“Wilt thou be gone?” are Juliet’s opening words of Act 3, Scene 5 of William Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. This significant phrase is put forward to us, and though his works are famously interpreted in many different ways, we know that from hereafter, fate unfolds to reveal that this pair of “star-cross’d lovers” will never meet again. This is the pivotal scene, where everything takes a turn for the worse, and the once flamboyant and dream-like play really begins to spiral downwards into tragedy. Within this important scene, we also see how rapidly moods and tension can change.
Romeo and Juliet is arguably one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, where we see how the power and passion of love and hate affects a seventeenth century society. In this play, we see how Shakespeare makes two teenage lovers and the domestic quarrels that surrounded them the focus for tragedy. In doing so, he explores the relationships of family members, desire, secret marriage, loyalty, freedom, violence, ritual, and the role of servants and clerics. This is particularly well demonstrated to us in Act 3 scene 5, where we see how dynamic Juliet’s relationship is with each of her relations, and the contrasts within each character’s opinionated views for her marriage and freedom. Just before this scene, Romeo has revengefully killed Tybalt (Juliet’s cousin) because of Mercutio’s murder by him after Capulet’s feast. Again we see that this is a very important scene in the play because the consequences to follow will be significant, and what now has happened cannot be reversed. From this scene onwards, the explanation of Romeo and Juliet’s fate in the prologue takes place.
In this scene Romeo and Juliet’s love for one another is shown, along with their urgent yet reluctant farewell to one another. There are then great tensions between Juliet and her parents over the news of Juliet’s arranged marriage with Paris, and the Nurse’s unfaithfulness towards Juliet. The focus here is on Juliet and the dramatic clashes of different perspectives of love and individual freedom.
As a director, I will have my scene unconventionally set in modern times, so that my point can be put across as clearly and relevantly as possible to a modern-day audience. I will use a wide range of dramatic devices (e.g. lighting, camera angles, and facial expression) in order for me to direct this scene to establish its full dramatic potential.
The scene starts with a generally relaxed and cheerful mood, where Romeo and Juliet awaken at dawn after having spent their first night together as a married couple. We see that this mood is present simply because of the time of day – dawn usually puts a picture in our minds linked to pleasant, optimistic associations. To convey this particular mood created at the start of the scene, as a director I would use natural lighting, gently cast over the whole setting. This light would be shining through the window and it would be the kind you get at dawn in summer months; dim and slightly reddish. I chose to have this sort of lighting for the opening scene because it conveys to the audience the relaxed mood – as it is the type of lighting you get on sunny relaxed mornings. To add to the naturalness and overall optimistic and relaxed mood, I would play the sound of birds singing, in a distant and vague form.
This would again signify the calm mood because when you hear birds singing in the distance at dawn, it immediately gives you a peaceful impression. As well as representing the mood, this also prefigures the context of Romeo and Juliet’s subsequent conversation about whether they hear the nightingale or the lark singing. Romeo and Juliet should start off this scene remaining in bed to show that they are relaxed and in no rush to do anything. Their bed would have white sheets, representing their pure and innocent love for one another in addition to reinforcing the calm, relaxed mood.
This mood is reflected by the characters in this scene also. The language used is flowery and poetic, used by both Romeo and Juliet, showing their relaxed state and feelings. An example of this language is shown here: “it is some meteor that the sun exhaled”. Juliet uses this term to convince Romeo that it is not yet time for him to begin his exile by saying the sun has not risen yet – it was just a temporary glowing ‘meteor’. In this quote, we see the use of two poetic techniques: imagery and personification. She describes the sun as ‘breathing out’ a meteor as if it were alive. Her words create a peaceful and relaxed image, symbolising her mood towards Romeo.
This quote also shows us that she feels desperate for him to stay longer – showing us her passion for him. Although we see she is relaxed in this scene, her desperation grows when she realises that Romeo has to go, and the overall coolness at the start of this scene very slightly lessens. As Juliet is trying to convince Romeo to stay for longer, her character should be sitting up on the bed to signify her desperateness for him to stay. She shows she really wants him to stay by getting up, as opposed to not showing enthusiasm and just remaining lying in bed. As her ideas about him staying for longer are not mature or well thought out, Juliet should be using a child-like tone of voice, representing her naive fantasy of wanting this moment to stay forever, and not realising that things have to move on.
