The ambiguity of the opening sonnet would have made it incomprehensible to much of the audience despite outlining the plot of the play does not tell us how or why anything happens. Such is the layout of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre that most of the people in the penny pits would be unable to understand the sonnet form, the subsequent fight, a far more simple form of introducing the feud between the two families would ensure that the whole audience understands what is going on. In short, the sonnet tells us intelligently and the fight tells us experientially.
Shakespeare’s use of fated, macabre images within the prologue is consistent with the tragedy genre. Frequent use of words such as ‘grudge’, ‘mutiny’ and ‘fatal’ would alert the audience to the inevitable outcome of the play, the sonnet even goes so far as telling the audience that ‘A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;’ both Romeo and Juliet are going to die. During Elizabethan times the stars were thought to control people’s destinies, being ‘star-cross’d’ or against the stars, creates a sense of fate. Similarly the text that precedes this: ‘death-mark’d love’ underlines the fact that both of the young lovers are ill fated. This therefore means that the audience would be watching the play with the expectation that it must fulfil the terms set in the prologue. The multiple images of hate and ultimately death used within the opening prologue are entwined with those of love; the co-existence of these images conditions the audience into the fact that at any point violence could start up between the two households. This is partly down to the fact that neither Romeo nor Juliet will ever be able to tell their parents of their love for one another.
By opening the play with an escalating conflict between the two families Shakespeare surprises the audience as the story is about two lovers not the feud between the Montagues and Capulets. This opening scene is... [continues]
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