In Act 3 Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet becomes isolated. Explore how this isolation occurs and how it contributes to the tragedy of the play.
Romeo and Juliet is a play written by William Shakespeare in 1595. “If all else fail, myself have the power to die” is a perfect quote to reflect Juliet’s isolation in Act 3 Scene 5. This isolation is influenced by a selection of characters during the scene. Romeo and Juliet meet at a party and immediately it is evident that this would be a match made in heaven. Everything can not be perfect in the real world and their love is separated by the two rival families (Capulet and Montague) who clash many times throughout. It is impossible for them to be together because if even a hint of news about their love was revealed it would result in serious consequences for both Romeo and Juliet (execution, disownment).
Shakespeare focuses on how love is very rarely perfect by incorporating various themes such as love and how fate leads them to their predetermined situation which involves acts of violence as a result of their restricted love affair. This eventually holds significance to their tragic deaths as their love is against the laws of society which always meant trouble in Elizabethan times.
Act 3 Scene 5 is vital towards Juliet’s breaking point. The night of her wedding night was full of happiness but it all goes downhill the next morning after Romeo and Juliet’s first and only night together. “Me, I, Myself” shows that she is isolated as she speaks to herself which leads to her death. Her family push her into a corner with insults from every direction and exit leaving her alone feeling a lack of affection. I will explore the scene thoroughly to explain how an impact from each character contributes to her isolation, focusing on the language techniques, structure and themes of the play.
The scene begins with Romeo and Juliet the morning after the night of their wedding. “Come, death and welcome! Juliet wills it so” Romeos immediate departure is really when Juliet’s world crashes around her as Romeo is her soulmate as well as her only possible source of support. The night of her wedding was probably the most joyful day of her life and it all goes downhill the morning after. This is greatly dramatic as her world alters so rapidly. Light and dark are not always bad as the night of their wedding was delightful and the next morning was full of hurt and despair. “No nightingale: look love, what envious streaks. Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east”. The two star-crossed lovers are desperate for day not to arrive. “More light and light, more dark and dark our woes”.
The contrast between this is that nature is conspiring against their love as well as everyone else. Nature forces them apart and it is as if no-one wants them to be together. This is known as pathetic fallacy and Romeo’s departure leads to her being in a solitude position waiting for the offence to attack (parents) because Romeo is her only source of support. The plays themes are explored through their affectionate conversation. “Therefore stay yet, thou need’st not to be gone”. This shows that they are in deep love because they miss eachother even if they are apart for one single second. Their love also leads to violence as she refuses to marry Paris forcing Capulet to insult her aggressively. Juliet’s love for Romeo controls her decisions and thoughts. Their fate is written out as soon as they meet eachother.
“Methinks I see thee as one dead in the bottom of a tomb”. The two of them being dead is the only thing that can reconcile their rival families relationship. Their love is against society and their relationship would be looked on as filth. Their love seems to glow in the dark and be struck by ill-fortune in the day. The dramatic irony is used a lot as they seem to refer to their deaths frequently. ” I must be gone and live, stay or die”. “Come, death and welcome, Juliet wills it so!” The irony creates a tension as the audience foresee their deaths and it almost as if fate has been written out for them as the dramatic irony refers to their deaths more often then not. Also the mention of death may also be that Romeo and Juliet are bowing down, accepting that their love will result in violence and know that their deaths are the only solution. Dramatic devices are used by Romeo going down the building when he leaves.
“Methinks I see thee, now thou art below, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb” This is like Romeo descending into hell and as he was lying by a tomb when he died it is ironic. (If you suicide you go to hell) The scene begins the morning after the wedding night because on their wedding night they were ecstatic and it is crushed in such a short period of time. The images within her speeches suggest she has a sixth sense of what is going to happen as it refers to death constantly. Also her dramatic personality is why she may talk about death so often. “If all else fail, myself have the power to die” “To bear a poison I’d temper it” “I see thee as one dead in the bottom of a tomb” most notably. Juliet will feel pushed towards a corner and abandoned as her only source of support will have left and she will be isolated having to face her family single-handedly.
