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Romeo And Juliet Act 3 Scene 1 Essay Question

Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet Act 3 Scene 1 Analysis

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Romeo and Juliet Coursework In Act 3 Scene 1 of Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare raises the excitement and the tension throughout the scene by using dramatic tension between the characters, provocative and threatening dialogue, strong language effects, and sharp vital violence. The scene begins with Benvolio and Mercutio coming on to stage, with Benvolio suggesting they should go home in case they meet the Capulets and the violence ensues. “The day is hot, the Capels are abroad, And if we meet we shall not scape a brawl, for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring. This pathetic fallacy and strong image of mad blood creates an expectation in the audience of violent events to come. This expectation seems to be met fulfilled quickly as Tybalt enters with other members of the Capulet family and some servants and immediately a dramatic tension is established between the two factions. We are shown that Mercutio is in a difficult frame of mind. “ ‘By my head here comes the Capulets’ ‘By my heel, I care not. ’ ” Clearly Mercutio is in an aggressive mood. Tybalt addresses Mercutio and Benvolio. ‘Gentlemen, good den, a word with one of you’ ” Up to this point, Tybalt is courteous – his quarrel is with Romeo, not with Benvolio or Mercutio. However Mercutio is extremely provocatice and he responds to Tybalt, asking a word with one of them with, “Make it a word and a blow. ” The audience feels there is a fight in prospect. When Tybalt says that Mercutio consorts with Romeo, Mercutio sees an insult where there is none. “Consort? what, dost thou make us minstrels? an thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords: here’s my fiddlestick; here’s that shall make you dance. Zounds, consort! ” A gentleman cannot accept being compared to a lowly musician, but this is not what Tybalt meant and the audience feel expectation of fear and violence. Now Romeo enters, and now the focus of the tension shifts as a dramatic tension is established between Romeo and Tybalt. Tybalt says to Mercutio: “Well, peace be with you sir, here comes my man. ” It is strange that Tybalt is prepared to swallow such provocation from Mercutio, just as Romeo will soon swallow his.

Tybalt puts Romeo in a situation in which almost no gentleman could refuse to fight. “Thou art a villain. ” he says but Romeo does not respond with aggression. Now a new element of intrigue and excitement comes with a kind of dramatic irony. The audience knows why Romeo does not want to fight Tybalt –they have just become relatives- but the other characters do not know. Romeo seems quite unmanly when instead of fighting Tybalt for his honour he swallows the insult, saying “I do protest I never injuried thee, But loved thee better than thou canst devise. Again the audience knows, can “devise”, the reason, but Mercutio sees it as cowardice. Now the excitement moves up a notch as Mercutio starts the violence and we are to have the sword fight the audience has been expecting. Mercutio condemns Romeo’s peaceful ways. “O calm, dishonourable, vile submission! Alla stoccata carries it away. (Draws) Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk? ” The ‘vile submission’ shows what a humiliation Mercutio believes Romeo is accepting; the insult ‘rat catcher’ makes it almost certain Tybalt will have to fight.

Now the sword play begins, and the audience not only have the excitement and great dramatic action of two fighters trying to kill each other but also the sight of Romeo trying to stop the fight for the reasons only he and the audience know. With a tragic irony it is Romeo’s efforts to separate the two men that give Tybalt the chance to stab Mercutio, a friend of Romeo’s on the Montague’s side. Now the audience has put in suspense wondering whether Mercutio is going to die or not. Romeo raises their hopes that he may live. (“Courage man, the hurt cannot be much. ); but Mercutio seems to know that he is a dead man. “A plague o’ both your houses! They have made worms’ meat of me: I have it, And soundly too: your houses! ” The dramatic and terrifying image of worm’s meat makes Mercutio’s last words very powerful; and his cursing of the Capulets and the Montagues shows that he blames their useless feud for his death. The scene now takes another turn as Romeo puts aside all thought of peace, and becomes warlike. Benvolio tells him that Mercutio is dead, and Romeo decides on revenge in spite of his marriage to Juliet. This day’s black fate on more days doth depend; This but begins the woe, others must end” The audience is put on more suspense with this foreboding of more strife and death. Tybalt returns, perhaps to continue his quarrel with Romeo but strangely this time, alone and Romeo resolves on violence. “Away to heaven, respective lenity, And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now! ” With the passion of this language and the dramatic tension once again onstage between Romeo and Tybalt, the scene approaches its climax.

Tybalt declares that he will send Romeo’s soul after Mercutio’s. “Thou, wretched boy, that didst consort him here, Shalt with him hence. ” The audience understand that either Tybalt or Romeo must die. Now we have the second sword fight in this scene and this is the climax. As Romeo kills Tybalt he takes his revenge for Mercutio’s death, he gets rid of his main enemy in the Capulet camp, and he puts his relationship with the love of his life in grave danger – this is the peak of the excitement and tension.

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Now Shakespeare lets the audience relax a little as Benvolio explains what has happened and the Prince orders Romeo exile but not death. From foreboding at the very beginning of the scene to mortal insults and provocation, to sword fighting and death, to the audience’s realization that something terribly wrong has happened to Romeo and Juliet’s romance Shakespeare uses a wide range of dramatic and language devices to make the scene one of the exciting and enormous tension.

