Heather Hussey

Act 1 establishes that the play is full of opposites, extremes, contrasting atmospheres and emotions. Explain how these are illustrated in Act 1 and what effect they have on the characters and their actions. Refer to text in detail.Act 1 introduces many characters, these characters have extremely distinct personalities, which creates diversity and gives a wide verity of contrasting atmospheres this keeps the audience attention. The range of atmospheres can change from bawdy humour to poetic language. Act 1 establishes that some of the characters have a fatalistic approach to life.Act 1 scene 1 begins with a very dramatic opening and the writer uses his characters Sampson and Gregory to portray a humorous atmosphere for the audience ‘I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.’ This line in particular, not only shocks the audience but also adds bawdy humour to the play. Shakespeare uses this line to convey Sampson and Gregory as being boastful and superior to the Montague’s. Shakespeare in this scene creates an atmosphere of excitement for the audience and this keeps the audience interested.The tone drastically changes when two Montague’s enter the scene, which emphasises the extremes of Act1. Shakespeare uses a serious tone to emphasise that the grudge between the two families is in all generations as Sampson urges Gregory to quarrel with the Montague’s for example ‘ Quarrel, I will back thee.’ Sampson insults Abram, a member of the Montague family, by saying ‘ I will bite my thumb at them’ Abram is extremely offended by this and the insult progresses until they are ready to draw their swords.Benvolio enters and shows a strong side of his character when he acts as the peacemaker when he says ‘ Part, fools! Put up your swords, you know what you do.’ Tybalt a member of the Capulet family enters the scene and conveys his character as an energetic and oblivious character for example ‘What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward.’ Benvolio and Tybalt detest each other but Benvolio still doesn’t want to fight but Tybalt does. Shakespeare has made Tybalt’s character the complete opposite to Benvolio’s character; this shows the extremes opposites of Act 1.Shakespeare changes the atmosphere in scene 1 to keep the audience interested, he shows Romeo’s father Lord Montague and Romeo’s best friend Benvolio show consideration for Romeo for example ‘A troubled mind drive me to walk abroad’. Shakespeare develops Benvolio’s character even more when he promises Lord and Lady Montague he will find out what is wrong with him. Even though Romeo is the main character the audience have not seen him yet. Shakespeare wants the audience to be emotional towards Romeo, so he introduces Romeo when he is in an unstable state of mind. The audience will feel sympathetic towards Romeo as he has a broken heart.The audience will view Romeo as a sensitive and very emotional character. Romeo is telling Benvolio about his love not mentioning her name, Rosaline ‘Out of favour where I am in love.’ The atmosphere changes when Romeo views evidence of a riot ‘O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything of nothing first create!’ Romeo is confused and helpless. Shakespeare uses oxymorons, ‘love’ and ‘hate’; they show Romeo’s emotions and the extreme opposites of the play and are very effective. Shakespeare has to show how much Romeo is in love with Rosaline. Benvolio suggests Romeo should ‘Examine other beauties’ but Romeo is in love and rejects the suggestion ‘ Farewell, thou canst not teach me to forget.’ The contrasting atmospheres are shown strongly in scene 1, and they are used to keep the audience occupied.Shakespeare opens scene 2 with a variance of opinions between two generations. Paris a Capulet wishes to marry Juliet, Lord Capulets daughter. Lord Capulet is reluctant. Lord Capulet gives the impression that he had more children but they all died for example ‘ Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she;’ this shows how important Juliet is to him. Shakespeare portrays Paris as a very impatient character, because he wants to marry Juliet as soon as possible. These two characters are different and it is a case of young versus old. This helps to create contrasting atmospheres and diversity.Lord Capulet orders his servant to give out party invitations for a banquet that he is holding. The servant has a dilemma, as he cannot read. The servant acts stupid when he gets in a muddle for example ‘It is written that the shoemaker should meddle with his yard and the tailor with his last’ Shakespeare changes the mood extremely quickly from a serious mood from Lord Capulet and Paris to a servant who cannot read. The audience would stay interested and become slightly fond of the servant. As Romeo and Benvolio enter they are discussing love. Shakespeare conveys Benvolio as a realist and that love comes and goes. Benvolio tells Romeo to move and look at other girls. ‘Your plantain leaf is excellent for that’ is Romeo’s reaction; this shows that Romeo and Benvolio have different opinions on love.Romeo has an idealistic view of love that everything should be perfect and romantic. The mood changes to a light hearted mood when the servant comes and asks Romeo and Benvolio if they could the list for the banquet. Romeo reads the list out loud and realises Rosalines name is on it. Benvolio encourages the situation, as he wants Romeo to admire other women for example ‘With all the admired beauties of Verona’. Romeo is not convinced, as it is a Capulet banquet and his loves for Rosaline will never change for example ‘Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.’ Romeo agrees to go for Benvolio but he will not enjoy himself ‘But to rejoice in splendour of mine own.’Shakespeare introduces a humorous, loud and bawdy character, the Nurse, in scene 3 for example for example ‘Now by my maidenhead at twelve year old, I babe her come. What, lamb! What, ladybird!’ Lady Capulet is portrayed as a serious character that is distant from Juliet for example ‘Thou knowest my daughter’s pretty age.’ Lady Capulet doesn’t even know her daughters’ age where the Nurse does. These characters are different and create contrast. Lady Capulet and the Nurse agree that Juliet should marry Paris because he is from a good, wealthy family ‘So shall you share all that he doth possess, by having him, making you no less.’ Shakespeare gives the Nurse along speech to help develop her character.The speech is comedy and its about Juliet’s childhood, and how the Nurse and her husband used to joke about her sexuality for example ‘And yet I warrant it had upon it brow a bump as big as a young cock’rel’s stone.’ Juliet’s relationship with the Nurse is like mother and daughter, because the weaned her and brought her up and Juliet has a lot of respect for her. Shakespeare allows Lady Capulet to describe Paris in a sonnet. Lady Capulet uses emotional blackmail in this to try and persuade Juliet to marry Paris for example ‘The fish lives in the sea, and ’tis much pride for fair without the fair within to hide’. The mood is serious as the banquet is about to start and lady Capulet wants a straight answer from Juliet as she desperately wants her to marry.Act 1 scene 4 Romeo and his friends are on their way to the Capulets banquet. Romeo is sad and still reluctant to go to the banquet ‘ Give me a torch, I am not far this ambling; Being but heavy, I will bear the light.’ Benvolio encourages Romeo to go and to believe in himself for example ‘But let them measure us by what they will, we’ll measure them a measure and be gone.’ Shakespeare introduces Mercutio, the audience will think he is an insane person for example ‘What curious eye doth cote deformities? Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.’Romeo is very depressed ‘Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boist’rous, and it picks like a thorn.’ Mercutio describes a Queen Mab of the Fairies and what she does to ordinary people. Mercutio is trying to get through to Romeo that love is just part of the imagination and he should move on. Romeo tells his friends about his dream and how he has seen his own death. This is a premonition and despite this Romeo decides to leave his destiny to fate ‘Some consequences yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin his fearful date.’The final scene of Act 1 opens with four servants hurrying around preparing for the banquet, they excited. Lord Capulet is talking with his cousin about past times and how they used to wear masks and dance around the hall. Lord Capulet gives a cheerful and happy atmosphere to the beginning of scene 5. The younger generations are dancing around the hall in their masks full of energy where the older generations are sitting down talking.Romeo has seen Juliet for the first time and has instantly fallen out of love with Rosaline and in love with Juliet for example ‘for I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’ Shakespeare introduces Tybalt at this time, and Tybalt realises Romeo is here. Tybalt instantly goes to Lord Capulet and tells him, but lord Capulet just wants a peaceful evening and tells Tybalt to let Romeo be. Tybalt is portrayed as rough and energetic character who always wants to fight with the Montagues for example ‘Makes my flesh trembling their different greeting:’Tybalt’s mood is the opposite to Romeo as Romeo is in love and wouldn’t dream of fighting at this point. Tybalt will want revenge on Romeo later and find him. The mood suddenly changes again when Romeo and Juliet talk for the first time. They discuss their meeting and use religious language ‘have not saints lips, and holy palmers’ too?’ At the end of the scene Romeo realises Juliet is a Capulet, and Juliet realises Romeo is a Montague. This is upsetting for them both as they are meant to hate each other and their parents will never let them marry each other. The audience will be sympathetic towards them both. This is the first obvious point that the story would end in tears.William Shakespeare opens Romeo and Juliet effectively, so the audience stays interested by the changing characters, action, atmosphere and setting. Act 1 establishes that there could be further conflict as Paris wants revenge, but the Prince of Verona could loose the respect he has already gained because of his inability keep law in place. This would grasp the audiences’ attention with the suspense. The audience would be intrigued over the romance as Romeo has fallen in and out of love with Rosaline and then in love with Juliet in such a sort time. The audience would be wondering whether everything would turn out fine as Juliet is Capulet and Romeo is a Montague.The Nurse treats Juliet as if is she is her own daughter, as she has brought her up since she was a infant. The Nurse chooses to keep Juliet’s secret but she has a dilemma as she is betraying Lady Capulet. This is very dangerous and the audience might think the Nurse could be found out. Lord Capulet wants Juliet to marry Paris as he is a respectful young man with good status, this is a problem for Juliet as she is in love with Romeo and doesn’t want to marry Paris, but Lord Capulet could force her into it. The possibility of death is made more than likely in Act 1 as Juliet makes her speech on the balcony, this conveys to the audience what could happen in the future.William Shakespeare introduces a variety of characters to create diversity. Nearly all of the main characters are introduced, and they are all different by personalities and reactions. There is a obvious difference between the younger and older generations such as Tybalt and Lord Capulet deciding what to and with Romeo at the banquet.The settings in Act 1 are constantly changing to hold the interest of the audience. They can change from a poor market street to a rich banquet hall. This is so the different classes can see how each others way of life.Shakespeare uses a variety of writing techniques in his language. Blank verses are used to create variety of atmosphere. He uses an iambic pentameter, which is a verse with ten syllables. When he wants to emphasise certain lines he uses rhyming couplets to emphasise the point. A sonnet is used between Romeo and Juliet, to explain their love. All these techniques helped to create contrast. The audience would of stayed interested in the play even though they were standing up for two hours and it is because of the variety of techniques and dramatic performance.