Dramatic Moments in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
The last scene in 'Romeo and Juliet' is full of dramatic interest.
This scene excites an already anxious audience, who by now are
desperate to discover the fate of these 'star-crossed lovers'. In this
final scene the depth of Romeo and Juliet's love for each other is
confirmed when it is realised that they are truly prepared to die
rather than live without each other. Nonetheless, Shakespeare keeps
his audience guessing and hoping to the end. They are plagued with
questions: Will Romeo arrive in time? Will Juliet wake before it is
too late? How will Juliet cope with Romeo's death? What will happen in
Verona once the double suicide is discovered? Will the families
continue their feud? What will happen to Lawrence? No sooner is one
question answered than another is posed in the minds of the audience.
Shakespeare keeps them on the edge of their seats throughout this
In the section of the play I have been asked to analyse, I think the
first key point of dramatic interest is when Romeo comments on the
lifelike colour of Juliet's skin, while she is lying in the tomb. He
'Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death's pale flag is not advanced there.'
'Why art thou yet so fair?'
Not only do these thoughts make the audience hope that Juliet will
wake in time, but they also make them hope that it will dawn on Romeo
that she might not be dead. However, just as the tension heightens,
Shakespeare increases the audience's anxiety by allowing Romeo to
become distracted at the sight of Tybalt's body lying in the 'bloody
sheet'. Romeo's attention wanders, but not that of the audience who
remain transfixed as they anticipate Juliet's waking. Shakespeare
makes the most of this brief moment of tension. The audience's sense
of the dramatic is intensified because they know that Juliet is alive
and they are desperate for her to wake and put Romeo out of his
misery. The audience hopes that some twist of fate will make
everything alright. They cannot bear the fact that he Romeo has taken
his eyes off her and may, therefore, miss any signs of life and so
remain glued to the performance.
This 'edge of the seat' atmosphere was highly entertaining for the
Shakespearian audience, particularly the more intelligent amongst
them, who enjoyed exercising their minds by 'second guessing' the plot
and revelled in the coincidences that Shakespeare weaves into his
stories. Modern audiences, who have a greater choice of entertainment,
and are perhaps more used to watching rather than thinking and
listening, might be more critical of the structure of events that have
lead Romeo and Juliet to this tomb. Nonetheless both audiences will
respond to the drama of this love story.
In the minds of...