How does Shakespeare make Act 1 Scene 1 an effective and dramatic opening to "Romeo and Juliet"?"Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Opening with arguments and discord, tempers flaring in the old Montague and Lord Capulet, Act I, Scene 1 of "Romeo and Juliet" rolls out the red carpet of discord that the Prologue has just presented the audience.  By the first act's presenting of the motif of antipathy between the families, the infatuation of Romeo for Juliet becomes much more dangerous, fulfilling the Prologue's term of "star-cross'd lovers."

The first act clearly foreshadows discord ahead.  Like the hot-tempered Sampson, In Act III Mercutio banters words with Tybalt when the choleric cousin of Juliet appears in the third act.  Much like Sampson and Abraham, Mercutio and Tybalt argue and do some posturing as well.  Sadly, this behavior gets cared away and Mercutio is slain.

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Romeo and Juliet's  opening scene is action-packed. It starts with two servants wondering if they should provoke a fight or start a fight themselves. The Montagues and Capulets are feuding families who have been feuding forever, so even the servants get in on the action. These servants decide to provoke the fight by "biting their thumbs." This would be like flipping someone off today. That stirs up the opposing family's servants and a fight ensues.

For those who can read into the text maturely and seek a little of Shakespeare's humor, he uses many puns or plays on words. He refers to their weapons, tools and maidenheads figuratively and literally so the audience (whether sophistocated or dirty-minded) can laugh or be in suspense by what is going on. You'll have to re-read the 2nd page to look for some of his immature humor.

 

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