With regards to just language, how did Shakespeare keep readers engaged with Romeo and Juliet, even though they know what is going to happen?With regards to just language, how did Shakespeare keep...

With regards to just language, how did Shakespeare keep readers engaged with Romeo and Juliet, even though they know what is going to happen?

With regards to just language, how did Shakespeare keep readers engaged with Romeo and Juliet, even though they know what is going to happen due to the prologue?

Could you just focus on language? It doesn't necessarily have to be from the prologue itself.

Thank you!

(Please use quotes! :o) )

Asked on by octopus1

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Although we know what is going to happen, we don’t know exactly how it will happen.  Shakespeare’s beautiful and hilarious speeches keep us engaged.

There is a lot of beautiful language in the play.  Some of it is very romantic and enthralling.  Consider Romeo and Juliet’s first encounter.

Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,

Which mannerly devotion shows in this;

For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,

And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.(105) (Act 1, Scene 5, p. 32)

This exchange is part of the lovely conversation between Romeo and Juliet, which some scholars have considered a shared sonnet.  This establishes Romeo and Juliet as star-crossed, since they instantly fall in love and finish each other’s thoughts, but it also makes the viewer teary.

Shakespeare’s plays were often performed in front of large crowds, so of course there had to be some bawdy locker room talk.  This will keep the viewer entertained and laughing.  The Nurse and Mercutio are usually the ones who use sexual innuendo.

And then my husband ….took up the child.

‘Yea,’ quoth he, ‘dost thou fall upon thy face?(45)

Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;

Wilt thou not, Jule?’ (Act 1, Scene 3, p. 23)

Shakespeare’s audience would have found these references to sex hilarious, and most modern viewers will still smile even though it’s kind of inappropriate.

Finally, there are some speeches that are both witty and not sexual.  Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech is engaging and witty without being too coarse.

She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes

In shape no bigger than an agate stone(60)

On the forefinger of an alderman,

Drawn with a team of little atomies

Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep; (Act 1, Scene 4, p. 27)

With speeches like these, both romantic and funny, Shakespeare keeps us engaged throughout the play.

Sources:

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