Act three scene one is a pivotal point in the play

Act three scene one is a pivotal point in the play. It includes tense and dramatic moments. Discuss how Shakespeare orchestrates the outcome of this scene.This essay will discuss why act 3 scene 1 is a pivotal point in the play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, and how he orchestrates this.The play starts with a prologue that puts the audience in an omniscient position; telling them right at the start that Romeo and Juliet – our “star crossed lovers” – will die tragically. The fact the audience knows makes them want to watch the play even more. It is the same effect that a book’s blurb may have on a perspective reader. This idea of a prologue was first used by Aristotle in Greek theatre. The Greeks also shared their beliefs of fate with the people in Shakespeare’s time. Seeing the effect it had on an audience, he borrowed it for many of his plays. There was also a play in Greek theatre which shared the story-line of “Romeo and Juliet”. This shows that this type of narrative can appeal to people throughout history, the present and will continue to do so in the future, because love, hate and destiny were and continue to be prevalent themes to society.Act 3 scene 1 acts as the pivotal point in the play because all of the events that were slowly building up throughout the first few scenes all choose to come to a climax at this time; making the audiences tension increase. Within a few hours, these events happen, getting more and more painful for the families as each event occurs. The characters are reminded that there is no escaping from destiny if the stars have written against you. Our “star crossed lovers”, although madly in love with each other, are destined not to be together for very long. Through a dramatic change in the plot involving the death of two key members of the feud, Romeo becomes almost a ‘second person’. The change he undergoes, although he may not want it to happen, kick starts a chain reaction of bad luck that will end up killing him and his beloved Juliet. Thus Shakespeare achieves the audience’s full attention as they see the characters in the play preparing for the main tragedy told of in the prologue.Romeo however is not the only one affected in this scene. Mercutio, his best friend, becomes the first actual death the audience sees. Up until act three scene one, Mercutio would have been seen as the down to earth member of the feud, speaking in vernacular language and therefore relating to the masses that would have originally seen the play. Although Mercutio is obviously not stupid, as we can see by the constant puns he uses throughout his time alive, he seems to ignore his sense and better judgement, to fight at every available moment. His passion for hostility ends up placing him in the centre of a battle between Romeo and Tybalt, where he receives a fatal knife wound. As he dies, he shouts out repeatedly “A plague on both your houses!” This is ironic since it was Mercutio who invited himself into the fight. Tybalt wanted to fight with Romeo, not him.In act three scene one, Mercutio plays possibly the biggest role. If he had not been there, none of the tragic events that followed afterwards could have possibly happened. He is the one who stays there when he is warned by Benvolio “…the Capels are abroad…”. He is the one who picked a fight with Tybalt. And he is the one who dies, causing Romeo to kill Tybalt in revenge; getting him banished.Apart from creating a ‘domino effect’ of tragic events with Mercutio’s death, Shakespeare may also have killed him off to get him out of the way. With him alive at the end, the audience’s grief for Romeo and Juliet would not have been so intense since Mercutio is maybe a more loved character than either one of them. This would lower the masses anticipation of the lovers’ death, spoken about in the prologue, because they would still have their favourite character alive even after this event had occurred.Tybalt also plays a key role in act three scene one. In his blind fury that Romeo had demeaned his family by showing up at their party, he rushes to find him. This action shows him to be a little stupid; if he had thought about it for a little longer, he would have realised that no Montague would willingly go to the Capulet’s household alone. Why then does he not rush after Mercutio and Benvolio too? Throughout ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Tybalt almost acts as the Capulet version of Mercutio. He too is not afraid, and even quite enjoys, a fight with his enemies. When Tybalt is refused a fight by Romeo, he does not understand his reasons. Why wouldn’t he fight? They hate each other. But Romeo boldly declares ‘I do protest I never injured thee, but love thee better than thou canst devise.’ This is probably one of the worst things he could possibly have said to Tybalt, who probably saw it as Romeo making fun of him. Thus fuelling his anger even more. This eventually cost him his life and Romeo’s freedom. However, Tybalt’s death achieves only a slight percentage than that of Mercutio’s death; his counterpart on the other side of the feud.Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin, plays maybe the smallest part out of the four men. Being the peace maker of the clan, he tries to stop the head strong Mercutio from starting a fight but is ignored. If maybe he was seen as more of a ‘fire starter’ himself, Mercutio might have paid attention, but against someone as eager to fight as that, he had no chance at all. Benvolio is also probably the most truthful of the men. He alone explains what happened to Tybalt when the Prince and the rest of the cast find his body.This particular scene really adds to the tension already mounting in the play. Shakespeare throws many key events into a space of maybe, what would have been, a few hours; each one almost instantaneous from the last. Not only does the first actual fight happen in the play, but the audience’s favourite character, Mercutio, is killed; probably the strongest element of the feud in the Capulet household, Tybalt, dies; and Romeo – killing Tybalt – is banished from Verona. It gives the audience a sign that the pace of the play is increasing; which makes the scene seem more important.The size and shape of the stage it would have originally been performed on also would have added to the intense atmosphere. In act three scene one, most of the main characters are on the stage at the same time; whether they are fighting, watching or trying to keep the peace. So the actors would have had to have moved in almost, a circular movement without interfering with anything else taking place. Some of the actors who were fencing would have had a particularly difficult time. So depending on how smooth the actors made it seem, the audience would have been more gripped because it would have been easier to follow. It also would have made it seem more important that Shakespeare had to use all of the characters he used in that seen, to make the scene work; letting the audience know it was a pivotal point in the play.Shakespeare uses the conversation between Lady Capulet and the Prince late on in the play, to relax the play down after all of the commotion. Shakespeare could not possibly maintain the high level of tension throughout the rest of the play that he achieves in this scene, so he needs something to calm the audience, getting them ready for their hearts to leap again near the end.The effect the dramatic events in “Romeo and Juliet” have on the audience and on the play as a whole, are quite substantial. The moments which make the audience clench their seats tightly are almost always followed by something to let them sigh with relief and let go; such as the conversation between the Prince and Lady Capulet. A play that can make an audience follow it with anticipation will seem more real, therefore making it better to watch. Shakespeare achieves this perfectly.After act three scene one, the audience expect the rest of the play to get faster and faster because all of a sudden in this scene, everything is constantly changing. Shakespeare sets everything up when he gets Romeo banished so that everything else ahead can easily slip into place. It also makes them wonder; if this scene in the middle of the play causes this much pain and sorrow, the ending scene must be worse; making them prepare themselves a little better for the great tragedy of Romeo and Juliet’s death.My opinion on act three scene one is that it acts as the perfect ‘middle’ for the play, giving it a twist and changing some characters personalities – whether it be slightly or dramatically. When it was first written it would have achieved the whole audiences attention completely and still does today, because it includes everything from a minor dispute between friends, to the death of enemies. However even though it is crammed into one small time slot doesn’t seem too busy. When I watched the film and when I read the play version of this scene, both mediums grabbed my attention quite quickly and I genuinely felt pity for poor Romeo. Only a great play could do that.

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