Act 3 scene 1 is a major and very important, if not the most significant, scene in the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’. It shows an often startling and occasionally subtle change in the behaviour and personality of many characters. This scene sets the rest of the play off. Shakespeare tries to show how religious and superstitious the audience of the time the power of love whilst also keeping them entertained with comedy and tragedy. Once the audience is drawn in by the opening scenes of humour and light-hearted drama, the themes of the play change drastically. These are the last moments of joking before the atmosphere switches to a heartbreaking mood.
To rouse the attention of an often restless audience of the time, Shakespeare uses many dramatic devices. He adds many different themes, such as romance and violence, slotting smoothly together. The audience is locked to the play by the continuous action and drama. Once one piece of enthralling entertainment is complete the next one starts almost immediately.
When Tybalt approaches Mercutio asking for Romeo, and the first fight breaks out, the audience would feel that the excitement has really begun, especially the ignorant people of the time who always enjoyed a fight. It would appeal to those turning up for the violence or for the tragedy, as Mercutio is killed in this scene. The second fight scene grips the audience as they empathise with Romeo as he tries to exact revenge on Tybalt for the killing of Mercutio. This scene would have had the same effect as a modern day soap-opera, with the audience not wanting to look away in case they miss a vital piece of the storyline.
Shakespeare uses his language and choice of words to portray Romeo, at the beginning of the scene, as being soft, for example ‘O sweet Juliet, thy beauty hath made me effeminate’ where as towards the end of the scene he is shown to be quite an angry and murderous, for example ‘fire-eyed fury be my conduct now.’. This scene makes the audience feel sympathetic towards Romeo; here is a man who must keep the peace in a heated argument between his best friend and his rival, who is also his cousin in law, for the sake of his family. The audience of the time thrived on this sort of entertainment, where the outcome is almost completely unpredictable. But also allows them to see that even a kind and caring character can turn into a villain.
At the same time Romeo transforms from a melodramatic daydreamer to a confused yet more mature man who is facing up to his worries in the matter of a few days. Earlier in the play he is dreaming of Rosaline, thinking he was in love;
“Tut, I have lost myself; I am not here;
This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.”
In Act 3, Scene 1 he is in a proper relationship, with his marriage to Juliet, and is willing to fight for his honour as a friend to the now deceased Mercutio. Romeo is left with no choice but to fight Tybalt; he cannot reveal they are actually cousins yet would lose dignity and would be seen as a coward if he did not avenge the death of Mercutio;
“Now, Tybalt, take the ‘villain’ back again
That late thou gavest me; for Mercutio’s soul
Is but a little way above our heads,
Staying for thine to keep him company:
Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.”
In Act 3, Scene 1 many other characters personalities are more thoroughly developed. These developments happen mostly all at the same time. As the argument brews at the beginning of the scene Mercutio is seen as a peace-keeper, trying to avoid trouble at any cost. But to show that he has a bad temper. Shakespeare uses a vast collection of vocabulary to portray the character of Mecutio as being eloquent and able to wield words like a sword, for example he says ‘calm dishonourable vile submission’ which shows that he as a man that should not be angered as he is using a negative triplet against one of his best friends. As a result of this he will be more than able to insult others or even mane and even ruin his enemies. If his sword doesn’t pierce their armour his words will shatter his enemies’ ego. The effect on the audience is that a calm, funny, laidback character now has a mean side.
Also he condemns Benvolio’s fondness for fighting in jest whilst at the same time being deadly serious;
“Thou! Why, thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more or a hair less in his beard than thou hast: thou wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts.”
Benvolio is always in the middle of any trouble that occurs, even if he is not directly to blame. He makes a meal out of the smallest comments or actions and is always preparing himself for a quarrel when the Capulets are around;
“By my head, here come the Capulets.”
Tybalt is a similar character to Benvolio in the fact that he is a trouble-maker. He is looking to kill Romeo, making this the scene that holds the rest of the play together, but in an exciting and enthralling way. Anyone viewing the play would be gripped, as one of these cousins is destined to die; with Tybalt unaware he is picking a fight with a new family member, whilst Romeo cannot avoid the death of one of them. Shakespeare’s use of language portrays Tybalt, as a man that loves to fight, but doesn’t like to through the first punch as it were, as a result of this he tries to provoke people into starting the fight for example ‘Romeo the love I bare thee can afford no better term than this; thou art a villain.’ Which so that he is looking for a fight with Romeo but wants to be able to say he was only defending himself. The effect on the audience is to make Tybalt somebody that is to be feared.
