How Does Act 1, Scene 5 of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Prepare The Audience For Later Events In the Play?
Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous of the Shakespearean plays and probably the most famous of all tragedies ever to be scripted. It is also probably the best romantic play ever written. The two lovers and main characters of the play have become icons of doomed love affairs. The script is full of several sub-plots and clever machinations to help further the story. Yet it isn’t until Scene 5 of the first Act that we begin to see fully understand the consequences of the lover’s attraction.
The Story Up To Scene 5
The story starts out in the city of Verona with a brawl between two feuding families, the Capulets and the Montagues. It is evident that this feud has been going on for awhile. Some of the family members, such as Benvolio of the Montagues, tries to stop the fighting. But others, such as the hot-headed Capulet member Tybalt, wishes only to fight.
The feuding becomes so bad that the prince declared all fighting to be outlawed and punishable by death. So in the first scene we find out that the story revolves around two families who despise each other and are willing to kill each other to appease their family honor.
Meanwhile we are introduced to Romeo who is moping about because of a girl named Rosalind. He loves her but she does not love him. We quickly come to realize that Romeo is a romantic and easily falls in love. His cousin and friend Benvolio tries to cheer Romeo up by saying that there are other girls. Romeo, however, can think of no one but Rosalind.
Romeo and Benvolio run across a Capulet messenger with a list of people to invite to an annual masquerade. The messenger cannot read and asks Romeo to read the list for him. Romeo sees that Rosalind’s name is on the list. The messenger is thankful and invites the two to the party so long as “they are not Montagues”. Benvolio thinks they should go just so Romeo can see that there are other beautiful girls besides Rosalind. Romeo wants to go because Rosalind will be there.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to Juliet, a Capulet whose father has been approached by a kinsman of the prince for Juliet’s hand in marriage. Her father thinks it would be a good match but because Juliet is young, decides to have the nobleman wait two years until she is older.
Leading up to Scene 5, Romeo, Benvolio, and another friend, Mercutio, have all gathered outside the Capulet house. They are wearing masks and preparing to enter the feast. Romeo remarks how he believes that the night’s actions will set fate into motion that will ultimately end in an untimely death. This was a bit of foreshadowing that was used widely by Shakespeare.
Overview Of Act 1 Scene 5
Act 1, Scene 5 introduces Romeo to Juliet. As Romeo and his friends make their way through the feast, Romeo spies Juliet and immediately forgets about Rosalind. As Romeo talks with his two friends, the hot-tempered Tybalt hears his voice and recognizes him as a Montague. Tybalt is angered and wants to get his rapier but his father stops him. Tybalt later proclaims that he will not let the trespass go unavenged.
Romeo approaches Juliet and they two speak using religious metaphors. Romeo gets Juliet to agree to let him kiss her. Since she is just as smitten with him as he is with her, she agrees. She then responds that since Romeo kissed her which absolved him of his sins, she must have her sins absolved. She kisses Romeo in return.
At that moment the Capulet Nurse enters and tells Juliet that her mother wishes to see her. After she leaves Romeo asks the Nurse who Juliet was. He is devastated to find out that the girl he has fallen in love with is a Capulet. After he and his friends leave the feast, Juliet inquires into Romeo’s identity. When she learns he is a Montague, she is equally devastated.
How Act 1 Scene 5 Sets Up The Rest of The Story
The significance of Scene 5 is that is sets up the rest of the story’s plot. Romeo and Juliet are both smitten with each other and even though they discover each other’s identity, it is obvious that they are going to pursue one another despite the risk of the consequences.
Another factor that sets up the future scenes is that Tybalt recognized Romeo and the fact that a Montague came to their party angered him. So now Tybalt will be looking to cause trouble for Romeo and probably hinder the two lovers.
The entire scene foreshadows the trouble that will come about because the two young lovers meet. This is emphasized by the fact that they are from opposite sides of a feud and that they both realize that trying to pursue one another could cause a vast load of trouble.
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