Comment on Shakespeare’s use of violence in “Romeo and Juliet”

During this essay, I will explore how Shakespeare uses violence in Romeo and Juliet. I think he does this to involve the audience. During the play, the audience feel very involved the play because of the prologue, which warned the audience of the tragic end. There is a lot of death like language used all through the play. The sense of violence and blood shed is introduced to the audience in the very first scene 1 act 1. I think Shakespeare also uses violence or the threat of it to show us more about the characters when they are in sticky situations, like when Tybalt sees Romeo at the Capulet feast and is angry because of his uncle’s decision to let Romeo be. Shakespeare uses violence as a connection to the next key scene.Shakespeare starts the play with bloodshed between the two families servants to show how deep the ancient grudge goes. In those days, rich families like the Capulet and Montagues also had their own private little armies. The first scene is where the servants have a street brawl and both the Montagues and Capulets are given their first warning, given by the Prince Escales “If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace”. I think Shakespeare started the play with this scene to excite and make the audience feel the suspense after the prologue.The start to the quarrel of this scene was quite funny because of the sexual language used by the servant of the Capulet’s, Sampson and Gregory “the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads take it in what sense thou wilt”. Meaning taking their virginity away “maidenheads”. I thought it was very confusing the way in which they were laughing one minute and fighting the next. This shows how quick the whole thing happened. The speed in which the first scene occurred is the same sort of speed in which the whole play takes place.Even before all the characters are introduced you can tell which characters are the ones that mould the play for the main characters. Tybalt, Benvolio, Mercutio and the Nurse are the sort of characters that bring suspense into the play and the main characters only come in for the climax. An example of this build up of suspense is during the first scene when Benvolio tries to keep the peace but Tybalt has his heart set of having a fight “What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word…” Tybalt only say’s this right after Benvolio talk’s of peace ” I do but keep the peace” This is also an example of how Tybalt does not like to be told what not to do.Prince Escales play’s a very important part in the play as his judgment helps to set up the plot. After he stops the street brawl, he passes a judgment that if the Capulets and Montagues disturb the peace of the streets of Verona death will be the punishment “If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace”. This creates a sort of excitement in the audience, because of boys being boys and Romeo being a Montague boy fighting is inevitableThis play was set in the streets of Verona in Italy. During the 16th century (around the time the play was written) it was common for writers to set their novels and plays on the continent main land. Italy was regarded as a wealthy, romantic country where love was a real drama it was fitting that Shakespeare choose it as his setting for love between Romeo and Juliet is dramatic and ends tragically.When Romeo and Juliet were about to meet in act 1 scene 5, there is a threat of violence. When Tybalt sees Romeo and his friends gate-crashing in the Capulet feast. As he decides to take care of Romeo, his uncle told him not to ruin the feast and to let Romeo be ” content thee, gentle coz, let him alone”, which angers Tybalt and makes him challenge Romeo to a duel later. This made me question whether Romeo and Juliet are going to meet even though the whole play is about them.There is also a threat of violence in the most romantic scene (2:2) the balcony scene. Romeo climbs over the Capulet orchard walls to catch a glimpse of Juliet. If he gets caught he would he would be put to death straight away Juliet says “And the place death, considering who thou art, If any of my kinsmen find thee here” I as one of the audience certainly thought that he would be out of their straight away but love is stronger “And what love can do, that dares love attempt: Therefore thy kinsmen are no stop to me”. This very quick progress of them meeting and about to get married actually made me forget that they are destined to die.In the next scene (2:3) Romeo goes to see the Friar right after seeing Juliet to arrange a marriage ceremony. Friar Lawrence actually agreeing to them is like a fairy tale ending. With the son of Montague getting married to the daughter of Capulet would bring great peace between them “To turn your household’s rancour to pure love” well that’s what the Friar and I certainly thought, but endings like that never happen in real life just like the way they won’t happen in this play.In act2 scene4, Benvolio brings Mercutio the news of Tybalts challenge of the duel. In those days if a rival (Romeo) was challenged to a duel he would have to take up the challenge in order to protect his honour. Mercutio’s reaction to the news was as if he was the one challenged to the duel. Talking fight talk, he was very confident in beating Tybalt. I think that is the kind of attitude Mercutio was expecting from Romeo. No one gets a chance to tell Romeo about the duel challenge. I personally thought of it as a good thing because if Romeo doesn’t know of the challenge he can’t start the fight until Tybalt comes up to him and tell him. Since Romeo and Juliet both are so happy, they just got married. Everything is so wonderful. No more fighting, well nearly that is what I thought but how do the “star-crossed lovers” come to “their death-marked love”?The most violent scene of them all the great fight scene (3:1). The sense of violence can be felt. The weather is extremely hot and in heat, people tend to loose their tempers quicker. The weather is ominous; it’s preparing the audience for the action ahead. Benvolio and Mercutio are in a public place, which is not a good place to fight because of the Prince’s warning earlier. Benvolio being the great peace maker, he can smell the hate and bloodshed from miles away and warns and asks Mercutio of going in doors “…good Mercutio, lets retire: The day is hot, the Capels are aboard, And if we meet we shall not escape a brawl, For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring”. Benvolio and Mercutio’s conversation is funny because Mercutio accuses Benvolio of being a trouble maker when we know its quite the opposite. This shows how Mercutio can pick a fight whenever he wants too. This is a warning of something similar happening in the future.Tybalt and Mercutio’s conversation reminds us that neither Mercutio nor Benvolio have told