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The story of “Romeo and Juliet” is a tragedy. This is well known among most people, but why is this play a tragedy? When did it all start? Where is the turning point in this play? I think that the turning point is Act 3 Scene 1. This is the point where the tragedy starts. This scene focuses much on Romeo. When Romeo kills Tybalt in this scene, the Capulets don’t just hate the Montagues, they hate them a lot. This essay will describe what happened in Act 3 Scene 1, why the scene is the turning point and why the tragedy happened. Romeo and Juliet are married straight before Act 3 Scene 1.
The marriage is a happy and romantic scene. Act 3 Scene 1 begins with Benvolio advising Mercutio to retire for the day: “I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire: The day is hot, the Capels are abroad… ” The quote contains a double meaning. “The day is hot” can mean the weather and their tempers. A hot temper would be disastrous when they meet the Capulets. The weather also had some connection with their tempers. People tend to become agitated when the weather gets hot and stuffy. When people are agitated, they tend to snap and rage a bit more often than usual.
Benvolio clearly expressed this point later on in the play: “… for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring” Unfortunately, Mercutio didn’t agree with Benvolio. Instead, he made fun of Benvolio for being eager to quarrel over just about anything in this weather: “… thou wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes… ” Of course, Mercutio was just using hyperbole. An example of a modern day hyperbole would be the quote “I could sleep for a year”. Mercutio also punned with his words. Notice how the words “hazel” and nuts” link? Although they are pretty lame puns in the modern age, it shows how witty and jolly Mercutio was. The atmosphere gets tenser when the Capulets arrive at the scene. Although Benvolio was worried about them, Mercutio didn’t care and maintained his witty and jolly attitude: “By my heel, I care not” Mercutio made a big mistake here. By underestimating the situation, he had let off a chain of events which would ultimately lead to many deaths. Tybalt of the Capulets asked about Romeo and Mercutio punned Tybalt’s words: “Consort? What, dost thou make us minstrels? And thou ake minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords… ” “Consort” is the word that describes a companion or a friend. It is also a word that describes an ensemble of musicians. “Minstrels” is the Shakespearean word for a musician. “Discords” in music are a group of notes that sound really bad. So if we put these words together, Mercutio probably meant, “Consort? Do you think we’re musicians? You shall hear nothing but insults from us! ” You can see that the opening of the scene is pretty tense. Mercutio was on the verge of starting a fight with Tybalt. The situation is worsened by their position, a public place.
This scene of tension, publicity and witty humor is purposely placed after a scene of love, privacy and happiness. Shakespeare has used Juxtaposition here. It shows us how quickly things change. Romeo arrived at the scene straight after his wedding. Tybalt, at the sight of Romeo, insulted him: “Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford No better term than this: thou art a villain” Back from his wedding, Romeo had no intent to hurt Tybalt in any way. So in an attempt to keep the peace, Romeo responded peacefully and explained that he doesn’t mean any harm” “I do protest I never injuried thee,
But love thee better than thou canst devise… ” No one besides Romeo knew about Romeo and Juliet’s relationship. In the Zeffirelli version of “Romeo and Juliet”, everyone else on stage assumed Romeo’s peacekeeping attitude was all a joke. On the other hand, Baz Luhrmann’s modern version of Romeo and Juliet portrays a less humorous and more serious scene. Romeo is being beaten by Tybalt as Romeo says the quote above. In both movies, Tybalt takes this attitude as an insult. “Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries That thou hast done me, therefore turn and draw” In my opinion, I prefer the Baz Luhrmann version of the scene.
People greatly valued honor during Romeo and Juliet’s time. A peaceful attitude was probably not something to laugh at. Tybalt did not know that Romeo was already married to Juliet. Tybalt thought Romeo was mocking him, so Tybalt demanded a duel. The other characters are clearly surprised by Romeo’s reaction. As the audience, we are not at all surprised at Romeo’s reaction. Shakespeare used dramatic irony in this part of the play. Many people have different opinions of what effect this gives. The Zeffirelli version makes me laugh at the lameness of the situation (everyone’s laughing their heads off).
