In This I Will Be Exploring How William Shakespeare Creates Violence and How His Portrayal of Conflict Relates to the Original Elizabethan Context and Today. I Will Be Analysing Act 1 Scene 1, Act 3 Scene 1 and Act 5 Scene 3. Essay

Shakespeare was born in 1563 in Stratford-Upon-Avon and he died in 1616. His career started out in acting when he was young. This was until he found that he had an outstanding talent for writing. He wrote “Romeo and Juliet” at the peak of his writing career in 1595, at the age of 32. Shakespeare actually wrote 37 plays along with 154 sonnets but “Romeo and Juliet” is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, play he ever wrote. “Romeo and Juliet” is about two families that have been in a long and bitter feud for many years now.

The play is set in Verona in Italy and involves two main characters, Romeo, of the Montagues, and Juliet, of the Capulets. The play explores many feelings such as violence but does display a great amount of love and care. “Romeo and Juliet” isn’t a love story, nor were any of his masterpieces, it was an emotional tragedy. The play is well known globally and many versions of it have been produced. In 1996, Baz Luhrmann produced a film which retold this audience-gripping story. Also, in the West End a production called “West Side Story” which also was based on “Romeo and Juliet” was created.

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So there are a vast number of people in the world who have heard of or know the plot of “Romeo and Juliet”. In Act 1: Scene 1, a fight breaks out between the servants of the Capulets’ house and the Montagues’. Tybalt (a Capulet) forces Benvolio (a Montague) to fight. The Prince of Verona arrives and terminates the fight. Romeo’s parents are worried about him because he’s been acting different lately. So, Benvolio suggests he should go and find out what is on Romeo’s mind. The language in Act 1: Scene 1 conveys there is almost immediate violence taking place.

The first instance in which we see violence is when Tybalt says “What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds. ” This identifies the servants are fighting and for Tybalt to intervene the fight must have been severe. This also confirms to the audience that violence was occurring, through language. This also has a social context because at the time this play was written, it was usual for groundlings to have fights in the street without being disturbed whereas nowadays, Policemen and the law would soon intervene. The Elizabethan audience would see the fight and cheer, just as they would do at he side of fights in their real lives however, this would not happen nowadays. Modern audiences would simply watch the play and not become emotionally involved whatsoever. Secondly, Benvolio tries to stop the fight but he gives the Capulets more reason to carry on by insulting them. Benvolio orders “Put up your swords – you know not what to do” This displays that Benvolio wasn’t encouraging the Montague servants to fight because he doesn’t think his honourable servants are worthy to fight the peasants that are the servants of the Capulets.

Furthermore, Juliet’s father, Lord Capulet, demonstrates how violent he is when he instructs to Lady Capulet “Give me my long sword, ho! ” This explores how Lord Capulet is determined to get involved in this violence. He is commanding his wife to hand him his weapon so that he can join in and exchange blows with the Montagues’ servants. Subsequently, Lord Montague appears and he roars “Thou villain Capulet! – Hold me not, let me go. ” Now Lord Montague has arrived and he feels exactly the same as Lord Capulet; he wants to fight and bring damage to his rivals.

They’re both fuming with anger and both thoroughly want to fight. The only obstacles in their path are their wives who’re restraining them. Both these quotes show the violence between these households is fierce. The audience would gather that this is an exciting and intense feud. Also, the words and phrases Shakespeare has chosen show violence. Such words include “thy washing blow”, “beat them down”, “thrusts and blows” and “I will cut off their heads. ” All these show that there is a strong hatred for each other.

