In Shakespeare’s play of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Act three scene one is seen as one of the main climaxes in the play. We can see this from the way that Shakespeare uses dramatic devices to create tension for the audience and conflict. Shakespeare includes Pathetic fallacy, Foreshadowing, Puns and Dramatic Irony to add to this affect. In Act 3 Scene 1, the violence results in the banishment of Romeo.
Act 3, Scene 1 begins with Shakespeare telling us it is a hot day. This suggests everyone is feeling hot, tired and bothered. Benvolio recommends to Mercutio that they should have a rest in an area sheltered from the sun. He also points out that members of the Capulet household are out in the streets “And if we meet we shall not scape a brawl.” Mercutio however would rather stay outside and responds with his good natured humour.
The weathers hot and Mercutio is being argumentative towards Benvolio. He is resisting his advice. All the characters attitudes change because of the weather. This makes tension for the audience as they can sense that a fight is going to happen. And you could also say that it relates to their fate or impending doom. “For now, these hot days, is mad bloody stirring.”
Benvolio is clearly shown as the “peace maker” here as he is saying if we stay here in this hot day tempers will flare up and we would then not escape a brawl with the Capulet’s. Research today proves that tempers do fray in hot weather. Mercutio then winds Benvolio up by saying that wherever he goes they always end up in a fight, however we know that this is not in Benvolios character.
” Thou art like one of these fellows that, when he enters the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table and says, ” God send me no need of thee!” , and the operation of the second cup draws him on the drawer, when, indeed, there is no need.”
This quote shows that Mercutio is trying to provoke Benvolio. Mercutio then trys again to tease him by saying “Come, come, thou art as hot a jack in thy mood as any in Italy; and as soon moved to be moody, and as soon moody to be moved.”
This quote shows again how Mercutio is trying to provoke Benvolio.
When Tybalt enters, Benvolio says “By my head, here comes the Capulet’s.” This is the start of the fight which therefore creates tension for the audience. Mercutio at this point is in an antagonist mood towards Tybalt by saying “And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something; make it a word and a blow.” The part of the quote “make it a word and a blow” tells the audience that Mercutio is looking for trouble and wanting to fight. But Tybalt is looking to fight Romeo. Mercutio’s language also portrays that he is in an antagonistic mood by Shakespeare using an extended metaphor “Consort”. You could say that the word starts the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt.
When Tybalt enters the Market Place, we already sense something bad is going to happen. We know this because of what happened at the masked ball between Romeo and Tybalt. But before the masked ball, in Act 1 scene 1, we find out that Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin, a Capulet and is a nasty anti-hero. He also loves to fight.
“What art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death”
This quote shows us that he loves to fight and is proud to be a Capulet. And again just before the masked ball, Romeo says:
“I fear too early; for my mind disgraves. Some consequences yet hanging in the stars. Shall bitterly begin his fearful date. With the nights revels, and expire the term. Of a despised life clos’d in my breast. By some vile forfeit of untimely death”
This is a great quote to portray the image of impending doom that if they go to the ball, it will lead to death. But Romeo ignores what he has just said.
We know that before he went to the masked ball he was very depressed as he was in love with Rosaline. But she did not feel the same way. But when he sees Juliet, his mood completely changes:
“O she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night. As a rich jewel in an Ethiops ear: Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear! So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows.”
Here there are many literacy devices used. There are the rhyming couplets at the end of every two lines and the contrast of light and dark imagery to make Juliet seem to beautiful to live. There is also an example of dramatic irony here, “Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!” as the audience know something the actors don’t.
At the masked ball, Tybalt notices that Romeo is at the Capulet’s ball which he felt was out of order so he reported it to Capulet himself.
“Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe. A villain that is hither come in spite. To scorn at our solemnity this night”
But Capulet does not wish for Tybalts fiery, fighting anger to ruin his party. So Tybalt promises that he will get his revenge on Romeo. “I will withdraw; but this intrusion shall now seeming sweet convert to bitterest gall.” So we now know that something bad is going to happen. Because of this, this will now be creating tension for the audience.
