Act 3 Scene 5 of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Act 3 Scene 5 of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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Act 3 Scene 5 of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Prior to Act 3 Scene 1 we witness the happiest moment in the play -
the marriage between Romeo and Juliet. This occurs in secret because
Juliet is a Capulet and Romeo is a Montague, there is an on-going fued
between their families. This play is a classic example of a
Shakespearean comedy - Juliet's father is very strict with her, she
and Romeo are mis-matched lovers (they cannot be together because of
the fued between their families), and Juliet fakes her death to be
with Romeo. These are the basic characteristics of a Shakespearean
comedy/romance. After the marriage, the genre of the play changes from
romantic comedy to tragedy. This happens when Mercutio and Tybalt die.
There is dramatic irony in that, in the beginning of the play, in the
chorus, we are told "A pair of star cross'd lovers take their lives",
so we know that Romeo and Juliet will commit suicide, but the
characters don't have a clue.

At the beginning of Act 3 Scene 1, Benvolio attempts to persuade
Mercutio to leave. He wants to avoid a public fight because the Duke
will order banishment or death upon the person whoo starts the next
fight between the Capulets and Montagues in public. Mercutio refuses
to leave and there is a confrontation Tybalt and Mercutio. Tybalt is
angry because Romeo gate-crashed the Capulet party. Romeo arrives on
the scene but refuses to fight. Instead, he tells Tybalt that he loves
him but does not say why. We know that he says this because they are
family now as he has married Juliet. Mercutio is disgusted by Romeo's
submission to Tybalt and decides to step in and defend his honour.
Tybalt ends up stabbing and killing Mercutio, but before he dies
Mercutio cries out "A plague o' both your houses", practically cursing
them, because if not for them, he would not have died. Romeo suddenly
erupts with rage and avenges Mercutio by killing Tybalt. Romeo is then
banished by the Duke for his public display of violence against a

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Capulet.

This scene is a turning point in the play because it creates the need
for Juliet to leave Verona to escape the arranged to Paris. This leads
to Juliet faking her own death towards the end of the play. The
banishment of Romeo from Verona creates distance between the lovers,
resulting in Romeo thinking that Juliet is actually dead because he
did not receive the letter informing him of the faking of her death.
Because Romeo thinks that she is dead, he decides too commit suicide
as he cannot bear to live without his beloved Juliet. The play
precipitates to tragedy.

Act 3 Scene 1 is important as it is the first time the characters are
put through hardship, so we can see whether or not they are consistent
with the rest of the play. Benvolio is seen to be a peacemaker and he
has stayed true to his character in this scene. Tybalt on the other
hand is a hot-headed show off who hates the Montagues with the fire of
a thousand Suns.He refused to help Benvolio stop the servants fightng
in Act 1 Scene 1. In this scene, he is determined to fight Romeo -
after getting annoyed with Mercutio, Tybalt ignores him and goes after
Romeo. Mercutio is a provocative joker, even at the hour of his death.
He is determined to maintain his honour. This is why he became so
angry when Romeo backed down from a fight with Tybalt. In Act 3 Scene
1 we see a shift in Romeo's character, from being a lover - very
passive, almost effeminate - to a lethal avenger, when he kills
Tybalt. He becomes so overcome with anger that he does not think of
the consequences and he ruins his chances of living 'happily ever
after' with Juliet.

In the film version of Romeo & Juliet, Baz Luhrmann's (the director)
dramatisation of this scene is exceptional. A close-up at the
beginning of the scene makes clear the worry on Benvolio's face. As
the Capulets arrive on the scene the camera focuses on their shiny
silver guns, making it obvious that they are armed and dangerous.
Mercutio is portrayed as a preening provocateur by Harold Perrineau as
he mocks Tybalt. Th next part of the scene is staged as a western
'high-noon' shootout. It is a very clever and interesting portrayal of
the confrontation between Tybalt and Romeo. In the film, Luhrmann
added a brutally vicious attack on the passive Romeo by Tybalt that
was not actually in the play. This was a very good idea as it adds
more drama to the scene, envoking the audience. There is a drastic
change in the weather just as Mercutio dies and says, "a plague o'
both your houses! They have made worms' meat of me…". The sky becomes
dark and overcast with clouds, it begins to rain and there is thunder
and lightning. The play the takes a turn for the worse as Romeo
avenges Mercutio's death by murdering Tybalt and it's all a downward
spiral from there. This mirroring of the events by the weather
conditions is known as pathetic fallacy.

This is certainly an unfortunate series of events, but who is to
blame? The obvious choice would be Tybalt as he is violent and
temperamental by nature. He committed the first murder in the play -
Mercutio's murder. Perhaps Mercutio is to blame for provoking Tybalt
and stepping in when there was clearly no need. Although, one could
also argue that Romeo should take the blame for backing down from
Tybalt's challenge, then Mercutio would not have felt the need to
fight for him. He also made things even worse by murdering Tybalt. If
he had just left him alone, the Duke would have banished him or even
had him put to death. Maybe he should have just told everyone about
his relationship with Juliet and avoided this whole mess. Perhaps it
was fate and it was all out of their control. The events just
spiralled into tragedy and there was nothing they could do about it.

Act 3 Scene 1 shows all the key themes of the play - love, hate,
rivalry and fate. The love theme comes through as Romeo backs down
from Tybalt's challenge because his love for Juliet has made him less
of a man. The hate comes through as Romeo murders Tybalt because he
hates him for killing Mercutio, as well as when Tybalt says, "Peace, I
hate the word. As I hate hell, all Montagues." That quote also shows
the rivalry between the Montagues and the Capulets. This petty fued,
however, has drastic consequences as shown in this scene. The whole
fued is just childish antagonism up to this point, but the realisation
of their actions converts it into genuine adult grief. The play is
typical of its time in that religion is very important - the priest
plays a key role in the play by arranging the marriage of Romeo and
Juliet. The men are bound by honour. When Romeo backs down from the
fight he is seen as effeminate because he is not being honourable and
accepting the challenge. Juliet is being forced to marry Paris -
arranged marriages were very common back then. This scene is of great
importance to the play as, were it not for this scene, the deaths of
Mercutio and Tybalt would not have occurred, Romeo would not have been
banished, there would not have been the double suicide of Romeo and
Juliet, and everyone would have happily ever after - and let's face
it, no one wants that!
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