These are all examples of graphic language and usually we’d find these when someone really despises another person that they’re passionately thinking of what they could, and want to, do to harm them. In addition to violence being shown through language, we can see that it’s being presented through the character of certain individuals. We can see violence in Sampson’s character because he says “Draw if you be men. ” This shows violence in Sampson’s character because he is encouraging the Montagues’ servants to fight and he says to Gregory; “Remember thy washing blow. This makes the audience believe that Sampson deems violence as good and wants to bring bloodshed upon the Montagues. Alternatively, we can depict violence in Lord Capulets personality. He says “Give me my long sword ho! ” This shows he really wants to fight and that he thinks violence is a positive act and that he enjoys violence. We can take this and suggest he has a slightly violent character, and we can gather that several of both houses have violent characters. In the stage directions, it instructs the reader “they fight. It says this twice; once when Sampson and Gregory duel with Abram and Balthasar and again when Tybalt arrives and briefly halts it then they fight once more. So we can see that by knowing they had yet another fight a second time, they didn’t realise how violent and childlike they were being, they just felt urged to fight and they wanted to bring suffering to their enemies, making us conclude they have an air of violence to them. Lastly, we can see by the actions and by what he says that Sampson is a violent character.

He wants to bring about a fight and we can notice this when he replies to Gregory by saying “Nay as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them – which is disgrace to them, if they bear it. ” He knows by doing this the Montagues’ servants will retaliate and they’ll react by fighting. Sampson is trying to annoy and irritate the Capulets. He wants to bring about a battle so he lets Gregory know he will throw an insult at them and, hopefully, the Montagues’ will fight however he wants to make sure that the law is on his side. He doesn’t want to say anything that will blame him for the fight starting.

This “biting of the thumb” also has social context as it was a well known, commonly used insult in those days, just as we would swear or make rude hand gestures nowadays, and the audience would again gather that they were slyly planning a fight. In addition to language and character, stage craft can reveal violence. The most obvious prop used in this scene would be the swords. We know swords are used because Benvolio says “Put up your swords, you know not what to do. ” The swords are illustrious symbols of violence and by having those on stage the audience can comprehend their significance.

Also, the stage directions read “Enter several of both houses, who join the fray. ” Purely just by seeing the addition of people into the action, the audience would assume that it isn’t only a few members of each house that are at war, it’s everyone in the family that are involved from the Lords to the Servants! They’d also see this violence is on a huge scale and it’s hot-blooded. Finally, when each family are fighting, on the stage there would be the Capulets on one side of the stage, either left or right, and the Montagues on the other.

This would identify to the audience that there is a clear partition between the families and that divide is a large one. Finally, the facial expressions of the characters would be challenging; they’d have to show great anger and immensely put themselves in their characters shoes as it is demanding to act excessively irate. Besides violence, conflict also comes across in this scene. Firstly, in the language we absorb much conflict. It starts at the commencement when Sampson and Gregory are tussling over whether to stand and fight or flee.

Sampson desperately wants to get involved and affray however Gregory would rather stand back and not get into yet another conflict. Sampson says “Gregory, on my word, we’ll not carry coals” and Gregory ripostes “No for then we should be colliers. ” We can tell Gregory wants to find an argument because he is rebelling and resisting to their slurs. Gregory is contrasting, arguing the fact that they may get into further turmoil. They diverge and end up in a slight bicker. Secondly, Benvolio and Tybalt argue when they disagree over what each other’s objectives really are.

Benvolio yells “Put up thy sword, or manage it to part these men with me” and Tybalt reacts “What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, as I hate hell, have at thee, coward! ” Benvolio solicits with Tybalt, asking him to break up the fight but Tybalt doesn’t accept this and assumes Benvolio is up to no good, and this breaks out into another fight! Much of the character in this scene reveals a lot about how people are. This is necessary for the audience to get an early impression about what the person is like.

Firstly, Lord Montague and his wife, Lady Montague, find themselves in a conflict when one wants to join the squabble where the latter doesn’t want her husband fighting all over again. Lord Montague commands “Thou villain Capulet – Hold me not, let me go! ” Following this Lady Capulet cries “Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe. ” This minor conflict takes place and consequently, we can gather that Lord Montague is much more aggressive and quarrelsome whereas Lady Montague wouldn’t like this particular argument to occur.

