The play Romeo and Juliet, one of Shakespeare’s most infamous tragedies, is a very exciting play.
Right from the beginning, in the prologue, we are told that there will be “new mutiny” (violence), “civil blood”, and that “a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life”. This creates tension in the play, because it tells us straight away that Romeo and Juliet, the two main characters, will both die. The phrase “star-crossed” shows that it is destined to happen, as the audience in Elizabethan times would strongly believe that fate is guided by the stars. This creates excitement amongst the audience because although they know that the couple will die, the characters in the play don’t. This is an example of dramatic irony.A lot of the vocabulary used in the prologue is imagery associated with death and violence. Examples of this include “grudge”, “mutiny”, “blood”, “unclean”, “fatal”, “foes”, “strife”, “death-marked”, and “rage”. All of these words are used to create excitement as it builds up anticipation of a bloody play within the audience.
The phrase “civil blood makes civil hands unclean” is an oxymoron. “Civil” is an ambiguous word, meaning either ordinary citizens of a place, or kind and obliging to help. In the case of the prologue, it means the former, as it is referring to the citizens of Verona.
However, it is the second meaning that creates the oxymoron, as although the people are meant to be kind to each other (as is implied by “civil”), they are going to kill each other, and thus make each others “hands unclean”.The play is based around a long-standing feud between the families of Montague and Capulet, and violence between them is beginning to flare up again (we are told this in the prologue, as it says “from ancient grudge break to new mutiny”). However, the Prince of Verona has declared that if there is more violence, the Heads of the Houses will forfeit their lives. This threat creates constant drama throughout the entire rest of the play, as this underlying declaration means that if there is a scenario that may lead to fighting between the families, and then they are caught, there will be executions. This links to Act 2 Scene 2 because if they are caught, then this may well lead to violence between the families.The characteristics of Romeo certainly add a lot of excitement to the scene. Firstly and foremost, he is a Montague, whereas Juliet is a Capulet. Therefore, their love is forbidden, so drama is created amongst the audience because if they are caught, the consequences will be severe.
We have learnt earlier in the play that Romeo is a big risk-taker when there is love involved, and is completely governed by his heart. Romeo goes to the Capulet ball, risking his life, just to see the woman that he is infatuated with, Rosaline, even though there is no evidence that she reciprocates his love for her. He is very much infatuated with her; in fact he talks about little else in Act 1 Scene 1 (although he never mentions her name).
The audience’s knowledge of his character develops even further when he sees Juliet, and he instantly forgets about Rosaline. This shows that his feelings are very strong and uncontrollable, and that he is very fickle. Therefore, in Act 2 Scene 2, the audience knows that he will take risks to see Juliet, and it is these risks that create most of the tension in the scene, with the audience’s knowledge of the feud between the families and the Prince’s threat of capital punishment.
Juliet’s character also adds to the excitement of the scene. She is only 13 years old, and is slightly naï¿½ve. She has an arranged marriage to Paris, so therefore if she is caught with Romeo she will be punished regardless of his family.Also, in Act 1 Scene 5, Tybalt says about Romeo, as he leaves, “I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall, now seeming sweet convert to bitter gall”. This is a promise that he will make Romeo pay for intruding at the ball.
Act 2 Scene 2 itself begins with Romeo alone in Capulet’s orchard. However, Juliet soon appears at a window above. This is exciting because immediately, the audience starts to wonder what could happen in the scene. It turns out to be the pivotal scene in the play, as the two main characters declare their love for each other and then Juliet suggests marriage.As Juliet appears, Romeo remains concealed from her.
He uses lots of imagery associated with light to describe Juliet: “What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” This is also enhanced by Juliet being on the balcony above Romeo, and Romeo advancing forward, as he would into light. The theme of light imagery is continued right throughout the scene.He extends this image by saying: “Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon.” The moon is referring to the Roman goddess Diana.
She was also the goddess of chastity (that is, not engaging in any sexual activity). Elizabethan audiences would understand these references as they were educated about ancient religions, however modern audiences would not appreciate this reference. This line suggests that she should cast off her virginity, and he has extended the image of light to overpowering the image of virginity. He also says of Juliet: “Her vestal livery is but sick and green and none but fools do wear it; cast it off”. “Vestal livery” refers to the clothes worn by the Vestal Virgins, who were holy priestesses in Ancient Rome who were not allowed to have sex, and thus this line suggests that Juliet should forget her chastity and have a sexual relationship with him. It also suggests that he wants Juliet as a proper woman to love and to be loved by, rather than a distant adoration for where he knows that nothing will happen between them, as was the case with Rosaline.
Romeo’s monologue at the beginning is written in iambic pentameter, which gives it a constant rhythm. However, at the end of it, Juliet speaks and finishes the rhythm of the iambic pentameter with the last two syllables. This may be interpreted as there being a connection between the two; even though she is not aware of his presence. This continues throughout the scene, showing the constant connection between the two.When Juliet starts to speak, the audience will be hanging on her words because they are anticipating what Juliet’s feelings towards Romeo are, whether she will reveal them, and also whether Romeo will reveal his presence. In fact, Romeo says, after Juliet has spoken a few lines, “Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?” This part in the scene is very tense, because the audience know that this scene is pivotal in the play, and the audience know that what happens now will affect the whole play.All that Juliet speaks of is Romeo, and her annoyance that Romeo is a Montague (“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?).
