Consider how the dramatic impact of act three scene one of Romeo and Juliet would have affected the audience Paper

Published: 2021-09-11 13:35:07
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Act three Scene one has a major impact on the flow of the play, up to this point the play has been of the romantic genre, but Shakespeare chooses this moment to decisively change the plot from romantic, to a tragic one. The cause of this is the exile of Romeo by the Prince. This would have come as a major shock to the audience as Romeo and Juliet have just got married, setting up that they were going to have a generic ending of “happy ever after”. The play had just reached a balancing point, and exile of Romeo causes the play to lose equilibrium.
The best way to understand the play is to know the characters and plot so I will give a brief description of each character, the role this character plays and the influence this character has on the other characters:
The plot of this scene is as follows: Mercutio and Benvolio are having an argument. This is a strong contrast to the peace and serenity observed in the previous acts this would make the audience aware that something was going to happen and build a sense of tension and foreboding with phrases like “these hot days are the mad blood stirring” implying heat, anger and passion, the meaning of this particular phrase is that the heat of the days is making everybody in Verona irritable and more likely to fight. Shakespeare also uses this line to use sensory imaging the image of blood and the feel of heat both strong negative, almost ominous images. A stark contrast from the prior acts, jokes and joviality. This would make the observer, from the start, begin to think that something was about to happen.
Then the two close friends Benvolio and Mercutio were squabbling which suggests they are irritable and willing to argue and fight. Mercutio goes into a large speech about Benvolio’s readiness to fight that in the end turns into a rant. About petty things Benvolio did such as a “tailor wearing his new doublet before Easter” (the new fashions were released in Easter in Shakespearian times). This speech would be very expressive and possibly aggressive and end in Mercutio getting angrier and more wanting of a fight
When Tybalt arrives Mercutio may have seen this as an opportunity to challenge him and challenges Tybalt “make it a word a blow” this is in response to Tybalt civil comment about having a word with one of the two friends. Tybalt remains uncharacteristically calm and responds with “apt enough to that sir, and you will give me an occasion” this means quite concisely that he will only fight with Mercutio if Murcutio gives him a reason. Mercutio returns this then Tybalt says ” thou consort’st with Romeo,” this means he is friends with Romeo but Mercutio decides to take it as an insult to his class, as if he were a mere minstrel. This convinced me that Mercutio is clever very quickly he worked out he could use this to start a fight and make it look like it was Tybalt’s fault. Because of the warning the prince gave earlier in the play, Mercutio may be slightly protected from this because he is a kinsman of the Prince. And draws his sword but calls it his “fiddlestick” this is the other side of Mercutio fast, sharp and witty.
Next Romeo arrives at this point the audience knows that Romeo has married Juliet in the last scene, whereas Tybalt doesn’t. This creates an atmosphere of tension as the audience knows Tybalt has come looking for someone to fight and Romeo will not fight him. But Tybalt unknowing comments “well peace be to you sir here comes my man”. Tybalt who might possibly be nervous at this point. He came to fight Romeo and if he did Mercutio might step in and despite being a good duellist “the very butcher of a silk button” he could not defeat Romeo and Mercutio at once. This is possibly why he addresses Mercutio with an offer of peace
But the second par of this could be interpreted in two ways, firstly as meaning the man he wants but it is much more like likely that he meant it as an insult. “My man” is a very possessive term ad could mean he thinks of Romeo as a manservant or lower class. This is the way Mercutio decides to receive the comment as Romeo is his friend and he is already looking for a fight with Tybalt and is not letting this opportunity to fight Tybalt slip and returns with a very aggressive comment “I’ll be hanged before he wears your livery” this has two connotations, firstly the image of Mercutio dead that appears later in the scene which is a strong visual image also his “livery” is a servants uniform and the colours of the Capulet family which is ironic because Romeo is now married into the Capulet family.