Another moment of conflict is when Romeo and Benvolio have a dissention over their opinions of Rosaline. This conflict is because Benvolio thinks she isn’t the one for Romeo and Romeo thinks Benvolio is foolish for suggesting this. Benvolio states “Alas that love so gentle in his view, should be so tyrannous and rough in proof! ” Romeo replies “Alas, that Love, whose view is muffled still, should without eyes, see pathways without will” Benvolio is expressing how he thinks Romeo has fallen for an absolute monster whereas Romeo thinks Benvolio’s view is distorted and they continue to contend about who is correct.

The conflict comes across when they dispute one another’s point and continue to do so until they both give up. The stagecraft in this particular scene unearths conflict too. Certain roles would appeal and encourage certain members of the spectators. The upper class characters such as the Lord and Lady Capulet would appeal to the richer and more aristocratic audience. Such things as which clothes they wore, how they spoke, how they acted when a conflict was occurring would all be ways in which they could relate to the character.

The groundlings and necessitous members of the audience would be able to correlate with the lower class characters such as the servants and the Nurse. In those times, it would have only been the wealthier, more educated folk who spoke in Elizabethan dialect, just like Lady’s and Lord’s, and the poorer people would of spoke commonly just as the servants in this play did. Prose is the unversed speech which the gang members and lower class characters such as the servants used. Blank verse is unrhymed poetry used by the higher-classed characters and Romeo and Juliet.

The effect these two forms of speaking have on the audience is that they distinguish between the rich and the poor. And also when someone is speaking in prose then the lower-class Elizabethan audience would be more likely to shout or encourage them and likewise when the upper class are speaking in blank verse. One of the more violent episodes is Act 3: Scene 1. It inaugurates with Tybalt finding Mercutio and Benvolio and claiming he wants to fight Romeo. Romeo arrives but he does not want to fight Tybalt as he is the cousin of Juliet, and fighting him would spark the feud up again.

Also, Juliet may not be happy with him. However, Mercutio fights for Romeo instead as Mercutio doesn’t want them to be viewed as cowards. Romeo tries to intervene but unfortunately Mercutio is murdered. As a result of this, Romeo is furious with Tybalt for killing his best companion and kills Tybalt, and then flees with worry. The Prince arrives and banishes Romeo from Verona. The effect this has is that Romeo is distraught because he’d rather die than not be with Juliet. Juliet’s new husband is banished leaving her heartbroken. She feels her life has no meaning now.

Mercutio expresses violence through his language quite often. The first instance of this is when Mercutio quickly replies to Tybalt saying “Couple it with something, make it a word and a blow. ” This shows he is in the mood for violence and insinuating that he wants a fight. Shortly after Tybalt and Mercutio desire for a fight but neither wants to be the one who can be blamed for starting it because this may result in them being punished relentlessly by the Prince. Tybalt says “You shall find me apt enough to that, Sir, and you will give me occasion. ” Mercutio retorts “Could you not take some occasion without giving. They’re principally saying they do want to mar the other but are waiting for the other to make the first move. This also reveals that Mercutio is quite an aggressive character; he wants the fight but doesn’t want to be blamed for bringing it around. The effect this has is that it creates an exciting suspense for the audience, both Elizabethan and modern audience would be thrilled with the tension. Furthermore, Tybalt presents violence through his character when he says “Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries that thou hast done me, therefore turn and draw. This implores Tybalt has a violent nature. He is ordering a fight as if he is omnipotent and he seems revengeful and slightly sadistic. He is showing how much he wants this duel. He is provoking Mercutio, letting him know that if we wants a fight, he’ll be given one. Another segment in which we see violence portrayed is when Tybalt menaces the furious Romeo. It is violent because it conveys Tybalt threatening; saying he’ll murder him. Tybalt says “Thou wretched boy, that didst consort him here, shalt with him hence! This proves when Romeo says one of them must die. Tybalt strikes back with anger saying it will be him that will be left lifeless. This shows violence because Tybalt suggests he will slyly garrotte him. The stagecraft in this scene is much more action filled as it is full of fighting, feuded arguments and full throttled murder. The actors involved would’ve had to be able to handle many melting-pot feelings. Feelings of love and hatred are apparent. These melting-pot feelings require the actor to perform in a way which shows a large variety of emotion, which ould’ve been very complex. The audience would get the impression that this scene is full of emotion. There is meaningful speech, impact and violence and also a strong sense of hatred plus mocking and the comic insults display well to cultivate the audience’s maximum potential. Meanwhile, the conflict comes through just as successfully. The language reveals how the conflict works right from the start. Benvolio and Mercutio are arguing about whether or not Benvolio gets pleasure from landing himself in brawls.

