Shakespeare has not only influenced how we speak today, but is widely regarded as one of the greatest playwrights of all time. Although many of his plays involve a large degree of emotion, “Romeo and Juliet” is far more than just another tragic love story.The Elizabethan era was a time where wealth, natural order and status within society were of the utmost importance to the average individual. Shakespeare was aware of how to unsettle his Elizabethan audiences in order to achieve greater emotional impact. He does so by presenting them with realistic and likeable characters, whereupon he forces them into situations that will cast the characters into deep emotional turmoil, heightening the sympathy felt towards them.A modern audience is more used to these feelings presented in this way (they see it in film and TV all the time) but for a contemporary audience of Shakespeare, the play would have a more cataclysmic social impact. Despite this, Shakespeare still has an impact on a modern audience as modern lovers can still relate to the problems in which Romeo and Juliet are encountering in the play.
Act 3 Scene 5 is a vital scene in the play, and in due course all will be revealed as to why. Prior to this scene, the feuding remains at large, and in contempt of this, Romeo disobediently goes to Lord Capulet’s party, only to find the host’s daughter is the love of his life. Juliet’s father arranges to wed her, to a “lovely gentlemen” named Paris. Juliet is negligent to this news, and arranges to marry Romeo in which Friar Lawrence and the nurse agrees. Without doubt, they marry, and the nurse of who is Juliet’s maternal figure, devises a plan to let the newlyweds to spend the night together. Certainly they do, and when dawn brakes, Act 3 Scene 5 begins.The scene commences as Romeo and Juliet awake from their first night of passion. As the director, I would set the couple on a double bed centre stage, with a window placed further down stage off centre.
Faint noises of birds singing can be heard and bright light would shine through the window, forcing the audience to acknowledge that it is morning.As Romeo and Juliet then realise it is morning, they try frantically to find a reason why they should not part. From this point until the ending of the scene, they both should be continuously making contact to emphasise their love for each other. Trying in deep desperation for Romeo to stay, Juliet makes many references to it being night, not day. She uses the metaphor:”It was the nightingale and not the lark”.Which could mean that the noises they hear are of a bird from the night, giving Romeo a reason to stay. Also, she would speak in a sharp manner and combined with the short sentences that Shakespeare writes purposely to represent desperation, conveying her urgency and panic.
The audience will be feeling slightly tense at the thought of them being caught together but in addition, sympathetic towards Juliet for the saddened disappointment she must be feeling.Throughout this section, Shakespeare uses emotive vocabulary such as:”Pierced”, “fearful”, “severing”, “harsh” and “discords”This is to show how painful their departing is, in which the audience would feel almost obliged to feel sorrowful for them. Shakespeare then uses the imagery of burnt out candles to metaphorically represent their bond, and as a slight false shadow, as we go on to know their love will never be re-lit. Romeo goes on to say:”I must be gone and live, or stay and die,”Making Juliet feel utter sadness, as she for well knows that Romeo is speaking truth.
Despite this, Juliet denies all of his “order to go” and repeats:”It is not daylight,”Constantly trying to convince herself he can stay. The repetition of this would make the audience feel her desperation, and as the director, I would emphasise her feeling of desperation by almost have her begging to Romeo to stay. Romeo replies:”Let me be put to death, I am content,”In which, unwillingly, Juliet accepts he must be gone. By Romeo in other words saying he would die for Juliet, the audience would feel evermore sympathetic towards her, as this portrays how strongly Romeo feels for her, but the time has to come for him to go.
Also, the hyperbolic and emotive language that Shakespeare uses here heightens the audiences feeling of the couple love indignantly slipping away.As the nurse storms in, informing Juliet that her mother will be at her room shortly, Juliet says with a residing manner:”Then, window, let day in, and let life out,”Shakespeare personifies “window” as the window is like the people of who brought Romeo and Juliet together, but also like the person who banished him. At this point, I would also emphasise the lighting on the window, to draw the audience’s attention and to link the dialogue to the audience’s visual outlook. Another direction I may make would be for the actress playing Juliet to emphasise the word “life” as though her loves life is being lost. This would also be false shadowing the tragedy to come.Once Romeo has descended, she speaks to him and says:”I shall be much in years Ere I again behold my Romeo!”In which the audience feels her passion for Romeo, as she means it will be a long time until they meet again.
