Techniques

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  • Created on: 24-04-19 16:21

The significance of poetry and prose

Significance

This was often used in Elizabethan plays to express ideas of love.

·         In much of Romeo and Juliet, both protagonists (main characters) speak in blank verse and iambic pentameter, especially when speaking to one another.

Prose

·         Shakespeare often used less poetic language for some of the more comedic characters – he writes some of Mercutio’s and the Nurse’s sexual comments in prose.

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Blank verses and Tybalt's language

Blank verse

·         Blank verse is associated with the wealthy, higher-class characters or characters who do not necessarily believe in love – the Montague and Capulet servants speak in prose (which does not have a rhythm or any rhyming).

Tybalt’s language

·         It is interesting to note that Tybalt rarely speaks in rhymes (something which is associated with love poetry).

o    He usually only rhymes when he talks about killing other people or taking revenge ('Now, by the stock and honour of my kin / To strike him dead, I hold it not a sin' and 'A villain that is hither come in spite / To scorn at our solemnity this night'.)

·         This could suggest that the only love Tybalt feels is the love of fighting and murder.

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Sonnets

Sonnets explained

·         Sonnets have 14 lines, are written in iambic pentameter and are structured in six sets of alternative rhyming couplets. There is one rhyming couplet at the end.

·         The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

Romeo’s use of sonnets

·         Romeo’s sonnets show his immaturity and his romantic side - he tries to woo (gain the love of) Juliet with sonnets, but she doesn’t like this overly-romanticised method and thinks he is being insincere.

·         As he becomes closer to Juliet and matures, he uses sonnets less and less.

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Light imagery

Light – Juliet’s goodness

·         Juliet is often connected to important ideas around light:

o    'But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun'.

·         Romeo constantly compares her to lightness and brightness because he feels that she is pure and good, and will bring happiness and righteousness (moral correctness) to his life.

Light – Juliet’s beauty

·         Romeo also says that Juliet’s beauty and goodness is so bright and pure that even the stars themselves would be ashamed to shine around her because she would diminish their glow:

o    'The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars'.

·         Romeo could be suggesting that he thinks he will not feel any more darkness or sadness with Juliet in his life. She will help to make his life, and his future, brighter.

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Darkness

·         But darkness (not night) brings negativity in the play.

·         Darkness is traditionally linked with evil and death. Lord Capulet only talks to Juliet about Paris when it is dark outside.

·         Romeo and Juliet both commit suicide when they are in the dark tomb in Act 5.

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Night

·         Night is a key symbol in the play because it protects the characters.

·         When Romeo is in Juliet’s garden he tells her 'I have night’s cloak to hide me from their sight'.

·         Night makes him feel safe.

·         We also see Romeo sneaking into Juliet’s room at night time to consummate their marriage. He feels sheltered and protected at night time because it encourages secrecy.

o    The next morning, Romeo has to rush away before the 'garish sun'can rise and risk his secret escape (if he was caught, he would be killed): 'More light and light: more dark and dark our woes'.

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Heat and sun

·         In Act 3, the fight starts on a hot, sunny day.

·         Benvolio warns Mercutio, 'The day is hot, the Capulets abroad'.

·         Here, the weather reflects their hot-headed (quick) responses and foreshadows (warns about) the characters’ strong anger.

·         It is interesting to note that Mercutio and Benvolio both prefer the sunlight. They also feel that Romeo’s liking of night time is strange.

State of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship

Although Romeo and Juliet prefer the night time (because they can be together more safely), you could say that the night actually makes their situation worse because it encourages the secrecy of their relationship.

·         Their relationship will not grow in the sunlight. This suggests that there is something unnatural and dangerous about it.

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Friar Lawrence's soliloquy

Friar Lawrence’s soliloquy

·         Friar Laurence talks about poison: 'For nought so vile that on the earth doth live but to the earth some special good doth give'.

·         He uses this soliloquy (speech to himself) in Act 2 to explain his thoughts.

o    He feels that everything on Earth has its own purpose (quote), and that nothing is naturally evil. Humans make things evil.

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Good and bad uses of potions

Good vs bad uses of potions

Friar Laurence's soliloquy is significant because he is discussing the uses of plants and potions.

·         He gives Juliet a sleeping potion, which you could say he uses for a good cause (to give her and Romeo a way of being together).

·         On the other hand, Romeo buys a lethal potion from the apothecary (a person in the past who made and sold drugs and medicine). He will use this to end his life.

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The Feud

·    In the play, we see the effects of the literal poisons – the potions for Romeo and Juliet.