Mercutio exclaims “If we meet we shall not scape a brawl” and subsequently Benvolio retorts “Thou art like one of these fellows that, when he enters the confines of a Tavern, claps me” This is suggesting they’re verbally fighting. We know this because soon after, they support their arguments with reasons for why they think Benvolio does or doesn’t enjoy sparring. When people back up their points with evidence then we can tell they are in an intense quarrel. An additional situation in which we can notice conflict is whilst Mercutio is vocalizing how he feels about Benvolio’s attitude towards conflict.

He expresses that he feels Benvolio’s approach to this is improper, and in doing so, ends up in another disagreement. Mercutio articulates “Thou hast quarrel with a man for coughing in the street because he hath wakened thy dog that hath laid asleep” This divulges the fact that Mercutio believe Benvolio is too argumentative. Benvolio retaliates brusquely “And if I were so apt to quarrel as thou art, any man should buy the fee – simple of my life for an hour and a quarter. ” Now Benvolio is arguing with Mercutio and they find themselves back in another feud over the same matter.

Conflict is also revealed through the character of the roles in this scene. Mercutio proves himself as a confrontational when he reveals he doesn’t care about falling into another heated altercation with the Capulets. Benvolio pronounces “By my head, here come the Capulets” and Mercutio states “By my hell, I care not! ” This shows he is the kind of person who doesn’t care about arguing and he won’t back down. By not leaving the frenzied situation, we gather he is stubborn, belligerent and he takes pleasure in finding conflict; especially with a Capulet. Secondly, Tybalt shows a side of conflict to him when he goes about seeking Romeo.

He roars in delight “Well peace be with you, here comes my man” This verifies Tybalt has come for at least a dispute with Romeo. By using phrases such as “my man” he is suggesting Romeo is his prey or his victim. This implores that Tybalt refers to people like this and by doing so could end up in an argument but he continues to do so implying he is keen on conflicts. The stage craft used in Act 3: Scene 1 would be of high importance. The fights would be performed close to the pit so most of the audience, especially the groundlings, could thoroughly get involved in the fast-paced action.

When Mercutio exclaims he’ll be fighting Tybalt, instead of Romeo, he would have stood in a “brave” pose (large chest, feet apart – heroic pose) and the audience would support him by cheering, clapping and chanting and some would even through rotten and putrescent fruit at the damnable Tybalt. To add to this, when Mercutio was on the stage he’d most likely be speaking boldly and making large gestures so the audience would gather he is, at this time, confident and get the impression of heroism. The social effect of this scene is apparent when young Romeo is banished.

It was common in this era to be exiled from your own Village or City by your Lord of the Manor, in this case – The Prince, and possibly members of the audience would know what it felt like to be banished. Also, the audience would be saddened for Romeo because he was exiled for something he didn’t necessarily do because Romeo is portrayed to be the hero in this play, so the audience would immediately be behind him. Act 5: Scene 3 could be renamed “the lamentable scene” because everything is misery and misfortune during this. Firstly, Romeo slaughters Paris then enters the Capulet’s tomb and proceeds to kill himself.

Juliet awakes from her lengthy slumber and sees Romeo lying dead! She then stabs herself. After, the Montagues and Capulets appear and everyone appears to be deeply saddened. The effect of these events would have had on the Elizabethan audience is that they would have expressed their emotion and sadness, or cheer when Paris is killed, much more loudly than modern audiences. They would have booed or shout their cries of sadness and in those time it was normal for people to cry. However, modern audiences wouldn’t react. They may feel the sadness but no one would actually express their emotion to anyone.