The audience’s sympathy will be at such a height they will be slightly taken a back by all this pain Juliet is suffering. The last thing she says to Romeo is:”As one dead in the bottom of a tomb, either my eyesight fails, or thou look’st pale.”Shakespeare uses this as a premonition of what is to come and to show the audience Juliet’s worries and negative feelings towards Romeo leaving. The imagery of sight could be perceived by the audience as her looking into the future. And certainly “pale” could be seen as the blood being sucked out of them due to the sorrow they are suffering.To herself, Juliet says:”Be fickle, Fortune.
For then I hope thou wilt not keep him long, But send him back.”Shakespeare personifies fortune, and in this sentence, Juliet means that fortune is being indecisive in the way that they had good fortune for not being caught together, but bad fortune for Romeo’s need to leave, Juliet also hopes for good fortune to arise once more from the awful fortune she is currently having. The audience at this point will be willing for something positive to happen and will feel sympathy for Juliet’s bad comings.
As Lady Capulet enters, the audience will feel an ominous, negative vibe between Lady Capulet and her daughter as her opening line is:”Ho, daughter, are you up?”Which would make the audience feel slightly shocked, as for a mother to say such a phrase like that to their daughter would not be common, and seen as harsh. An Elizabethan audience would feel sympathy towards Juliet, but I think a modern audience would feel even more sympathy, as today discipline is very different, and bonds between mother and daughter seem a lot closer.Likewise, Juliet addresses her as “Ladyship” and “Madam”, so the audience have a sure knowledge of their distant relationship. As Juliet is weeping, Lady Capulet says in a callous tone:”Some grief shows much of love, But much of grief shows still some want of wit,”Shakespeare uses emphatic language and complex sentences to show how Lady Capulet is rebuking Juliet’s crying. Juliet replies with:”Yet let me weep for such a feeling loss”This use of dramatic irony makes the audience know she is not weeping for the loss of her cousin as Lady Capulet thinks, but she is actually weeping for Romeo. Not only does this make the audience’s feeling of sympathy rise as Juliet has so much to grieve, but it also makes them feel slightly on edge that Juliet’s alibi may slip up if she gives away too much away about Romeo.Shakespeare reiterates Lady Capulet’s impersonal and arrogant exterior as she says:”Well, girl, thou..
.”In which I would assume the audience would remember what an unloving mother she is. As the director, I would make the actress playing Lady Capulet emphasise the word “girl” to add to the harshness of her character.As Lady Capulet begins to talk about Romeo and her having a dyer need for revenge, aside, Juliet says:”God pardon him, I do with all my heart,”At this point, Juliet would be feeling the need to let her feelings out, hence why she says this aside. Also, as the actress would emphasise “all” the audience would feel Juliet’s passion for Romeo, reiterating the sympathy for Juliet. Dramatic irony is use once more as Juliet says:”Indeed I shall never be satisfied with Romeo till I behold him – dead – is my poor heart,”Of course the audience know that Juliet means that she will not be satisfied with Romeo until she holds him again – dead is her poor heart for not being with him. But what Lady Capulet hears is that she won’t be satisfied until Romeo is dead. Shakespeare would have written this, with this specific punctuation to emphasise the dramatic irony.
The feelings of the audience will be mixed at this point; tense and worried that Juliet may slip up, yet saddened and sympathetic as she has so much to mourn.When Juliet dins out she is to marry Paris, she is angry yet still remember to stay quiet about Romeo. Despite her need for her mother to never find out about Romeo she is still loyal to him as she says:”I will not marry yet, and when I do, I swear it shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, Rather than Paris”Once again, Shakespeare uses dramatic irony. Juliet is close to breaking point, therefore feels the need to mention Romeo yet again.In addition to Juliet’s worries, her father Capulet enters, shouting about in a pompous manner.
Shakespeare uses hyperbolic language and imagery of storms to emphasise the ominous feeling of how Capulet himself, is causing a metaphorical storm.He uses phrases like:”…sailing in this salt flood.
..””…without a sudden calm…
thy tempest tossed…”Perhaps as they are short, snappy comments, is could be perceived as the lightening in a storm.
In Elizabethan times, obedience at all times would be expected, and for Capulet to hear his daughter deliberately defy him, he obviously gets exceptionally angry. He mocks her gratitude and curses her endlessly, and when he mentions that she must marry Paris next Thursday:”…or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.
