Use of Humor in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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Use of Humor in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most famous plays. One,

could give many reasons as to why this play became such a huge success, but

one of the most important reasons could be the use of humour in the play.

The main reason for doing this could be to relieve the tensions in the play,

and to entertain and keep the Elizabethan audience interested.

Humour plays a very significant part in the play as it allows

Shakespeare to create a lot of contrasts and moods, as and when he wants to.

In Romeo and Juliet humour occurs in three forms. The first being, humour

by the use of puns, irony and jokes. The second being through the actions

of characters and by their behaviour and the third by the incidents of the

play. Shakespeare uses characters like Mercutio and the Nurse to bring out

the comical element of the play, and each character does this in a

different way.

One of Shakespeare's tools used to evoke humour is the mockery that

is aimed at a particular character. Some of the funniest moments are when

one character is sarcastic to another. One of the best examples of this is

when Capulet asks Lady Capulet for a sword and she replies "A crutch, a

crutch! Why call you for a sword?" In this line the mockery of Capulet is

obvious and appealing to the audience as it is direct.

Shakespeare is known to be fond of puns and uses them quite

regularly but he doesn't use them as often as the Elizabethan audience

expected him to. Shakespeare starts of the play with a lot of humour, with

the conversation between Sampson and Gregory, both of them using a lot of

puns. This type of punning, for example on the words "coals," "collier," "

choler," "collar", goes on till the end of the play. The Elizabethan

audience used to like puns and hence although Shakespeare has used many

vulgar puns, it still has a positive effect on the popularity of the play.

Although in the Act I Scene 1 there is a fight between the families the

humour in the scene makes us forget the seriousness of the fight.
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