The first bit of violence that develops through language is when Romeo violently threatens Balthasar. He orders “I will tear thee joint by joint and strew this hungry churchyard with thy limbs” This conveys violence because he’s threatening not only to hurt him but to brutally decimate Balthasar. The effect this has is it reveals more of Romeo’s character. It shows he is so passionate for Juliet that he is willing to kill his loyal servant. Secondly, we see more violence from Romeo when he expresses what he’ll do with Tybalt’s body.

Usually we would treat any person’s dead boy with respect but Romeo is saying he will bury him himself to show he is the victorious one. This shows violence because he is showing off his achievement of killing Paris. Character is expressed by the manner of some people and this shows violence too. Romeo suggests he’s tempestuous when he importunes to Tybalt “I beseech you, youth, put not another sign upon my head, be urging me to fury” This proves the point that because Romeo is begging Tybalt not to force him to kill him, which he’ll ultimately have to do.

This shows violence as Romeo is hinting he will kill him and proving he is vexed. Next, through language, Lord Capulet implores violence. He does this by expressing his feelings towards Romeo. He remarks “This dagger hath mista’en, for, lo, his house is empty on the back of Montague and it mis-sheathed in my daughters bosom” This implores violence because Capulet is wishing it was Romeo that died and him only. To wish for someone to be dead and to express happiness that someone is dead is violent.

Also, from Lord Capulet’s point of view, there’s no remorse that Romeo has killed himself, ultimately, because of the feud between the Montague’s and the Capulet’s, and therefore hasn’t fully learnt his lesson. Later, Balthasar expresses the violence of Romeo’s character when he repeats what Romeo has commanded him “My Master knows not but I am gone hence, and fearfully did menace me with death, if I did stay to look on his intents” This shows that Romeo did threaten his loyal servant, and we can gather that Romeo is a violent individual.

The effect this has is that the audience will learn more of Romeo’s character but not just see he’s violent because this speech tells us more than that; it shows the extent of what Romeo went through just to be with his beloved Juliet. Stagecraft is important to the portrayal of violence in this scene as stagecraft helps get the audience really engrossed and involved and that is what this scene emotionally demands. Firstly, Friar Lawrence and Balthasar use stagecraft to reveal to he audience they’re being secretive and were involved in the plot. They would use the stagecraft to show secrecy by whispering and acting alert in case of anybody catching them. They’d also be conspiring and through body language and the way they were talking, they would disclose to the audience they were involved in the plot but because the plot failed, they are trying to hide the fact they had anything to do with it. They would be showing immediate regret and remorse.

Furthermore, stagecraft is vital when Juliet stabs herself. It cannot be a quick, weak movement; it has to be a passion-filled, love-encrusted moment of sadness. She stabs herself and there is no speech to accompany this so each action she makes must be bold and evident to the spectators that these entire few moments are grief stricken, sombre and violent because she is taking her own life. Conflict in this scene is at first outcast by the violence but after the death’s, the conflict does become clearer.

Firstly, Paris and Romeo are aggressively arguing when Paris attempts to seize Romeo. Paris commands “I do defy thy conjurations, and apprehend thee for a felon here” Then Romeo counters “Wilt thou provoke me? Then have at thee, boy! ” This shows conflict because they’re disputing over whether Romeo will be arrested or not and this conflict starts the duel that these two have. Secondly, the language imports more conflict when Romeo suggests that Juliet’s death, and possible marriage to Paris, have caused him to question his state of mind. He told me Paris should have married Juliet. Said he not so? Or did I dream it so? ” This conflict is between Romeo and himself. Romeo has been fighting for Juliet’s affections, and in addition, the severity of the feud has escalated to an extreme extent that he is debating whether he’s in a state of reverie or not. Conflict appearing through character first begins when Balthasar communicates with Friar Lawrence, revealing how he rebelled and how he secretively did what he as strictly told not to do.

