How does Shakespeare utilize dispute in Romeo and Juliet Act 1 Scene 1? In this essay I will address how dispute is successfully utilized in Act 1 Scene 1 to prepare the audience for the remainder of the play. It will first of all show how Shakespeare uses physical dispute between the two feuding households. Second of all I will demonstrate the idea that Shakespeare introduces emotional dispute through the character of Romeo, and his profusions of love for Rosaline.
Lastly I will reveal that the character of Romeo shows both physical or external dispute and emotional or internal dispute. The function of the beginning is to plainly describe the plot of the entire play in fourteen lines and it also enables the audience to be settled before the actual play properly starts. The audience gets a glance of the remainder of the play, it is introducing the concept that there is conflict; for example “death-marked love” provides the idea of love not being favorable, however is hinting that love is in reality negative as it relates to death.
The prologue is a fourteen-line sonnet; it rhymes alternately till the last 2 lines where the sentences end in rhyming couplets suggesting to the audience that the very first act is beginning. The audience watching the play would associate a sonnet with love. However the audience is made aware that death and violence are going to be a huge part of the play due to very upset, violent and aggressive words; these consist of “death”, “rage” and likewise “mutiny”. We are also told that “from ancient animosity break to new mutiny” which explains a history “ancient” long standing dispute between the two families.
We likewise learn that there is a “continuance of the moms and dads’ rage” suggesting to the audience that this conflict is still on-going and not likely to be quickly fixed. Act 1 Scene 1 opens with Gregory and Sampson of the house of Capulet, in a public location in Verona City which reveals instantly where the story will take place. From the outset it is clear that the servants are trying to find physical conflict, as they are ‘equipped with swords and bucklers’. At this time gentlemen wore swords, however servants typically didn’t, so by being equipped it is obvious that Gregory and Sampson are looking for difficulty.
The language of the two servants is very masculine “we’ll draw” (swords) offers the audience the idea that Sampson is looking for a battle. We find out that he “will take the wall of any guy or maid of Montague” clearly showing he will not range from any dispute with the Montagues. However, Gregory is not as interested in taking part in this dispute however is more interested in talking with his mouth rather than his sword. “If thou art moved, thou runn’st away” demonstrates how he would rather goad Sampson and challenge his masculinity with the clever use of words.
The language utilized throughout the interaction in between the 2 servants, such as dealing with each other as “thou” is really upper class and not the language of a servant. This would interest the nobility and the upper classes in the audience. This scene is likewise very comedic; it does this to show the lighter side of the conflict within Romeo and Juliet. One method it is funny is when discussing the male sexual slurs “My naked weapon is out” is describing his sword in a sexual method, which will amuse the audience. Another comical function is how Gregory can alter the context of Samsons words.
Sampson mentions that “we’ll not bring coals” indicating that they will not be accept any goading by the Montague then Gregory replies “No, for then we should be colliers” (coal miners) this is funny as he altered the context of carrying coals to mock Samson. The very first encounter between the 2 families begins when servants of the two homes Sampson and Gregory (Capulet) meet Abraham and Balthasar (Montague). Sampson symbolically bites his thumb; this shows that he is trying to find a battle. Again we see dispute being presented as biting your thumb at someone was an insulting gesture.
He does this to stir things up between the two families; admitting that “I do bite my thumb, sir” the audience would probably see him as a trouble maker and the source of dispute. Nevertheless their view of him might alter because he begins to pull back due to finding out the law isn’t on his side and we find out that he does “… not bite my thumb at you, sir.” At this moment the audience would then start to see him as weak. The honorable Benvolio (cousin of Romeo) is the peacemaker as he attempts to stop the fight and orders them to “Part, fools! It is substantial that it is Benvolio who is the peacemaker as his name indicates excellent will. However, Tybalt (Capulet) comes along and will not “talk of peace! I dislike the word,” leaving Benvolio with no choice however to continue the dispute. The citizens of Verona are undoubtedly sick of the dispute that exists between the Capulets and Montague, as they shout “Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montague!” So it is clear that the people of Verona do not like the frequent civil wars. This negativeness towards conflict could also be viewed as a metaphor for preserving the peace in Shakespearean society.
The prince is introduced as the person who attempts to preserve order and peace in Verona; he does this to start with by calling to the mob. “Defiant topics, enemies to peace,” By addressing them as defiant he reveals them as being beyond the law. He likewise threatens them with torture to control the citizens so he has to resolve them with ferocity. This is something that the audience would relate to since peace existed at his time during Elizabeth’s rule. However to remain in power Tudor kings and Queens would utilize torture and execution to control any “Rebellious topics”.
Torture in the 16th century usually ended in death. With the loss of fingers and then bigger limbs, death would typically follow. The rack was also being a predominant means of torture. Shakespeare utilizes metaphors to include significant effect, “purple water fountains issuing from your veins” describes spilled blood due to the civil brawl; this emphasises that he will not endure the fight. Personification is likewise used when the Prince tells the citizens to “toss your mistemper ‘d weapons to the ground” he is speaking about the weapons having human characteristics when they are being used for the wrong factors.