We see Romeo has the same feelings for her, where he addresses Juliet as “Love,…”, which shows his love for her. However, as much as he loves Juliet, we see his general outlook on love is much more pragmatic and realistic than hers. He very bluntly tells Juliet the facts: “I must be gone and live; or stay and die”. This monosyllabic quote frankly shows us that he thinks more maturely than Juliet by thinking about the consequences that may follow. He understands that they can’t stay forever like this and make-believe that the morning has not come yet. The contrast in their thoughts and ideas show us their dramatic clash of different perceptions of love and responsibility created within this scene. I would show this contrast by having his character sit up on the side of the bed, facing towards the window with his back towards Juliet. The fact that he has his back towards her while she is still trying to convince him signifies his mature understanding of the situation, and the contrast with Juliet’s child-like pleading over his shoulder.
We see a sudden change in Juliet’s unrealistic thoughts when Romeo uses a different technique to persuade her that he must leave. Talking practically with her did not work, and so we see he mirrors her romantic, poetic language to convince her that it is best for him to leave now. He says “‘Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow…”. We see here that he has started to talk poetically using descriptive imagery to appeal to Juliet; Cynthia is the Greek goddess of the moon. So where Romeo uses it, he means to say that it indeed wasn’t the sun that he thought was rising; it was actually the dim reflection of the moon’s “brow”. Here, he also uses reverse psychology to change her mind; in this quote he agrees with Juliet’s objection for him to leave. There are times that people would display opposition to your ideas, and so when Romeo agrees with Juliet, she immediately realizes that she has to agree with his first opinion – that he has to go now.
This use of reverse psychology along with the mirroring of Juliet’s descriptive language cleverly and quickly changes Juliet’s mind, and we then see a significant point in this scene where tension starts to escalate. Juliet’s repetition of “It is, it is…!” heightens the tension as well as adding depth to the drama. The use of the exclamation mark at the end of this sentence also highlights this. In order for me to bring out the full dramatic potential of this recent change in mood and tension, I would have Juliet spring hastily out of bed to emphasise her words at this point. Just after she has agreed that Romeo should leave I would also include a close-up shot of her face, which would show a hint of anxiety and grief, to show to the sudden introduction to the change in mood. The birds will have also stopped singing by this point – to show that things aren’t as cheerful as they were at the very start of the scene.
Romeo’s sudden departure is important and dramatic because they are both unsure whether they will ever meet again. Juliet states “O think’st thou shall ever meet again?” showing us her doubts. The Nurse comes in to say Lady Capulet will be entering soon, so the fact that their ‘goodbyes’ to one another have to be rushed makes Romeo’s exit more significant, and the tension builds. Another very important reason why this scene is so important is because of Juliet’s imagery of Romeo’s death. Juliet suddenly states how she pictures him dead in a tomb when he lowers himself from the window. “Methinks I see thee now, thou art so low, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb,…” This is an important part of the scene because it links to fate; their love will lead him to death as mentioned in the prologue. Romeo seeks to reassure her, by saying that he may look deathly pale, but it’s the grief that makes him look it – “sorrow drinks our blood.”
To make Romeo’s exit a significant part of the scene, I will have him speaking to Juliet in an urgent, breathless tone of voice, and I will have a long pause after his final words to her – “Adieu, adieu”. During this pause, Romeo and Juliet would look directly at each other, to emphasise to the audience that this is the part where they will never meet again. The use of repetition here makes it significant to us that these will be their last words. It makes their goodbye final and dramatic. However, Romeo and Juliet do not know this, and so Shakespeare has put the audience in a privileged position using dramatic irony. This allows the audience’s response to Romeo’s exit to be different from what we’d expect the characters to feel, as they reveal their inability to understand their own situation.
Just before Romeo’s exit, Nurse urgently comes in to tell Juliet that her mother is coming to her “chamber”. “Madam!” – we see her sense of urgency here because of the exclamation mark. Once Romeo has left, Juliet’s mother enters her room to announce the arranged marriage to Paris. There is an overall significant change in the mood of the scene, and to convey this, I will use a device called pathetic fallacy – where the weather represents the mood on scene. It will start to rain at this point, and the once clear blue sky will now be a darkened grey, giving Juliet’s bedroom a dull light. This will also suggest to the audience that what is to follow may be negative. I will have Juliet wear a gown when she hears of the news that her mother is coming to show that she still respects her mother, no matter how much she loves Romeo. To emphasise this respect, her character will stand up straight when her mother comes in.