Balthasar explains “My Master knows not, but I am gone hence, and fearfully did menace me with death, if I did stay to look on his intents” This shows Balthasar character as rebellious and he was has conflicted against Romeo’s instructions but does have Romeo’s interests at heart. Furthermore, we can see more conflict between Juliet and Romeo’s dead body when Juliet reaches for some poison from the lips of Romeo but he has left her none, so consequently, she becomes angry. Juliet whispers in frustration “I will kiss thy lips, haply some poison yet doth hang on them, to make me die with a restorative. Juliet is annoyed with Romeo but he was not aware she wasn’t really dead. Stagecraft is used to represent conflict often in this scene. The first instance of this would be when Romeo is talking to the Capulet tomb itself. He is cross at the tomb because it has taken his Juliet away from the world. Romeo cries “Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death, gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth! ” This shows Romeo wants her to be alive but the tomb, in Romeo’s unclear mind, has acquired her from him.

The effect this has on the audience is it’s a way of informing them how Romeo feels without including a disturbing narrator or taking the dialogue and drama away from this emotional moment. Again more conflict reveals itself through stagecraft when Juliet tragically commits suicide. She snatches the dagger from Romeo and she’s still angry Romeo hasn’t left her any poison so he hasn’t left her with any alternative. She must boldly take Romeo’s dagger so the audience know and understand what she is about to do and they will fell excited and anticipated.

Then when she does kill herself it would be an extremely sad time for the audience and we’d expect the groundling’s to be very upset as they were the spectators who got most involved in the play whereas the aristocrats would think of it as just a play and although, they would clap, cheer and boo, they would not get as involved as the peasants on the floor. The social context of this scene would be how Romeo treats his servant, Balthasar. It was ordinary about this time, to threaten and viciously talk to your slave just as Romeo did before entering the tomb.

Both halves of the audience would be able to compare to this as those who were upper class possible had servants and treated theirs similarly and the lower-class spectators were maybe the slaves who were treated foully just like Balthasar. In conclusion, Shakespeare has successfully created violence and conflict using a diverse range of techniques such as fighting; Mercutio and Tybalt, ferocious arguing; Lord Capulet and Lord Montague, emotional monologue; Juliet in her tomb, and rebellious scheming; Friar Lawrence and Balthasar.

All the techniques combined have created a fierce frenzy of conflict and violence and throughout the whole play, these themes are never reduced greatly. Violence and conflict are conveyed also in the most saddest or happiest or grieving instances; whether it’s when Juliet is about to take her own life, or when Romeo is banished or even when the feuding families have found out their precious children are deceased, during all these moments still violence and conflict are conveyed strongly.

Violence has been created clearly in fighting but we can see more of violence when we look at the threatening behaviour, menacing language and bold, forceful brawling; all of which help add to the intense theme of violence that is prolific throughout and create a concentrated mood in almost every scene! On the other hand, conflict is created and achieved by Shakespeare through intense arguments, passionate disputes and expressive dialogue. This helps to create the same diligent ambience that keeps very nearly every scene alive and vivacious.

His portrayal of conflict relates to the original Elizabethan context in several ways. The insult of biting the thumb was the most apparent one as the viewing audience would instantly recognise it and they’d become conscious that conflict was going on but also the others such as the fighting in the street, the banishment from the city, the treatment of Romeo’s servant and the feuding families would also make it easily more obvious to the spectators that conflict was constantly occurring.

The play has context which relates to today such as how the main characters commit suicide because of the boundless love they have for each other and because this love is impossible to keep up because of external interferences, they push themselves to the edge and take their own lives. Committing suicide for the reasons of affection is becoming more and more popular, especially with young couples such as lovebirds Romeo and Juliet.

Also, still the feuding family’s problem is still occurring today. We still experience families building rivalries over their offspring when they’re deeply in love and this hasn’t changed over time. So, overall, Shakespeare has prosperously created violence and conflict and he has done this using an assortment of techniques. However, we must remember there are countless themes that are revealed in this play and all add to the effect of this skookum and incomparable masterpiece!


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