Romeo about Tybalt’s challenge “Mercutio, thou consortest with Romeo”. As Benvolio’s smell of danger got stronger he tried to warn Mercutio once again “We talk here in the public haunt of men” “…here all eyes gaze on us” Benvolio tried to remind them of the Prince’s judgment but Mercutio had other things on his mind “Men’s eyes were made to look, and let them gaze”, Mercutio didn’t seem to care. When Romeo arrives from his wedding very happy and when Tybalt tries to pick a fight with Romeo. Romeo refuses and tells him how much he loves him “But love thee better than thou canst devise “, since Tybalt is Romeo’s cousin but this only angers Tybalt even more “…this shall not excuse the injuries That thou hast done me, therefore turn and draw”, but Romeo doesn’t even look at his sword to draw it.This was not the reaction Mercutio was expecting from Romeo. He was disgusted “O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!” Mercutio says this while he was drawing his sword instead of Romeo taking care of Tybalt, Mercutio does the honours or at least he tries. As Mercutio and Tybalt fight “[Romeo steps between them]” to stop them fighting “Hold Tybalt! Good Mercutio!” this particular part of this scene made me sit on the edge of my seat with my fest clenched wondering who would get hurt was this the end of Romeo? However, of course Mercutio got hurt. The way in which Mercutio gets hurt was very quick. As well as very dangerous for Romeo “[Tybalt under Romeo’s arm thrusts Mercutio in]” Away Tybalt ” [with his followers]” As soon as Mercutio is hurt Tybalt is out of sight. This shows us how much of a coward Tybalt really is he did not even get the person that he wanted to but he got somebody.Although Mercutio is hurt and dying, he still can’t stop himself from joking. It wasn’t as if he was really joking it was more he wasn’t able to sound serious. mercutio curses both the Montagues and Capulets as he dies. “A plague a both your houses! They have made worms meat of me. I have it And soundly too. Your houses!” this is a sign of a bad omen.When Romeo found that what Mercutio called a little scratch was more than little. It was a scratch that kill him, Romeo is very angered and goes after Tybalt to compete what he was supposed to have started I think that Romeo feels guilty for Mercutio’s death because he realises that he was the one that should have fought Tybalt “my reputation stained” he goes to finish of what Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend started “…to keep him company: Either thou or I, or both, must go with him”. Romeo was very sure of him finishing this business. This second fight was over very quickly but the effects are lasting because of the street brawl and Tybalt and Mercutios’s death Romeo gets banished by the Prince. Romeo and Juliet’s future does not look good because of this judgment. At first, I didn’t think that banishment would prevent Romeo from seeing Juliet and it didn’t.In act 3 scene5 Juliet finds out, she is getting married to Paris in three days time. At first lord, Capulet did not agree but Paris had a very convincing argument that “Younger than she are happy mothers made”. In those days girls as young as13 and onwards were married. This is unbelievably shocking. Their parents would normally have arranged these marriages and the matter of love would never have come into it. It was more a matter of politics, money and good social connections but because Juliet was so in love with Romeo she actually stands up to her father, which he doesn’t like at all “my fingers itch”. He all most had the argue to hit his little girl, the only good thing in his life. This desperate need for Romeo’s love drives Juliet to do something which will lead to her death and of her be loved Romeo. Juliet goes to the friar and asks for help. He gives her the solution of faking her own death.This play was started with violence and is finished with violence. We know that Shakespeare is trying to create a dark and glooming atmosphere because the scene is set in the tomb of the Capulets. The scene begins outside in the churchyard and we know its dark because Paris tells his page to give him a torch. Its nighttime and its gloomy and dark, because it is a place where corpses are buried we are reminded of death. This shows a very ominous sometimes very dreadful is about to happen.Adding Paris makes the scene more dangerous and dreadful because we know that Romeo is not in the mood to be messed around with. He already had his poison and is determined not to let anyone get in his way. He tells his servant to deliver a message to his father. He also warns him to stay away from the tomb and promise death if he doesn’t “I will tear thee joint by joint” His intents are “savage-wild…. More inexorable for Than empty tigers or the roaring sea” His anger is fierce. We know that he and Paris will be deadly combination because they both love Juliet!As soon as Paris and Romeo meet, they start fighting. The stage directions show how quick this was. I think that this is the quickest fight that takes place in this play. I think this is because it is not that significant. It just puts Paris out of the big picture.Romeo’s words are tragic and ironic because he comments on the fact that Juliet still remains just as beautiful, she had colour in her cheeks and lips, a dead person would have been pale “…Thou art not conquered, beauty’s ensign yet Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks And death’s pale flag is not….” This made me think what a fool, she is alive. The fact that Romeo doesn’t know this, which made me, feel kind of angry because he kills himself although Juliet is alive.When Juliet wakes up and sees her love dead. She wishes he had left here some poison as well “…. drunk all and left no friendly drop…” this shows how much she wants to be with Romeo no matter where he is. Juliet is young and beautiful; she has a long life ahead of her. The Friar offers Juliet a way to escape the mess. Instead Juliet decides to stay with Romeo and kill herself Juliet hasn’t really been exposed to the world and has had a sheltered up bringing the way she killed her self with her lovers dagger is violent and shocking but it shows the intensity of her love for Romeo.The Capulets and Montagues finally end their feud but it’s taken a lot for that to happen, even the Prince sees this ” Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montague? See what a scourge is laid upon your hate, That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love” God has found that killing your children with love will stop your hatred. The Prince also decides not to punish anybody because of their losses are punishment enough. Just like the way Mercutio said they would be in his dying words.In conclusion I think that Shakespeare uses violence as the driving force of the play

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