Juliet is now feeling very upset that Romeo has gone, we see this when she tells her mother she is feeling so – “Madam, I am not well.” However the whole conversation with her mother is full of double meanings, so her mother never finds out that Juliet is upset about Romeo, and thinks that she is upset over the death of her cousin Tybalt. This whole issue reveals to us how the relationship between Juliet and her mother is not close and motherly, therefore reflects the dramatic clash of different perspectives of love and individual freedom. At this point Juliet does not feel much towards her mother, as she has never been much of an influence on her. Right now, we see all that is on her mind is Romeo’s exit- “Feeling so the loss, I cannot choose but ever weep the friend.” As well as showing us that all she is thinking about is Romeo, this is also cleverly put forward to us and Lady Capulet as a phrase with a double-meaning. We see that Lady Capulet obviously does not know her daughter well enough when she assumes it is Tybalt she is weeping over.
In a mother-daughter relationship, we would expect that they know each others problems well, but here we see it is not the case. However there is a significant change to Juliet’s feelings towards her mother when she tells her why she has come to see her: the marriage with Count Paris the next morning. From this point, Juliet’s language changes to show that she is no longer feeling upset and weepy, but angry towards her mother. “He shall not make me there a joyful bride.” She now uses firm and assertive language, unlike the language before this news of marriage. All the words sound short and punchy, showing her anger because they sound assertive and “punchy” – conveying her rage. In society those days, it was rare to speak to your mother in such a dominant manner, so when she uses the term ‘shall not’ and swears this by “Saint Peter”, we can definitely see the rage she is feeling towards her mother.
These diverse views about marriage and Juliet’s lack of freedom to decide who she marries show the dramatic clash of different perspectives of love and individual freedom between Juliet and her mothers decisions. As a director, I would show these feelings towards her mother by having her speak in a nervous, trembling way, to show that she feels angry yet overwhelmed by the intended marriage. She would not be directly shouting at her mother because she knows it is not appropriate to talk in that manner, and also because she is so overcome by the news, she would not be able to shout for she is so distraught. To show her change in mood from being upset to angry, her character should start off kneeling over her bed crying, to standing up. As for make-up, her black mascara would be smudged and running messily down her cheeks – not only to show that she has been crying, but also to reflect her shattered mood.
Lady Capulet in this scene at first is in a good mood, as she feels that the news she has come to bring shall make her happy, or more importantly, it will make her the mother of a rich and powerful bride. We see she is in high spirits and shows this to Juliet when she attempts to make her feel better about ‘Tybalt’s’ death; “Well, girl, thou weep’st not so much for his death”. As well as her attempt to make her feel better, we see she addresses her as ‘girl’ in this quote. This shows us the distant relationship they have with one another – it is as if she is talking to a stranger.
However, her mood changes very abruptly towards Juliet once she has shown that she does not want to marry Paris. We see a dramatic clash of different perspectives of love and individual freedom here. She spitefully uses threatening language because of her appalled and angry feelings towards Juliet, reflecting her personality- “here comes your father, tell him so yourself; and see how he will take it at your hands.” At the time in which this play was written, society was patriarchal; men held all the power in the household, and for Lady Capulet to tell Juliet she should tell him by herself, it is meant in a threatening way. She heartlessly decides not to support Juliet. Another way this quote could be interpreted is that Lady Capulet is scared of Lord Capulet, and so although she deep down wants to help Juliet, she does not want to go against Capulet’s ideas for her own safety, not out of spite. This shows us she could be quite a cowardly and insecure character. To represent her distant relationship with Juliet, throughout their conversation, both characters should be situated on either ends of the room without physical contact. To show status and Lady Capulet’s lack of concern for Juliet when she rebels, she should constantly stand up straight and remain looking upwards – looking at Juliet ‘down her nose’ – to convey this.
Tension has been building, and Juliet feels worse as time progresses. This tension rises immediately when conversation starts between Juliet and her father, Lord Capulet. His sudden entrance is very dramatic because he is the one that decides upon everything – so until he has not had his say things are not definite. There has been this constant anticipation for him, because we want to see what chance Juliet still has. As a director, I would need to make his entrance to the scene significant. To do this, I will have thunder playing as he comes in, to signify the importance and power he has. It will still be raining, but there will also be interruptions of thunder to signify the escalation of tragedy and tension. Although Capulet enters in a happy mood, the thunder will contrast with this as well, and could signify that later on his mood is becomes like thunder.
