Scene one is supported by the prologue in many ways. In the first scene you see two apparently daring men, showing bravado in the way of the Montague’. There discussion starts as a petty match of vaunting, little do they know that it will soon escalate. This takes its cue from the prologue because it says in the prologue that these two families hold an ancient grudge against each other. In scene one the Capulets the scorn the Montague woman with insults, and boastful threats of rape, and the cutting off of one’s head.
He also refers to them as ‘Dogs from the house of Montague’ which is obviously an un-gentlemanly and scornful comment. Puns are also used in an offensive way in this part of the scene. Shakespeare uses the words ‘carry coals’ in a double meaning, he uses it in the sense of being a miner, and in the sense of carrying insult. He uses the word ‘collier’ as in a dishonest person, but a collier also happens to be a breed of dog, he uses the word ‘collar’ which can obviously mean the garment about ones neck, but can also mean, to seize, or it can be a cut of meat, either of these are offensive to the Montagues.
Then the word ‘to stand’ is used, this can mean to stand on ones two feet, or to get an erection. They also talk about ‘drawing ones tool’ this can mean to get out ones sword, or to get out your penis. There are many references to acts of a sexually explicit nature in this scene. Also the most important pun in this scene and in the Prologue is the word ‘civil’ in normal English language, civil can be used in three different ways. 1: Civil as in polite. 2: Civil as in civilians. And 3: Civil as in civil war.
I think all three are applicable to the prologue and the first scene. In the prologue, in my opinion, the first civil is to mean civil as in civilians, and the second is to mean civil as in polite. In scene one, on page eighty three, Sampson uses civil to describe the how he will cut off the Montague woman’s heads, and be civil to them. Of course he is being sarcastic, as cutting of someone’s head is not polite or civil. The two serving men are trying to out do each other, and boast about there strength and there fiery charisma. Then the Montagues’ appear.
The two Capulet serving men dare each other to make a move on the Montagues, Sampson tells Gregory to approach them with his weapon and promises to back him. Gregory does not believe his plea so refuses, both men are rapidly losing there bravado and are rapidly turning into cowards. Gregory then suggests that he should frown at them as they pass, but Sampson plucks up every bit of courage he has and bite his thumb at them, ( the equivalent of giving the finger). This is when the real tension starts and the first acts of hostility to ones enemy are shown, person to person.
When Abram of the Montagues sees Sampson insulting him he questions him. He asks “Do you bite your thumb at us sir? “. Sampson then replies, ” I do bite my thumb sir. ” Abram then repeats the question, Sampson then asks him, if it is all right for him to do so. Abram says, no. Then Sampson denies biting his thumb at them but admits he does bite his thumb. Here is a transition of humour in the way off thumb biting and idol joking, into a scene of deadly reality, no jokes are made from here on. Abram is then asked by Gregory if he quarrels, giving the offensive to the Capulets.
Sampson says he doesn’t. The scene then starts to calm down now as Sampson says, “But if you do sir I am for you. I serve as good a man as you. ” Abram replies, “No better”. Sampson then agrees and says, “Well sir”. It appears the argument has died down, and now we know that the Capulets display of fanforade, was false, and that the last thing they wanted was a fight as they were just cowards with big egos and bigger mouths. However the argument soon escalates when, an aristocrat of the house of Montague called Benvolio appears.
Good hearted as he is he still is the one who is the catalyst in the reaction that follows. Seeing one of their own house approaching and a respected one who is higher up the social ladder at that, Gregory feels the need to urge Sampson to say better to the last comment. Here is a great use of the stop go affect, the will they fight/wont they fight, keeps you on your toes, and asking for more.. Even after Benvolio’s entrance, which spurs more idle words, Gregory still can not bring himself to say the comment. However Sampson can, and Abram takes much offensive to this.
He accuses Sampson of lying, and Sampson then threatens him to draw his sword, and fight like a man. Abram feeling he needs to support his lineage, draws his sword and they fight. Benvolio begs them to part with their swords for they no not what they do, but before any reaction has been observed, Tybalt appears, an aristocrat from the house of Montague, known for his fiery character, and his legendary sword fighting. Already the climb up the social ladder has begun, as there are now two aristocrats in the scene.
Tybalt then accuses Benvolio of drawing of servants then on people of his own status, he then tells Benvolio to turn and look upon his own death. Benvolio tells Tybalt he is only trying to keep the peace, and asks him to use his sword only to part these men. Tybalt mocks the request, and tells him he hates peace as much as, hell, Montagues, and Benvolio. He then challenges Benvolio and they fight. Citizens, who are disrupted by the commotion, wave clubs and spears into the air, and beg them to stop.
They then chant “Down with the Capulets. ” And “Down with the Montagues. As they are fed up of the constant violence. Then old Montague appears, he is bemused by the noise, and demands his sword. His wife mocks her husbands age and peccability, and shouts, “a crutch a crutch, why do you call for a sword. ” He then spies old Montague and his wife, once again the social standing has increased, and now the heads of the two rival families are involved. Capulet then demands his sword, as he feels Montague is flourishing his blade in spite of him. Montague gets irate and demands his wife, who is apparantly holding him back to let him go.
She then tells him she will not allow him to step one foot if it is to fight. The situation could well have escalated if it was not for the arrival of the Prince, once again a person of a higher social standing, as we get to the peak of social standing. The Prince speaks, he opens his dialogue, with the words, “Rebellious subjects, enemies of peace. ” Straight away you know he is not pleased about the peace and is in fact quite irate.
Also you will notice the type of dialogue changes, from each rank of social standing. he serving men speak in sonnets, the aristocrats speak, in mixed verse, and the Prince then speaks in a sort of upper class verse. The Prince Escalus (note escalate is Shakespeare doing this on purpose), tells the families that they are beasts and that they should quench the fire of their pernicious rage, and he warns them that if they don’t the will get hurt, (purple fountains issuing from their veins). He then tells them to throw their weapons to the ground and hear his sentence.
“He tells them there have been three civil brawls bred of an airy word. Here is another use of the word civil, in this case this can be meant in either one of two ways. It can either mean that these brawls have been brawls between civilians. Yet they are also people who live in the same country brawling, so it could be meant as in a civil war. The part about the airy words, means that all of the civil uproars have stemmed from a stray word or insult, from one family to another which quickly escalates into a brawl.
The Prince then tells them that they are disturbing the peace, to such a point where old civilians are having to use their own ancient weapons, to try to keep the peace. e tells the families that these civilians are diseased with peace, in order to stop the families diseased hatred. The Prince then draws a threat to the situation, he tells them that if they ever disturb the streets again, they will face the punishment. he then tells all to leave, and tells Capulet to come with him, and Montague to go along in the afternoon. Montague then talks to Benvolio and asks for an explanation of what happened. Benvolio tells him that he saw the servants of his enemy and his own servants, fighting as he approached.
He tells of how he try’s to part them, and explains how the ‘fiery Tybalt’ drew his sword and challenged him. He tells of when they were fighting that more and more people came and joined in for either side, until the Prince came and broke it up. I think this scene is trying to get across the meanings of the word civil. How people with such a high social standing, can fight and do such terrible things. No matter of what rank, this does not stop you starting fights, and behaving so un-civily, but perhaps only gives you more power to inflict your discourteous behaviour with.