition to this I will analyse Tybalt’s reaction to Romeo’s intrusion of the masked ball and finally both antagonists’ reactions upon discovery of one another’s true identity.
Act One, Scene five is the scene where Romeo first catches sight of Juliet, from this scene onwards the events leading to the tragic event of Romeo and Juliet’s death start to unravel. In the prior scene Romeo’s friends, including Mercutio persuaded him to go to the Capulet party. ‘Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance’, the previous quote shows the gentle persuasion of Mercutio enticing Romeo to attend the ball.
Mercutio’s aim in persuading Romeo to go and sneak into the party is to get Romeo’s mind off Rosaline. Romeo then lays eyes on Juliet and asks the serving man who she is. “What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand?”
Later on in this scene the hot-blooded Tybalt overhears Romeo speaking at the party recognizing him as a Montague. “This, by his voice, should be a Montague.”
He goes to tell Capulet, “Uncle this a Montague, our foe.”, however Tybalt is then rebuked, “He shall be endured’ forbidding Tybalt to harm Romeo, a ‘harmless guest”.
At this point Tybalt leaves saying he will get vengeance. Straight after Capulet rebukes Tybalt, Romeo talks to Juliet and they have their first kiss.
“Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.”
However Juliet is taken away from Romeo by the nurse, this is because Lady Capulet wants to speak with Juliet. “Madam your mother craves a word with you”.
Once Juliet is taken away by the nurse, Romeo goes back to Benvolio and asks if Juliet is a Capulet. ‘”Is she a Capulet?”
From this conversation Romeo finds out Juliet is indeed a Capulet. After this everyone leaves the stage except for the nurse and Juliet they talk to each other about Romeo and the nurse informs Juliet that Romeo is a Montague.
“is name is Romeo, and a Montague, the only son of your great enemy.”
This scene establishes the two forces of love and hate that eventually lead to the tragic ending of Romeo and Juliets’ death. The love between Romeo and Juliet is vast but the force against them stemming from the rivalry between their families is unconquerable. So their love seems doomed from the very beginning.
Romeo and Juliet first see each other at the masked ball and Romeo asks the serving man who Juliet with ‘What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand? “.
Romeo approaches Juliet and taking her by the hand speaks to her for the first time. The lover’s first conversation takes the shape of a sonnet (a fourteen lined love poem), they use religious language when they speak, in Elizabethan times this was regarded as a form of seduction. Hence the force of love between the two is present from their first shared moment.
However the hate soon becomes apparent when Tybalt overhears Romeo and informs Capulet. “This, by his voice, should be a Montague” –
“Uncle, this a Montague, our foe”.
The above shows how the two forces of love and hate leading to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet’s death are established from the start.
This scene is crucial to the lover’s fate because they learn of each others background and how both of them are part of rival and feuding families. Dramatic irony is present in that the audience is aware that Juliet is a Capulet before Romeo does.
Shakespeare reveals Romeo’s depth of feeling for Juliet through his language by using metaphors like, “she doth teaches the torches to burn bright”.
(said by Romeo) this metaphor means that Juliet’s beauty lights up the room like a torch and she herself is the one teaching the torches to burn bright. Juliet’s beauty is explained by Romeo as a bright jewel on a black man’s face. “It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night. As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear”.
This racial term would have been deemed as appropriate in the Elizabethan times, but would not be tolerated in today’s society. Romeo suggests in the play that everyone is boring and bland and it is only Juliet that is bold and beautiful and stands out from the crowd. Romeo describes this by using birds he says, “So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows”.
The Elizabethan’s idea of beauty would be pale people rather than tanned people; this seems to come through on lines 46-49. Lines 46-49 talk about how Juliet is a dove and the rest are black crows, hence Juliet’s white skin – fairness is depicted by her being a dove whereas the rest are tanned. This fits in with the Elizabethans idea of beauty and the quote “So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows”.
This idea of beauty also comes round when Romeo uses a metaphor “O she doth teaches the torches to burn bright”
This could be interpreted as her being light and beautiful; therefore it fits in with the idea of the Elizabethans beauty. An Elizabethan audience would have found these images of light and brightness more meaningful than us. Shakespeare also shows Romeos depth of love with the religious language he uses. “If I profane with my unworthiest hand, this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this: my lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand, to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss”
The use of religious language portrays Romeo’s strong feelings for Juliet. Romeo is saying that Juliet’s lips are like a holy shrine, because they are so beautiful and perfect almost like god. This is a strong metaphor, the fact that Romeo can relate to Juliet’s beauty to God would show an Elizabethan audience, who would be Christians, that Romeo is really is very taken with Juliet’s beauty. Romeo and Juliet both speak with religious language when they speak to each other using metaphors and describing each other using religious terms. Juliet seems to be clever enough to carry on this flirting and religious language on with Romeo.
Juliet’s imminent death is also suggested in this scene with the following quotation.