The dialogue between Juliet and Lord Capulet is varied a lot in a small space of time; moods change quickly and abruptly during their conversation. Tension is very high, as we wait for Capulet to find out Juliet’s act of rebellion. It’s rather like a time-bomb waiting to explode. He starts by using poetic and fanciful language, reflecting his happy and caring mood. In his eyes, he would not at all expect that Juliet wouldn’t agree with the marriage, so when he sees her crying, he too doesn’t expect anything seriously wrong. He continues poetically and refers to her daughter crying metaphorically as a storm – “thy eyes, which I may call the sea, do ebb and flow with tears; sailing in this salt flood;… thy tempest-tossed body”. He uses the word ‘decree’ to refer to the arranged marriage. This is a very powerful word, meaning ‘order’, which is has legal connotations and would therefore never be used in a situation like this. It shows us the control and power Juliet’s parents have over her, and the very little amount of freedom Juliet has over her decisions.
It reflects the dramatic clash of different perspectives of love and individual freedom at the time in which the play was written. In Shakespeare’s very patriarchal society, it would have been normal to use the word such a situation, and if anything, views on Juliet at that time would be very different. Today, we empathise with Juliet, whereas back then there would be many more supporters for Capulet’s ideas, and Juliet would be seen as a disobedient daughter.
Once he finds that Juliet has not agreed to the arranged marriage, his mood immediately changes. At first though, he is so surprised at the thought that he is very confused – “How how, how how, chopt-logic?” What is this?” This quote shows us his complete confusion, as well as frustration. The repetition of the word shows us he is frustrated and eager to know what exactly is going on. The repeated use of question marks also conveys his utter confusion. ‘Chopt-logic’ was a term used to refer to riddles, so he assumes Juliet is being cheeky with him by using riddle when she says how she is grateful for her parents concern for her marriage, but would like to decline the offer.
His confusion and frustration immediately escalates within a few lines to complete anger. This is shown where he says “go with Paris to St. Peters Church, or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.” He continues to insult her using words that would have been very offensive in those days – i.e. “you green-sickness carrion” and “baggage”. This shows that he is angry, because he is hurling these words at her out of anger. Here, we see how extremely different Capulet’s views are compared to Juliet’s, revealing the dramatic clash of different perspectives. To show his anger, I would have him using aggressive hand gestures and speaking in a loud voice. His face would be red with fury. At the point where he says “and you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets” he should take her shoulders and shake her to emphasize his words here.
He continues to angrily insult her, until interrupted by the Nurse, when she tells him to stop doing so, feeling sorry for Juliet. However, very unexpectedly here the nurse does something that makes Juliet feel even worse. The Nurse agrees with what her parents say, and although it may be best for Juliet in some ways, it certainly isn’t what Juliet wanted from her. When her parents both literally disowned her, we see her desperation for help when she asks god (“is there no pity sitting in the clouds…?”) her mood is crushed when she asks for “Some comfort, Nurse”. The Nurse begins to speak very matter-of-factly to Juliet, in an advice-like manner. We see this when she starts to say “Faith, here it is:…”. To convey this I will have Juliet in her arms, crying helplessly. The Nurse continues; “I think it best you married with the County. O he’s a lovely gentleman!” Here, the Nurse advises her to marry Paris, and also says that he’s a lovely gentleman, despite how much she knows Juliet loves Romeo. The use of the exclamation mark shows us how much she wants to convince Juliet to take her advice.
It is unexpected that the Nurse has this view for Juliet and it shows to us the dramatic clash of different perspectives between the Nurse and Juliet. Once Juliet has heard what the Nurse has to say, she is very surprised, and we see her mood change again. She is reluctant to stay with her, seeing as her once loyal and comforting nurse has betrayed her. She again starts to feel angry. We see that she no longer wants to be with her, when she just leaves it by saying “Amen.” The equivalent of this in our day would be ‘fine’ so we can see how she decides to leave the nurse now, and doesn’t care at all what she says, which shows us her true love for Romeo. To show this, I would have Juliet come away from the Nurses arms and face her back towards her, looking out of the window at the heavily raining, stormy weather. Once the nurse leaves, we see Juliet’s complete anger at her – she insults her “ancient damnation! O most wicked fiend!” The repeated use of exclamation marks also establishes her anger. I would have a long shot of Juliet looking out of the window here to show her isolation and loneliness. When she is talking, her character would be looking at the sky, to show that she is pleading to God, to show that that is all she has left.
Her decision to seek help from Friar Lawrence is significant because it shows us he is the last hope Juliet has, she continues to say that “if all else fail, myself have power to die.” This very importantly highlights to us how fate is unfolding, the death of Juliet is suddenly put forward to us. This is the last line of the scene, so the thought remains stays in our minds.