We have studied two versions of the film, the Franco Zeffirelli version (1968) which contains a setting back in time into the Elizabethan era, with the Elizabethan style clothes and houses, and the Baz Luhrman version (1997) which contains a more modern setting, with modern clothes and houses, but also with a futuristic feel.
Act 3, scene 5 is a key scene due to it being the middle of the play in which the audience would expect a high impact scene with a huge turning point of the story line and of the characters. This scene contains a multitude of emotions, from the love and harmony to the drama and desperation. The scene is very powerfully filled with high tension and lots of action and it is this immense dramaticy which has a significant impact on the audience. It reveals to the audience a lot about the morals and values of the characters; Juliet changes completely in this scene. No longer do we see the sweet, naive, obedient girl who respects and obeys her parents, we perceive a strong, tough young woman who has alienated herself from the only adults she knew and is willing to die than obey them.
The scene begins with the morning after Romeo and Juliet have spent their one and only night together; their marriage consummated and the audience very conscious of this act. The atmosphere is calm and tranquil, very amorous and romantic though with a sense of sorrow. Both films have expressed this with tranquil, serene music playing softly in order to enhance the atmosphere.
The lovers passionately speak to each other, Juliet does not wish for Romeo to leave, “Will though be gone? It is not yet near the day”. Romeo’s reply, “Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund the day”, is very imagistic and poetic. Juliet strongly wishes for Romeo to stay as she knows that the day will bring Romeo’s departure, “And light thee on thy way to Mantua”. Romeo plays with the words, “Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so”, though this is ominous and ironic as the audience are aware that this will be their fate. A contrast between light and dark is seen as the play so far has associated light with lust, fighting, anger and it is the night in which they can be together and love one another.
In the films, the lovers play almost childishly together under the white bed sheets, white emphasizing their innocence and how playful they are. They are in their own world, totally remote from the rest of the fighting, violence and bloodshed. Juliet poeticises to Romeo, “Love, lord, ay husband, friend” revealing the extent of Romeo to Juliet ,he is her lover, lord, husband and friend. The audience feel sympathetic towards these two lovers, even more sorrow as learn from the previous scene Capulet had already arranged the marriage between Juliet and Paris, an effective use of dramatic irony.
As the two lovers depart Juliet cries, “O think’st thou we shall ever meet again?”, a line so poignant and emotional as we know that they shall never meet again. Then as Romeo departs, and Juliet looks down on Romeo as sees him “As one dead in the bottom of a tomb”. The sense of foreboding and dread comes into being. It is a reminder that these two lovers are star-crossed lovers, and that they are ill fated as told in the prologue. An Elizabethan audience would have appreciated this idea of fate and destiny, and how their lives were mapped-out by the stars, as this too was their belief.
Juliet weeps due to the leaving of Romeo. Lady Capulet enters the room and believes these tears are for the loss of Tybalt. Again, irony is used as the audience know that Juliet’s grief is for Romeo. Her talk as the audience would known is the grieving of Romeos departure She also plays with the words as she speaks to her mother, “Ay madam, from the reach of these my hands”. Her reaching of hands is to hold Romeo, while her mother would imagine it is to strangle and kill him. Juliet ambiguously cries, “With Romeo, till I behold him – dead – Is my poor heart…”. Though we known that Juliet is exclaiming, “With Romeo till I behold him, dead is my poor heart” her mother interprets it as, “With Romeo till I behold him dead”. Juliet clearly intends to deceive her mother. This intensely builds tension as the truth could transpire. We notice how calm and mature Juliet is in facing her mother and how much she has changed from the sweet girl we met at the beginning of this play.
But the news from Lady Capulet of Juliet to “marry… early next Thursday morn… shall happily make thee there a joyful bride” is the beginning of cataclysm within this scene. The shock and despondency of this news is clearly stated within her dialogue, “Now, by Saint Peter’s Church and Peter too, he shall not make me there a joyful bride”. The repetition of her mothers words emphasise the rhythm of the dialogue and reflects her defiance and loyalty to Romeo. She cannot go through with this marriage as she has wedded married Romeo and consummated it. An Elizabethan audience would recognise this and understand how Juliet felt, as to get married again would be breaking a law of God. The audience would be fully drawn into her dilemma and the atmosphere would be very tense.