Then Tybalt says “the hate I bare thee afford no better term than this thou art a villain” this means that Tybalt hates Romeo so much that words cannot express his feelings truthfully in words and that the slight insult villain is the only thing he can think of this was most probably to intimidate Romeo and to get him to react. It would defiantly shock Tybalt and Mercutio to find out that Romeo did nothing but apologise for not being angry and placidly saying “villain I am none” “thou knows me not”
Which no doubt infuriated Tybalt more. Tybalt now adequately enraged for a fight try’s to provoke Romeo further buy insulting him with the phrase “boy” a slander on Romeos manhood. And says “this shall not excuse the injury’s” he is of course” referring to the party that Romeo gate crashed in act one scene one where Romeo meets Juliet. This also cha connotations of “injuries” sustained to Tybalt that appear later in the scene.
Romeo replies with a submissive response that neither Tybalt nor Mercutio can understand why. “Love thee better than thou canst devise” this means that Romeo loves Tybalt more than he can imagine. The mention of love echoes the prior scene and gives the audience hope that the characters will settle their differences. “Till thou shalt know the reason of my love” this is basically saying that Romeo wont tell him why he loves him “good Capulet, –which name I tender as dearly as my own-be satisfied” is dismissing Tybalt to this fight and standing down to his challenge. Romeo also says that he tenders (regards) the Capulet name as highly as his own, this is because (unknown to Tybalt) he is married to Juliet.
At this point in the play Mercutio is becoming bemused as well as heated and could not understand why Romeo had stand down to Tybalt and calls it a “dishonourable, vile submission!” then says to Tybalt “alla stoccata carries it away” meaning that he will protect Romeos reputation on by the use of his rapier as “alla stoccata” is a fencing term and his defeat of Tybalt will “carry away” the smear on Romeos name of submitting. He then draws his sword and says “Tybalt you rat catcher, will you walk”
This is an insult to Tybalt (with a mocking of his name that is similar to the name Tibbles the cat in a popular children’s book of the time, Reynard the fox).
Tybalt reply’s saying “what wouldst thou have with me?” meaning what do you want from me and I have nothing to fight with you for.
Mercutio then replies with another insult about cats “good king of cats” and clams that the only thing he wants is to take “nothing but one of your nine lives” and then depending on how Tybalt behaves he will “drybeat” or pummel the other eight. He then tells Tybalt to draw his sword.
Tybalt then says “I am for you” with the meaning I have had enough of you and your slanders. And draws his sword
Romeo try’s to cool them and tells Mercutio to “put up his sword” while appealing Mercutio’s “gentle” side. Mercutio seems to ignore this and asks to see Tybalt’s passado (a passado is a lunging attack made with one foot forward, commonly used in fencing) Mercutio and Tybalt fight and Romeo is shocked he calls for Benvolio to “beat down their weapons” to stop them fighting. He tells them that it is an “outrage” to be fighting on Verona’s streets. And that this breach of the Princes declaration will warrant death. Finally he calls to their good sides and appeals to them to stop. At this point he is standing between the would be duellists. At this point Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeos arm, this proves how highly people of these times regarded their family names and reputations to kill someone just for making fun of them and with an underhand shot.
Tybalt then flees with hid followers.
Leaving Mercutio to bleed to death on the street. Mercutio says “a plague on both Their houses” this has two possible meanings firstly that he is familiar to both houses but part of neither and secondly he could bee putting a “plague on both their houses” or a curse because he has died from their feud. This builds the already developed dark atmosphere of foreboding. He says “I am sped” which means mortally wounded and then states “Is he gone, and hath nothing?” in disbelief that he has been mortally wounded by this man, and his assailant has nothing to show for it! Mercutio shows he is funny to the end when Benvolio asks how he is hurt he says it is only a scratch, like the scratch of a cat, the scratch of Tybalt.
You must consider at this point how Romeo feels if he hadn’t interfered maybe Mercutio wouldn’t have been wounded he may have even defeated Tybalt. Also the impact of this on the audience would have been huge, they were expecting for the hero to get the girl, and Mercutio to kill Tybalt but something has gone wrong and the balance of the play up to this point has been cast asunder.
