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Shakespeare's Use Of Dramatic Irony In Romeo And Juliet

2312 words - 9 pages

Shakespeare's Use of Dramatic Irony In Romeo and Juliet

I understand that the term, 'Dramatic irony' is the irony that occurs
when a situation, or speech for instance, is fully understood by the
audience but not by the characters in the play.

Shakespeare uses dramatic irony superbly throughout the play, because
he leaves the audience in suspense and anticipation whilst leaving the
theatre surrounded by tension. This is what I think makes the play a
great tragedy because it makes us ask the question, "What if?" What if
Romeo hadn't been so hasty in love? What if he hadn't let his emotions
(especially rage) control him?

In the prologue, the chorus announces, "A pair of star-cross'd lovers
take their life." The audience is quick to figure out that he means
Romeo and Juliet, but they wonder why Shakespeare has just declared
the ending at the beginning of the play. I think this is because he is
implying to the audience that fate has control over their lives and
there is no way to interfere with what has been set for them. This
also sets the scene and the audience can now see the play from a new
perspective as what they know is revealed before them. What the
audience know from the chorus now also plays with their emotions and
reactions, as they know what will happen, but how? And when? This also
causes more suspense and anticipation and lets them focus on less
obvious parts of the play such as the language or actions of the
characters.

Before the scenes I will be covering, Act 3 Scene 1 and Act 5 Scene
III, we have seen a lot of conflict between the two houses, Romeo in
'love' with a lady named Rosaline whom we never see, and then the
love-at-first-sight with Juliet, whom we know has been promised by her
father to the nobleman and ideal husband County Paris, but she too has
fallen in love with Romeo, a little reluctantly though as she is not
sure that he could be faithful. Her worries could not have been very
strong as they are wed at the end of Act II.

In Act 3 scene I, we see dramatic irony right from the start when the
scene opens on Benvolio talking to Mercutio. Benvolio is saying that
they should retire as, "The day is hot, the Capels are abroad, and if
we meet, we shall not 'scape a brawl." This is true and the audience
knows it as one of the characters is soon to depart out of the play,
but when? The audience may also acknowledge that this scene is an echo
of Act 1 Scene 1 as a fight was within grasp, but Benvolio interfered
and the fight did not commence. This time it is different as the
shadow of death is hanging over one of the characters, grave and
deadly.

The audience is familiarised with more dramatic irony when Tybalt, a
rival to the Montagues, shows up looking to fight with Romeo. We know
that he will not as he has just bestowed his love to Juliet, cousin...

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