The entire play centres around two families, the Montagues and the Capulets feuding houses bred from hatred for one another, stuck in a stalemate, each bearing a child; yet fate does not bid them well. Love is what overcomes the hearts of the heirs of this feud.
Romeo a Montague, Juliet a Capulet, foes by heritage lovers by a hearts plea. Can this love last or is there tragedy in store for them.
I will be studying the first ever meeting of Romeo and Juliet. It takes place at the Capulet mansion, where a ball is being held. Romeo and his friends decide to sneak in.
Just before the scene Romeo has a premonition. He says
“Some consequences yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin this fearful date”
This premonition by Romeo tells the audience about what is going to come. We are told from the start that death shall come to both Romeo and Juliet and this premonition adds context to that. Romeo now knows that the night’s revels are doomed yet he still goes on casting the premonitions aside.
One could divide Scene 5 into six different sections in order to discuss its structure. The opening of Act 1 Scene 5 serves as a light relief after the gloomy and heavy ending of the previous Scene. Section one begins with the hustle and bustle of the servants as they are preparing for the ball.
This joyful atmosphere is continued into section two as Lord Capulet is welcoming the guests and encouraging them to have a excellent time. He also reminisces about the past when he used to be able to join in, as he confides in his cousin,
“For you and I are past our dancing days.
How long isn’t now since last yourself and I
Were in mask?”
As we move on through to section three, when Romeo enters the scene, the mood begins to change, as he sees Juliet for the first time. He is immediately falls foolishly in love by her, making him forget Rosaline at once. This reminds the audience of the previous scene, where Romeo asked ‘God’ to guide him, it seems that Romeo’s fate is fixed, especially because this is when Tybalt recognises him.
In section four, dramatic tension is created as Tybalt is enraged and wants to kill Romeo for daring to come to the ball. He calls on his servant.
“Fetch me my rapier, boy.”
We also witness Capulet’s ever changing mood as he threatens Tybalt and reminds him who the master is.
“Am I master here, or you? Go to!”
Lord Capulets Decision to allow Romeo to stay is seen as disrespectful to Tybalt and only serves to enrage him further. He leaves the ball as he cannot stand to treat Romeo as his guest.
This in turn leaves Romeo free and undisturbed to make his move upon Juliet.
All the tension created so far leads up to section five where Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time. From the start we can tell it is love at first sight for both of them, as Romeo asks for a kiss and she lets him.
“Sin from my lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.”
But know there is a revelation that sets the basis of the play. Romeo finds out Juliet is a Capulet.
“Her mother is the lady of the house”
“Is she a Capulet?
O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt.”
And as Romeo finds out she is a Capulet, Juliet finds out he is a Montague.
“His name is Romeo, and a Montague,
The only son of your great enemy.”
This scene ends with a sense of foreboding as the audience are wondering again whether love will prevail, and it also increases the suspense. Once again, emphasising an effective dramatic framework.
A change clearly comes over Romeo in this scene, he is no longer love – torn after Rosaline and he seems to have forgotten all existence of her. Now he only has eyes for Juliet, it is love at first sight. Romeo, in this scene is portrayed as impetuous. He seems to act very quickly on his feelings without thinking about consequences, bringing about the idea of love being blind and having the inner strength to face all obstacles head on. This impulsive behaviour runs through the whole play. An example of this is when Romeo kills Tybalt, and he himself knows what he has done is wrong.
“O, I am fortune’s fool.”
Even though Juliet is a young, she acts very mature and is not confused by her feelings. She is not afraid to speak her mind and knows true love when she sees it. She is prepared to betray her father for her love for Romeo.
We see Lord Capulets ever changing throughout the play, with him being furious at one point and cheerful moments later. He is very unpredictable but knows how to behave in front of others.
This is seen clearly when he is angered by Tybalt yet he is keeping up appearances for his guest at the ball.
“Be quiet, or – More light, more light! – For shame,
I’ll make you quiet, what! – Cheerly, my hearts! ”
His main outlet of emotion is anger; this is clearly shown when Juliet disobeys him and he threatens to disown her.
Tybalt is a hot-headed character, which we have seen from the beginning of the play. It is shown in this scene that when Tybalt sees Romeo at the ball, which infuriates him as he takes this as an insult, and he wishes to kill him.
“Now by the stock and honour of my kin,
To strike him dead I hold it not a sin.”