Romeo tries to assure himself by telling Mercutio that “the hurt cannot be much” he is saying this to himself as much and he is to Mercutio to assure himself Mercutio is going to be alright. Mercutio is rightfully angry with Romeo and says “Not as deep as a well nor so wide as a church door but tis enough twill serve” this shows that he knows he is going to die. And makes a further joke of it, “to-morrow” “find me a grave man” making use of the double meaning of grave. He then goes on to call Tybalt a stream of names including a cat and others Tybalt has used in the act against others. The penultimate thing Mercutio says is that Tybalt fights “by the book of arithmetic” almost questioning his own comment because of Tybalt’s dastardly method of wining. Finally he turns to Romeo and confirms his fears. “Why the devil you came between us, I was hurt under your arm!” this means he thinks he would have had a fair chance in the fight despite Tybalt’s renowned dexterity with the rapier. And also implies that it was Romeos fault.
Romeo says that he “thought all for the best” meaning that he did not mean for Mercutio to become hurt. At this point Romeos hopes are dashed, he hoped Mercutio was going to be alright. But he finds out Mercutio is going to die and then finds out that it’s his fault.
Mercutio doesn’t talk to Romeo again instead he tells Mercutio to help him into a house or “he shall faint” to help him into a house might mean two things. Firstly that he needs to get out of the heat hat is projected in at the start of the scene or possibly that he wants to get into a house as in the house of Montague or Capulet. And how he is “a plague on both their houses” while never being part of one. He then says “they have made worms meat of me” meaning both that he knows he is going to die and be buried soon. Also that he is feeling eaten by the fact that he is dying for the wound Tybalt gave him. The last thing he says is “your houses” referring to “a curse on both your houses” I think Shakespeare repeated this to emphasise this point.
Mercutio and Benvolio leave, and Romeo speaks to the audience and talks about Mercutio as a “gentleman” and his “friend” and the “near ally of the Prince” this sounds almost like an obituary confirming the audience in the thought that Mercutio is going to die. He carries on to say “his mortal hurt in my behalf” this is the realisation of Romeo to the fact that hew caused Mercutio injuries. It is also the realisation that Mercutio wounds are fatal. He also realises that Mercutio was protecting his reputation form Tybalt (who had been Romeos kinsman for less “than an hour”) then mentions Juliet for the first time in the scene Romeo “Juliet Thy beauty hath made me effeminate” meaning of this is that Juliet’s love has made him soft and venerable (In this time women were considered a weaker sex ). Then says that her beauty has also “softened” his “temper” this could mean two things firstly that his emotions no longer run high and he is less willing to fight. The second meaning is tempered steel as in his sword ( tempered steel is much stronger and much less likely to shatter this is why it was used in swords) this could mean that his sword has “softened” making him less likely to use it.
After this Benvolio enters and says “Mercutio dead!” “his gallant spirit hath aspired the clouds” meaning that he has risen to heaven. “To untimely” meaning he died prematurely, and his spirit “did scorn the earth” another reference to a curse.
This is the major turning point in the play where it turns form a romantic comedy to a romantic tragedy. With Mercutio death the humour is bleed out of the play.
Romeo says “this days black fate” meaning the death of Mercutio but also building the atmosphere of darkness and foreboding and says “this day but begins the woe” meaning the feud is going to become much more violent.
Benvolio says that Tybalt is returning and this only enrages Romeo
He says “Alive in triumph! And Mercutio slain!” meaning that he feels its not right that Mercutio was killed by such a dastardly attack and seeks to settle the score. When Tybalt enters Romeo goes on the offensive straight away “Tybalt take the villain back again!” an insult calling him a peasant the insult he called Romeo earlier in the scene trying to provoke him into a fight and tell shim to take back the insult he exchanged for “Mercutio soul” and then says “to keep him company either thou or I or both must go with him” meaning that one or both of us must accompany Mercutio into heaven Tybalt replies ” thou wretched boy that did consort him here Shalt with him hence!” meaning that he shall send Romeo after Mercutio in his place.
Romeo says “this fight shall determine that” and they fight resulting in Romeo killing Tybalt. Benvolio suddenly warns Romeo that the city is awakening and when they find out that Romeo has killed Tybalt the Prince shall have him put to death and tells him to run away, ” be gone, away!”
Romeo realises he is “fortunes fool how all the events that have happened to him over the past days have been building to this point have culminated to his fate of either banishment or execution. it is almost like some power has been using him as a puppet or as a piece in some twisted game.