When again he is emphasising how he feels that combating is not the answer. Lady Montague’s discussion reveals she is fretted about Romeo being involved in the combating, since she cares about his well being, she asks Benvolio “Romeo? Saw you him to-day?” However Benvolio has the ability to tell lady Montague that Romeo wasn’t at the battle which he was in the forests with a “troubled mind” presenting the concept of emotional dispute. We even more find out of Romeo’s emotion of mind when Montague explains Romeo’s behaviour as “black and portentous”.
He says that even when it is day he “pens himself” in his “chamber” and “shuts up his windows”. This description of Romeo permits the very first scene to alter direction from physical conflict to psychological dispute. The audience’s impression of Romeo is that he is very dark and mystical due to his routine of locking himself in his room. However the audience at the very same time will be captivated to find out what has triggered this depressive behaviour. The question is asked by Benvolio “do you understand the cause? which would echo the audiences thoughts. The audience discovers more of the character of Romeo when Montague compares his son to a flower and how “the bud bit with an envious worm, Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air.” This metaphor allows the audience for more information about Romeo’s nature, by comparing him to a flower the impression of Romeo is that he is more fragile than the previous characters. The audience discover that Romeo’s emotional inner dispute is because of his love for a lovely woman (Rosaline) who has rejected his advances.
This male suffering was a popular theme in love poetry of this time and was echoed by authors such as John Donne in Sweetest Love, I do not go “When thou weep’st, unkindly kind, my life’s blood doth decay.” Romeos issue resembles that of Petrarch who loved a woman called Laura, this determines Romeo to the audience as a Petrarchan Fan. As the passage moves on we discover more of Romeos inner conflict. His mindset is shown by the use of oxymorons “caring hate” “heavy lightness” and “sick health” all provide a clear indication of how making use of opposites echo the rough state of his mind.
The sentences are also disjointed when he explains his love he jumps from “Mis-shapen chaos …” to “… cold fire, sick health!” which more reflects his confusion since of his unrequited love. However Romeos state of mind modifications and this is suggested by blank verses (iambic pentameters) when he even more describes what love implies to him. This design of composing helps to make the script circulation which shows how Romeos love streams. His sensations of what love suggests to him are more strengthened by the inclusion of rhyme “shown, own” “sighs; eyes;” and “discreet, sweet”.
This elevation in language is reiterated in the language that he uses when he later on explains his sensations for Juliet. The audience discovers more about Romeos mystical love when he compares her to Dian. Dian was the goddess of chastity and this offers the audience an indication of the real nature of his love. She is referred to as having “Dian’s wit” therefore by comparing her to a goddess she is smart and yet has the body of a goddess. The fact that she wants to “live chaste” and “Cuts beauty off from all posterity” supports the concept that she will never ever return his love and contributes to his emotional dispute triggering Romeo to end up being depressed.
We discover that Romeo declares that he can not even bare to say her name and he asks “Quote a sick man in sadness make his will:” Stressing the idea that to say her name would cause him to pass away. Conflict is again enhanced in his love for Rosaline, when he discusses his fight to win over Rosaline. He describes it as a battleground where he uses words such as “siege.” These are not words typically related to love but by stating them the dispute that exists can be viewed as both psychological and physical. Benvolio offers Romeo the suggestions that he should “Take a look at other Beauties” Romeo says that this would only make things worse.
He likens it to a male that is struck blind can’t forget that he once might see “his eyesight lost”. Once again Romeo is emphasising that he can always remember his love and the emotions that he is feeling can be related to something physical such as losing his sight. The very first act presents the audience to more information of the physical conflict in Verona that was mentioned in the beginning. We find out that this long standing feud is between the Capulet and Montague households. Nevertheless it is a feud “reproduced of an airy word” demonstrating that it is so longstanding that nobody really understands how it began.
Romeo who is a member of the Montague household is crucial to the idea of dispute and brings together both physical and emotional disputes. He is himself suffering inner psychological conflict due to the fact that of his love for a lady who “hath forsworn to enjoy” and so can not return his love. Romeos father compares him to a flower that has not “spread his sweet leaves” this points to the idea that he is not a strong and powerful male. But rather the perfect individual to end up being involved in the love affair suggested in the prologue.
The psychological conflict that he feels is linked to the physical dispute that is happening around him, by his choice of words when he likens his love to a battle by his usage of the word “siege”. This linking is additional enhanced when Romeo compares the idea of emotional dispute to the physical conflict of losing his sight. It is my belief that Shakespeare uses conflict in Act 1 Scene 1 to prepare the audience for the disputes that exist between the 2 families and to introduce them to the character of Romeos and how his emotional instability will affect the rest of the play.