As the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare opens the audience gleans a great deal of relevant and important information from the chorus in the prologue. The chorus clearly tells of the ensuing tragedy that is to follow between the Capulet and Montague families. It informs the audience of the ancient grudge which exists between the two families although the actual cause of the deep rooted hatred between the two families is never revealed. The chorus also tells of the two star crossed lovers, and indicates that ironically it is the death of the handsome Romeo and the young Juliet that will bring about the end of this long running feud.
Act 1 scene 1, acts as a good introduction into the play because it sets the scene on so many different levels and leaves the audience seeking answers to many questions. It also leaves the audience in no doubt that this story can only end in tragedy. The scene starts with a fight between the servants of the Montague and Capulet families, where aggressive and abusive words are exchanged. This shows how deep rooted the hatred between the families really is. It is shown that even the servants hate each other which makes the audience wonder what could have caused such hatred.
The audience also anticipates the hatred that must be displayed between the two families in the play. As in the words of a song ‘anger is an energy’ and the anger and energy within this interactions is built up and quickly comes to the boil. At the start of the scene a rude gesture is shown. “I do bite my thumb sir” This is and Elizabethan sign of disrespect which is the start of the feuding in this scene. After the gesture these insulting words soon erupt into something far more serious both dramatically and thematically. This scene gives us a glimpse into the attributes of the characters.
Benvolio, Romeo’s friend, is a peace maker, which you can see by his first line “Part fools. ” This shows that he has tried, although not succeeded, to break up the fight. Tybalt, on the other hand, is the total opposite of Benvolio. Tybalt is a relatively one dimensional character. He is hot tempered, vindictive and aggressive. This audience realises that he is like this straight away as he rejects Benvolio’s plea to “Keep the peace. ” Instead he responds by saying “What, drawn, and talk of peace I hate the word/As I hate hell, all Montagues and thee. ” This shows that all he wants to do is fight.
I feel this keeps the audience interested as it is only the first scene and a large scale fight has already broken out. The audience will be left asking if this amount of violence and tension can happen in the first scene then what will happen later in the play and how will these two prominent, but opposite characters, (Tybalt and Benvolio) develop. Prince Escalus is introduced and ends the fight but reinforces the notion that if the feud continues it will end in tragedy. “if ever you disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace”.