Essay on act 3 scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet The first scene of act three is a pivotal scene in the play; it is when everything changes for the worst. It is when love and joy turns into anger, sadness and hate. The scene starts out with Benvolio and Mercutio talking; the capulets then arrive and banter between Mercutio and Tybalt ensues. Romeo arrives and Tybalt tries to provoke him into a fight but he refuses to battle his wife’s cousin. Mercutio decides to fight for him but Romeo rushes in midst of the battle in an effort to stop them and only manages to get Mercutio fatally wounded.
Once Mercutio expires Romeo runs after Tybalt in a fit of rage and grief to kill him. Only once Tybalt is dead does he realise the graveness of his actions, he cries out “O, I am fortune’s fool! ” and, hiding Benvolio’s advice, runs away. The prince and the entire town arrive, Benvolio explains what occurred to the prince who decides to banish Romeo rather than have him killed. First of all Benvolio starts out by expressing his concerns about the day to Mercutio “I pray thee good Mercutio, let’s retire [… ] the capulets [are] abroad, and if we meet we shall not scape a brawl; for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring”.
These concerns create tension within the audience as they anticipate the forthcoming events. The mention of the capulets furthermore induces apprehension from an expectant audience, due to their prior knowledge of the feuding families given in the opening prologue. As Benvolio says the day is hot which not only generates tension but is also pathetic fallacy. The hot weather matches the bubbling anger of Tybalt. The warm weather may also be seen as an irony as it is a nice weather but battles and death ensue.
The words “hot” and “mad blood” also create tension through the sense of foreboding that they give especially coming from the mouth of Benvolio the character that is always warning the others. Tension is further added by Mercutio’s mocking attitude towards his friend in front of imminent danger. As they are talking Tybalt arrives and from further experience of Tybalt’s character tension is created by this arrival which implies battle and possibly death. The audience is now starting to get anxious, nervous and uneasy as it tries to anticipate the events that are flying past.
Tybalt’s provocation of Mercutio “Mercutio, thou consortest with Romeo” adds tension again and as the tension continues to crank up Romeo arrives and it nearly climaxes. Again, Shakespeare manages to create an incredible deal of tension just by making a character enter the scene. This scene contains quite an amount of dramatic irony. As somehow predicted by Friar Lawrence in the previous scene, “These violent delights have violent ends” Romeo and Juliet’s love story does not end well and this scene contributes greatly towards that “violent end”.
We can find evidence of dramatic irony when Romeo tells Tybalt that he loves him. Tybalt cannot understand that Romeo is saying that because he is married with Juliet and that he is now his cousin in law. Despite this Romeo will end up killing Tybalt. Again Mercutio is dying and says “A plague a ‘both your houses” this is dramatic irony because a plague will stop the message that was supposed to indicate to Romeo that Juliet was not really dead and therefore causes death in both houses. There is still more dramatic irony in this scene as Lady Capulet says “For blood of ours, shed blood of Montague. and later that will happen as Romeo and Juliet kill themselves for love of each other and blood of both houses is spilt. The use of Benvolio as a narrator is very effective as he sums up very truthfully the facts. This allows the prince not to make a wrong judgement in banishing, and not killing, Romeo but also for the audience to make sure they understood everything that happened in this very fast paced scene. This scene strongly contrasts with the previous one. Love and joy are opposed to anger, death and hate. Romeo was kissing and declaring his eternal love for Juliet in the previous scene but in this one he kills a man.
Yet at first he says he loves Tybalt for reasons he cannot understand but ends up killing him. The image of love is also contrasted with the joking provocation of Tybalt which creates tension. The plot development of this scene is a major development of the general plot of the play. Without this scene the play would end happily ever after since Romeo and Juliet would not be separated. In this scene the main themes of anger, hate, violence and passion are thoroughly exploited. The scene permits the rest of the play to exist, it holds the entire work in balance nd without this scene “Romeo and Juliet” would have been a very pitiful play that i would not be writing an essay on at this very instant. In the film version directed by Zeffereli the tension and mood is very well transferred thanks to a range of methods. The scene starts with a blurry, out of focus image and the audience is therefore slightly disoriented, uncomfortable and tense before it even starts and the as the camera very slowly focuses. The idea of heat is transferred by showing and empty square at around midday with dust notes blowing around and a very intense sunlight shining down.
The idea of heat is further showed by having Mercutio step right into a fountain and refresh himself. The heat of the day is an ambiguous factor as it may contrast with the events that will ensue or to the contrary fit with the mood of the scene therefore creating pathetic fallacy but we will never know for sure. The futility of it all and the comic and slightly childish bantering side that it takes at first is very well shown as Mercutio flicks water on Tybalt. It is not serious yet. Even the fight that starts is still a game but when Tybalt loses his sword he is humiliated and before Mercutio realises it the fight has become deadly serious.
During the fight a handheld camera is used instead of a mounted camera that slides on rails. This gives the audience the feeling of being much closer to the action as the image is less smooth and moves with the action, it also helps generate tension. Everyone is laughing at Mercutio’s performance but nobody realises he is, for once and with reason, deadly serious because of who he is and his constant banter and entertainment. The realisation that he is dead, when Romeo notices the important amount of blood and checks his wound, causes an abrupt silence which heightens the tense atmosphere.
When Romeo and Tybalt fight it is a completely different fight, there it starts as a fight to the death and so the duellers are much more desperate and jokes are put aside. The fight ends up primal as they roll on the floor in the dust and tear their clothes apart. In the end when Tybalt is slain he ends up on Romeo and they are very close at that very moment which makes them seem much more human and vulnerable. Shakespeare uses many dramatic devices in this scene that build tension and create a fitting mood. This scene has an important impact on the audience, as there is a lot of violence and tension within the scene.
It is a turning point in the play as a whole as it disrupts the relationship between the two main characters: Romeo and Juliet since Romeo is now banished from Verona. The themes of anger, hate and violence and passion are fully exploited in the scene and go on from there during the rest of the play to replace the themes of love and joy. This scene is what makes “Romeo and Juliet” the play that every Englishman has studied, and not some pitiful play written by an obscure playwright forgotten to this day, it is the scene that gives the entire play its poignancy.