..”Implying her to be hung if she does not marry. To an audience today, this would shock them, as they would perceive her death – due to her unwillingness to marry – extremely harsh. On the other hand, to an Elizabethan audience, they would also react in shock, but at the fact that Juliet dares to disobey her father in such a way.
Therefore a modern audience would feel sympathy for Juliet, but an Elizabethan audience would feel sympathy to Capulet, as he’s been let down by his daughter.Here, enters the Nurse. She challenges Capulet’s authority in which he comes back in a disrespectful manner and says:”And why, my Lady Wisdom?”Shakespeare personifies Wisdom to emphasise Capulet’s sarcasm, as for a nurse to be disagreeing with the man who is employing her was something unheard of.Before Capulet leaves, in complete rage he ends with a monologue full of hatred. Shakespeare phrases the sentences in this monologue to be said quickly, but sharp and an emphasis on articulation.
To curse a child in Elizabethan times was considered ominous, and certainly wasn’t a good sign. Sp when Capulet says:”..
.wretched puling fool…”An Elizabethan audience would find it absurd, and shocking.
Also, the emphatic language Shakespeare uses, and the way it would be said slowly and scornfully, would intensify this feeling of shock.Capulet, being a man of high status and authority says:”Graze where you Will, you shall not house with me,”Meaning that if she does not marry, she cannot live there with her family. His imperative tone shows the audience how strong he is, and how he will stand his ground. To a modern audience the sympathy still lies with Juliet, as they would find threatening to kick her out of the house extremely harsh, but still some sympathy can be felt for Capulet for the disobedience of Juliet’s behaviour.Capulet then disowns Juliet and says:”And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets For by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee,”Capulet appears to be deaf to Juliet’s cry and to intensify this, as the director I would have her curled up small with Capulet towering over her beside the bed, showing the contradiction of their moods. Capulet then exits, leaving Lady Capulet, the nurse and Juliet in the bedroom.
At this point, Juliet feels crushed, therefore turns to her mother for help:”O sweet my mother, cast me not away!”Here, I would place Juliet on her knees, literally begging at her mothers feet. The hyperbolic use of “O” exaggerates the pain she is feeling, and by using an exclamation mark at the end, implies to the audience that she is more the desperate to be forgiven. And of course Lady Capulet being unloving, and unwilling to care, pushes aside Juliet’s desperation saying:”Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word.”Saying this phrase in this word order is powerful and shows the audience that she really doesn’t care. Therefore, typical to Lady Capulet’s unloving persona, she exits. So indeed Juliet turns to the nurse for help, repeating the “O” to once again emphasise her desperation. The nurse then argues with Juliet and leaves. The audience visually, and mentally, see that Juliet has lost everyone, therefore their sympathy is at its climax.
In the last monologue of the scene, Juliet implies that she is at her lowest, then ends with:”I’ll to the Friar to know his remedy;If all else fail, myself have power to die.”In saying this, the audience would be shocked and worried as Juliet it saying she is willing to die because she is completely alone. As the director, I would place Juliet sitting at the front of the stage looking out into the audience as she says her last words, and as the lights would slowly fade, her face would begin to look down. This would emphasise her loneliness, and would also intensify the drama.The audience would feel unbelievably shocked and concerned that Juliet has turned suicidal. The sympathy felt would be at its greatest here, and I would leave the end of the scene in blackout for a good few seconds, so the tension in the audience could be felt throughout the theatre.
So the scene has ended, and the audience’s roller coaster of emotions has stopped – for the time being. Shakespeare has presented a scene of lust, sorrow, hatred, and desperation, and ends it on a hugely dramatic note. Yet the audience still wants more, and this is why this scene works so well. The scene begins with the audience feeling so happy for the lovers; which sadly turns to a sympathetic hate of the fact Romeo has to leave; travelling swiftly into a shock of the mothers unloving way, with slight worry that Juliet’s alibi would soon slip up. The sympathy then sways backward and forward between Juliet and her father due to her disobedience, and his harsh attitude towards discipline. From then on, the audience’s sympathy heightens more and more as Juliet loses everything she has.This just goes to show how if an audience can relate to a certain person, or feeling, as such as the feeling of loss Juliet feels in this play, then it can create such an intense scene.
Shakespeare appears to define their love as something to fight for, even if in the end it means it cannot be…