The exclamation mark may suggest that Juliet is distressed if she is using it without anybody’s presence.When Romeo eventually reveals himself, this moment is very exciting for the audience, as they are awaiting Juliet’s response. Originally, she says “What man art thou that thus bescreen’d in night so stumblest on my counsel?” This shows that she does not realise that it is Romeo.Romeo then calls Juliet a “dear saint”. This may be interpreted as a reminder that Juliet is going to die, as status as a saint is only awarded posthumously. Also, this is ironic because he means it as a compliment; when viewed in this sense, it is reminding of her death.
He calls her a “fair saint” a few lines later, thus creating the same reminder again.Romeo tells Juliet that he will not be Romeo and a Montague “if either thee dislike”. Juliet tells Romeo that “the orchard walls are high and hard to climb, and the place death considering who thou art, if any of my kinsmen find thee here.
” These words create excitement because they remind the audience of the consequences of being caught will be, and also the word “death” is harsh and dramatic.In the scene, Juliet seems a lot more wary than Romeo of the dangers involved. Again, love is the reason for Romeo’s risk-taking.
He says “for stony limits cannot hold love out”, and also says that his life isn’t worth living without Juliet’s love: “my life were better ended by their hate than death prorogued, wanting of thy love”.Juliet questions a lot of Romeo’s words and actions, such as asking “by whose direction found’st thou out this place?” to which Romeo replies “by love”, which may be interpreted as saying that this meeting was fated to happen.Juliet asks Romeo to declare his love for her. Another reference to the moon is made, as Romeo says “by yonder blessed moon I swear”. However this reference is not used to refer to chastity, but as a sacred object Romeo uses to swear by. Juliet then tells Romeo to “swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon”, making the point that the moon is not always in the sky as it changes monthly, and Juliet doesn’t want Romeo’s love to be likewise. Swearing an oath would to an Elizabethan audience be taken as a serious gesture used to make a promise, whereas a modern audience would not take oaths as seriously. Eventually Juliet tells Romeo to not swear at all, because swearing by the wrong thing may prove a symbol of bad luck for their romance.
After Juliet bids Romeo goodnight, Romeo says to Juliet “O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?” This line creates excitement as both the audience and Juliet think that Romeo means in terms of sex, but when Juliet asks “what satisfaction canst thou have to-night?”, Romeo replies “the exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.” This is a moment of relief for Juliet as it may have crossed her mind that all Romeo wanted from her was sex.The most exciting moment in the scene is when the Nurse calls from within. This is exciting because there is a possibility that the pair will be caught, and if they do the consequences will be, as said before, very severe. However, to add to this drama, Juliet spends a lot of time with Romeo before retiring inside to the Nurse’s call.Finally, there is a moment in the scene at the end which an Elizabethan audience would find a bit shocking and unusual. Juliet suggests marriage to Romeo.
However, in normal custom, a man would always propose marriage to a woman. This shows how Juliet has changed from being a weak, naï¿½ve girl to a more mature one who can make her own decisions.Act 2 Scene 2 is very important to the rest of the play, as it determines so many things that happen in it. One thing that especially influences it is the proposal of marriage. If Romeo and Juliet hadn’t met again in this scene, they would have probably never married, and Juliet may well have gone on to marry Paris. However, because they did meet, all the events of the play occurred.
For example, the whole scheme that was planned by Friar Laurence of Juliet taking the sleeping potion, which eventually leads to Romeo’s suicide, was planned because of the marriage. Therefore, Romeo would have almost certainly been alive at the end of that play had the meeting in Act 2 Scene 2 not occurred.This adds to the theme of fate. It wasn’t very likely that the two would meet by chance. Romeo attributes their meeting to being destined by love, as when asked how he found her he replies “by love”. This implies that he doesn’t know, but he thinks that their love is destined to be.Romeo’s character is also changed a lot by the scene, and Juliet’s love.
When Romeo arranges the marriage with the Friar, he is absolutely sure that that is what he wants, and has complete disregard for any consequences, as he believes that his love will overcome any difficulties. It also shows he has become more decisive.He says in Act 3 Scene 1, “O sweet Juliet, thy beauty hath made me effeminate and in my temper soften’d valour’s steel!” This shows that Romeo has lost some of his masculinity through Juliet’s love.A lot of Romeo’s remaining rationality leaves him after the marriage. For example, when he is told that Juliet is dead, he doesn’t even question whether it is true or not, and makes the decision to kill himself almost immediately. This also shows that he has become more decisive; however this is not necessarily a good thing.
The climax of the play is right at the end. Romeo takes the poison just as Juliet is awaking from her “death”. The deaths of Romeo and Juliet are directly caused by Act 2 Scene 2, as the marriage is arranged in this scene.The play of Romeo and Juliet would still be valued by an audience today, however not as much as an Elizabethan audience.
Most of the themes in the play, such as love, luck and fate are just as relevant to a modern audience as they would be to an Elizabethan one. However, the theme of religion and religious imagery and customs would not be as relevant to a modern society. This is because in Shakespeare’s time, everybody believed in the religion (which was Christianity) very strongly, the supernatural, and fate. However, nowadays, Britain is a nation where many people either don’t believe in religion strongly or believe in a different religion, so the reaction to references about religion wouldn’t be received as strongly.