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Freytag's Pyramid: Romeo and Juliet
Transcript of Freytag's Pyramid: Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Summary: The plot in Act 1 is the introduction to the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues.The hatred between the two families is shown in a fight that was instigated by Sampson and Gregory, two Capulet boys. As they begin the play in conversation, Sampson says, “I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it” (Shakespeare 1.1.36). Next, he bites his thumb in front of some men from the Montague family, who were walking through the streets. This starts a violent fight that is soon broken up by the prince, who then gives a great speech to the two families. In this speech, he warns the Capulets and Montagues that if another fight breaks out, there will be consequences. Also during this act, a subplot occurs; Capulet is taking to Paris, a man who desires to marry Capulet’s daughter, Juliet. Capulet argues that Juliet is too young to be married, but Paris insists that she will be very happy with him. Eventually, Capulet agrees to let Paris try to win Juliet’s heart.
Analysis: Shakespeare opens the play very well by first showing the audience the hatred between these two families. It is, however, a surprising way to start the play, given that the reader doesn’t learn about the backgrounds of either family first. One can also see that Shakespeare uses the prince’s speech to create a foreshadow; the foreshadow is that the prince tells the Capulets and Montagues that something bad will happen when a fight between them occurs again.
Summary: In Act 2, the mood of the plot changes from hatred to love. This act contains the famous balcony scene, which starts off with Romeo Montague’s famous line, “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?” (Shakespeare 2.2.3). During this romantic scene, juliet appears in her balcony talking to herself, while Romeo sits by watching her. Juliet, not knowing that Romeo hears her, talks to herself about how she’s so in love with Romeo, but she doesn’t think they can be together because he is a Montague, and she is a Capulet. Suddenly, Romeo reveals himself to Juliet, and tells her that he loves her too. As they proclaim their love for each other, Romeo proposes that they get married the next day. Juliet accepts, and as the nurse calls her inside, she says to Romeo goodnight, and they depart.
Analysis: It is interesting how fast Shakespeare goes from a hate-filled mood to a love-filled one, and because the family feud is so emphasized, it gives the romantic part a riskier atmosphere. This risk for love builds a title for Romeo and Juliet; they are star- crossed lovers. It is also very clever that Shakespeare introduces the feud first in the play, because it adds in this thought of forbidden love, and it also adds more drama to the story.
Summary: In Act 3, the plot moves back to a mood of hatred, as we find Benvolio and Mercutio in the streets on a hot day. Benvolio, knowing that they are so out in the open as the Capulets are also on the streets says, “I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire./ The day is hot; the Capulets abroad;/ And if we shall meet we shall not ‘scape a brawl,/ For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring” (Shakespeare 3.1.1- 4). Moments later, we find that Benvolio is right; Tybalt and some of his Capulet friends approach him and Mercutio. Tybalt, being the instigator, turns a conversation between him and Mercutio into a fight, and though Benvolio tries to break the two up, he fails to do so. As they are still fighting, Romeo approaches the scene. Along with Benvolio, Romeo tries to stop the fight, but it again fails, and causes Mercutio to be stabbed by Tybalt’s sword. Insisting that it is only a scratch, Mercutio hobbles around, while Tybalt silently begins to leave the scene. When Mercutio fell and died, however, Romeo charged after Tybalt, and then started a fight of his own; but at the end of this duel, Tybalt was the man who fell.
Analysis: This act begins the tragic events that will continue on until the end of the play. Shakespeare writes this act in a way that brings out the tragedy, by having Mercutio’s death happen because Romeo got in the way, which adds drama. Also, Shakespeare adds in a symbol and foreshadow; it is a hot day, which is a sign that something bad will happen. To add into the idea that something bad will happen, the Capulets are walking around, while Mercutio and Benvolio are out in the open, almost asking to start an argument. Then, as the fight breaks )out, and Mercutio dies, it seems as though Shakespeare couldn’t make the situation any worse; but he does. The tragedy of Romeo killing Tybalt (who is Juliet’s cousin; and this event took place after Romeo and Juliet had been married, adding more drama) gives the audience a terrible feeling that more bad events will be coming up next.
Summary: Act 4 begins with the sub plot; in an attempt to raise Juliet’s spirits (because she has been crying over Romeo’s banishment; his punishment for killing Tybalt), Capulet arranges for her and Paris’ wedding to be in a few days. Because of this, Julie become more upset. Caulet, thinking that Juliet is ungrateful to be marrying Paris, yells at his daughter and warns her that he will disown her unless she marries Paris. In her great fit of grief, Juliet goes to Friar Lawrence (who also married Juliet and Romeo together) for help. This comes back to the main plot. As Juliet has made her way to Friar Lawrence’s cell, she runs into none other than Paris himself who is talking to the Friar about the wedding. When Juliet enters asking to speak with the friar, Paris leaves, kissing Juliet as though they are already married. Once they are alone, Juliet pleads with Friar Lawrence to do something to stop the wedding and to get her to Romeo once again. He thinks of a solution and gives Juliet a potion that will put her into a deep sleep. The plan is that while the others will think she is dead, she will wake and escape the city with Romeo. Taking the potion eagerly, Juliet rushes home and apologizes to her father for her rude behavior, goes into her room and drinks the potion as she lays in her bed.
Analysis: In this act, Shakespeare begins to pile the story with things that have and/or will go wrong. He also wonderfully ties the subplot in with the plot, so the plot then becomes more dramatic. Shakespeare also develops Juliet’s character by showing her in a weakened state. She is burdened with everything going on around her, and she breaks, which is shown in her sadness throughout the act. Shakespeare shows one other change in Juliet’s character during this scene; her willingness to take risks. At the beginning of the play, Shakespeare makes Juliet an obedient girl, but by the end, he makes her a risk taker that will do anything for her love, Romeo.
Summary: Act 5 brings the most tragedy of any other. Juliet, who drank the potion from Friar Lawrence, is found dead. As her funeral is being held at the Capulet’s monument, Balthasar, Romeo’s servant, spies from afar. Thinking Juliet is truly dead, he quickly returns to Romeo to deliver the sad news. Balthasar arrives at Romeo’s home and tells him the terrible news. Full of sorrow, Romeo decides to leave that night to see Juliet in her tomb. Meanwhile, Friar Lawrence sends out a letter to Romeo to tell him that Juliet is not really dead; however the letter never reaches Romeo, as he rides off to Juliet’s tomb. Before he arrives he buys a poison from an apothecary; a poison that will kill whomever drinks it. When Romeo arrives at Juliet’s tomb, he finds Paris there paying his respects to Juliet. Romeo quickly slays Paris and enters the tomb and laying his dead body inside. Romeo finds Juliet and cries over her. At last, giving Juliet one last kiss, Romeo drinks the poison and dies. Moments later, Juliet awakens to find Romeo lying dead on the ground. Noticing the empty bottle of poison, she takes Romeo’s knife, stabs herself and dies.
Analysis: Once again, Shakespeare builds this act on many things that go wrong. Friar Lawrence’s letter never reaches Romeo, Romeo then thinks that Juliet has died, he kills himself, Juliet wakes a moment too late, and then she too kills herself. Shakespeare also adds dramatic irony into this act when Romeo thinks Juliet is dead because the audience knows that she is not. This dramatic irony works in Shakespeare’s favor and adds more tragedy to an already tragic story.