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Secondary Prince

Secondary Prince

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Published by: doctorstardis2012 on Mar 31, 2011
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Medha Gupta Shakespeare Secondary Prince Prince Escalus appears only thrice in the entire duration of The Tragedy

of Romeo and Juliet, and that is to establish law and order. The scene that is most crucial to his role in the main crisis of the play is the first scene in which the audience is introduced to his character. Everything stops around him, and his speech continues uninterrupted for several lines. He is a minor character because he is not at all important in driving the plot in any means and functions as sort of a neutral respondent in the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. He is important in this scene particularly because he lays down the law, and provides the two families with an ultimatum: If ever you disturb our streets again/ Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace (Shakespeare ln 89-90). His words demonstrate his unwillingness to take the sheer ridiculousness of the family feud, yet his words do not actually do much to stem the fray that had occurred. Even at the beginning of his speech, his chagrin is clearly evident. Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, Profaners of this neighbor-stainèd steel Will they not hear? What ho, you men, you beasts That quench the fire of your pernicious rage With purple fountains issuing from your veins (ln 74-78) His anger is extremely evident in these lines where he does not even refer to the men as humans; he calls them beasts. His words demonstrate his displeasure, especially because according to the social norms prevalent and his status as royalty, it does seem rather odd that he would be so personally offended by the actions of the Montagues and the Capulets. Also the line where he speaks of them profaning their weapons by using them upon their brothers shows that he has lost any patience he may have had previously with them. The speech goes on to order the men to throw down their weapons. It is important to note, however; that when he orders that the citizens throw down their weapons, that they do, showing that whatever feud they have is not above the law. He also uses sickly words such as cankered and refers to Montague and Capulet as old showing how they are old and feeble and thereby demonstrating the sheer ridiculousness of this situation. Also assuming that old age brings wisdom and by stressing on that, the absurdity of the feud is drawn into prominence. Although he holds status and a significant prominence in the nature of the city space of Verona itself, Prince Escalus functions mostly as a minor character. He is secondary because of his inability to actually effect the change needed in the city that would enable the young protagonists to fulfill their desires. He also helps to illustrate the sheer absurdity of the actions of both the families. In West Side Story Officer Krupke and Lt Strack play his character, and both of them do not partake in the revelry demonstrated by the two sides, but function as the law, similar to the play. They make hard decisions and have the final word, but they are also unable to bring about the change needed in the two gangs. They are both members of the police force, which is pretty equivalent to the position that the Prince holds in the play.

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