R & J – How to tackle your Assignment choice

1 The presentation of Tybalt

Text: Act 1 scene v and 3 scene i Reads as hot blooded (this would have been a stereotypical view of the Elizabethans but probably hasn’t changed much!) and arrogant at the ball; again arrogant in the fight scene, spoiling for a fight and shows no remorse upon the killing of Mercutio but appears to run away; when Romeo catches up with him he agrees to the fight with not a second thought (see 3i line 130)

Zeferelli: has him angry at the ball and chastised by his Uncle; challenged Romeo but generally good­ humoured and mild at the beginning of the fight scene refusing to rise to Mercutio’s bait – here it almost seems as if the fight will not happen, there is much good­natured banter and fooling around so when he kills Merc it is obvious that it was not intentional but it causes Romeo’s complete change of attitude and him to grow up as he rightly feels the guilt for his best friend’s death and takes his revenge.

Luhrman: portrays Tybalt as a Mexican bandit / drug baron, outfit, face and attitude; also introduces us to him in the opening scene (where?)which in the text he is not. This helped to accentuate the seriousness of the feud which is Shakespeare’s purpose too.

Lines to use:

3 i line 60 much more of an insult than you might think!

line 65

1 v line 58

also use 1 v 77 for Lord C’s telling him off for his bad behaviour, how would he have felt?

1 v 82 again much more of an insult than you might think!

Tybalt exits muttering …1 v 90­91

Tybalt (and Mercutio)’s actions and deaths provide the turning point of the play from comedy to tragedy but also represent another aspect of love, family love, loyalty, honour and respect.

Also refer to the camera angles used on him, music and the way the actor plays the part. How would Shakespeare have had him played? Can you mention how it might have been done in the Globe theatre?What did the audience like? How would the audience have treated Tybalt? As the ‘ villain’ not quite used the way Shakespeare would have done, so an actor may well have had to ham it up a bit!

You must mention sources and S’s use of them: e.g. T and M were scant characters in Brooke’s original what did Shakespeare do with them and why?

2 The death scene

Text: Act 5 scene iii ­ Romeo meets Paris at the vault and kills him when Paris blocks his way; Romeo realises he has made another mistake killing him; his soliloquy to his dead love actually only lasts lines 91 – 120

Zeferelli: a very quiet scene, understated, music minor key, haunting reminder of the song sung by the minstrel earlier at a much happier scene, the ball. After Romeo is dead the friar turns up, apparently afraid he’s going to be blamed for the whole sorry mess and tries to persuade Juliet upon waking to leave with him; she refuses and when noise is heard she stabs herself. Look at the way the two are framed together on the screen.

Luhrmann: noisy / helicopters / spot lights / gunfire / Romeo’s desperation shown by him taking a hostage/ whole contrasts with silence of the friar’s realisation of what has or may happen also with inside the church.Romeo peers through the door sees an aisle like a wedding aisle, bordered with neon lit crosses and at the altar end masses of candles and his bride lying like on her marriage bed surrounded by flowers and dressed in white; choir sings a reprise of the song sung while they got married. Luhrmann has Juliet wake up, twitch several times to increase the dramatic tension before Romeo actually takes the poison. This was in fact the tradition begun by Garrick and used at the theatre Drury Lane until 1845, maybe Luhrmann revived it? Look at camera use, edits, music and the importance of the religious elements in this scene: all the way through we’ve had images of the church dividing the two families (how?) and now here in this church all the symbolism of religion that will end up uniting them.

Lines to use: you choose but match them to things you see on the screen. How would it have been played on the Globe stage? Don’t forget the actors would have been men, what has Shakespeare done to the scene in order to not make the audience snigger, but to make them feel it is a real tragedy?

Shakespeare’s play is full of contrasts: each noisy scene is juxtaposed with a quiet one, likewise in the play each action packed one is positioned against a quiet one


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