The Audience knows from the Prologue that Romeo and Juliet are ‘starcrossed’ (doomed) and that their love is ‘death-marked’. The audience’s response is coloured by their knowledge that Romeo and Juliet are fated to die, and that it is a tragic and chilling piece of drama. As A3s4 concludes, a considerable amount of dramatic irony is created, since we see Capulet agree to the marrying of Juliet to Paris. This sets a tragic tone for the beginning of the following scene. As A3s5 commences a great deal of pathos and sympathy are created for Romeo and Juliet.
When Romeo says ‘come death’ the happiness and joy of the opening is now destroyed, as the audience knows the ‘destiny’ of the two lovers. This provides a strong contrast between the relaxed atmosphere of the start of the scene, and the dark and frightening tone of the close of the scene. The pace speeds up, as the nurse is soon to enter. This prepares the audience for the forthcoming action and drama. The actual parting of Romeo and Juliet is extremely emotional as audience can sense that Juliet does not want to let Romeo go.
It has suspicions that Juliet knows that she will never see him again. Juliet expresses her longing and love for Romeo when she says ‘for a minute, there are many days’. The audience continues to feel sympathetic towards her as the dramatic effectiveness and irony is conveyed strongly in this section of the scene. A crucial moment where Juliet announces that she sees Romeo ‘dead in the bottom of a tomb’. This is dramatically effective and shows that Juliet is full of doubt and foreboding. The audience sees that Juliet senses misfortune.
Juliet’s premonition is an ironic and ominous sign that the next time she will see Romeo he will be dead. Intense sympathy is now felt for Juliet. It is from line 65 onwards that Lady Capulet’s cold temperament is revealed to the audience. She assumes that Juliet’s upset is due to the death of her cousin, and that she is just grieving. Juliet comments under her breath that Romeo is not a ‘villain’. This shows the audience the immense pressure there is on Juliet to pretend and conceal what is actually going on.
Lady Capulet tries to comfort Juliet by suggesting that she has plans to have Romeo poisoned and take ‘vengeance’. This is strong dramatic irony as Lady Capulet further upsets Juliet and makes her increasingly distraught. The situation would be particularly hard for an actor to convey to the audience. The actor performing the part of Juliet has the difficult task of showing Juliet’s difficulty in pretending and lying to her mother. As Juliet learns that ‘next Thursday’ she will be married to Paris, the pace of the action speeds up. The pressure on Juliet mounts.
As Juliet’s anger burst’s out, the audience feels gripped. It wants to know if Juliet will reveal her true affections for Romeo in front of her mother. We see that Juliet cannot pretend anymore however her using her vast cleverness she carefully conceals every word that would arouse her mother’s suspicions. This should be an explosive and exciting moment in the play when it is performed on stage to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. As the nurse and Capulet enter, the dramatic tension is relaxed considerably. The audience sees Capulet taunt and tease Juliet.
Shakespeare’s use of rhetorical questions, in Capulet’s speech to Juliet, shows Juliet’s increased upset and therefore the sympathy for her is increased. Capulet says that Juliet’s ‘body is sailing’ like a boat in a ‘salt flood’. This shows dramatic effectiveness as it conveys to the audience the emotions that she is feeling. Capulet does not lose his temper straight away and he shows that he cannot understand Juliet’s behaviour. The Audience anticipates that Capulet will soon become violently angry, as it has seen how violently he reacted to Tybald in A1s5.
The pace begins to speed up. In the space of a few minutes Capulet goes from teasing Juliet as if she were a young child, to saying harsh insults for example ‘die in the streets’, that no adult would ever say to a child of Juliet’s age. Capulet’s unrestrained anger and cruelty seems to be unleashed at this moment. Caplet’s emotions are extremely muddled as in A3s4 he shows that he thinks of her as a mature, young lady when he agrees to her marriage to Paris. As Capulet speaks he insults her, calling her a ‘mistree minion’.
Performed this part of the dialogue on stage in Shakespearean times the audience would have been shocked at Capulet’s use of offensive language. However for this part of the scene to look effective in front of a modern audience it would have to be performed more dramatically. Capulet would have to use explosive hand gestures and impulsify his actions to intrigue a modern audience. As the atmosphere gets tenser Capulet’s words become harsher and more frightening as his irritation and determination becomes apparent.
‘Fettle’ and ‘fine’ uses alliteration to emphasise his anger and prepare the audience for the climax of his outburst. The audience knows that he has particularly violent as Lady Capulet is forced to intervene. It emphasises how violently angry and threatening he has become towards Juliet. It is now that Juliet realises what a desperate situation it is. Juliet knows that there is nothing that she can do except plead and beg. At this point the audience realise to the full extent that Juliet cannot live without Romeo.
Capulet becomes coldly controlled and gives Juliet an ultimatum; this shows the presence of his invisible anger. Capulet’s use of monosyllabic words ‘hang’, ‘starve’ and ‘beg’ all stress the impact of his determination. As he exits the audience is left sympathising with Juliet. Juliet’s utter desperation and despair can be heard in the later part of the scene as she realises that there is nobody that cat can help her. In desperation she turns to the Nurse for comfort, reassurance and advice. The nurse becomes ruthless, even to the power of Juliet’s persuasion and Juliet’s expectations of her slowly fritter away.
Her use of language is more emotive and it emphasises her emotions and her ‘grief’. She pleads ‘some comfort, nurse’. Juliet disregards the Nurse’s pitiful excuse for advice and the words ‘thou hast comforted me marvellous much’ shows her disappointment. She expected more from the Nurse. The audience’s response is to feel what Juliet is feeling, sheer disappointment and anger. Her attitude towards the Nurse from this moment on is very different as she treats her more formally as a servant. We see that Juliet’s tone of voice has changed.
Juliet’s soliloquy is a dramatic end to the scene. The audience now knows what Juliet is thinking and this adds more dramatic effectiveness to the close of the scene. A modern audience is likely to react differently than an Elizabethan audience for many reasons that include moral, social, philosophical issues and contemporary relevance. The way we view love and marriage today has changed significantly from the Elizabethan times. Today in our society we put a high value in the freedom to love and the idea of being forced to marry seems totally unacceptable.
Our reaction to Juliet being forced to marry Paris would be stronger as an Elizabethan audience would see it as more acceptable compared to today’s society. It was not so extravagant and important to pick your own partner at the time ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was originally performed and this gives a modern audience a better understanding of why and what Juliet was feeling when she was driven to suicide. The fact that children grow up increasingly quickly and expect to mature and take control at an early age can make a modern audience hostile towards Lord and Lady Capulet.
Today’s society would be more likely to condemn the way that the Capulet’s treat their daughter as most modern parents accept the need to negotiate in a situation such as Juliet’s in A3s5. An Elizabethan audience would be more inclined to sympathise with the Capulet’s as the father’s governed their daughters until marriage and the daughters did not expect much freedom. In their eyes Juliet was in the wrong. In Elizabethan times people were generally more religious and marriage was seen as a commitment for life. It involved making solemn vows before God and therefore people were more committed to marriage.
Juliet’s marriage to Paris would have been seen unacceptable if it had taken place. Today though, we live in a secular society and our values have changed. This means that people are no longer prepared to stay married if they do not love their partner anymore. We are generally less loyal and this is why we would feel more sympathy for Juliet, about to be tied down to some one she doesn’t love (Paris)! In a contemporary society we have a wider range of views about what is right or wrong. We are more cynical, harder and colder. We can therefore sympathise with Juliet’s actions.