Back to Act 3 scene 1, when Romeo enters the Market place he is in a good mood as he has just married Juliet but only Romeo and the audience know of this. So as Tybalt is unaware of what Romeo has just done, he says:
“Well, peace be with you, sir. Here comes my man”
Here Mercutio deliberately misunderstands him. So therefore the word “man” has two meanings, which then leads to two twists. Tybalt then says:
“Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford no better term than this-thou art a villain.”
Tybalt says this as an accusation, meant to instil a response from Romeo. And by saying “love”, this shows us that he has no respect for him either. Villain in Elizabethan times also meant peasant which to a man of noble birth like Romeo is infact a great insult. But Romeo replies with the complete opposite to what Tybalt expects:
“Tybalt, the reason I have to love thee, Doth much excuse the appertaining rage, to such a greeting. Villain am I none. Therefore farewell; I see thou know’st me not.”
This is said as he is trying to pacify Tybalt. And the line “Therefore farewell; I see thou know’st me not.” Here Shakespeare is saying that Romeos actions through words give us the impression he is trying to leave. Again Tybalt insults Romeo by calling him “boy”. At this point there is dramatic irony. Mercutio and Tybalt think that what Romeo has just said, makes him weak and sarcastic towards them. Whereas Romeo and the audience know he said what he said because he does not wish to fight family as he has just married Juliet. Mercutio is now in a temper with Romeo as he feels Romeo is being cowardly, dishonourable and submissive by not fighting. So Mercutio is now ready to fight Tybalt on Romeos behalf.
Romeo trys to stop the fight by saying:
“Draw, Benvolio! Beat down their weapons. Gentleman for shame, forbear this outrage! Tybalt, Mercutio the prince expressely hath forbid this bandying in Verona streets.”
“Draw, Benvolio!” This short, snappy sentence is used to get Tybalts attention and to stop the fight. And because Shakespeare has used exclamation marks, this shows Romeo is pleading with pacifist. And also by calling them “Gentleman”, that shows respect. When Romeo says “Tybalt, Mercutio”, this gives it a personal touch which is very effective. This entire scene, if acted well would be visually an exciting scene to watch. Just before Mercutio dies, he says “A plague o’both your houses!” This is the curse of a dying man which was very crucial. Elizabethan audience’s believed in curses, they believed they had potency, particularly the curse of a dying man. This again relates to Romeos fate. Mercutios natured humour shines through here as he says “Ay, ay a scratch, a scratch” He later describes his wound by using similes. “Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door.”
But when Mercutio does unfortunately die, Romeos mood turns in complete contrast to when he just enters the Market place. He suddenly turns aggressive towards Tybalt. We know this by Romeos language. We could say here is a sense of foreboding. When Romeo finds out that Mercutio is dead, he says:
“This days black fate on mo days doth depend; This but begins the woe others must end”
This quote means Romeo now wants revenge on Tybalt. As Tybalt enters, the audience know that Romeo and Tybalt will fight to their deaths as they both want revenge therefore creating tension for the audience. When Romeo says “This shall determine that”, I feel he said that as he is now driven on by the passion for his friend Mercutio. They then fight. When Tybalt dies he immediately says”
“O, I am fortunes fool.”
This relates back to his fate that has played with him. Fallen into fates trap. Condemmened himself. Romeos prophetic language also shows us that sees himself as a victim of fate. Like a “puppet”
When the prince of Verona finds out of the death that he has overheard from Benvolio, and has listened to the pleas of Lady Capulet and Old Montague, who spoke for their emotionally distraught families, he promises strict justice will be served. But he does not order for Romeo to be executed but instead banished from Verona. Romeo feels that he would rather die because he cannot see Juliet and if dead he will not be able to feel the pain of losing his true love.
In conclusion, I find Act 3 scene 1 to be the most epic, tense and memorable scene for both the audience watching it on stage and just reading the script in a book. I feel this way because both the language and tension throughout the scene, especially when we have the two fights; then two deaths keeps us gripped. The audience would love the tension created by Shakespeare.