·         But there is also another important poison in the story:

o    The Montague and Capulet feud (argument) poisons the families’ minds and causes them to attack each other.

o    The poisonous feud (argument) is a very negative catalyst (something that causes bad change). It causes the deaths of Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Lady Montague, Romeo and Juliet.

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Dramatic irony

·         The prologue tells the audience straight away that Romeo and Juliet will have a tragic end where both characters commit suicide. The characters themselves are unaware, which adds to the tragedy of the story.

  • In the prologue, we are told about 'the continuance of their parents’ rage, which, but their children’s end, nought could remove'.
  • So the audience is very aware that Romeo and Juliet must die for their families’ feuding (arguing) to be over.

Romeo and Juliet’s relationship

·         We see Romeo and Juliet falling in love and thinking about their future. The tragic dramatic irony here is that the audience knows that their relationship will be short-lived and nothing in their future will come to fruition (success).

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Dramatic irony

·         The prologue tells the audience straight away that Romeo and Juliet will have a tragic end where both characters commit suicide. The characters themselves are unaware, which adds to the tragedy of the story.

  • In the prologue, we are told about 'the continuance of their parents’ rage, which, but their children’s end, nought could remove'.
  • So the audience is very aware that Romeo and Juliet must die for their families’ feuding (arguing) to be over.

Romeo and Juliet’s relationship

·         We see Romeo and Juliet falling in love and thinking about their future. The tragic dramatic irony here is that the audience knows that their relationship will be short-lived and nothing in their future will come to fruition (success).

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Marriage

·         The audience experiences dramatic irony when Lord and Lady Capulet betroth (engage) Juliet to Paris and become angry when she refuses. The audience knows that this is because Juliet is already married to Romeo and does not want to commit the sin of bigamy (marrying someone else when already married).

·         The audience experiences dramatic irony again when Juliet finally agrees to marry Paris and her parents are happy. The audience knows that Juliet has no intention of marrying Paris and will, instead, go straight to bed and fake her death to get out of it.

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Irony in Romeo's death

Irony – alive

·         The audience watches Romeo look at his 'dead' Juliet.

·         He says that death has not taken her beauty and that her lips and cheeks are still pink and healthy-looking ('Death… hath had no power yet upon thy beauty: thou art not conquer’d; beauty’s ensign yet Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks').

·         This adds to the dramatic irony because Romeo is confirming that Juliet is actually still alive.

Romeo’s reaction

·         Romeo then kills himself because he cannot bear to be without Juliet. This action emphasises his love for Juliet, but it is also ultimately pointless.

·         It fills the audience with agony (pain) because she is just sleeping.

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Romeo's soliloquy

·         When Romeo sees Juliet on her balcony in A2 S2, he speaks in a long soliloquy to himself about how beautiful and special Juliet is:

o    From 'But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun' to 'When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds and sails upon the bosom of the air'.

·         Shakespeare uses this soliloquy to show that Juliet does not know that Romeo is there. It reminds us that Romeo is sneaking around in the Capulet grounds, which we know is a very dangerous idea.

·         This gives us some idea of Romeo’s feelings for Juliet – he is willing to risk his life just to get another look at her.

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Uses of soliloquys

·         Throughout the play, Romeo and Juliet use soliloquies to show the depth of their love for one another to the audience.

·         They use soliloquies to discuss their hopes and dreams for the future together.

·         They use them to express how much they love one another.

·         They use them to highlight their sadness and despair when things start to go wrong.

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Juliet's soliloquy

·         One of the most powerful soliloquies in the play takes place in Act 4 after Juliet has told her father she will marry Paris.

·         The audience gets a valuable and interesting insight into Juliet’s mind. This soliloquy shows that she now feels all alone in the world. Her parents have decided she has to marry Paris, the Nurse has agreed, and she only has the Friar to turn to.

·         Although they have made a plan to fake her death, the soliloquy shows how worried she is that the sleeping potion will not work ('My dismal scene I needs must act alone. Come, vial. What if this mixture do not work at all?').

·         The rest of this soliloquy increases the tragedy of the play for the audience. We see a young girl who is completely alone, with no options left apart from faking her death.

·       

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Juliet's soliloquy

  In the soliloquy, she is terrified of what might happen if the potion does not work, as well as what might happen if it does – if it does not work, will she be forced to marry Paris? If it is not actually a sleeping potion, will it kill her? If it does work, will Romeo meet her on time, or will she stay locked in the tomb?

·         This soliloquy is one of the few times in the play where we see a completely vulnerable Juliet. The audience may feel more sympathy.

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