William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and then died in 1616.
Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most well known tragedies and was written sometime between 1589-1595. Most people know about the “star crossed lovers”. Its popularity is probably because the story of young lovers, opposed by their parents, yet remaining true to each other until death, and is one that is repeated in every generation.Another reason why it is so popular with the youth of this generation is because of the Baz Luhrman film which was produced in 1997 and started massive actors at the time, including heart-throb Leonardo Di Caprio.
Act 1 Scene 5 is a central scene in the play because it marks the beginning of the relationship between Romeo and Juliet. From the start of the play, we have been introduced to the long-standing, bitter feud between the Montague and Capulet households, and the civil unrest that has been caused in Verona.We also know about the rivalry between the young men of the two families and their friends, particularly Benvolio + Mercutio (Montague) and Tybalt (Capulet)Romeo and his friends have planned to come uninvited to the masked ball being held at the Capulets home.
So the scene is set for the anticipated meeting, and the audience awaits the outcome.Shakespeare builds up suspense and dramatic tension in the scene. First, there is a brief comic interlude between the servants preparing the hall for the party. The entry of Capulet and the guests and the start of the dancing continues to create a sense of exciting and anticipation.Capulet reminisces about previous “masks” with his cousin while the audience, like Romeo standing on the sideline, watches the partygoers, including Juliet dancing.
Romeos’ first comment about Juliet is significant. He asks the servant who she is, but the servant does not know. He is clearly struck by her beauty, because he describes her in extravagant terms. She can “teach the torches to burn bright”; she is like a “rich jewel in an Ethiopians ear”, and a “snowy dove trooping with crows”.
All these images convey the depth of Romeos feelings on seeing Juliet. Her radiance and beauty overwhelm him. He realises he has never been in love before. “For I ne’er saw the beauty till this night”. This speech contrasts with the stylised fashionable love poetry, which he spoke in scene 1, when he believed himself in love with Rosaline. “O heavy lightness, serious vanity . .
. . . . “”This love feel I, that feel no love in this”.
This artificial use of oxymoron’s makes his speech seem artificial itself, and superficial. The effect of Juliet’s beauty on him is direct and intimate and his descriptions of her are powerful and beautiful and entirely genuine, rather than expressed in the flowery, self-conscious language he used about love before.It is Romeo’s involuntary outburst about Juliet that betrays him, because Tybalt over hears him and recognises his voice.
Romeo is unaware of this because all his attention is focussed on Juliet. Again the tension rises, as the audience wonders what will happen now he has been discovered.Surprisingly, Capulet is unwilling to spoil the party with a fight, despite Tybalts urging. “I’ll not endure him”. Capulet exerts his authority over his young, hotheaded nephew: “Am I the master here, or you? Go to!” Capulet’s reasoning for allowing the intruder to remain are interesting: he has heard good reports of Romeo: “Verona brags of him/To be a virtuous and well governed youth”. He does not want a scene to spoil the party, to “make a mutiny among the guests”. Capulet’s tolerance of Romeo gatecrashing his party seems strange, when we have been introduced to the “ancient grudge” between the two families. It suggests that it is the younger generation who are more active in continuing the enmity between them.
Neither Romeo nor Juliet know what Capulet has said about him: they assume that Capulet would see him as an enemy.Tybalt’s dark prophecy that “this intrusion shall/ . . . . . .
convert to bitterest gall” prepares us for he ultimate confrontation between himself and Romeo, when he is killed and Romeo is banished in accordance with the Princes decree. “Immediately we do exile him hence”When at last Romeo and Juliet do actually meet and speak to each other, Romeo shows the extent of his passion for this girl whom he has just met by using religious imagery to describe her: “the holliest shrine”. This emphasises how much he loves her, and worships her, as he would worship God. He speaks of himself as being unworthy of her. She is so pure and good and beautiful in his eyes.Juliet picks up this imagery in her replies, and encourages him, by telling him that palmers (pilgrims) kiss the hands of saints and therefore he can hold her hand: “holy palmers kiss”.
Encouraged, Romeo uses an extension of the religious imagery to ask for a kiss. “Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?” Again, Juliet encourages him by continuing the image.”Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer”The exchange between them shows the immediate bond. They are matched in wit and intelligence and there is a real passionate, sensual spark in their reference to saints and sin. There is a light-hearted playfulness too, as they pass the “sin” back and forth as they kiss.Once their passionate embrace is over, Juliet is called away which gives Romeo and great chance to find out who this figure of beauty is.
He questions the nurse, who has now become present: “I she a Capulet? / O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt!”Romeo finds out that Juliet is part of the family he has loathed and hated for as long as he can remember, and is heartbroken, but must leave after he is beckoned by Benvolio.Then Juliet returns and is curious who Romeo is, she turns to the nurse for information, although she tries to hide her need to know about him individually by asking about other party goes as well: “What’s he that now is going out of door” Juliet asks, “I think be young Petruchio” replies the nurse. The Juliet asks, “What’s he that follows here, that would not dance?” “Go ask his name, If he be married”. Juliet is then told in no uncertain terms, “His name is Romeo, and a Montague / The only son of your great enemy!” This is, as with Romeo, heartbreaking news, and is made clear by Juliet “My only love sprung from my only hate”. This is a very influential scene, and totally changes the way the story will expand! At this point the scene ends.
After both find out, we are left on a cliffhanger as the scene changes, and the audience is left wondering what will happen now they know the true identities.The scene is a dramatic one, and Shakespeare wants to make the first meeting of the lovers into a theatrical high point. He does this by delaying it until the later part of the scene. Romeo first sees Juliet at line 42. Shakespeare then inserts a further 48 lines before he is able to speak to her. The debate between Capulet and Tybalt emphasises the barriers there will be to this relationship. The focus of the scene changes constantly as different characters speak against the backdrop of the masked ball, but we are always conscious of Romeo and Juliet.The scene provides a vivid interesting spectacle in the play.
The Baz Luhrman film of 1997 creates a hugely spectacular party atmosphere with extravagant costumes and outrageous behaviour. In this context Romeo and Juliet see each other first through a huge ornamental fish tank. Suddenly the noise and hubbub of the party is excluded, as they look at each other and recognise their mutual attraction.The director has chosen to build the sexual tension between Romeo and Juliet, so that when Romeo sees her and makes his first exclamation of love: “Oh she doth teach torches to burn bright”, see also sees him and the feeling is mutual. So the scene progresses with Juliet dancing and Romeo watching, but all the time her attention is focussed on him.
The discussion between Tybalt and Capulet precedes this in the film, so that the dramatic action of the lovers meeting is emphasised and extended, without any distractions.When they finally speak, Romeo has crept up beside Juliet and takes her hand, and pulls her away from the crowd, as he says “If I profane with my unworthiest hand / This holy shrine..
…” The physical attraction is intense, and the words, hand holding and light-hearted repartee quickly gives way to passion so that the young couples are too involved to care who sees them. Their discovery that they are enemies is made when Romeo sees Juliet being taken by the nurse to her mother in the Capulet household and as h realises the truth, the nurse tells Juliet that he is a Montague.
The scene ends dramatically with Tybalt’s words which prophesy the “bitterest gall” which will occur as a result of this night. This is a dramatic ending to the party and the liberties Baz Lurhman has taken with the text can be defended by the increases in dramatic effect.