In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses many ways in which he builds tension in certain scenes. In Act 3 Scene 1, Shakespeare uses a whole variety of ways to show and build tension in the play and between the characters. The film director Baz Luhrmann also made an adaptation of the play as a film. In his film there are many different visual ways in which Luhrmann builds and creates tension. My first point is, right at the start of the scene, Mercutio keeps pushing for a fight. Benvolio on the other hand, keeps telling Mercutio to retire, but Mercutio will not.In lines one and two, Benvolio says, ‘I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire: the day is hot, the Capels are abroad, and if we meet we shall not scape a brawl…’ This suggests that Benvolio is aware of the Capulet presence, and is not comfortable with where they are, this builds tension. However Mercutio’s reply is quite sarcastic and confident and it taunts Benvolio, ‘Thou art like one of those fellows that, claps me his sword on the table, and says ‘God send no need of thee! ” This basically says to Benvolio that, if he carries a weapon, but does not use it, why does he carry it in the first place?
This suggests that Mercutio carries a weapon for its purpose. In Baz Luhrmann’s version of Romeo and Juliet, there are many more Montagues than we get in the play. Then Tybalt and Petruchio enter, just two against around six, you just know something’s going to happen. Mercutio starts off just agitating Tybalt, but then when Romeo arrives and Tybalt says, ‘Well peace be with you sir, here comes my man. ’ Mercutio gets really angry that Tybalt wishes to see Romeo. This hectic mood is portrayed by the camera getting jerky, as if it has turned into a handheld camera, like a documentary following a war scene.
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Mercutio starts shouting at Tybalt which definitely builds tension because he chases him at the same time. This leads to the fight. In Baz Luhrmann’s version Romeo is getting badly beaten up by Tybalt, and Romeo does not fight back. Mercutio sees this as an act of giving in, as shown in line 66 when he says, ‘O calm, dishonourable, vile submission! ’ Mercutio then gives chase of Tybalt, he drops his gun into the sand, suggesting he does wish to kill anybody, let alone Tybalt, all he wants to do is aid Romeo. This builds tension with the viewers because they do not know what the outcome is going to be.
In the film and the play, Mercutio helps Romeo by fighting for him, however Romeo does not wish for them to fight at all and the audience knows this as Romeo keeps trying to intervene. In the film, Mercutio fights Tybalt and eventually slams Tybalt to the ground onto a mirror which shatters underneath him; this builds tension as the audience believes that Mercutio has done some serious damage to Tybalt. However after this Mercutio goes to strike Tybalt again with a plank of wood, but Romeo stops him by getting in the way and holding him back.
Whilst doing so, Mercutio gets struck by Tybalt with a shard of glass. This builds tension as Mercutio was one of the main characters of the scene, he did a lot and now he has been killed by Tybalt, the audience know something is going to happen. In the film, a lot of tension is built by pathetic fallacy, which is where the weather reflects the mood at the time. At the start of the scene, the sun is burning and is very hot and hazy, suggesting that it is unclear what is going to happen or that a person is unclear about something such as Benvolio being unclear on why Mercutio will not leave.
Also, in the fight it could suggest that the outcome is unclear. When Mercutio dies, the weather changes dramatically to a very turbulent, stormy weather. This shows the chaos that is involved in the scene. The weather also turns from day to night, light to dark, which suggests that there is lots of deceit in this scene because Romeo is confused about Mercutio dying in his arms. The darkness also reflects Romeo’s mood as he gets angry and evil. He then set out to kill Tybalt. In the darkness Romeo also kills Tybalt by shooting him multiple times in the back.
I have found that Shakespeare has used many ways in which he makes the play chromatic and exciting for the audience. I have discovered that the main fight itself is spurred on by Mercutio building tension between the characters and in the scene. I have also found that in Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of the play that he used many techniques such as pathetic fallacy to create drama and tension in this scene. Overall Shakespeare has used many ways to build drama and tension, he has conveyed excellently in this scene love and hatred.
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