Lady Capulet also plays a role in Juliet’s isolation. The dramatic significance of Lady Capulet coming to Juliet’s bedroom is very peculiar indeed as daughters would be summoned downstairs normally. It is highly dramatic as Romeo is there at the time and the audience is tense as to whether they will catch him or not because he would be killed if they did. This is unusual for Lady Capulet to enter her room because they do not have a very strong bond from childhood as the nurse raised her. “Within ho, daughter! Are you up!” The questions Juliet asks echoes the audience’s curiosity. “Who is’t that calls? Is it lady mother? Is’t she up so early?” Lady Capulet also assumes that her daughter is crying immediately because of Tybalts death when it is in fact due to Romeos departure.
This shows the lack of affection from Lady Capulet and their distant relationship as mother daughters usually have insight to their daughter’s emotional feelings. “Juliet’s use of ambiguity is used in different contexts with the use of punctuation in Juliet’s speech. ” Indeed, I shall never be satisfied with Romeo till I behold him -dead-“. This is loving to Juliet and hating to Lady Capulet. This is how Juliet uses deception to be secretive about Romeo and shows their distant relationship. “I will not marry yet and it shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate”. She almost confesses here but alters the meaning to imply it as sarcasm. Lady Capulet is not sympathetic towards Juliet as she tells her she is being overly emotional and over reactive.
“Therefore have done: Some grief shows much love, but much of grief shows still some want of wit”. Lady Capulet plans to get someone to kill Romeo. “As that the villain lives which slaughter’d him”. This makes Juliet more anxious as she does not want them to kill the man she is deeply in love with. She shows this by speaking aside “Villain and he be many miles asunder”. She wants to protect Romeo. The dramatic irony is that Lady Capulet says “He shalt soon keep Tybalt company” and we of course know that he eventually does die by Tybalt’s coffin.
Lady Capulet’s reaction to Juliet’s refusal is quite angry but she hands her over to the father as she knows she will not influence Juliet’s decision. She passes on the trouble to the father who sorts Juliet out. This shows that Lady Capulet and Juliet do not understand each other well as they cannot reason with each other or influence choices of one another which mothers and daughters seem to have a capability to do. “Here comes your father; tell him so yourself”. Males are the patriarchs, women are meant to obey the men and be pushed around as they have no viewpoint in those days. Juliet however answers back which is shocking and love puts her in that situation (not a personality trait) which leads her into isolation.
Capulet enters the scene as a very sympathetic character who is previously portrayed to be an easygoing man for example when Romeo is found at the party in his mansion he allows him to stay despite being a Montague. This makes his violent outburst odd as it is the first time we see him angry like this. Lord Capulet has been presented as a changed man especially when he told Tybalt to leave Romeo alone for coming to the mansion. He seemed to give people second chances. We also see how his first speech shows he is very sympathetic towards his daughter with the use of pathetic fallacy representing her emotion. “It rains downright” shows her tears.
He also uses a euphemism for Tybalts death to make it seem lighter and easier to talk about. He has always spoken to his daughter like this from the start as he called her “gods gift” at the start of the play while praising her birth. On the other hand Lady Capulet never comforted Juliet like this and tells Juliet to get over the death of Tybalt. “Therefore have done: Some grief shows much love, but much of grief shows still some want of wit”. The characters of the mother and father are almost opposites, but Capulet’s angry side is very hurtful towards Juliet. “Thou counterfeit’st a bark, a sea, a wind” This extended metaphor is describing her crying and the fact he is talking about storms with chaotic weather may sum up the whole tragedy between the two families. “How now! A conduit girl?” The nature seems to represent the characters depressive moods and how the weather is being personified to represent all the characters chaos, confusion and arguments. Shakespeare expresses Capulet’s anger through language by using a set of rhetorical questions as he is confused and surprised.