Religion, superstition and nobility all play a major part in this scene. In Elizabethan times these were taken extremely seriously so this scene would have more of an effect in the 16th and 17th centuries, rather than a modern day audience. The play’s intensity develops greatly and Romeo’s nobility is put to the test when he goes after Tybalt. Also the feud between the two families is strengthened significantly as members of the two households come head-to-head. Each is trying to get the better of the other, setting up the rivalry at a new height for the rest of the play. Would any of these problems arise had the families not being at variance with each other? Probably not. An example of superstition being rife in Shakespeare’s times is when Mercutio is stabbed;
“A plague o’ both your houses!”
It is at this point that the audience would realise that Romeo and Juliet are doomed, as they have no hope now that their houses have been cursed. From this moment onwards the play shapes into a tragedy from a light-hearted love story.
Finally Romeo is portrayed as having the whole world against him; he has just had his best friend killed before his own eyes, he has killed his wife’s cousin and for this will surely face banishment or death at the hands of the Prince. This is a very important part of the play as Romeo’s luck goes from bad to worse at this very point. It is summed up at the end of the scene perfectly by Romeo himself;
“O, I am fortune’s fool!”
We have been working on Romeo and Juliet for some time now. We were asked to write an essay on act 3 scene 1
At the start of the play I would have a narrator to tell the audience what happens. He would explain the background of the feud between the Montague’s and the caplets.
At the start of the of play Romeo acts strange in front of his best friends. His friends don’t know that he loves Juliet. Romeo is like at love puppy he is always thinking about Juliet .this scene is the main part that sparks the evil between the Montague’s and the Capulets.
The major differences between acting now than the year 1590 has a lot of difference.
1590: 90% went to theatre. 2000: less than 5%
1590: men acted no women were allowed
1590: people were allowed to throw things on stage
The two families are called Montague’s and the Capulets. The story lies in the streets of Verona.
I would make the feud relevant to the modern audience by making the accents of the Capulets Scottish and the Montague’s English.
On stage I would make the caplets wear black and the Montague’s wear white. This will show that they both hate each other and that they are complete different, and that they have nothing in common apart from they are both rich and wealthy and popular.
I would make my play modern by keeping the original set simple and as close to the Shakespeare as possible. I would make suttee changes such as trap doors so people can appear on stage quickly and suddenly for the fighting scene. I would have the fight in the different parts of the audience to give it some real effects because this is the most action packed point of the scene .I would have a spot of light on the two main characters and low lighting in different areas showing the different fight that have broken out in other areas. Another thing I would do is when Mercutio dies I would have him die with his body sliding down a pillar, his head hanging over the edge of the stage looking into the audience saying his last words for the ultimate dramatic effect.
To bring this play to the 20th century will be quite difficult, so I have to make subtle but noticeable changes.
E.g. Instead of swords I would have guns but their brand names would be sword so when they draw they would say draw out your sword (which actually they mean gun) this would relate the original Shakespearean text.
I would use the sound as to help with the background and to help with the mood what the scene is relating to at the moment in time. E.g. when the fight between is happening between Romeo and Mecutio I would use a fast beat as the sound of my background because the audience don’t want Romeo to die or have Mecutio to be the second person to die on the streets.
At the beginning of the scene Tybalt is in a rampage because of Romeo marrying Juliet. At the end of the scene he is dead. The audience will feel for Tybalt. Tybalt with enter the scene thought a trap door shouting and when he dies he will exit the scene by a coffin.
Tybalt: leather jacket, leather trousers. Two guns under his jacket. Leather shoes with metal heals.1 ring on his finger saying Capulet.
Romeo: opened shirt. Jeans with a leather belt and sandals. And 1 gun clipped with his belt.
Mecutio: jeans, belt with 2 guns, no t-shirt.
Benvolio :three quarter length trousers. With a t-shirt.
Romeo: he will act calm and cool but at the same time a bit scared.
Tybalt: he will act dangerous and will be unafraid of nothing.
Benvoilo: he’s acts as thought he’s walking in the park on a quiet day.
Mecutio: he will act calm.
Overall I think to bring the play in the 20th would take a lot of hard work and lots of changes. When it is finished I think it would be worth it and it will be a big hit with the audience. All my changes with be suttee but obvious. E.g. as I said earlier about the guns