Romeo and Juliet Study of Male Characters Essay
How does the language of these three key scenes help to put across the violence and aggression between the men and how does this make Romeo and Juliet an exciting and dramatic play? ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is one of the most famous of Shakespeare’s plays, as his use of language and the themes put across s appealed very strongly to past and modern audiences. Shakespeare makes use of dramatic irony, innuendo, metaphors and oxymoron’s to interlock a passionate- if not desperate- romance with violence, aggression and tragedy- making Romeo and Juliet an exciting and dramatic play for the audience.
Throughout the key scenes, we see Shakespeare using language with great intelligence, creating a play dripping with tension and masculinity. During the play, we see displays of inner pride, as well as outer pride amongst the male characters, and it’s this pride that causes the majority of apprehension and tension. In Act 1 Scene 1, the audience is plunged immediately into a scene of masculinity. At first this is displayed through typical ‘lads’ humour, boasting about fighting and innuendo; making jokes about taking the maids virginity- ” Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads, take it in what sense thou wilt.
Shakespeare then builds up tension through insults such as ‘biting thumbs’ and uses a witty and fast paced argument between the two houses. This is when we are then introduced to two major characters- Tybalt and Benvolio. Straight away, Shakespeare uses language to show us the massive contrast between these characters, their honour, the feud and their views on violence. Benvolio states- “I do but keep the peace. ” To which Tybalt replies: “Peace? I hate the word. ” I think that this quote sums up the relationship between the two houses.
They know what would be for the best, but just to spite each other, they will always insist on doing the opposite to what the other house wants. Also, in this scene, we are introduced to one of the only neutral characters- The Prince. The prince is displayed as the ‘peacemaker’ in this scene, however he still threatens the houses with violence ‘If you ever disturb our streets again, you’ll lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace’ and ‘With purple fountains issuing from your veins’. This shows us that, once again, themes of love and peace are over run by violence and aggression.
By effectively using language to create this contrast even with a neutral character, Shakespeare tells us that there is a growing tension between all characters, not just the houses- making us forecast an explosive ending. In Act 3 Scene 1, we are warned that something dire is going to happen. Shakespeare creates an uneasy atmosphere by reducing the masculinity from the opening of the scene by making Benvolio seem nervous. He knows that the Capulets are out “And, if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl; for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.
Tybalt comes to pick a fight with Romeo but comes across Mercutio and Benvolio instead. After some heated comments between Tybalt and Mercutio; Romeo turns up and, of course does not wish to fight Tybalt because (although Tybalt doesn’t know it) is now related to him because he had just married Juliet. This creates dramatic irony, because the audience now knows something that a vast majority of characters don’t. Shakespeare’s use of this dramatic irony builds tension, adding to the excitement of the play.
The minute that Romeo comes into the scene, we can see an immediate contrast between him and the scene- “But love thee better than thou canst devise”. Tybalt senses Romeo’s mood, and so uses provocation to try and make him fight by saying “Thou art a villain. ” To which Romeo calmly replies “Villain I am none. Therefore farewell; I see thou know’st me not. ” Romeo also makes an attempt to stop the fighting “the prince expressly hath forbidden bandying in Verona streets. ” So Tybalt starts a fight with Mercutio instead who is fatally wounded under Romeo’s arm as he tries to stop the fight.
Even through his injury, we see Mercutio refusing to lower his pride “Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch;” this once more shows the honour that the houses posses and that the characters have so much pride that even in death they will not admit defeat. In his dying moments, Mercutio cures both of the houses “A plague o’ both your houses! “- signifying that things will get a great deal worse from this point onwards, sending the play into a new level of tragedy. This new level of tragedy also sets in motion a change in Romeos character.
Romeo no longer remains a peacemaker as portrayed in previous scenes, but now he becomes possessed with hatred and revenge. This revenge shows us that Romeo holds a great deal of honour upon his house, and he will do anything- even kill a man- to uphold the family’s name. Tybalt leaves and Romeo swears revenge and so chases after Tybalt and kills him. After this news Prince Escalus banishes Romeo from Verona. Throughout this scene, we can see that Shakespeare changes how the characters address each other.
Before Mercutio’s death, all characters speak in prose but after his death, characters speak in blank verse. This could be to signify a change in Romeo, and his outlook, as up to this point, Romeo has been an optimist but we see his change greatly into a darker character after the death of his best friend. In Act 5 Scene 3 Shakespeare creates a dramatic and unexpected ending for the audience. As an audience, we hope that the family feud will be resolved and that the two lovers will be together.
Shakespeare achieves this within the ending, so as to satisfy the audience, but he doesn’t go about it in a way that we expect, adding to the drama, and building an explosive climax. In previous scenes, Friar Lawrence devised a way that Juliet and Romeo would be able to be together- this involved Juliet pretending to be dead. However, the letter that was sent to Romeo, explaining this, never reached him. This creates dramatic irony, and therefore adds to the intensity of this final scene. Romeo arrives at the tomb and has a conversation with Balthazar.
This is the last time in the play where Shakespeare really pushes forward the idea of masculinity and pride amongst the characters. Romeo states; “My intents are savage-wild, more fierce and more inexorable far than empty tigers or the roaring sea. ” This tells us how Romeo is feeling. Although it is said as a lie to Balthazar to cover up his true intent, if could reflect on Romeos true feelings. His use of imagery and metaphor are used creatively as a tiger is not only related to violence, but being such a powerful beast, it could also be related to passion and drive.
This means that to an extent, Romeo could possibly be using this metaphor to declare his love for Juliet before he dies. After this, we see a steep decline in masculinity, even in Paris and Romeo’s duel. This creates a less tense atmosphere for the audience; almost relaxing them. I think Shakespeare did this so that the death of the two lovers comes as an even greater shock to the audience, because they are unprepared, as the story is known as a love story, not a tragedy.
As Romeo kills himself, the audience is thrown into shock, as they we’re most probably expecting Juliet to wake up. As Juliet attempts to kill herself upon realizing her lover is dead, we see Shakespeare use violence in a captivating and beautiful way. The essence of the violence in this part of the play captures the full extent of the passion within the love between Romeo and Juliet and the lengths that the couple is prepared to go to in order to be together.
The way that Shakespeare alters they way in which the violence is put across add even more dynamic and drama to the play. This violent passion allows the audience to connect with the characters on a new emotive level. Juliet commits a violent act upon herself, but she does if with great compassion and an overwhelming desire to be with Romeo. After this inevitable moment in the play, all violence and aggression in the play is taken away, and replaced with a new found respect.
Throughout the whole play, violence and aggression had been the fuel for the characters, until the deaths, where sorrow becomes to overriding theme. “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo. ” In conclusion, Shakespeare’s use of language helps put across violence and aggression between the men by varying the form in which the violence and aggression comes across, and the amounts in which they are put forward. The language he uses allows violence and aggression to carry the play forward, and promote a great deal of emotion.
I think that the way in which Shakespeare has crafted the play is extremely effective; his use of dramatic irony within the play seems to be what grips the audience most. Shakespeare obviously thought very carefully about how much to let the audience in on and every ounce of detail that the audience knows or doesn’t know adds to the tension of the play and leaves them wanting more. Also, the way in which Shakespeare varies how violence is put across add a lot more depth to the play, drawing the audience in and allowing them to create an emotional bond with the characters.