How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in Act 3 scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet

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Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest writer of his time. His plays span a variety of different topics, all for which he shows great passion. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was written by William Shakespeare around 1595. The play is about a boy and a girl, from families who share nothing but hate for each other. They fall in love, however it doesn’t go to plan and they kill themselves just so they are not to be parted from each other.

The majority of the play takes place in ‘fair Verona’ a small city in the north of Italy. At the beginning of the play, the setting is on the streets of Verona, but it ends devastatingly at the vault of the Montague’s and Capulet’s when they see their children’s bodies layed to rest. The play begins in the middle of July and less than five days later on the following Thursday, it is all over.

‘Romeo and Juliet’ is made up of five acts. The third act is extremely effective because it is the middle point of the play. Act three is the climax; the peak of excitement and anxiousness as it is half way through the play and from here on the play unfolds and the problems are resolved. This is one explanation for the dramatic tension caused in the play. Act 3 scene 1 is the main turning point of the play; where the idea of a love story rapidly turns into a tragedy.

A major example of social context in the play is in the religion represented. Romeo and Juliet lived in a Catholic society, but Shakespeare lived in a protestant one. However, despite these large differences, the things that encouraged the characters and their views are most probably going to be the ones shared by the majority of the audience.

Act 3 scene 1 occurs straight after Romeo and Juliet marry. This causes Romeo to feel differently about Tybalt, as he is now a relative of Romeo’s. The theme demonstrated here is that of love and hate. It is contrasting as Romeo sees Tybalt in a new light, and no longer feels the hatred he did before, but instead love. Whereas, Tybalt does not know he is now a relation of Romeo and that they are combined as the same family, so he in turn still feels hatred for him. Another theme displayed in Act 3 scene 1 is fate and destiny. Fate’s impact on Romeo and Juliet is made clear in the play.

The Chorus tells us that the lovers are “star-cross’d”. The stars are a metaphor for fate, and fate is a metaphor for the common reality of the feud. The circumstance itself is the real cause of the fate that affects everyone in the play, and so the stars and fate are actually metaphors for the feud. The first illustration of ill fate occurs when the lovers realise that, because of their families, they can’t expect to have a happy relationship regardless of the fact that they have fallen in love and feel true emotion for eachother. This is because of the feud. Occurrences of fate that follow include Romeo killing Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt. Had it not been for the feud, there never would have been any reason for this to happen.

Aswell as this, Friar John is delayed on his task to deliver the news of Juliet’s fake death to Romeo. However again, this ridiculous circumstance would never occur beyond something like a deadly feud between the lovers’ families.

Tybalt does not change at all during Act 3 Scene 1, because he is naturally a fiery person. Whereas, Romeo is a kind, affectionate person up until Act 3 Scene 1. He only behaves this way for half of the scene until Mercutio, his best friend is killed and he retaliates. Mercutio is joking and somewhat sarcastic before Act 3 Scene 1 and is the same up until his death which was because of Romeo when he suddenly turns on Romeo. Benvolio is an anxious but loyal friend which does not change throughout Act 3 Scene 1.

Act 3 scene 1 has a lot of contrast because of its variety of language and style. An example is where it changes from blank verse, to prose to blank verse aswell as poetic verse. It’s language and style changes to show the mood of the scene as well as how it has developed. In Act 2 Shakespeare uses blank verses to demonstrate a change in a characters state of mind, but in Act 3 scene 1 it is important that Shakespeare uses less verse because it’s an active scene.

Prose is used quite a lot in this scene; nearly half of the scene uses prose and this works well because in Act 3 scene 1 there are a lot of speeches in which the characters speak about their state of mind.

In act 3 scene1 dramatic irony is used when Romeo tries to tell Tybalt how much he loves him but Tybalt doesn’t understand, as he doesn’t know that Romeo and Tybalt’s cousin Juliet had just got married.

The techniques used by Shakespeare range from blank verse to dramatic irony and all the devices are used for the same reason, to help create dramatic tension for the audience. The play is successful for many reasons; it is romantic, comedic and creates suspense for the audience. It is for these reasons that the play is still just as effective today as it was when it was first performed.

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