Benvolio says “Why dost stay!” obviously concerned for Romeo. Romeo flees. Suddenly the stage is overrun with people. After the quietness of the last minute after Romeo discovered he was “fortunes fool” this would be very dramatic and would have a great effect on the audience
They would suddenly realise the ramifications of Romeos actions. And the effect that this would have on the play Romeo would never be able to see Juliet again!
When the prince enters he gets straight to the matter and says “where are the vile beginners of this fray” meaning he intends to find the starters of the fight. And for m the use of the word “vile” he does not seem to think much of them. (at this time in history, human rights were non existent and the princes word would be the law, he would have been somewhat of a tyrant)
Benvolio then talks to the prince and tries to deflect as much blame as he can away from Romeo and to Tybalt as Tybalt cannot defend himself (for obvious reasons) and to protect Romeo from the hangman’s noose. He is also trying to influence the princes judgment with artful flattery “O noble Prince” and mentioning that Tybalt killed the princes “kinsman” and Romeo only stepped in to defend Mercutio honour and the honour of his family.
Lady Capulet disarrayed by the sudden death of her cousin and the accusations of Benvolio strives to clear her cousin’s name so he may have an honourable death. She also calls for Romeo to be executed “shed blood of Montague”. She uses “O” a lot possibly to try and prove her point to the prince and defiantly in response to Benvolio’s “O Prince”
She tries to flatter the prince too with “Prince , Thou art true”
The prince ignores her and asks Benvolio, “who began this bloody fray” meaning the fight. Benvolio then goes into a long speech about Tybalt who came looking for the fight first “Tybalt deaf to peace”, Romeos innocence and how he tried to pacify Tybalt “with gentle breath” “spoke to him fair” and how Tybalt cheated in the duel after Romeo tried to break it up “An envious thrust” moreover he says how Romeo hadn’t even considered fighting till “stout Mercutio” was killed. Finally he says how Tybalt returned to gloat ” by and by comes back to Romeo” and that is why Romeo slew him for his own foolishness. To finish he says “This is the truth or let Benvolio die” basically meaning upon my life this is the truth.
Lady Capulet tries once again to influence the princes judgement. She claims that Benvolio’s “affection” to Romeo makes his judgement “false”. She also comments that not one man could have killed the expert swordsman Tybalt it must have been a gang of “twenty”, she probably says this to influences the thoughts of the prince that the Montages were prowling the streets in gangs
The prince replies He slew Mercutio Who now the price of his dear blood owe?” the effect of this would silence Lady Capulet and shock the audience, as Prince Escaluswas the ultimate power at the time in veroan and could do almost anything he wanted, he was not a man to anger.
Lord Montague says “but what the law should end the life of tybalt” meaning, the law would have had tybalt executed anyway, so romeos rage driven murder should count as tybalys execution. It is natural justice
The prince is swayed By Benvoilo and Lord Cappulett. And exiles Romeo instead of executing him ” and for that offence, Immediately do we exile him hence. He then says “my blood for your rude brawls doth lie a bleeding.” Meaning that due to their fuede his family has been hurt.
“Repent the loss of mine” means that because mercutio is dead and he will never see him again. The two feuding family must pay the same fate the Capulets will nevet see tybalt for he is dead and the montages will not see romeo for he is exiled. Finaly he says “mercy but murders, pardoning that kill” meaning if you kill romeo you will cause more death, the judgement from act 1 scene 1 still stands. They all leave.
Personaly I think this is the most Dramatic scene in the entirety of the play. This is the part where romeo Is exiled and the play is shifted from a romantic comedy to a tragic romantic. And sets into swing the seris of events that cause the deaths of romeo and juliet and sealing the fate of the rest of the cast. This is also the scene where also the loss of mercutio the main driving force of humor in the play means that the humor is very unlikely to return. This is undoutebly the most captivating of all from this masterpiece with the protaginist being supplemenated to many pressures causing him to change irriparably. Finaly I think the effect this scen would have on the audience is a great one at the point before the scene the play was at a point of balance and this scene violently disrupts that balance, captivating the audience and dragging them to the edge of their seats.

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