Directing Act Three Scene Five of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
In this unit, I will be looking at Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I
will examine act 3 scene 5 to analyse attitudes to arranged marriages
in different generations. I will also explore how the actors would
perform their roles, and how I would direct this scene.
In the fifteenth century the attitudes to arranged marriages were very
different to today. Girls had little or no say in their chosen grooms
or when the got married. The main person of authority was the bride's
father. He would choose the man for his daughter and would provide him
with gifts to take his daughter off of his hands. The girls were
usually thirteen/fourteen years in age when the father decided to
marry them off, however the men were usually much older. The bride's
family would throw lavish parties to show social status. Juliet's
family originally threw a party for her to meet the noble gentleman
County Paris. However, this is where she met and fell in love with
Romeo. Nowadays, arranged marriages are very rare, and it is illegal
to marry under the age of 16 with, or 18 without parental consent.
The modern audience would probably react very differently to the view
of arranged marriages in the play, to the one it would have been
intended for, almost 500 years ago. A modern audience may not
understand why Juliet's father is so angry, and reacts the way he
does. However, they are probably more likely to understand Juliet's
pain and see what an impossible situation she is in.
In act 3 scene 5, I will have to leave out some of the lengthy
dialogue. I will make my decisions considering the importance of the
issue of arranged marriages in mind. I will be opening this scene at
line 37. I have decided to do this because I believe the conversation
about the nightingale or lark is not that important in this instance.
As long as the audience knows Romeo has stayed the night, and is now
leaving, is all that matters. I think the room should be dimly lit,
with just the morning light peeping through a small gap in the
curtains, which Juliet will rip open with the line " Then, window, let
day in, and let life out." At line 43, when Juliet is learning over
the balcony trying to absorb her last few seconds with Romeo, I
believe she should be talking very quickly, almost rambling, in a high
tone of voice, for she wants to say what she feels but she also wants
him to go before her mother enters. At lines 60 to 64, just before
Lady Capulet enters, I think Juliet should say that monologue like she
is praying to a higher power:
"O fortune, fortune! all men call thee fickle:
If thou art fickle, what dost thou with him.
That is renown'd for faith? Be fickle, fortune;
For then, I hope, thou wilt not keep him long,
But send him back."