“Proud I can never be of what I hate”. Juliet’s reaction then increases his temper as he is not used to being so highly disrespected. He likens her to a mistress minion, anti-christ devil which is the enemy of their religion. He must be extremely fuming as he uses metaphors and groups of 3 insults “you green sickness carrion! Out you baggage! You tallow-face!” The 3 exclamation marks and insults further emphasise his out of control anger with repetition. His speech is blurting out “Day, night, hour, tide, time, work, play”.
This shows that he is so mad that he cannot punctuate his speech properly. His insults are forceful and filled with imperatives. He is demanding her to do things. “Get thee to church O’ Thursday” “I will drag thee on hurdle thither”. He is mocking Juliet “Proud and I thank you and thank you not”. This is sarcastic and he mocks her speech as if it is worthless. “Speak not, reply not, do not answer me” This group of 3 emphasises the ‘not’ and further indicates that Juliet is an individual v society as it reflects that she cannot NOT do something her father tells her to. Capulet states that he is so angry he wants to fit her. He says Juliet is a gift from god earlier on in the play but now opposes this stating that she is a curse which is dramatic irony as she suicides and goes to hell. “Drag thee” is a violent verb which stresses his chaotic mood further.
The last thing Capulet says to Juliet is that “Trust to’t, bethink you; I will not be forsworn” This is stating that Juliet will not go against him which is what she eventually does do. Also it means that if you do not follow my command I never want to see you again. This leaves her lonely, isolated with no support from her family. She is helpless with no outlet. This is tragic as she can do nothing to change things and has to marry Paris. She is probably feeling unloved and extremely neglected. Capulet has such a strong reaction to Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris as he is not used to being refused at something because he is
a patriarchal figure. Girls usually obey fathers and Juliet does not follow this trend. He is extremely embarrassed as he promised Juliet to Paris. Capulet wants Juliet to marry a man with wealth; however it may just be because he wants the best for Juliet. What is he going to tell Paris when Juliet does not turn up at the aisle? This thought must be running through Capulet’s mind along with many others. Capulet does not consider the fact of whether Paris will care for Juliet and only states that he is wealthy. This may be a lack of understanding with his daughter and only really doing it to carry on the family name for his own benefit. Maybe if Juliet sat down with Capulet about her uncontrollable love desire he would understand as he has been an understanding man in the past. After all he let Romeo stay in the Capulet mansion, but as Romeo killed Tybalt this would be a bad thing to do (sit down and express love for Romeo) as Tybalt was a valuable asset to the family in terms of wealth and stature.
The customs of time show women have to obey men and act as servants that were just there to have kids that will develop the family tree. A traditional audience would be used to Capulet’s response as they did not understand love as it was rare in Elizabethan times. Answering back would be a severe crime; therefore Capulet’s streak of anger would not be unusual as girls were automatically thought to obey their father. Their would be no question about that and the traditional audience would tend to favour Capulet, however a modern audience is comfortable with love as it is a common occurrence in our society. They would have a deeper understanding and relate to Juliet’s situation. Their feelings towards Capulet would be of shock as treating a girl, never mind your own daughter like that is most certainly crossing a line.
During Act 3 Scene 5 the Nurse interrupts Lord Capulet being very brave when she says “God in heaven bless her! You are to blame my lord, to rate her so.” She risks her job in doing this along with being reprimanded by Lord Capulet, but she could not sit and watch Juliet being mentally abused by Lord Capulet. By the Nurse standing up for Juliet it shows that even though she is a woman with lower class she feels comfortable in speaking out. This is further evident when she answers Capulet back. “May not one speak” Her defence of Juliet could be because she feels a closeness to Juliet from the upbringing she has given Juliet from childhood, however it may also be that she generally disagrees with Capulet forcing Juliet to marry Paris. The Nurse has known Juliet since birth and brought her up including motherly acts such as breastfeeding and being with her at most times where a mother should have been. Despite this, Juliet still has a higher authority then the Nurse.
