Romeo and Juliet was written by William Shakespeare and was first published in 1597,
but the revised edition of 1599 is mainly used today. Shakespeare's principal source for
Romeo and Juliet was a poem by Arthur Brooke (1562) Shakespeare wrote Romeo and
Juliet so that it could be performed by actors and enjoyed by audiences.
Romeo and Juliet is 'A tragedy of youth as youth sees it', wrote Harley Granville
Barker. It is set in a Veronese high summer, and is both a tale of 'star-crossed lovers'
and the healing of their parents feud.
Prior to Act 1 Scene 5 there is a brawl on a street in Verona between the rival
families of Montague and Capulet, 'Two households both alike in dignity.' Tybalt, a
Capulet, is eager for a fight, and the ensuing riot is stopped only by the arrival of the
Prince's officers. Escalus, the Prince of Verona, angrily reprimands the Montague's and
the Caplet's saying that there is a death penalty for anyone who disturbs the streets
Shakespeare uses a lot of dramatic mood in this scene, which change frequently,
often of the complete opposite to the one before. The main methods Shakespeare uses
to create moods are: use of language, development of character, involvement of the
audience, including dramatic irony.
At the beginning of Act 1 Scene 5, the servants have been told to move
everything out of the way to clear the dance hall, creating a mood of anticipation;
'Away with the joint-stools, remove the court-cupboard'
The servant in charge is telling all the other servants to remove the wooden stools and
the sideboard so that the room is clear and ready to dance on. Capulet sets a happy
atmosphere as he offers a rambling, light-hearted, welcome speech to his guests inviting
them to dance;
'Ladies that have their toes unplagued with corns will walk a bout with you.'
Capulet is telling his guest to 'walk a bout' have a dance unless you are unfortunate
enough to have corns on the soles of your feet. Everyone at the party is very excited,
welcoming and friendly towards others;
'this unlooked-for sport'
Capulet is inviting the unexpected entertainment, the Maskers to join in, not knowing
that they are his arch enemies, the Montagues.
There is a different side to Capulet seen in the scene before where he is talking
to Paris about Juliet. He comes across as protective father, the total opposite to how he
is behaving now. Capulet is happy and sociable when talking to his cousin. They talk about
the times when they were a lot younger;
'Some five and twenty years, and then we masked'
Capulet, reminiscing on his youth talks to his cousin about the last time they were at a
masked ball, twenty five years ago. Whilst talking about his youth, Capulet is also
pleased to see the youngsters' enjoying themselves.
Romeo sees Juliet for the the first time and is stunned by her beauty. At this point
there is less hustle and bustle because a lovesick Romeo mention's Juliet's
attractiveness in a soliloquy using rhyming couplets;
'It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night'
Romeo personifies the night to be Juliet's cheek and at the same time there is a
contrast between brightness and darkness. Romeo is lovestruck by the appearance of
Juliet as he thinks she is the most beautiful creature on earth. In the soliloquy Romeo
uses imagery and comparison to describe Juliet's elegance;
'So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows'
Romeo is saying that in a crowd of other ladies, Juliet looks like a snow-white dove in a
company of crows, i.e. she stands out. This is also a contrast between black and white.
Romeo instantly falls in love with Juliet which is not what the audience expect as they
know that Juliet is a Capulet and Romeo is a Montague. This is called dramatic irony.
The mood is quickly changed by the entrance of Tybalt as he instantaneously
recognizes Romeo's voice. All romance vanishes since Tybalt brings aggression and
violence to the scene;
'Fetch my my rapier, boy'
Tybalt wants one of the slaves to give him his 'rapier' a light sword used for fencing.
Capulet notices Tybalt's rising anger and questions why. Tybalt explains the situation,
and there is obvious friction between the pair as they disagree with each other's
opinions. Tybalt thinks that Romeo should be harmed as he is their enemy but Capulet's
opinion differs. He thinks that Romeo shouldn't be harmed as he is highly thought of in
Verona and is a well-looked after adolescent. Capulet would not want to treat him badly
as it wouldn't be appropriate. Capulet tells Tybalt that if he respects his wishes he will
behave pleasantly and stop frowning. Tybalt expresses to Capulet that he doesn't think
that Capulet is doing the right thing. Capulet gets very angry by this and insults Tybalt;
This is a double insult because goodman means not a gentleman and boy means immature.