Author: Brandon Johnson

in Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet Act 3 Scene 1 Analysis

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O, I am fortune’s fool!

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Summary: Act 3, scene 1

As they walk in the street under the boiling sun, Benvolio suggests to Mercutio that they go indoors, fearing that a brawl will be unavoidable should they encounter Capulet men. Mercutio replies that Benvolio has as quick a temper as any man in Italy, and should not criticize others for their short fuses. Tybalt enters with a group of cronies. He approaches Benvolio and Mercutio and asks to speak with one of them. Annoyed, Mercutio begins to taunt and provoke him. Romeo enters. Tybalt turns his attention from Mercutio to Romeo, and calls Romeo a villain. Romeo, now secretly married to Juliet and thus Tybalt’s kinsman, refuses to be angered by Tybalt’s verbal attack. Tybalt commands Romeo to draw his sword. Romeo protests that he has good reason to love Tybalt, and does not wish to fight him. He asks that until Tybalt knows the reason for this love, he put aside his sword. Mercutio angrily draws his sword and declares with biting wit that if Romeo will not fight Tybalt, he will. Mercutio and Tybalt begin to fight. Romeo, attempting to restore peace, throws himself between the combatants. Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, and as Mercutio falls, Tybalt and his men hurry away. Mercutio dies, cursing both the Montagues and the Capulets: “A plague o’ both your houses” (3.1.87), and still pouring forth his wild witticisms: “Ask for me tomorrow, and / you shall find me a grave man” (3.1.93–94). Enraged, Romeo declares that his love for Juliet has made him effeminate, and that he should have fought Tybalt in Mercutio’s place. When Tybalt, still angry, storms back onto the scene, Romeo draws his sword. They fight, and Romeo kills Tybalt. Benvolio urges Romeo to run; a group of citizens outraged at the recurring street fights is approaching. Romeo, shocked at what has happened, cries “O, I am fortune’s fool!” and flees (3.1.131).

The Prince enters, accompanied by many citizens, and the Montagues and Capulets. Benvolio tells the Prince the story of the brawl, emphasizing Romeo’s attempt to keep the peace, but Lady Capulet, Tybalt’s aunt, cries that Benvolio is lying to protect the Montagues. She demands Romeo’s life. Prince Escalus chooses instead to exile Romeo from Verona. He declares that should Romeo be found within the city, he will be killed.

Read a translation of Act 3, scene 1 →


The sudden, fatal violence in the first scene of Act 3, as well as the buildup to the fighting, serves as a reminder that, for all its emphasis on love, beauty, and romance, Romeo and Juliet still takes place in a masculine world in which notions of honor, pride, and status are prone to erupt in a fury of conflict. The viciousness and dangers of the play’s social environment are dramatic tools that Shakespeare employs to make the lovers’ romance seem even more precious and fragile—their relationship is the audience’s only respite from the brutal world pressing against their love. The fights between Mercutio and Tybalt and then between Romeo and Tybalt are chaotic; Tybalt kills Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, flees, and then suddenly, and inexplicably, returns to fight Romeo, who kills him in revenge. Passion outweighs reason at every turn.

Romeo’s cry, “O, I am fortune’s fool!” refers specifically to his unluckiness in being forced to kill his new wife’s cousin, thereby getting himself banished (3.1.131). It also recalls the sense of fate that hangs over the play. Mercutio’s response to his fate, however, is notable in the ways it diverges from Romeo’s response. Romeo blames fate, or fortune, for what has happened to him. Mercutio curses the Montagues and Capulets. He seems to see people as the cause of his death, and gives no credit to any larger force.

The tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet... told in text messages

Elizabethan society generally believed that a man too much in love lost his manliness. Romeo clearly subscribes to that belief, as can be seen when he states that his love for Juliet had made him “effeminate.” Once again, however, this statement can be seen as a battle between the private world of love and the public world of honor, duty, and friendship. The Romeo who duels with Tybalt is the Romeo who Mercutio would call the “true” Romeo. The Romeo who sought to avoid confrontation out of concern for his wife is the person Juliet would recognize as her loving Romeo. The word effeminate is applied by the public world of honor upon those things it does not respect. In using the term to describe his present state, Romeo accepts the responsibilities thrust upon him by the social institutions of honor and family duty.

The arrival of the Prince and the angry citizens shifts the focus of the play to a different sort of public sphere. Romeo’s killing of Tybalt is marked by rashness and vengeance, characteristics prized by noblemen, but which threaten the public order that citizens desire and the Prince has a responsibility to uphold. As one who has displayed such traits, Romeo is banished from Verona. Earlier, the Prince acted to repress the hatred of the Montagues and the Capulets in order to preserve public peace; now, still acting to avert outbreaks of violence, the Prince unwittingly acts to thwart the love of Romeo and Juliet. Consequently, with their love censured not only by the Montagues and Capulets but by the ruler of Verona, Romeo and Juliet’s relationship puts Romeo in danger of violent reprisal from both Juliet’s kinsmen and the state.

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