How Does the Prologue at the Start of Romeo and Juliet Create Suspense?

How does the Prologue at the start of Romeo and Juliet create suspense? William Shakespeare, writer of Romeo and Juliet, creates suspense through the use of different techniques. Shakespeare is very particular in his choice of diction, by wisely picking specific vocabulary to create an atmosphere. It is usual that a Greek tragedy, such as Romeo and Juliet, contains a Prologue to set the tone for the rest of the play. Shakespeare wrote the Prologue in a Sonnet form using Iambic Pentameter, which contains 10 syllables per line.

Iambic Pentameter uses of unstressed and stressed syllables to create a rhythm or flow to the Prologue. The rhyming ABAB pattern is used throughout the whole poem except the two last lines, which are rhyming couplet. Shakespeare used this type of writing to copy a real life speech, as this would be the case when someone did a public reading of the Prologue. The sonnet form normally informs that the play will be about love, suggesting to the audience what kind of play they are about to watch. Like every play that contains love, Shakespeare also includes a certain amount of hate, to create drama.

At the beginning of the paragraph Shakespeare creates suspension at the opening sentence. The way in which Shakespeare uses his rhyming techniques draws a big attention to the opening phrase, “two household” families. The diction “two” emphases that the poem is about two families off the same standards, which may have some kind of conflict between them. It then briefly describes the two families Capulet and Montague’s; hinting that two families are similar in a way that they are all respected since they are “both alike in dignity”.

By using the term “alike” suggests that they are to the same degree, none of them are superior. This opening sentence creates suspense because Shakespeare doesn’t reveal what would be the conflict between the two families or why are they alike in dignity. On the other hand, on the second line the “fair Verona” which is the place where the scene is laid out is a place of beauty, Verona is known as an Italian city that has a splendid beauty. This contrast between the beauty of Verona and what seems as a conflict between the two families generates a tense atmosphere.

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Yet, the “grudge” between them causes a negative mood. The diction “grudge” connotes the hatred between the two families; an old disagreement between the families will soon turn to a new conflict; it may include violence and drama. Shakespeare used the first 3 lines of the Prologue to describe the families’ feud and give an introduction to the readers of the main families in Verona. Shakespeare used alliteration of the repetition of the letter ‘F’ on the begging of words. The alliteration on the 5th line demonstrates they were born cursed from their enemies meaning they are “fatal lions of these two foes”.

The diction “fatal” implies that both lovers were born doomed for a bad ending, this tense atmosphere is created due to the unknown ending of how the love between two cursed enemies end. The alliteration also changed the topic from the families feud to the introduction of the two lovers. The 6th line states that from these two houses, two “star-cross’d” lovers will appear. The terminology “cross’d” connotes that the whole universe is against them, meaning they have every possible reason to give up but their love bring them together.

It also foreshadows that a death will occur. The fact that the families do not get along and they still try to make their love work creates suspension because it keeps a constant feeling that the hate between the families will ruin the lovers love. On the middle of the poem, Shakespeare refers that the lovers “death” would “bury their parents’ strife”. The expression “death” symbolizes the end of life; this strong term advises that the “death” of the lovers would “bury” the anger between the two families and they would agree to stop quarrelling.

This sentence creates a negative mood due to the reason that both lovers would die and both families would become friendly again. The “continuance of their parents’ rage” indicates that the uncontrolled emotion could cause violence between the two families and end up in death. The fact that the spectators already know that there could be death crafts a tone of suspense. The ending of the prologue informs the audience that the above outlined plot is about to be performed and gives a hint as to how long it will last.

The 13th and 14th line, last lines of the Prologue, asks for the audience patience. All these techniques and detailed vocabulary William Shakespeare uses in the Prologue creates suspense and a contrast between loves and hate atmosphere. Conclusively, the most effective techniques Shakespeare used in the Prologue were the precise use of vocabulary that hinted what would happen and introduced the story in a dramatic way. Also, Shakespeare uses a lot of foreshadowing; these two techniques created suspense and an atmosphere to the Prologue.

Shakespeare used a Prologue to introduce to the reader a general summary of what the play is about. When the reader first reads the prologue, it is attracted to continue reading the play even if Shakespeare’s vocabulary is not easy to understand. The impact the Prologue has on the audience is the suspense Shakespeare created leaves the reader curious and with the will to continue watching the play. Overall, the way Shakespeare expresses himself with different and exact vocabulary creates suspense. By: Gabriela Matarazzo

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