Capulet is so furious with Tybalt because he doesn't do as he is asked and is making a
disturbance amongst the guest. Capulet leaves Tybalt on his own, not knowing what is
going to happen therefore a feeling of suspense is created. Tybalt excepts his defeat,
and won't meet with Romeo at the party, but he decides that he will get his revenge.
From the anger that Tybalt brought to the scene, the mood changes when Romeo
and Juliet meet for the first time. Juliet retires from dancing, so Romeo takes the
opportunity to talk to her. The pair could not be interrupted as they were alone on
The pair show genuine romance on the stage because their wording is in the from
of a sonnet, a traditional fourteen line poem about love. Romeo and Juliet each have one
quatrain, a four lined poem and Romeo has one couplet, a two lined poem.
There are a few references to religion, with the repeated use of 'pilgrim' and
'saints'. Romeo and Juliet are religious people, and frequently go to church to pray and
ask for forgiveness from God. Romeo refers to Juliet's hand as a holy shrine;
'This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this'
A 'shrine' is a sacred place of worship which Romeo compares Juliet's hand to. Romeo is
telling Juliet's hand what is wrong, 'gentle sin', also an oxymoron, a contradictory
expression. Romeo is praying to Juliets hand that she can forgive his sins in chosing her.
His sin is wanting her, showing lust. Juliet responds to what Romeo is saying, but plays
hard to get;
'And palm to palm is holy palmers kiss'
A palmer is a pilgrim who has returned from Jerusalem, with a palm leaf . Juliet is saying
that a palmer would usually touch a holy statues hand, not kiss it. This is a pun, or a play
on words in as much as Romeo is saying that Juliets hand is a holy statue, and as Romeo
is comparing himself a pilgrim he should not kiss it. Romeo is persistant. He wants to kiss
her to show his love;
'They pray, "Grant thou, lest faith turn to despair"'
Romeo says that he will be in despair if he can not show Juliet his love for her. He asks
Juliet for his prayers to be answered, i.e. for a kiss so that he will not fall into despair.
Romeo also states that any sin he has committed is washed away by her. Juliet lets
Romeo kiss to show that Juliet loves Romeo and vice-versa. They kiss again.
At this point the mood in the audience is quite mixed; they could be happy
because Romeo's parayers have been answered, but they could also be upset because
they know that Juliet is a Capulet.
The two lovers are interrupted by the nurse, who askes Juliet to see her mother.
While Juliet is off the stage, Romeo takes the oppurtunity to talk to her about Juliet
and where she comes from. Romeo realises that Juliet is a Capulet, but for Romeo it is
too late to stop loving her;
'Oh dear account, my life is my foe's debt'
Romeo has only just realised that he is in trouble because he has fallen in love with his
enemy's daughter to whom he owes his life. There is an ominous mood, a suggestion that
trouble is brewing. This feeling is heightened as Romeo fears that whatever else
happens will be disturbing for him.
Romeo leaves the scene, giving Juliet a chance to question the nurse about Romeo
because she has fallen in love with him and wants to know everything about him. Juliet
also heigtens the feeling of forebodeing;
'Go ask his name. If he be married, My grave is like to be my wedding bed'
Juliet asks the nurse to find out Romeo's name and also reveals to the audience that if
Romeo is married, she will die unmarried. There is another case of dramatic irony as the
audience know that both Romeo and Juliet will die, as this was revealed in the prologue.
The nurse finds out that Romeo is a Montague, and tells Juliet who isn't to
ecstatic. The nurse leaves the stage, so Juliet delivers a soliquy using rhyming couplets.
In the soliquy Juliet reveals more about how much she loves Romeo;
'My only love sprung from my only hate'
The only man that Juliet loves is the offspring of the one thing that she hates: the
Montagues. Likewise Juliet realises that she can't stop loving Romeo because of his
"Too early seen unknown, and known too late!"
Juliet says that she saw Romeo before she knew who he was; now that she knows, it's
too late: she is already in love with him.
There is a medly of dramatic moods created by Shakespeare in this scene. The
servants welcoming speech by Capulet create mood and excitement at the beginning.
Romeo and Juliet's first meeting creates romance. Tension is created between Capulet
and Tybalt when their views differ about what to do with Romeo. At the end of the
scene, Romeo and Juliet discovering the names of each other creates a sense of
foreboding. Within this scene, Shakespeare created moods by a number of different
moods for example use of language, development of character, involvement of the
audience, including dramatic irony.