Why Is Act 3, Scene 1 a Turning Point in ‘Romeo and Juliet’?

November 2, 2017 September 1st, 2019 Free Essays Online for College Students

‘O Romeo, Romeo. Brave Mercutio’s dead!’ shouts Benvolio in despair, informing Romeo that Mercutio had become the first fatality in a scene which shows that it is the heart of the play, and a main turning point in Shakespeare’s first tragedy. Leading to Romeo’s vengeance and eviction. This act exaggerates a twist of moments and is at the brink of Romeo and Juliet. This is what makes Romeo and Juliet one of the Shakespeare’s famous quartet of tragedies.

Act 3, scene 1 has the most powerful and exiting words in the play. It contains the passionate and explosive words of Mercutio and the calming phrases of Benvolio. The Language itself is a combination of wit, humor, wordplay, prose, curses and more. Benvolio starts the scene nervously and anxiously with pathetic fallacy, ‘the day is hot and Capulets abroad,’ speaking to Mercutio in blank verse. Mercutio then replies with no respect speaking in prose using wit and riddles to wind up Benvolio. Benvolio’s quarto echoes his speech in Act 1, Scene 1. As Tybalt enters, the language changes from random talk of nothingness and dreams to antagonizing wit and bawdy humor.

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The scene could easily be a comedy or a romance if it wasn’t for what comes up next in this scene. As the first person becomes a victim in a brawl of both fighting and of extremities of language, this is what contributes to the scene being the turning point in the play. This play may a battle between 2 families to get rid of each other, but it is also a battle of wittiness and how smart you are. Romeo and Tybalt fight with words in Act 3, Scene 1 as Tybalt and Romeo argue in uneven 11 syllables Romeo then performs a classic caesura to get one better than him. The context of the speech and language is meaningful, and the way in which the line is read or understood by the audience can change it in many ways.

The structure of Act 3, scene 1 is important to how it is a turning point in the play as whole. It plays a role of increased tension and excitement. The scene is arguably split up into 6 sections. The first in which is ‘Tybalt enters’ and contains a number of 33 lines, it is quite long because Mercutio and Tybalt banter to each to each other with wit. This builds tension a little bit as it reflects back to the very beginning of the play where Benvolio and Mercutio have a conversation that if the Capulets arrive they ‘shall not scape a brawl.’ The next virtual section is ‘Romeo enters’. This contains the varying tension, for example, just before Romeo enters Tybalt says ‘well peace be with you’ the tension then drops but suddenly rises when he says, ‘here comes my man.’

As there are only 18 lines in this segment the pace quickens in speed and does the tension and excitement. The longest division however is ‘the Prince’s judgment,’ this contains 60 lines as it is descriptive and over viewing with Benvolio’s speech of plead and the Prince’s judgment of exile. This structure contains themes on which it may be set up, e.g. Love, violence, death, despair and vengeance. These are the main themes in the scene, however there are a few hidden ones also. Betrayal is one, Mercutio gets betrayed by Romeo as he loves Tybalt. This may also be a flashback as in Act 1 Scene 5 Juliet is betrayed by the nurse. Dramatic Irony is also brought into the structure as a build in tension, the audience know the reasons that Romeo acts affectionate towards Tybalt is because he has just married Tybalt’s kinsman Juliet.

One of the elements of this play is that some of the personalities of the characters change and some do not. For example Benvolio is constant throughout the play and continues to try to peace keep. Whereas Romeo’s character changes as he becomes the central main lead as Mercutio gets killed off. With this he turns from a loved up na�ve child, to a mean killing machine.

Mercutio is definitely one of the most popular and entertaining characters within the play. He may be considered a fool of his time. His death shocks most people even the murderer as he becomes the first loss of the play. This is the first peak of what is one of Shakespeare’s four tragedies. He dominates everyone and always gets one better with his skilled mouth of wit. Tybalt however is quite the opposite. He fights with his physical sense of strength and brutality. He is not one of the most liked in the play as he is cocky and rude. However he may not be as demonized as the play suggests as there is dramatic irony that Tybalt is now a kinsman to Romeo in which he hates.

Characters like Capulet and Montague give us a taste of what the ‘ancient grudge’ is really about. For example on line 182 lady Capulet says ‘Romeo must not live.’ She orders this to the Prince, the most authorative character in the Play. He declines her request with ‘Immediately we do exile him hence.’ He is superior and justice. The Prince may be fore the Montague side as Mercutio is a kinsman of the Prince and Romeo is his best friend which may show bias to his character.

Elizabethans were flamboyant to look superior, clever, smart and important. They dressed modernly to their time with tights and ruffles around their necks. They also spoke skillfully with many devices such as puns, for example Mercutio, even as he is dying looks for dignity as he says ‘Ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man.’ Mercutio is known in this play for using wit like no other, attacking Tybalt for every word he says and for also using bawdy humor to humiliate him. ‘Here’s my fiddlestick.’ Characters like Juliet utilize elaborate language like oxymoron, for example ‘Loving hate’ makes her words more passionate.

Shakespeare also constructs in a few similes and metaphors which expresses their descriptions. One of the most famous devices exploited in the play is Imagery which is expressed many times; the most well known example is in Act 3, Scene 5 when Romeo and Juliet are arguing whether it is night or morning and are painting pictures with their words, talking about larks and nightingale’s song. ‘It was the lark, the herald of the morn, no nightingale.’ Romeo also quotes ‘Night’s candles are burnt out.’ This means the stars have gone. Stars and the moon are generally the best renowned imagery in the play. Syntactical inversions are also used in the play to create emphasis on some of the words, or even to create suspense.

Juliet is specifically clever with words as she uses double meanings sometimes as she talks to her mother,’ I never shall be satisfied with Romeo till I behold him; dead is my poor heart.’ In these lines Juliet is tricking her mother; her thinking that Juliet wants him dead in her arms, Juliet however means that she will not be happy until Romeo is in her arms and dead is her heart till that moment. Devices that could be added are slapstick humor; Shakespeare did not write any stage directions accept exeunt and enter which could give the director big options to change this into his view.

Overall, Act 3, Scene 1 is one of many turning points in the play. It is when two main characters are murdered and Romeo changes character. However there are many other turning points in this performance that if never happened would be a comedy act. For example in Act 1, scene 5 when Romeo and Juliet speak for the first time changes the play and gradually introduces Juliet into being a main character.


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