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Act 3 scene 5 is a key scene

Act 3 scene 5 is a key scene of the play and shows Juliet’s dilemma as her parents try to force her to marry Paris, a respectable young man of Verona, when she is already secretly married to Romeo Montague. The scene is set on a Tuesday, and Romeo and Juliet only met on the previous Sunday. They first saw each other at Juliet’s father’s ball, and fell in love instantly; ‘[Juliet] shines like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’. However, as Romeo and Juliet are of conflicting families, they marry in haste to overcome their impracticality of seeing each other. When they marry, Juliet is unaware of her parent’s proposition for her to wed Paris, and this scene depicts the problems she faces.As the scene opens, Romeo and Juliet are waking after their first night together. For the audience, there is a sense of tension because we do not know how long it will be before Juliet’s mother; Lady Capulet comes in to wake Juliet. Romeo and Juliet mock argue with each other about the time of day. ‘Yon light is not daylight, I know it’. This increases the dramatic tension, because as the audience, it is not clear if Romeo knows how much danger he is in if he does not leave Juliet’s bedroom as soon as possible. Finally, Romeo reluctantly leaves Juliet’s bedroom through the window. This is the last time Romeo and Juliet see each other.To heighten the dramatic tension, Lady Capulet could be calling Juliet even as Romeo is leaving. ‘Ho daughter, are you up?’ The audience is gripped and unsure of whether Romeo will be caught by Lady Capulet. In a production of the play, I would have Romeo leaving at one end of the stage seconds before Lady Capulet entered at the other end. As Juliet would not be expecting her mother so soon, she might be slightly flushed and surprised looking as she talks to her mother. She might be pretending to cry slightly as there is a stage direction in Shakespeare’s words of Lady Capulet; ‘evermore weeping for your cousin’s death’.At this point, and from hereon with her mother, Juliet’s words become ambiguous. When she speaks of ‘a feeling of loss’, Juliet means Romeo, but her mother thinks she is talking about Tybalt, her cousin, (who Romeo killed after Tybalt killed Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend.)Juliet next says to herself ‘Villain and he maybe miles asunder’, which Lady Capulet does not hear. We are unsure as to whether Lady Capulet hears Juliet say ‘God pardon him, I do with all my heart,’ or whether she just chooses to ignore this statement. Lady Capulet does hear Juliet say ‘and yet no man like him doth grieve my heart’, as it provokes a reaction, however she interprets it in a different way to how it was meant. Although Juliet hints at the fact that there may be more to her words, Lady Capulet does not pick up on it and assumes what Juliet means.Juliet continues to be ambiguous when she tells her mother ‘to bear a poison I would temper it’. The word ‘temper’ can mean to dilute, or to mix. Again, Lady Capulet understands this in the most logical way as her knowledge of Juliet allows her to: that Juliet wants Romeo dead. Again, we sense the full weight of dramatic irony here.Another aspect of this scene’s importance is the declaration of Juliet’s proposed marriage to the County Paris. Lady Capulet uses persuasive language to encourage Juliet to agree to the marriage. She tells Juliet she has ‘joyful tidings’ and talks of a ‘sudden day of joy’. This might be because she is unsure of whether Juliet will accept. Shakespeare does not seem to portray a very loving or close relationship between Juliet and her mother. From what we see of Juliet in previous scenes, she seems faithful to her parents, and seems as if she respects them. However, she was prepared to disown her parents in marrying Romeo. As the audience, we sympathise with Juliet’s position, because we have seen her fall in love with Romeo, yet we do not know now what choice Juliet has but to obey her parents and marry Paris. However, legally, she cannot marry him because she is already wedded to Romeo. Even before Juliet replies to her mother’s announcement, the audience should be able to see from her facial expression that she is confused and overwhelmed by her dilemma.As soon as Juliet does speak, her voice should be determined and almost angry. Her first line tells the audience how she feels about the marriage; ‘[Paris] shall not make me there a joyful bride.’ Juliet speaks ironically later on in her refusal. ‘I will not marry yet, and when I do I swear it will be Romeo, whom you know I hate.’ With these words, Juliet is trying to convey to her mother how much she does not want to marry Paris, even saying that she would rather marry Romeo. If the situation were not so tense and apprehensive, the audience would almost laugh at the irony.When Capulet enters, the audience will be worried about how he will take the news of Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris. There is dramatic tense in this part of the scene. Capulet makes a point of mentioning Juliet’s tears (a stage direction from Shakespeare.) Capulet may think Juliet’s tears are of sorrow and grief for Tybalt. ‘What, still in tears?’ He is quite tender in what he says; ‘in one little body thou counterfeits a bark. Capulet then asks his wife ‘have you delivered to her our decree?’ In Lady Capulet’s reply, she presents even more dramatic irony. ‘I would the fool were married to her grave.’ This shows how important Juliet’s refusal is and how her parents are so quick to abandon her. Juliet would be crying at this point because she would be frightened of how her father would react.At first, Capulet seems calm and is trying to understand what he is hearing. He tries to make Juliet feel guilty by questioning if he has understood properly. ‘Doth she not give us thanks? Is she not proud?’In the 16th century, when the play was written, fathers had much more power and control over their daughters. Young girls were expected to obey their fathers and in a way their fathers owned them. This was true until they married, when the ownership was handed over to the husbands. In this part of the scene there is dramatic irony because although Juliet would have been expected to obey her father, she was already married to Romeo, so she was actually supposed to be obeying her husband.Juliet tries hard to explain that she thanks him for the gesture but that she is not accepting it. However, Capulet simply patronises her and orders her ‘to go with Paris to Saint Peter’s church’ and warns her that he will ‘drag [her] thither.’ His insults towards Juliet are so harsh and unnecessary that even Lady Capulet has to ask him ‘what, are you mad?’ Juliet pleads with her father to listen to her. She even gets down on her knees. She might even try to gesture forwards towards her father to hug him. ‘Good father I beseech you on my knees, hear me with patience but to speak a word.’ Juliet is now begging her father for his forgiveness, but Capulet’s behaviour is so dismissive, that in a production of the play I would have Capulet pushing Juliet away from him.The audience would be so caught up in the play that they would fear for Juliet’s safety. Capulet threatens Juliet with disownment; ‘Get thee to a church a’ Thursday or never after look at me in the face.’ Juliet is an embarrassment to him and he does not want a ‘disobedient wretch’ as a daughter. He even says his ‘fingers itch’, as if he was going to hit her. He is so angry he even goes as far as to say he wishes Juliet had never been born. ‘We have a curse in having her.’ Juliet might be on the floor at her father’s feet begging for forgiveness at this point in the scene.Juliet’s nurse tries to stand up to Capulet, and confronts him, but he simply patronises her and dismisses her as a ‘gossip’. He fails to see how this situation has anything to do with her. The nurse protests and retorts ‘I speak no treason, may not one speak?’ Capulet silences the nurse rudely, and shows how invaluable her input is. He is so rude that even Lady Capulet tells him he is ‘too hot’.Capulet then erupts and conveys his feeling towards what he would say was Juliet’s ungratefulness. He mimics her; ‘I’ll not wed, I cannot love; I am too young, I pray you pardon me.’ As the audience, we know these are not the reasons why she cannot marry Paris. Capulet gives her an ultimatum – that unless she marries Paris, he will ‘ne’er acknowledge her’Juliet makes a final plea to her mother; ‘cast me not away,’ but even her suicide threat ‘make the bridal bed in that dim monument where Tybalt lies,’ does not have an effect on her. ‘Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word, do as thou wilt, for have done with thee.’ As a director, I would have Lady Capulet looking down at Juliet on the floor, with disgust and shame.Juliet is then left alone with the nurse. In act 1 scene 3 we could see that Juliet had a very close intimate relationship with the nurse, even more so than that of Juliet and her mother. The audience would be expecting the nurse to stand by Juliet in her desperate time of need. Instead however, the nurse abandons her when she needs her most. Juliet would again be crying; she is so confused and overwhelmed by her situation that she is desperate for help. She pleads with the nurse; ‘comfort me, counsel me.’The nurse tells Juliet ‘I think it best you married with the County.’ In a production of the play, Juliet’s face would dictate what she is about to say. There is utter disbelief at what the nurse says she thinks Juliet should do. The nurse probably doesn’t really think this, but she lies because she fears she has already overstepped the mark by arguing with Capulet earlier on. The nurse does not want to lose her job, or Juliet. Juliet asks the nurse ‘speakst thou from thy heart?’ Juliet must be feeling incredible isolation, and that she is trapped. She then pretends to the nurse that she agrees to her marriage with Paris. ‘Thou hast comforted me marvellous much….. Tell my lady I am gone…. To confession and to be absolved.’ The nurse then leaves, and this is the last time we see her.After the nurse exits, Juliet has a soliloquy. Shakespeare uses this opportunity to let the audience know what is going through her mind. Juliet feels betrayed by the nurse and thinks she is a hypocritical coward. ‘O most wicked fiend.’ She does not know whether speaking ill of Romeo when she has praised him before is more of a sin than telling her to break her marriage vows. Juliet only has one other person she can go to for help; ‘I’ll to the friar to know his remedy; if all else fail myself have power to die. Juliet is so desperate she even contemplates suicide. This is relevant later on in the play.In conclusion, I think that act 3 scene 5 is one of the most eventful scenes in Shakespeare’s play, even though it only includes four characters. It is important to understand the scene, as it has meaning throughout the rest of the play. The scene wreaks dramatic irony and ambiguity which is why an audience watching the play would be engrossed.

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