The line “beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear”,
This indicates that Juliet’s death is inevitable because the line is saying that Juliet is so beautiful she is too great for the world and should not be here on this earth. Mixing religion and seduction was classed as very wild in the Elizabethan times. However society has changed from Elizabethan times it is not classed as wild to kiss someone on a first date, and to the modern audience it would not seem so extreme. The kiss shared between the two a short while after their meeting only emphasizes the strong feelings between them. A point that would be recognized by the Elizabethan audience Elizabethans had stricter values than today’s modern society maybe this strictness and their values also played a part in the tragic ending, because if Juliet was given a bit more freedom she might not have taken those rash actions that determined the ending of the play.
Romeos depth of feeling upon seeing Juliet for the first time might shock the audience however the Elizabethans used to believe in love at first sight and Romeo and Juliet’s relationship fits under courtly love. Courtly love was old fashioned dating the man in the relationship was supposed to worship the woman from afar. This was done by writing love letters and poems to the woman. This seems very romantic but the man had all the power in the relationship. Also it was classed as risky and taboo and courtly love was often found after marriage.
Even though Juliet was unmarried when she met Romeo, she was unavailable on a number of accounts. First of all she was too be married to whoever her parents saw to be worthy, not who Juliet wanted to get married to. Secondly she was her father’s property meaning that she was not able to live her own life without her father always being right behind her. The manner in which Romeo and Juliet met, across a crowded room, corresponds to the characteristics of courtly love in that there was a distance between the two lovers from the very first moment of their relationship and Romeo was left to gaze upon Juliet (from a safe distance).
The nature of courtly love was further emphasized when their first conversation takes the form of a sonnet, (a fourteen love poem). However courtly love when practiced would develop in a period of time, the two people in the relationship would not end up kissing each other the same night, like Romeo ad Juliet. When Romeo and Juliet first speak their flirtation conversation takes the form of a sonnet. The audience would have been aware of this. Shakespeare uses a sonnet for effect upon the audience
However in the prologue it talks about the two lover fate in the form of a sonnet. Romeos and Juliet’s rash actions with each other in this scene foreshadows their causing and leading up to the tragic ending. This is because they quickly develop their relationship, meaning they fall in love and kiss very quickly taking the pace of their relationship fast taking rash decisions and actions, and as I said before lead up to the tragic ending.
Romeo and Juliet’s first conversation with Romeo is a sonnet and therefore would be classed as true love by the audience. In their the first conversation Romeo and Juliet both speak equally to each other this suggests that Juliet is quite a speaker and a strong woman compared to other women of that time. This shows the equality between the sexes, of male and female in their relationship.
Tybalt was Juliet’s cousin and further in the scene and throughout the play he loses his temper. Tybalt’s language establishes him as a fiery man of violence when, he just overhears Romeo and he says “What dares the slave. Come heither, covered with an antic face, to fleer and scorn at our solemnity? Now by the stock and honour of my kin. To strike him dead I hold it not a sin”.
Hear he says he wants to kill Romeo because he has sneaked into the party and he goes tell Capulet this and says it would not be a sin to kill him but an honour because he is Montague.
The motivation of Tybalt’s speech comes from the hate of Montague’s and the pride of being a Capulet and holding up their honour. Tybalt wants to uphold the family pride and wants to protect his family’s property. The idea of family honour contributes to this tragedy a lot because of the two families being a rival feuding family they were prepared to do anything to hold up their honour and not to get disgraced by one another. Whilst they were doing everything they could to put one another down they did not relies what they were doing to their children and did not take care to notice what was going on in their lives therefore destroying it.
A lot of things happened in the play that is due to Tybalt’s fiery and nasty personality, for example the brawl at the beginning of the play and Mercutios death is down to him. Also it is because of him he got himself killed, this is because he killed Romeos best friend later in the play and therefore Romeo killed Tybalt. For this Romeo got banished, so there was a lack of communication between Juliet and Romeo. There was also lack of communication between the friar and Romeo. As a consequence of that lack of communication Romeo did not know about Juliet’s and the friar’s plan, and so both of them ended up killing themselves. As Romeo found Juliet and believed her dead he killed himself. Juliet killed herself when she awoke to Romeos dead body.
Tybalt could be classed as an instigator because Tybalt makes the situation of Romeo and first meeting Juliet worse because he has a fight with Romeo, and Romeo ends up killing Tybalt. Tybalt heard Romeo and knew he was at the party, but didn’t know what had happened with Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet express their shock of finding out one another’s background by saying it’s their worst fear. “Ay, so I fear, the more is my unrest”.
Said by Romeo and Juliet 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”
The above quote is where she finds out who Romeo is. You can see her contemplating why she had to fall in love with her enemy. Actors playing this role might act as surprised and sad in this role. Romeo and Juliet finding out each others background is definitely one of the main points in preparing the audience for the tragic ending, as it id the main reason they end up in the situation they do.
Their comments remind the audience about fate because they remind you that the two lovers come from two feuding families and how nasty things could end up. It is also dramatic irony because the audience knows more than the characters do and know what is going to happen. The effect on the audience is that it leaves then itching to know what is going to happen, but also know what might happen from the hints left in the play.
In conclusion my main points that show how Shakespeare prepares the audience for the tragic ending are Romeo and Juliet finding out each others background. The two family’s rivalry and feud also helped prepare the audience, Romeo and Juliet’s rash decisions and actions and finally, Tybalts discovery of Romeo at the Capulet party.