How does Shakespeare make this a tense and exciting scene for the audience? In your answer, you should refer to the use of language and, the effect of the audience using P-E-E. In Act 3 Scene 1 of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, William Shakespeare creates a tense and exciting scene for his audience using language tools and techniques to demonstrate a fight scene in the streets of fair Verona, Italy where the fortune of our ‘star crossed lovers’ changes severely for the worse when Tybalt and Mercutio lose their lives, knowing that the Prince had forbidden all fights.
The writer’s successful use of a variety of devices such as similes and metaphors results in a dramatic scene where suspense is felt by the readers. In addition to this, Shakespeare intentionally constructs an uphill march of fear for our beloved characters. The anxiety created pushes the reader to follow the intense story with a feeling of advancing stress.
As Shakespeare’s march sets off, the writer sets the scene in the crowded marketplace of Verona on a hot day making it easier for an impatient young man to become hot headed and lose his temper: ‘I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire: The day is hot, the Capels are abroad, and if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl; for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.
As we can see, Benvolio is wary of the Capulets but simultaneously he is cautious and alert in case of an unexpected fight which seems unavoidable to both his eyes and the readers’, who is now prepared to witness a violent fight scene and possibly experience the death of one of the characters. Moreover this phrase gives reason to the reader to also blame mother nature for the outcome of future events ‘for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.
Marching on ahead, quarrelsome Mercutio is anticipating an oncoming fight and thus avoids the subject of leaving with Benvolio and instead uses sarcasm and irony to tease and pick on him. This definitely adds to the nervousness of the readers who know that a fight at this stage is inevitable. At this point in the story Mercutio states that Benvolio’s ‘head is as full as quarrels as an egg is full of meat’. By using a simile and comparing Benvolio’s attitude and lust for fighting to an object a better image is formed in the mind’s eye of the reader who now worries for both our daring and feisty characters.
Furthermore it gives our march a big push that sends it running up the hill into fear. Now Tybalt and his comrades have entered the scene causing a stir for the readers who sense an approaching fight. Quoting from the text: ‘I will not budge for no man’s pleasure, I’. Shakespeare’s repeated use of the word ‘I’ draws attention to Mercutio’s self-centred nature and narrow view of the world. These goes hand in hand with the conflict he is now provoking by irritating Tybalt.
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