Act 3, scene 5 is a crucial scene in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. The scene is a springboard from which the play plummets to a grizzly end and the subtle climax of the series of events before it. It also contains elements of many of the main themes of the play, love, trust, family, hate, fate and some interesting theatrical techniques such as dramatic irony and double meanings. The scene is quite easy to analyse being constructed of four duologues and Juliet’s soliloquy. It is therefore a good scene to look at in more detail.
Shakespeare begins his play by establishing the core conflict that drives the plot of Romeo and Juliet; the pointless feud between the Capulet and Montague families (of which the cause has been forgotten). This is done in the prologue were we are told “civil blood makes civil hands unclean”. The first four scenes continue in much the same manner introducing characters places and the era the play is set in. The plays catalyst lies in Act 1 scene 5 when Romeo a Montague and Juliet a Capulet fall in love at a Capulet ball. The play then moves at a surprising speed. Romeo marries Juliet the next day. Then Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, offended by Romeo’s appearance at the Capulet’s party challenges Romeo to a duel. Romeo refuses to fight Tybalt as Tybalt is now in effect Romeo’s brother, although Tybalt does not know of their new relationship, Tybalt is offended and kills Romeo’s friend Mercutio. In response Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished from the city, he spends one night with Juliet before act 3 scene 5.
In act 3 scene 5 Juliet’s father, who does not know of her relationship with Romeo insists that she marries Paris, a noble bachelor. Juliet is faced with a dilemma, she cannot marry again as it is a mortal sin to marry two people and her soul will burn in hell for ever. A modern audience may find this difficult to understand as religion has less of a hold on people’s morals now than in the 16th century, (evidence that even Shakespeare is not timeless!) However if she does not marry County Paris her parents will disown her and let her starve on the street in dishonour. Lord Capulet says “hang, beg, starve, die in the streets”
Act 3, Scene 5 begins with a duologue between Romeo and Juliet. The couple are arguing in a light hearted manner about whether it is day and Romeo should leave the city or whether it is night and he should stay with Juliet. Romeo says he must leave as the lark has sung signifying day break but Juliet insists that “It was the nightingale and not the lark”. Shakespeare is using the images of birds to represent night and day. This gives Shakespeare the opportunity to write an interesting pun which is worth quoting in full,
“Some say the lark makes sweet division;
This doth not so, for she divideth us”
The word division is occasionally used to refer to variations in a melody. Shakespeare extends this metaphor so Romeo and Juliet can share the lines, this may be done to show how they think in harmony with one another. This technique is also used when Romeo and Juliet first meet and they speak a sonnet together.
Romeo gets Juliet to let him leave by calling her bluff. “Come death and welcome Juliet wills it so” Romeo is implying he will happily die for Juliet, we later find out that this line is not as innocent as it seems and is in fact foreshadowing Romeos suicide. If I was directing this duologue I would want it to be as joyous as possible. Romeo and Juliet get very little time together on stage and for the play’s tragic end to have full impact the audience need to understand what Romeo and Juliet lose. Juliet should deliver her lines like a child who wants to stay at a friend’s house when it is time to go home. This will help her appear innocent and make the audience want to protect her, again giving the tragic end more impact. I think Shakespeare wanted to do this too as he made it clear how young Juliet was...