Describe the dramatic conventions in Act 1 of Romeo and Juliet in detail.Include information on language and dramatic techniques used in the act. (iambic pentameter, structure, type of language...

Describe the dramatic conventions in Act 1 of Romeo and Juliet in detail.

Include information on language and dramatic techniques used in the act. (iambic pentameter, structure, type of language techniques, oxymorons, puns/play on words, courtly love). Include quote

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the most poetic of all Shakespeare’s plays, Romeo and Juliet is replete with dramatic conventions beginning with the Prologue which is written in sonnet form. The entire play, in fact, is written in iambic pentameter with the main characters speaking in verse, especially Romeo and Juliet who use the rhyming couplets of courtly love. Monologues and soliloquies abound, also, in Act I. The lower character uses puns such as "coals--to insult, and the ore.

 In the speeches of the main characters, there is often chiarosuro, the effect of contrasted light and shadow. For instance, when Lord Montague speaks to Benvolio, he employs much light/dark imagery.

Many a morning hath he there been seen,
With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew,
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs;
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun(130)
Should in the farthest East begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora's bed,

Romeo's monologue uses oxymorons:

....Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.
Why then, O brawling love!....
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.(180)

In Scene 2, Lord Capulet's response to Paris’s proposal of marriage to Capulet’s daughter Juliet is also filled with such imagery:

And too soon marr'd are those so early made.
The earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she;
She is the hopeful lady of my earth.(15)
But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart;
My will to her consent is but a part.....
One more, most welcome, makes my number more.
At my poor house look to behold this night
Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light.....(25) 

Then in Scene 3, Lady Capulet’s proposal that Juliet consider this Paris as a husband is a beautiful extended metaphor with Paris compared to a book:

What say you? Can you love the gentleman?
This night you shall behold him at our feast.
Read o'er the volume of young Paris’ face,(85)
And find delight writ there with beauty's pen;
Examine every married lineament
And see how one another lends content;
And what obscur'd in this fair volume lies
Find written in the margentt of his eyes,(90)
This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him only lacks a cover.
The fish lives in the sea, and 'tis much pride
For fair without the fair within to hide.....

Scene 4 presents the flight of fancy monologue of Mercutio who entertains his friends while encouraging Romeo to join them in attending the party of the Capulets.

In Scene 5, Romeo speaks in the rhyming couplets of love as he first sees Juliet: 

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear—
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows....(50)

As he approaches Juliet, they speak in a sonnet, each saying seven lines:

If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this,

My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand

To smooth that rough touch witth a tender kiss.

Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, Wich mannerly devotion shows in this;

For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,

And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss....




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Romeo and Juliet

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