How does Shakespeare create a dramatic moment in Act 3, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet ?

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tamarakh's profile pic

Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One element that adds drama to Act 3, Scene 5 is the little debate Romeo and Juliet have about whether or not morning is beginning to break, especially because if Romeo is not out of Verona by morning, he will be executed. Tension increases when Juliet insists that it is not morning, saying that it only looks bright because a meteor has landed in the distance, as we see in the lines, "Yon light is not daylight; I know it, I. / It is some meteor that the sun exhales" (III.v.12-13). Tension is further built when Romeo decides to agree with her, not wanting to part from her, and decides to sacrifice his life for this present moment of happiness, as we see in his lines, "Let me be ta'en, let me be put to death. / I am content, so thou wilt have it so" (17-18).

The second element that creates drama in this scene is the simile Shakespeare uses to compare Romeo to the look of someone dead, which creates foreshadowing. Since it is early dawn, the light around them still looks very gray. Hence, when Juliet sees Romeo down in the garden after climbing out of the window, he looks very pale. The pale light from the bedroom window may also be casting a pale glow on his face. Thus, Juliet sees him looking as pale as death and takes it for an omen, as we see in the lines:

O God, I have an ill-divining soul!
Methinks I see thee, now thou art below,
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb. (53-55)

Both of these elements add drama to the scene by increasing tension and foreshadowing their upcoming deaths.

florine's profile pic

florine | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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   First of all, the number of entrances and exits in Act III, scene 5 reveals that a good many characters in the play are involved in the action. The scene takes place after the death of Tybalt and Romeo, who has been banished, has not yet left Juliet's chamber.

    The dialogue in the first part of the scene (froml.1 to l.59) is characterized by the mounting tension because of the crucial choice Romeo has to make: stay and die or leave and live without juliet. Within the framework of this first part, there's a reversal: Juliet was deluded into thinking that the nightingale was the lark. Romeo, who was "aloft" with Juliet, had to "descend". Juliet's trying to delay, to put off the moment when they part, when they sever ties, even for a time, creates suspense. 

Romeo's "descent" is portentous, as shown by the two proleptic verses in the second part of the scene (from l.60 to l.110): Romeo "shall soon keep Tybalt company.", says Capulet l. 91. "With Romeo till I behold him dead." Juliet replies, l. 94. Consequently, a sense of loss hangs over the scene, that pertains to the past but also affects the future.

The third part (from l. 111 to 201) is centered on the choice of a husband, Paris, which is forced upon Juliet. Indeed, Capulet has pledged himself to marry Juliet. The untimely marriage Juliet strongly objects to is the incident that marks another turning-point in the story since Juliet is already married to Romeo. Therefore, the past and the future, strangely enough, are made to merge when juliet claims that "it shall be Romeo, whom you hate, rather than Paris." When her father threatens to reject her utterly and "cast her away", she eventually vows to have the wedding postponed: "Delay this marriage, for a month, a week."

At the end of the scene, she is indignant at the nurse for trying to persuade her to marry Paris and she asks for a better counsellor than her. The dialogue with the Friar in the following scene is announced, creating further dramatic tension: "I'll to the Friar."


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