The prologue introduces important parts of the play using a sonnet, this show that there is some love involved because a sonnet is a special poem which is often about love. This poem consists of 14 lines, 10 syllables in a line and it has an alternate rhyming pattern. It also introduces the play using the idea of astrology and fate. An Elizabethan audience would have reacted more seriously to these ideas rather than a modern audience because they were more superstitious and strongly believed in fate controlling a person’s destiny. An example of fate being in the play would be,
‘star-cross’d lovers’ or ‘death-marked love’
the words ‘star-cross’d’ were very critical to this play especially in Shakespeare’s time as people felt that the arrangement of stars controlled what happens to you astrology.
The language in this play also played a very important role, because in the 16th century, the amount of special effects used was extremely limited. Unlike television where you have the use of ambient sounds to create an atmosphere or set the scene with background music, in the times this play first came out you could not possibly have some music playing in the background so the audience depended a great deal on the language to get the most enjoyment from the play. They would also have to use their imaginations a bit due to no special effects.
Shakespeare uses the contrasts of words in the prologue. An example of this would be the words: ‘ancient’ and ‘new’ which are in the same line. Another example would be: ‘foes’ and ‘lovers’.
The prologue would catch the audience’s attention from the start because it does not give away too much information, only the very basics, for example it tells the audience that the play is about love because the prologue is in the form of a sonnet. By not telling the audience too much they would then want to know more and all the other details and so they would get interested and watch the rest of the play to find everything out
Act 1, Scene 5 is the scene where Capulet holds a masked ball at his house, his intentions are for his daughter to meet a man named Paris who wants to marry her. But instead of Juliet meeting Paris she meets Romeo, a Montague, who is under-cover at the ball, he was not invited because he is in the family who is at war with the Capulets so he must not be discovered or he will probably have to face death.
Foolishly he speaks and is found out immediately by Tybalt who is the most violent character in the play, he is also a member of the Capulet family, he wants to kill Romeo but is stopped by his uncle Capulet who is the head of the family and the owner of the house.
Tybalt is furious with his uncle’s demand that Romeo is be left alone. His anger is shown through his language, he uses words such as: ‘dead’, ‘foes’, ‘spite’, and villain.
His words contrast with the words that Romeo and Juliet use, they use soft, gentle words and speak of love to each other. An example of the words Romeo uses would be: ‘gentle’, ‘tender’, ‘smooth’, ‘kiss’ e.t.c.
These are quite similar to the words Juliet uses. An example of which show Juliet speaking kindly would be: ‘good’, ‘mannerly’, ‘devotion’, ‘kiss’ e.t.c.
If the words from when Romeo and Juliet speak to each other were put together, a sonnet would be formed. By them speaking in a sonnet, this tells us that there is some love present between the two of them, or there are immediate emotions of love for each other love at first sight. This would already tell the audience that the play will involve some mutual feeling of love between these two characters.
The audience would probably be feeling pleased and happy for Romeo and Juliet for meeting and liking each other as opposed to Tybalt who they would quite possibly be feeling angry at for trying to ruin/destroy what could be love.
Act 2, Scene 6 is crucial and is set in the cell of a church which is home to Friar Lawrence, the town’s priest. The atmosphere here would be quite and serious but yet also happy and excited because a marriage is about to take place. It is quiet because there are only three people in this entire scene and the mood would be serious because it is a holy and religious time. The happiness and excitement would come from the fact that Romeo and Juliet are about to become man and wife.
This would make the audience feel glad for Romeo and Juliet because they themselves are happy or are about to be.
A lot of religious language is used in this scene, some examples of religious language being used would be when Romeo says,
or when the priest, Friar Lawrence says,
‘holy act’ or ’till holy church incorporate two in one’
This tells us that Romeo and Juliet’s marriage is true, real and holy just like religion is. There are some words that emphasize the peacefulness of this scene. Some of these words are: ‘heavens’, ‘holy’, ‘love’, ‘sweetest’ e.t.c.
Act 3, Scene 1 is set in a public place where a lot of people are around, this is different to the scene of the wedding because that was set in a cell of a church which is quite small, personal and private where only three people were present.
Mercutio and Benvolio are in a short/hot tempered mood due to the weather being hot, this can make the audience feel the same way as they can appreciate the mood the characters are in.
Tybalt’s use of language contrast a lot with Romeo’s. Tybalt talks of ‘villain’ and ‘injury’ which are negative, bad words whereas Romeo who talks about the opposite and speaks of love uses good, positive words such as ‘love’.
Later on in the scene Tybalt challenges Romeo to a fight which Romeo turns down. This only fuels the hatred that the audience already has for Tybalt.
The presents of evil is shown through Tybalts words and actions, this is different from the scene of the wedding because rather than evil being present there was a lot of goodness present the goodness and greatness of religion, God and Marriage.
This play continues to appeal to modern audiences because the problems that are happening in the play still go on in this very day and age so many people can relate to it. An Elizabethan audience would take this more serious than a modern audience because they believed more in the ideas involved in this play such as religion and astrology. Both modern and Elizabethan audiences would probably have the same feelings for different parts of the play.
I think that the play is still very popular today because Shakespeare bases his plays on problems and situations that humans will always face and so more people through the ages can understand and appreciate the ideas put behind the play. Through time people may start to feel different about certain parts of the play compare to previous audiences but the interest in Shakespeare’s plays will never die out because as I stated before the situations, problems and solutions will always be helpful and relevant in life.