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Act 1 Scene 5 is very important to the plot of Shakespeare's play,
Romeo and Juliet. It is in this scene that the son of the Montague
family, Romeo and the daughter of the Capulet family, Juliet, meet and
fall in love and the tragedy of the play takes form.
For years the families of Capulet and Montague had been fighting, they
all lived in Verona. The Prince of the town was tired of all the
street fighting between the two that he enforced a new law. This law
would stop the fighting; if anyone were to be caught they would have
to face the ultimate punishment, death. The start of the play sees
Romeo very depressed, he is in this state because he thinks that he is
in love with Rosaline, however this love is unreturned. This is
because she has devoted her life to God, Romeo compares her to the
Goddess of Chastity but she is even more committed as the Goddess was
once seduced, but Rosaline will not be. Later on Romeo, Mercutio and
Benvolio (friends of Romeo) hear about a party held by Capulet, this
party is a masked ball and so they dress up. This party is for Juliet
who is to wed Paris, a relative of the Prince. It is in this part of
the play that we see the pair of "star-cross'd lovers" meet. When they
catch sight of each other they both feel something, which they never
felt before, it was love at first sight. Romeo is determined to meet
with Juliet once she stops dancing, they both want to know who each
other are. This is because they are in love with each other, a new
feeling to both of them; this makes them very curious to know each
other's identity. The audience's response to this deadly but exciting
love would be that they are excited themselves, the audience will know
who are underneath the masks but the characters themselves don't. This
makes it interesting for us the audience, as we know the families hate
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how this situation will pan out.
The theme of the play, tragic and forbidden love, takes form in Act 1
Scene 5 it starts when the Romeo and Juliet meet, they don't know who
each other are and fall in love. However we know that they belong to
the two families, which have been feuding for many years this starts
of the theme of the play. This love that they share is true love,
before he says that he is in love with Rosaline but when he sees
Juliet he soon forgets about her. Maybe a reason for this is because
he knows that he hasn't got a chance with her and sees a future with
Juliet and so he directs his emotions to Juliet. Fate plays a rather
important part in the play, if the party wasn't a masked ball Romeo
wouldn't dare to go, as the Capulets would spot him easily. It is due
to this party that Romeo sees Juliet, if he didn't go he might not
ever see Juliet as young girls at the time were kept in the house at
all times. This love however causes many deaths, later on Tybalt,
Juliet's cousin, and wants revenge when he finds out that a Montague
was at a Capulet's party. He goes to find him and challenges him to a
sword fight, he does not accept the challenge as he has married Juliet
making him related to Tybalt, Mercutio steps up for Romeo. Tybalt then
kills him and Romeo kills Tybalt for killing his friend, towards the
end Romeo also kills Paris. All these deaths are the consequences to
The beginning of this scene sees a party hosted by Capulet, we the
audience are quite surprised at how he is; we know that he and
Montague have had a feud for many years. Knowing this we would think
that he would be very aggressive and maybe a little up tight but we
see that he is very playful and does a good job of being the host, he
makes a joke making everyone feel comfortable and welcome. He says:
"Welcome, gentlemen! Ladies that have their toes
Unplagu'd with corns will walk a bout with you.
Ah ha! My mistresses, which of you all
Will now deny to dance? She that makes dainty, she,
I'll swear, hath corns; am I come near ye now?"
Here he asks the women to come and dance and those who won't are the
women who have corns on their feet, here he is making a joke to
entertain the guests. He also tells them about how back in his day he
used to be a flirt but those days are over he says:
"Welcome, gentlemen! I have seen the day
That I have worn a visor, and could tell
A whispering tale in a fair lady's ear
Such as would please; 'tis gone, 'tis gone, 'tis gone"
This will surprise the audience because he is nothing like they
would've expected knowing of his past, this might even amuse them.
Later, Tybalt finds out that Romeo is present, Tybalt wants to attack
Romeo but Capulet orders him not too, he is the peacemaker. Tybalt is
content on attacking Romeo but Capulet gets more aggressive telling
him not to, trying to sway the guests' attention he asks for more
light in the middle of the heated discussion between he and Tybalt.
Romeo seems disgruntled, as he is "lovesick", but then he sees Juliet
and he is happier, he uses rhyming couplets to express his feelings he
says that she is radiant and she makes others look ugly.
