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Analyse the Dramatic Effect of Act 1 Scene 5 in ‘romeo and Juliet’ Commenting on Shakespeare’s Use of Stagecraft and Language

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Analyse the Dramatic Effect of Act 1 Scene 5 in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ commenting on Shakespeare’s Use of Stagecraft and Language


here are several techniques exemplified in Act 1 Scene 5 that bring around numerous emotions among the audience. These can promote a variety of reactions, sometimes humorous, others gut-wrenching. Either way, all the techniques illustrate to the spectators how illustrious this play, based upon two intense lovers and the extremes that they pass through to withhold their passion, can be.

To begin with, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ begins with an exhilarating prologue consisting of various forms of word play to produce a synopsis of the upcoming play. After finishing, this ‘prologue’ leaves the audience awaiting the forthcoming after formulating vivid perceptions in their head, or perhaps even frustrated that the whole play has been revealed. This places knowledge of the upcoming play in the spectators’ minds.

To understand why Shakespeare decided to use this absurd technique that nowadays would be considered to ruin the play from some points of view, one must trace back to the conditions inside theatres way back in the 16th Century.

Usually, theatre wasn’t really reserved for the ‘higher class’ people for it was the only form of entertainment. People would be found standing, not seated, in a central ring. These conditions usually result in the audience conversing rather then devoting their attention to what was about to be performed in front of them. Hence, Shakespeare produced a clever technique that grips the spectators. When words such as ‘mutiny’ boom across a hall back in Shakespeare’s era, the males were most probably intrigued by the prospect of violence and sword fights.

This perception of hate, evil and struggling paints a colourful, if not bloody prospect in the audiences’ imagination. This no doubt produces a lust to see and hear the inevitable bloodshed. Through lines such as ‘Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.’ the audience can infer that the upcoming will involve the taking of lives. This is further substantiated by lines like ‘Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.’ clearly displaying that the two lovers Romeo and Juliet are going to die simply through the cold word, death. The audience is further captivated and seek more detail. Shakespeare has achieved this much, but not everyone attends the theatre for pure blood and gore.

To satisfy this issue, Shakespeare introduces the theme of love into the prologue. However, the way he uses this theme is very sophisticated, because of the simple fact that this play was a tragedy. The prologue couldn’t possibly be entirely hugs and kisses, or the entire plot could crumble. Instead, he places love related lines alongside the evil lines. Somewhat like a comparison, or maybe even an equation; to solve hate, one must love, yet this love can involve the most heinous cruelty before a result is achieved. Lines such as ‘The fearful passage of their death-marked love’ clearly demonstrate this view. If one is to examine the above, they can see that the negative issue, the death of Romeo and Juliet is present through the love they have for each other. The text before this line informs us that Romeo and his Juliet are from opposite families, and would naturally hold hate against each other. This tells us why these lovers must dread a ‘fearful passage’, for there are great threats present.

At the time, the passion that was foretold was supposedly highly controversial, for relationships, rather then be blossoming with love, would be arranged. Hence, the audience is again captivated to know how two people could risk their dignity to place themselves in the position they have.

With the bringing together of these two highly evocative and powerful emotions into one context, Shakespeare increases the integrity of his work, by capturing everyone in some way that they somehow become desperate to witness the upcoming scenes. One questions why this play seems to have a negative atmosphere placed about it, even at such an early stage. It is through human nature’s natural empathising abilities that one is forced to ponder about what happened to these lovers that could have been so happy.

Act 1 Scene 5 is like a junction in the play, where all these themes in the prologue seem to meet and wrap together; hence, the audience is deeply focused at this scene so they can answer the questions they had in the prologue. How is it that these two absurd, individual characters came about to meet. All the answers lie here.


n Act 1 Scene 5, the play’s central characters are all brought together; friends and foes alike.

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