How does Shakespeare use stage directions to generate sympathy for Juliet in Act 3, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet?
Many of the stage directions found in Scene 5 of Act 3 are merely used to indicate what characters are coming and going. However, one stage direction that can possibly help to generate sympathy for Juliet with relation to the surrounding lines is "He goeth down(It)" (III.5.42). This stage direction is referring to Romeo descending from Juliet's window into the Capulets' garden using the rope ladder in the early morning after their wedding night. The stage direction describing his decension immediately follows lines describing Juliet's grief over his absence. We can especially hear her grief in the line, "Art thou gone so, my lord, my love, my friend?" (43). She even asks if they will ever meet again; plus, a few lines later, she very prophetically states:
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)
Hence, seeing his descension coupled with Juliet's remarks about his leaving allows the audience to feel his absence along with Juliet.
Poor Juliet! She has just spent her wedding night with her husband - whom she has recently learned killed her cousin! Then, after he has headed off to Mantua, our girl gets news that she is being forced to marry Paris. No wonder we should feel sympathy for her.
There are 2 instances where Will uses stage directions to make us feel for Juliet. First, he has her deliver an aside after her mother has just called Romeo a villain. This aside shows the conflict that she feels: "God pardon him! I do, with all my heart; And yet no man like he doth grieve my heart." The use of an aside indicates that Juliet can't share her feelings with her mother on the matter.
Second, at the end of the scene, after the blow up with her dad, Shakespeare has each character exit one at a time (Capulet, Lady Capulet, Nurse) until Juliet is left alone on stage, at which point she decides she will see the friar for help or die. This shows the increasing isolation Juliet feels as her world falls apart.