The anger and fury Tybalt has in this scene is shown throughout the play so his actions and behaviour in this scene corresponds with the play as a whole.
The language used in this scene has a considerable variety. The servants speak in writing style, while the nobility speak in rhyme. This is done so that there is a distinct difference between the nobility and lower class. The language helps the audience understand the characters better and contributes to the tension and dramatic impact of this scene. The themes of love and hate are performed in the speeches of Tybalt, Lord Capulet, Romeo and Juliet.
Tybalt’s vicious reaction to Romeo’s presence is showing the audience how strongly he feels and warns the audience about his intentions. His language is full of hatred and shows no signs of reconciliation.
“It fits when such a villain is a guest:
I’ll not endure him.”
Romeo and Juliet’s speeches to each other are full of religious reference although there are many references made to the human body. The sonnet they both share has a beauty and formality which shows how awkward and irresistible the moment is. The central image is of a pilgrim worshipping at a shrine,
“Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.”
This emphasises the purity and intensity of their love. Romeo and Juliet’s speech is interlinked as they are sharing the sonnet, demonstrating that they are meant for each other.
Lord Capulet’s character also becomes clear through what he says, although he is very joyful at the beginning of the scene. “Welcome, gentlemen! Ladies that have their toes
Unplagued with corns will walk a bout with you.”
His mood soon changes when he has to scold Tybalt.
“He shall be endured.
What, goodman boy, I say he shall, go to!”
This emphasises the two sides to Lord Capulet. Hence, the audience do not know how Capulet is going to react when he hears about Romeo and Juliet.
The dramatic tension is created as the audience are unsure how the play will end as the language used in this scene is full of contrasts and once again underlines the two themes of love and hatred.The play is full of ambiguous opposites, contrasting emotions and atmospheres. The audience are never sure whether the play is about the nature of hate rather than the nature of love. Act 1 Scene 5 is an excellent example of this as it incorporates contrast in the atmosphere, mood and the combination of the two main themes, love and hate. On one hand we experience Romeo & Juliet’s strong love for each other while on the other hand we see the hatred and fury of the Capulets against the Montagues.
Shakespeare takes us through many emotions in this scene. Emotions such as love, hatred, humour and shock are displayed. The range of emotions Shakespeare uses helps with the dramatic context and also adds dramatic tension. We feel a whole chain of emotions throughout the scene. Hatred and anger are portrayed through the characters Tybalt and Capulet. The contrast Shakespeare uses throughout the scene with the two themes, love and hate, creates a dramatic tension and keeps the audience on the edge.
Love and humour are portrayed through Romeo and Juliet. When they first meet they are both hit with sudden love. Humour is displayed when they speak to one another, talking in religious terms but at the same time referring to the human body making it slightly erotic. This humours the audience and is at contrast with the emotions we feel with Tybalt and Capulet. The fact that we feel these different emotions one after another makes it more dramatic. Shakespeare inserts some humour as it helps unpredictable emotions within the play.
Romeo and Juliet experience shock when they find out who their parents are. This not only creates tension but also a twist. The audience do not know whether their love will prevail the vendetta between their families or not, and this creates a dramatic framework.
In Zefferelli’s version Tybalt is dressed in black while Romeo and Juliet are dressed in light colours. The contrasting colours of dark and light represent the themes of love and hate connected with good and bad. This is very similar also in the Baz Luhrman version. The music used throughout the scene has to reflect the different moods. This is done by the changing of tempo, volume and genre. For example when Romeo and Juliet meet in Zefferelli’s version the background music was slow and romantic. However the tempo speeds up and becomes more dramatic when Romeo and Juliet find out about each other’s identity.
The lighting also plays a big part in creating a dramatic framework. Lighting can help uplift a mood or it can be used to bring a cold and dark mood on to the stage. If the room is highly lit up it shows us that there are good mood amongst the guests. In the Baz Luhrman version the ball is illuminated reflecting the mood of the guests. In ‘west side story’ it uses the same principle as Romeo and Juliet but in a modern setting. In this film there are the added bonuses of special effects which help set the mood. For example when Toni (Romeo) and Maria (Juliet) are dancing the background fades away and we can only see the two if them in the middle of the dance floor. This shows how they fell in love at first sight. The singing also adds to the mood because it can portray how they are feeling better than words.