In Romeo and Juliet, how are lines 41-110 of Act 1, Scene 5 so dramatically powerful?Please give a critical response to the text, the content of these lines and the impact they have on the...

In Romeo and Juliet, how are lines 41-110 of Act 1, Scene 5 so dramatically powerful?

Please give a critical response to the text, the content of these lines and the impact they have on the audience, the use of rhetorical devices, the themes conveyed in these lines and their historical context.

Expert Answers
robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The start of the extract you mention has Romeo seeing Juliet, and falling in love at first sight:

What lady's that, which doth enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?

It's a pun: does Juliet enrich the "night", or the hand of a "knight" - is it Paris, who her parents are trying to set her up with? Romeo, a second ago, was in love with Rosaline, and Juliet seemed reasonably keen (or, if you like, indifferent) to marry Paris... and suddenly the magic starts.

Yet before the two can speak, Tybalt hears Romeo's voice behind his mask and determines to attack him and challenge him, before he is stopped by Capulet, who prevents him - and then furiously insists that Romeo is not to be challenged:

What, goodman boy? I say he shall. Go to!
Am I the master here, or you? Go to!

Capulet is making a clear dramatic point here: that the feud between the Capulets and Montagues (which opened the play) is not that important. In fact, it's not even as important as a party. The play really doesn't look much like a tragedy at this point - but a romantic comedy: though, Shakespeare is, of course, planting the seed which will lead Tybalt to murder Mercutio later on.

The next section is a fascinating section. When Romeo and Juliet finally speak, their chemistry is such that Shakespeare has them form a perfect sonnet with their lines, inter-locked rhymes and beautiful language of sin and redemption. Their kiss is what the audience has been waiting for since the start!