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Romeo & Juliet - Introducing Adam Morton

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Romeo & Juliet
Act 4
Act IV, Scene i - Summary
Paris tells the Friar of the wedding (in two days)Friar is shocked at haste - it‘should be slowed’Juliet cool towards Paris, cleverly sidesteps his compliments; Paris is affectionate towards herParis leaves and Juliet threatens to take‘this bloody knife’and kill herself if no help givenThe Friar offers Juliet a sleeping potionwhich will induce a coma-like state for 42 hoursShe will lie alone in her chamber (onWednight)Everyone will believe she is dead, and Romeo will be sent for and they will escape to MantuaJuliet agrees instantly
The dramatic tension in the scene is created through the meeting of Paris and JulietJuliet and Paris engage in rigid, formal talkParis tries to engage Juliet but she is quick to respond and curt in mannerHe is courteous suitor, while Juliet proves her nimble mind as she evades Paris’s questions and compliments
Juliet’s Strength
She is surprised to find Paris at the Friar’s yet she presents herself as composed and confidentShe describes the horrors she is prepared to face rather than marry Paris highlighting her bravery and the depth of her love for RomeoJuliet is prepared to take her life rather than be without RomeoThe Friar states that if she has ‘the strength of will’to kill herself, then she will have the courage to take the potionShe makes this decision quickly suggesting her determination and resolution to try anything to be with Romeo
This scene is defining moment in the structure of the playIn this scene, Juliet’s decision to accept the Friar’s potion demonstrates hercommitment to defying her father’s ruleasserting her independenceaccepting her resolution to die in order to be with Romeo
Romeo and Juliet - Parallel
Juliet’s conversation with the Friar parallels Act III, Scene 3 with Romeo when he threatens to kill himselfJuliet, like Romeo, now believes that only death can offer a solution to her dilemma:“Be not so long to speak. I long to die / If what thou speak’st speak not of remedy.”As always, Rome and Juliet mirror each other’s actions
Friar and Fate
The Friar uses his knowledge of flowers and herbs when thinking of the potionIn Act II, scene iii, the Friar described the dual qualities of plants that are capable of healing yet have the power to act as a poisonThe Friar’s plan offers hope for Juliet, but due to the influence of fate, becomes the vehicle of the tragedy
At the end of this scene:
Juliet has found an allyThe Friar has proven himself to be wily, scheming and inventive in aiding Romeo and JulietBUT can he be trusted?Paris appears to be genuinely interested in Juliet
Act IV, Scene ii - Summary
Juliet returns home where she surprises her parents by sweetly capitulating to the weddingCapulet is so pleased, that he insists on bringing the weddingforwardby one day (to the Wednesday morning)Lady Capulet protests, saying it does not leave enough time to prepare, but the euphoric Lord Capulet states he will prepare everythingJuliet is now to be married the following morningThis will affect the Friar’s arrangements to let Romeo know of their plans
Here, fate twists Juliet’s fortunes once againCapulet, in his impulsive zeal, complicates the Friar’s plan by moving the wedding forward a full dayJuliet must take the potion that night and lapse into a suspended state 24 hours sooner than the Friar had anticipatedThis development reduces the amount of time the Friar will have to notify Romeo in Mantua
Juliet - Duplicitous
Juliet pretends to acquiesce to Capulet’s planShe reveals enthusiasm which is somewhat genuine since she feels hope in the potionShe reveals her ability to pretend and her perception in working out what others wantJuliet displays duplicity as she describes her meeting with Paris saying she gave him,“what becomed love I might / Not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty.”She also pretends to prepare for the wedding while preparing for her presumed deathShe has emotionally removed herself from those who have betrayed her
Lord Capulet
Capulet is characteristically impulsive, rash, and unpredictableHis blind enthusiasm leads him to insist that his entire family and staff work through the night to make adequate preparations for the hastened ceremonyHe shows disrespect for his wife and Juliet insulting Juliet by accusing her of “peevish, self-willed harlotry” and he completely dominates his wife, disregarding her desire to delay the wedding and ordering her to Juliet’s room to help the Nurse
Act IV, Scene iii - Summary
In her bedchamber, Juliet asks the Nurse to let her spend the night aloneShe begins to wonder what will happen to her if she drinks from the vialShe comes up with reason after reason why drinking the sleeping potion may cause her harm – physical or psychological – but drinks it anyway, telling Romeo‘I drink to thee’
Juliet – Independence
Juliet assertsindependenceby asking Nurse and Lady Capulet to leave her aloneShe isseparating herselffrom her family and takes a step toward her plan to be with RomeoThis request marks aturning pointfor JulietPreviously, sherefrained from making her own decisions(waited for instruction from Romeo when they would wed and depended on Friar to provide a plan)She has grown morematureandindependentPlaces dagger by her side showingher decisionto die if she can’t be with Romeo
Juliet - Strength
When Juliet is left alone, she is struck by thehorrorof her situationShe imaginesgruesome, nightmarishhorrors of 13-year-old facing her own mortality: being buried alive in the airless tomb and facing Tybalt’s corpse:“festering in his shroud.”She is tempted to call for Nurse, but realises she must actindependentlyShe displayscourageas she defies her parents and fate itself ad is prepared to dieShe accepts she must trust the Friar’s potion, and has strength in her ultimatefaith
Both the knife, and the poison, hint at the lovers’ actual deathsJust as Juliet drinks “poison”, Romeo will eventually procure poison from an apothecary and kill himself that wayJuliet will use the knife on herself
Writing Task:
‘Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again.’Writing task: Re-write this speech in your own words – tracing all of Juliet’s changing ideas and emotions as she contemplates what she is about to do…
Act IV, Scene iv - Summary
Lord Capulet has not been to bed but has been preparing for the weddingThe Capulet household has been alive throughout the night with frenetic wedding preparation activitiesThe day begins to break, and Capulet hears music signaling that Paris is approaching the houseHe orders the Nurse to awaken Juliet
The mood is joyful and excitedThe Capulet house bustles with activityBanter with the servants is frenetic and excitedThe atmosphere is electrified with the joyful expectation of the upcoming marriageThis provides a striking contrast with the scene upstairs, where the bride lies in bed, apparently deadThis scene relieves the tension from the previous dark scene
Act IV, Scene v - Summary
The Nurse enters Juliet’s room and discovers her seemingly lifeless body on the bedThe Nurse believes her to be dead and cries out to the family in desperationThey dramatically mourn Juliet’s lossThe Friar expresses the belief that Juliet is in heaven and that they are partly to blameHe then arranges for Juliet’s body to be taken to the family vaultCapulet orders that the wedding preparations be changed to funeral preparations
The Nurse opens this with humorous banterHowever, the mood changes quickly when the Nurse discovers Juliet’s body,The tone of the scene immediately changes from excited anticipation to shocked sorrow creating a sense of shock for the audience
The parents
In their mourning for Juliet, they appear as individuals who have suffered a great lossThe audience gains an understanding of how much their hopes for the future had been invested in JulietAnd Paris’ grief seems genuine, rather than just disappointmentHowever, their griefs are centred on themselves and much of the sadness is shown in repetitive wailing rather than genuine feeling
At the end of Act IV
The situation is dire, but there could still be hope IF the Friar’s plan can be made to workJuliet is apparently dead, and is being taken to the family tombThe Friar has to send a message to Romeo (earlier than he thought) explaining the situation to himPotential for tragedy?





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Romeo & Juliet - Introducing Adam Morton