How does Shakespeare make act 4, scene 5 such a memorable moment in the play Romeo and Juliet?

Act 4, scene 5 in Romeo and Juliet is memorable because it includes extreme expressions of emotion which are not tragic, since the audience knows that Juliet is not really dead and the Capulets have recently behaved very cruelly towards her. These are immediately followed by the musicians' conversation, which contrasts comically with the hysteria of the Capulets and the Nurse.

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Act 4, scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet is divided into two parts: the first, slightly longer section dealing with Juliet's apparent death, and the second concerning the reaction of the musicians who will now no longer be playing at her wedding.

Death scenes are always in danger of becoming melodramatic, and Shakespeare, like several of his contemporaries, complained about ham actors playing to the gallery at such moments. In this case, however, the scene can be played with an absurd excess of melodrama for two reasons. In the first place, the audience and Friar Laurence are both well aware that Juliet is not really dead. In the second place, Capulet, Lady Capulet, and the Nurse, all of whom are weeping and wailing now, have recently treated Juliet with such callous cruelty that it is difficult to feel sorry for them. At the end of act 3, Capulet threatened to turn Juliet out of his house to starve in the streets, Lady Capulet coldly refused to help her, and the Nurse told her to marry Paris, even though she knew this was impossible, since Juliet was already married.

The scene is memorable, therefore, because it includes an extravagantly emotional performance of grief which contrasts with the genuinely moving death scene in act 5. This melodramatic scene is immediately followed by the deflating comments of the musicians, who do not much care about this tragedy in the Capulet household.

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