"Romeo and Juliet" was first performed around 1595 on a bare stage
without any sets, with only a trap door and discovery room. The fact
that there were no sets meant that Shakespeare had to create fear and
tension in what the characters would say, not through decorative sets.
The audience would stand in front of the uncovered stage.
The play is set in Verona in Italy, where two families of equal class
lived: the Capulets and the Montagues. These two families were strong
enemies - it was only when the youngest member of each family
tragically died (for each other) that the feud ended.
Juliet has just been betrayed by her family, after being forced into a
relationship she doesn't want with Count Paris; and her nurse has
advised her to go ahead and marry Paris - a marriage that Juliet's
father has arranged. We know that she is willing to try anything to
avoid her forthcoming wedding to the Prince, as mentioned in a
previous scene: Act four, scene one.
"O bid me leap rather than marry Paris,
from off the battlements of any towerâ€¦"
When Juliet says this, it makes the audience see that she really
doesn't want to marry Paris, and is suggesting she would rather end
her own life than go ahead and marry him. She continues,
"â€¦ and hide me with a dead man in his shround -
Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble -
And I will do them without fear or doubt."
All the things that Juliet has feared in the past, she is willing to
do - anything but marry Paris!
After talking to the Friar, he hands Juliet the potion that is the
... middle of paper ...
...'s impossible for her to be with Romeo as well as her
family. She is choosing Romeo over her family by drinking the vial, as
she does finally drink the potion after repeatedly chanting Romeo's
name. She had got herself into such a state, but she has regained
calmness by this point (the rhythm of the lines returns to the
original rhythm, showing that she is no longer hysterical). As the
climax of Juliet drinking the vial is reached, the audiences' feeling
of fear remains. Throughout the soliloquy, they feel closer to her
after she has exposed her struggles. At this point, the audience has a
better understanding of the character, Juliet. It's like they have
been through the scene with her. They have felt her fear, and because
they have felt it, Shakespeare has written this scene successfully in
creating fear and tension.
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