But Lady Capulet steps back and lets her husband deal with the matter. Capulet enters with most joy and bliss due to the arrangement he has just set. He talks with softness conveying he can be loving and sweet, but he also refers to Juliet as, “In one little body…”. This reveals to us what he sees his own daughter as, something in “one little body”, a passion in which you control. In Elizabethan time women had no status. Neither eminence nor equal rights were a part of their culture. Their general image was of being the man’s property and respect was only gained through marriage or a male representative.
When the news is broken to Capulet, he is shocked. “How? Will she none? Doth she not gives us thanks? Is she not proud? Doth she not count her bless”. His surprised reaction is shown in the questioning of this news; his use of repetition, repeating the word “Doth” as in “Doesn’t she?” increases the pace and the use short sentences to emphasise onto his shock. His anger increases as he starts to rant and rave. “How, how, how, how?”. Capulet sees this issue of disobedience from his daughter as “chopped logic”, something that is illogical and unfounded, again reflecting Elizabethan culture. His language turns abusive and insulting which is more horrifying than the actual physical abuse! “Mistress minion you… you green-sickness carrion!… you baggage! You tallow-face”. Even the sounds and alliteration in “mistress minion” reflect his contempt and anger.
In the two films, Capulet anger is defied visually as he uses physical abuse on his daughter; but this is not in the actual play. He mentions “my fingers itch” but does not actually hit Juliet. The reason the films have used this visual abuse is to appeal more to a modern day audience. People today are uninterested in plain, ordinary language and need this action to keep them involved. The films also use a fast moving camera, with different camera angles, close-ups, dramatic music which all heighten the tension, anticipation and pace. We also see the true Capulet here. He seems to be a man who is used to having their way, and a result of the opposite would turn him very violent. The audience also would realise that the arranged marriage for Juliet is more of an opportunity for him to do his fatherly duty and send his daughter of into another family, rather than for her own happiness. He is shown to be caring and concerned for his daughter, but can turn rude, violent and aggressive if he is disobeyed. The words, ‘And you be not, hang, beg starve, die in the streets” reveal jut how shard-hearted and selfish Capulet is, all we have learned of this man from within this scene.
However, Juliet’s response towards her fathers insulting language, “Good father, I beseech you on my knees. Hear me with patience but to speak a word”, is polite and respective, reflecting a child who does not wish to disobey her parents. But there is nothing she can do when her father gives her the ultimatum, “fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next… or I will drag thee on a hurdle”. Again, note the language used by Capulet, “fettle your fine joints” which mirror his image of Juliet as a fragile, brittle girl and the use of fricative sounds within emphasizing his disdain.
Now that Juliet has been disowned by her father, she turns to the only people she can turn to. She cries to her mother but her reply is of no help or comfort at all, “Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.” Her own mother turns her back on Juliet and rejects her. We are shown the true relationship between Juliet and her mother. Again in Elizabethan times children were commonly brought up by nurses, which brought about a weak bond between mother and child with neither no love nor care.
Juliet turns to the nurse, the only person now she can turn to. She pleads to the nurse,
“O God, O Nurse, how shall this be prevented… Comfort me, counsel me. But the response is not of what Juliet expects, “I think it is best of you married with the County. O, he’s a lovely gentleman. Romeo’s a dishclout to him.” The shock and distress Juliet must have felt when she heard this. Though the nurse well-intentioned in trying to comfort and please her mistress, she has failed to recognise how much Juliet had changed and how much she had undermined Juliet’s true character and feelings. This marks the severing of Juliet’s esteem and friendship for her nurse; Juliet quite furiously calls her a “O most wicked fiend”.
Now Juliet has been abandoned and betrayed by the only adults she new and trusted. She now feels isolated, lonely and desperate. But Juliet throughout this scene has strengthened herself mentally becoming a committed, independent woman which allows her take control over this predicament. She plans to go see Friar Lawrence, her last chance of help, “I’ll tell the Friar to know his remedy. If all else fail, I myself have power to die”. Juliet, directly speaking to the audience, informs them that if her final plan fails her last course of action will be left to her to kill herself. Again we are indicated of the coming tragedy.
As mentioned earlier on Act 3 Scene 5 is a vital scene of the play. It combines emotions of harmony and love through to the violence, brutality and desperation. It is a turning point of the play, from a romantic story through to a tragedy. It also is a turning point of Juliet, in which she becomes a strong, independent woman who is willing to kill herself rather than obey her father’s rules which undermine her religious values. It contains an insight of the other characters, including the bully of a father and the shallowness of a nurse. It consists of irony, drama, effective dialogue and excellent use of language. In my opinion, Shakespeare has been very successful of having the dramatic impact intended on the audience.