The Impact of the Opening Quarrel between the Servants in Romeo and Juliet You can examine the dramatic impact of the opening quarrel between the
servants . Show how the petty quarrel that they don’t understand
immediately creates an atmosphere of dissension and violence. Look at
the sordid jokes that these uneducated men make and explain that the
whole effect is one of ignorance and increasing unrest.
Trace the way that the quarrel escalates into something much more
serious: this shows us the way that a meaningless feud can spread to
all sections of society and cause more and more difficulties. Show how
the silly bickering of the lowest members of the social hierarchy
leads to the much more significant and frightening confrontation
between Tybalt and Benvolio.
Then you can go onto show how we are introduced to the quarrelling
houses in the context of the street brawl. This helps to mould our
opinion of the whole feud, making us see that it demeans the dignity
of the older generation by bringing them to the same level in public
as their servants.
Describe the violence of the fight between Tybalt and Benvolio,
explaining the impact on the audience of this one to one combat early
in the play: we feel apprehension for the future as such an event
takes place. The whole atmosphere of spreading antagonism is created
quickly and effectively, and we also get to know the qualities of the
main characters very quickly: Old Capulet is immediately shown to be a
silly, interfering, old man, for instance.
So the opening is effective, because it introduces the story of the
feud, prepares us for its effects, suggests the atmosphere of the
whole play and increases the tension and expectations of the audience,
as well as depicting the leading characters clearly .
The Prologue, unusually, outlines the main events of the play so that
the audience know from the start that the play will end in tragedy for
the two “star-cross’d lovers”. This obviously prepares the audience
for the events which follow. The focus shifts away from what will
happen to how events will unfold.
The Prologue tells us a few important details – that the Montagues and
the Capulets are “alike in dignity”, that there is an ancient feud
between the two families and that the grudge between them ends only
with the deaths of their children.
Act One fills in some of the details for the audience. In the first
scene we see that even the servants of the two households are caught
up in the animosity. A brawl takes place, during which we see the
fiery-tempered Tybalt and the peace-loving Benvolio for the first
time. Prince Escalus threatens to execute anyone who disturbs the
peace of Verona’s streets again – this has...