How Does Shakespeare Make Romeo and Juliet Dramatically Effective?

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William Shakespeare, the well-known play writer and poet, had a knack for knowing how to engage his Elizabethan audiences, and it still works today. Romeo and Juliet, a romantic tragedy, is one such play, and I will be exploring the ways that Shakespeare attracted audiences, and the skills and techniques he used in his writing. Act 3 Scene 1 is a very important part of Romeo and Juliet. There are various mixed emotions the audience will endure throughout the scene and I will mainly be using it to discuss how Shakespeare makes Romeo and Juliet dramatically effective. Firstly, I will look at pivotal points. Act 3 Scene 1 is full of pivotal points, the most important one being the alteration of the play from romance to tragedy. A clear example of the action switching is “This day’s black fate on more days doth depend; this but begins the woe others must end,” spoken by Romeo. The ‘day’s black fate’ implies that this day is come from fate’s decision, and Romeo blames fate for everything that’s happened. Shakespeare was very fond of the idea of ‘fate and destiny’, and constantly refers to it throughout the text – “O I am fortunes fool” and “Be fickle, fortune” are two great examples of this – fate is messing with events, and most characters are aware of this. Another interpretation could be Shakespeare telling the audience that these tragic events aren’t going to end, which shows a good use of dramatic irony, hinting to the characters that more of this is going to happen, when the audience already knows this. This reveals some of Romeo’s character that he hides for the majority of the play – the fact that he says ‘begins the woe others must end’ means that he wants other people to sort out the mess that he has created and to make everything better. This could either be seen as Romeo being a coward, or just Shakespeare reminding the audience that although Romeo is married, and has been through a lot of things, he is only a boy of 14, and these sorts of things should not be happening to him. This makes the audience feel more sorry for Romeo, which is just one way Shakespeare has lured them in. Another important pivotal point is where Romeo alters from love-struck and unwilling to fight, to furious and angry over Mercutio’s death. This change is quite unsettling for the audience – thy like Romeo, and to see him change in this way would be ‘scary’ for them. Shakespeare wanted to make Romeo relate to the audience, so he made Romeo realize that he’s changing, which can be shown where it says “Away to heaven respective lenity, and fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!” Romeo WANTS to change, but it is not necessarily for the better. Shakespeare used these pivotal points to keep the play engaging, however he did not want to overpower the audience, so he kept some things consistent. A good example of this is Tybalt – his character does not change at all. He returns after killing Mercutio to finish Romeo, and telling Romeo that ‘shalt with him hence’ as in he’s going to kill Romeo to join Mercutio. This constancy is relieving for the audience – at least one thing is consistent. Tybalt is still an arrogant, stuck up boy who remains loyal to himself and no one else. Tybalt’s character is much different than Romeo’s; whilst Tybalt has always been loyal to himself Romeo is very indecisive in who he is more dutiful to. To begin with Mercutio is more important to Romeo, but when he meets Juliet, this shifts, and then back to Mercutio when he dies. This to and froing between the two shows Romeo’s hesitancy to life, which can be quite confusing. We never understand Romeo's true character, because it changes all the time. I find that a lot of the main character's change throughout the play, showing that the whole experience has altered them greatly. Mercutio stops being loyal to the houses when he dies, cursing them with 'a plague o'both your houses' and then Juliet goes from being grateful to her father, to hating him for trying to marry her to...
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