How does Shakespeare create suspense and tension in the final scene of Romeo and Juliet, Act 5 Scene 3?

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

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One literary element Shakespeare uses to create suspense and tension in his final scene of Romeo and Juliet is setting. Shakespeare deliberately set this scene late at night in a churchyard by the Capulets' tomb. Due to the darkness, both Paris and Romeo enter the set bearing torches and the flame of the torches add an eerie glow, creating a suspenseful and tense effect. The setting of the churchyard also creates fear in the characters, as we see Paris's page saying,

[Aside] I am almost afraid to stand alone
Here in the churchyard; yet I will adventure. (10-11)

The fear in the characters further creates a suspensful and tense tone in this final scene.

Metaphors also help to create a sense of suspense and tension. In a metaphor, Romeo describes his intentions at Juliet's tomb as "savage-wild," meaning cruel and untamed. He intends to commit suicide by Juliet's side, thereby being cruel to himself and giving way to animal instincts. He continues his metaphor by comparing his intentions to hungry tigers or a stormy sea, as we see in the lines,

The time and my intents are savage-wild,
More fierce and more inexorable far
Than empty tigers or the roaring sea. (37-39)

Describing the savagery of his intentions to kill himself with poison helps the reader's mind predict the agony Romeo is about to put himself through, adding to the suspense and tension of the scene.


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