How does Shakespeare use techniques to engage the audience in Act 3, Scene 1 of “Romeo and Juliet”?
“Romeo and Juliet” is a play by William Shakespeare, written between 1591 and 1595. In the play, there are two families locked in an endless feud- the House of Capulet and the House of Montague. However, Romeo (a Montague) and Juliet (a Capulet) fall in love, get married in secret, and die while trying to escape their families. Act 3, Scene 1 is a fight scene where Tybalt (Juliet’s cousin) fights and kills Mercutio (Relative of the prince and friend of Romeo) after Mercutio offends Tybalt. Romeo then kills Tybalt out of revenge and is banished by the Prince.
The characterisation of this ...view middle of the document...
By misunderstanding Tybalt, he is annoying him. He makes thinly veiled threats suggesting a fight.
`“Here’s my fiddlestick, here’s that shall make you dance” (3. i, 45).
As he mentions fiddlestick, he draws his sword; implying that he’ll make Tybalt dance while trying to avoid his blade.
Tybalt is compared to a cat: a viscous, calculating cold killer. This helps the audience to feel detached from him, so we don’t get angry at Romeo when he kills Tybalt.
“Mercutio: King of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives” (3. i, 74).
This shows how Mercutio is trying to goad Tybalt into a fight. Mercutio is suggesting that Tybalt should let Mercutio kill him, since he has another 8 lives. We know that he only has one life, like every other human.
Shakespeare uses epithets to help convey opinions about the characters
“Brave Mercutio” (3. i, 112) “Furious Tybalt” (3. i, 117)
These epithets help to convey the character’s opinions of each other, since it would be hard to see facial expressions in the theatre. This is another way Shakespeare compensates for the limits of theatre through his language. He tells the audience what the characters think of each other, since he can’t show them.
This play was written in Elizabethan England, and has many similarities with everyday life then. They had a strong sense of honour: if someone offended or disgraced you or your family, you had to seek redress. This is the reason Tybalt is trying to confront Romeo, because he disgraced his family by coming to the Capulet’s party. This is also why both Mercutio and Tybalt are surprised when Romeo doesn’t accept Tybalt’s challenge to a duel; it is dishonourable to refuse a challenge. The hatred between the two houses (Capulet and Montague) could symbolise the rift between the two Christian religions in England- Catholics and Protestants. The intolerance between them was very high during Elizabeth’s reign, since the two previous monarchs (King Edward and Queen Mary) tried to change the nation’s religion by force, killing any who wouldn’t change. People were still wary about another monarch like that.
Shakespeare also varies the tension during the scene to keep it entertaining. It is a relaxed atmosphere at the...