That is why I, again, prefer the Baz Luhrmann version of the scene because the dramatic irony gave me a huge sense of pity for both Romeo and Tybalt. This effect may be caused by the emotional expressions of the actors, but I pity Romeo and Tybalt when I watch the scene. When Romeo refused the challenge, Mercutio stepped up to take Romeo’s place. During the fight, Romeo got in the way. Tybalt accidentally kills Mercutio and fled (he meant to kill Romeo). Mercutio cursed both families and died in Benvolio’s arms. Shakespeare had decided to let Mercutio die at this point for various reasons.
Shakespeare needed to set the spark that would unleash the tragedy in his play. What better spark than accidental murder? Shakespeare chose Mercutio because Mercutio is Romeo’s close friend. I don’t know about Shakespeare, but if I were him, I would just kill off Mercutio because I realized halfway through writing the play that Mercutio was too hard a character to write a script for (with all that punning). One very important reason for adding Mercutio’s death is because it created a complication for the story. Every story needs a setting, complication, climax and resolution.
Although it is easy to believe that the feud was the complication, the feud is actually part of the setting. Romeo falling in love is part of the complication and Mercutio’s death creates another complication. After Mercutio’s death, Romeo blamed himself in a soliloquy for Mercutio’s death: “… Tybalt, that an hour Hath been my cousin. O sweet Juliet, Thy beauty hath made me effeminate… ” The Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet showed Romeo and company being unaware that Mercutio was dying, although Romeo and Benvolio were more concerned than everyone else.
In the Baz Luhrmann version, Mercutio died in Romeo’s arms. Romeo’s expression showed great despair and pity for Mercutio. He is completely overwhelmed by the feelings taking hold of him. Romeo became extremely violent to Tybalt in a manner of seconds. In both plays, it is vengeance which made Romeo angry enough to approach Tybalt with a death duel challenge: “Either thou or I, or both, must go with him” Romeo didn’t see Tybalt as a cousin-in-law anymore. All he saw was a man who killed Mercutio. All he felt was pain, anguish and retribution. Such an emotional fight should be staged with emotion and desperation.
I do not like the fight in both the Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann. The Zeffirelli version of the fight showed some desperation but not a lot. The action in the fight was ok. The Baz Luhrmann version showed lots of desperation, but it was pretty weird to watch Tybalt drop his gun just because Romeo shouted at him. All Romeo did to kill Tybalt was pick up the gun and shoot. I fancy a mixture of both of them; lots of action, lots of desperation, and not too long. Since Tybalt is known to be a well respected swordsman, Romeo must kill Tybalt by either sheer emotional pressure or a lame mistake by Tybalt (like dropping the sword).
After Romeo killed Tybalt, his reaction was not described very well. The script only tells us that Romeo said, “O, I am fortune’s fool” and left the stage. I didn’t get to see the Zeffirelli version of his reaction. So I can only base my ideas on the Baz Luhrmann version. Romeo was surprised and horrified at what he did. He cries out, “I am fortune’s fool” and leaves. This shows that Romeo only slew Tybalt because a fiery fury took hold of him. He did not kill Tybalt out of cold blood. If we now look at the consequences of this scene, there is no doubt that this is the most important scene in Romeo and Juliet.
Two characters die in this scene; one death provoked the death of the other. Tybalt’s death made it harder for the Capulets to forgive the Montagues. Romeo was banished from Verona for killing Tybalt, so he could never be with Juliet again. Juliet grieved for Tybalt and was angry at Romeo but nevertheless, saddened that Romeo had to go. The death of Tybalt urged Lord Capulet to hasten the arrangement for Juliet’s wedding with Paris. These consequences will later lead to the deaths of Romeo, Juliet, Paris and Lady Montague. But whose fault was it?
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Well, if Romeo did not eavesdrop at the Capulet Ball, Tybalt will have no reason to hate him so much. But if Tybalt did not challenge Romeo for eavesdropping, Mercutio would not have interfered and died, Romeo would not have avenged Mercutio, Tybalt would not have died, the Capulets would not hate the Montagues as much, Romeo and Juliet would not have been split up, Paris would not have arranged to marry Juliet on Wednesday, the Friar’s Plan would not have gone out, the fatal flaw would not have happened and Rome and Juliet and Paris would still be alive, and Lady Montague would ot have died over grief for Romeo’s banishment. If there was no Act 3 Scene 1, Romeo and Juliet would have been a love story instead of a tragedy. Without Act 3 Scene 1, Romeo and Juliet themselves would have lived happily ever after with their families.