"O! She doth teach the torches to burn bright.
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,
As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows
The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night."
We can see from this that Romeo is very talented and is able to create
this poem. In this poem he also uses similes:
"It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear;"
Here he implies that she is a jewel in an Ethiop's (a black man) ear,
so there is contrast between the black ear and the shining jewel, this
tells us that he has been well educated. Previous to this we learn
that Romeo knows of Greek mythology, he compares Rosaline to the
Goddess of Chastity. Later on he and Juliet share a sonnet together,
they play off each other's words, he then kisses and she kisses him
In this scene Juliet is with Romeo playing off his words in the
sonnet, she seems quite flirty. When Romeo kisses her she says that
she has received his sin, so he kisses her again so that he can take
his sin back
Rom. "Then move not, while my prayers' effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purg'd." [Kissing her.
Jul. "Then have my lips the sin that they have took."
Rom. " Sin from my lips? O trespass sweetly urg'd!
Give me my sin again."
She goes on to say that he kisses by the book meaning that he is a
very good kisser, this is a very generous compliment and this may have
made Romeo happier. She might have said this intentionally so that
Romeo would like her even more. When they separate Juliet calls her
nurse asking who the Romeo is, she still doesn't know whom he is as
they are still at the masked ball. When she finds out who he is she
"My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!"
Here she says that her only love comes from her only enemy and that it
is too late as she has fallen in love with him.
In this scene Tybalt is seen as a very aggressive character he asks
for his sword straight away when he knows that Romeo is there. He says
that he will protect the family name by killing him, as Romeo is only
there to mock them. Many times Capulet tries to calm him down and
tells him to leave Romeo alone due to the new law enforced by the
Prince but Tybalt is determined to attack Romeo. Then Capulet gets
angrier when Tybalt doesn't listen to him, this creates a lot of
tension between the two, Tybalt then says
"I will withdraw; but this intrusion shall
Now seeming sweet convert to bitter gall."
By saying this he's saying that he will leave him for now but will get
his revenge later on. These two lines are very important to the play
as these two lines leads to the deaths that occur later on.
Between lines 43-52 Romeo describes how he sees Juliet he says "O! she
doth teach the torches to burn bright" here he implies that she is
very radiant. Romeo also talks about how she stands out he uses two
similes to show this they are:
"It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear;"
"So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows"
Here he is saying that she is a jewel in a black man's ear and that
she is a dove (which is white) among crows (which are black), both
these similes are used to make Juliet stand out. He goes on to say
"The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand."
He thinks that by touching her he will be improved, he has used some
Christian imagery here when he says blessed, Shakespeare might have
used this to show that Romeo was serious about his love for Juliet.
Lines 92-109 also have a lot of Christian imagery used with words like
palmers, prayer, good pilgrim and saints. All of these words are used
as a way to show that their love could be permanent, also as they are
flirting with each other it could be that these words are used to make
the situation a bit more fun and playful. These lines also contain a
sonnet, which shows some of Shakespeare's best work, there is a very
tight rhyme scheme where there are groups of rhyming couplets then the
last two lines have a single rhyming couplet. This has been done by
Shakespeare to make the characters even closer, this sonnet also has a
rhythm to it called iambic pentameter.
The masks, which disguise the characters at the ball, provide dramatic
power for the audience, as the two lovers don't know who each are, but
we as the audience do. We are curious to see how they will find out
about each other and what they do when they do find out. The imagery
and playful language used by the characters also provide dramatic
power for the audience, as the audience will find it exciting how the
characters use certain words to give a bigger effect. The way that
Romeo and Juliet use Christian imagery will excite the audience as
well as the flirting that goes along between them in the sonnet.
Tension is created because the two lovers are from feuding families
this makes the whole situation more exciting, the situation was
already exciting when they didn't know who each other were at party
and they had fallen in love. This now brings another level of
excitement to the situation also providing dramatic power for the
In conclusion this scene has proven to be one of the most important
parts of the play as it is almost like the base of the play, where
everything starts off. It is in this scene where Romeo and Juliet
meet, where they fall in love and it is where the lead up to all the
deaths occur. The play as a whole, I found quite exciting, as I hadn't
known much about this play previously.