This is why the two are so close as they have been with each other from day one and they would have had a close relationship as they are used to being with each other. The Nurse offers Juliet some advice that she does not wish to hear. Juliet asks for comforting advice that supports her love for Romeo, but instead the Nurse says “I think it best you married with the county”. The Nurse has come to her senses and thought about the consequences such as being disowned if Juliet does not go through with the marriage. This is because she is trying to protect Juliet. “Your first is dead” is dramatic irony as he does die in the end.
The Nurse may just think this as a general opinion and marrying Paris as the best option. It is obvious she does not understand Juliet because she has never been in love. You need to experience someones situation to fully understand it. The Nurses opinion of Romeo has drastically changed as she juxtaposes her opinion of them referring to Romeo as a “dischclout” and Paris as a “lovely gentleman”. She used to call Romeo a lovely man but she is now trying to protect Juliet and saying what is best for her to avoid further chaos. The Nurse also says that ‘Paris’ is good-looking and does not refer to how he will look after Juliet.
This echoes her parents ‘So fair an eye’ and Juliet must be thinking that the Nurse who was once on her side is just like everyone else. She is all alone and helpless in many ways, however the use of ‘I think’ shows the Nurse is also confused and not sure whether she is giving the right advice. Juliet is sarcastic after hearing the Nurses response “thou hast comforted me marvelous much”. The alliteration of the hard ‘M’ shows her frustration and anger as she thought the nurse would cheer her up and not oppose her views to marry Romeo. She expected that the nurse would support her and offer a helping hand but she does not so she is left detached. This is how Juliet feels betrayed because the Nurse that has brought her up for many years cannot comprehend her situation.
Act 3 Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet shows how it falls apart for Juliet and her isolation links to her tragic death as it plays a vital role in her visit to Friar Laurence. Everyone that Juliet thought loved her attack her with a series of insults or do not understand her situation and Romeo is took away from her when he is banished. These events trigger a breakdown for Juliet and the tragedy unfolds. After exploring the characters roles and influences towards her isolation by looking at the language and structure in Act 3 Scene 5. Juliet is left alone and her thoughts may be plagued with death. Fate really seems to take its toll as so much imagery of love and death is explored ‘Come death and welcome’ ‘I see thee as one dead in the bottom of a tomb’. It is as if they are accepting death and walking straight into a bullet without trying to prevent it in any way.
This is extremely opposite to Macbeth as everything he did was because he was driven with ambition and he caused the situation for himself. This was a personality trait of his own, however fate controls them and is ‘star-crossed’ from the moment they meet which influences their decisions. Macbeth has a fatal flaw whereas Romeo and Juliet do not. The outcome of their deaths is written out for them both as it is the only thing that can reconcile their families relationship. The plays themes such as love overtake everything else which results in her answering back Capulet. This love results in violence due to their secret love, in which they are being forced apart by the people around them as well as nature. Their struggle against society is obvious as the couples relationship is opposed time and time again.
The father’s honour results in brawls that disturb public peace. Arranged marriages are the trend and as their love is people from two rival families, it makes it worse, never mind the love. It is the rivalry that is a problem also. If people found out about the relationship, Romeo and Juliet would be looked on as filth, for example Juliet being disowned and Romeo’s respect would decrease vastly. Romeo and Juliet are battling against what they are being demanded to do and what they desire to do in their personal minds. Regardless of this, fate is blatant to play a part in their tragic deaths. ‘Star crossed’ suggests that their fate has been written out for them from the moment they
meet. They both also see constant omens to back up this theory- “I defy you stars”. This fate controls the play and not just for the audience. These themes are opposing their love and forcing them to the edge which contributes to the penultimate tragedy. The scene forced me to feel sympathetic towards Juliet, but angry at the same moment because maybe if she sat down with Capulet and explained her situation, their could be
a chance he would understand
and the events that followed could have been different in many ways. This scene is vital as it is the turning point and first step towards her limit which results in her visiting Friar for poison which contributes to the final tragedy (their deaths). This scene descends into their tragic fate which was bestowed on them from the moment they set eyes on each other.