Author: Brandon Johnson
Analysis of “Romeo and Juliet”, Act 3 Scene 1, ‘The Turning Point’.
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Sustained Tension in act 3 Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
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Sustained Tension in act 3 Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Act 3 Scene 1 in Romeo and Juliet is one of the most exciting and most
tensely filled scenes throughout the play. The scene is at its most
exciting during the battles between Tybalt and Mercutio and Tybalt and
Romeo because it is really tense as each man is trying to kill each
other and it ends up with two men dying. It also makes it more
exciting as they are lots of people gathered round the fight chanting
and shouting. The dramatic climax in this play is when Romeo kills
Tybalt and as he stands there he realises he has just killed the
cousin of his wife. This scene is very central to the play as it leads
to the death of one Capulet and one Montague and it also gets Romeo
banished from the city of Verona. This moves the play on very quickly
and then leads towards the death of Romeo and Juliet as she is forced
to marry against her will so she pretends to kill herself, but then
Romeo finds her and he kills himself therefore leading to Juliet
dieing as she wakes up, finds Romeo dead and stabs herself with his
Act 3 Scene 1 opens with Mercutio and Benvolio walking along the hot
dry streets of Verona and it contains many references to the heat like
this for example: “For now these days, is the mad blood stirring”
which is said by Benvolio which means because it Is so hot we will get
hot and bothered if we meet the. So even before they meet the Capulets
they already are hot and frustrated so meeting their enemy is the last
thing they would want. Also at the very beginning Benvolio tries to
get Mercutio to go home with him: “I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's
retire” as Benvolio knows that they probably will meet the Capulets.
At this stage of the scene the tension is probably at half stage.
When Tybalt and the Capulets arrive, Tybalt isn’t looking to fight
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Mercutio but Mercutio raises the tension by taunting Tybalt “ Make it
a word and a blow” says Mercutio which angers Tybalt as he is looking
for Romeo. Mercutio then carries on taunting, goading and spoiling for
a fight with Mercutio which eventually in turn leads to the two of
them fighting and Mercutio being killed by Tybalt behind Romeos back.
When Romeo arrives fresh from his secret marriage to Juliet there is a
sense of Dramatic Irony in his words as he talks of his love and
friendship to Tybalt: “Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee
Doth much excuse the appertaining rage
To such a greeting: villain am I none;
Therefore farewell; I see thou know'st me not”
Tybalt takes this as though Romeo is winding him up but in fact Romeos
words are completely truthful. This angers Tybalt even more and then
that is when the violence begins.
Mercutio responds to Romeos unwillingness to fight by in turn fighting
Tybalt. When the fight begins you cannot tell if both men intend to
kill but as it goes on the tension increases more and more by every
blow. In the end as Romeo pulls away Mercutio they turn there back on
Tybalt and he stabs Mercutio around the kidney area. Then Tybalt and
the Capulets run away and Mercutio reveals he is wounded but the
Montague’s don’t think it is too serious. Mercutio then begins his
speech on how the two houses should be cursed: “A plague on both your
house” is one line from this speech and the he ends up collapsing and
dieing in front of all the Montague’s.
When Romeo realises Mercutio is dead he has so much anger towards
Tybalt so he chases him down and offers a fight. This anger is partly
in guilt as he feels it is partly his fault that Mercutio died. He
remembers one line that Mercutio said: “Why the devil came you between
us? I was hurt under your arm”. This is why he feels it was his fault.
Then the tension rises even more as Romeo fights with Tybalt and kills
him. Panic erupts and the riot is stopped by the arrival of the Prince
who wants an explanation. He says: “Where are the vile beginners of
this fray?” Benvolio explains by saying it is partly Romeos and
Tybalts fault. As Tybalt is dead the older members of the Capulet
house blame it on Romeo and demand he is punished to the prince. The
prince then banishes Romeo from the city of Verona.
The overall pace of this scene is very fast and there is very high
tension in this scene. This is mainly because two people are killed
and a huge sector of the scene is spent battling.