In act 3 scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses key insights in order to warn the audience of the tragic ending that is awaiting as, eight scenes later, the two lovers end their lives. In this scene the author also uses key insights to show contradiction in Romeo and Juliet’s thoughts and beliefs which creates an atmosphere of conflict and tragedy. Shakespeare uses the structure of the dialogue as a tool to announce the tragic situation Romeo and Juliet are facing as they can’t manage to agree on anything. The confusion in this scene starts by Juliet saying that she heard the nightingale, the bird of the night, while Romeo insists on the fact that he heard the lark, the bird of the day. The reader understands that Romeo and Juliet are both at different ends, but when Juliet says she heard the nightingale, she’s telling Romeo that he “need’st not to be gone”, while Romeo, who thinks he heard the lark says he has to go.
When Romeo finally admits that it was the lark, and therefore that he can stay with Juliet, Juliet says it was the nightingale and that Romeo must “be gone, away”. Romeo must be “gone and live” or “stay and die”. The chiastic structure of this dialogue also reflects the structure of the way the two lovers die; Romeo is alive while Juliet, who doesn’t want to marry Paris drinks a potion that makes her appear dead for a certain amount of time. Romeo isn’t told to wait until Juliet wakes up but is told that she is dead, Romeo kills Paris after an argument and lastly himself. When Juliet wakes up, she notices Romeo is dead and stabs herself to death. This goes to show that the structure of the dialogue reveals that the two lovers will die and their death will follow a chiastic structure as well.
Shakespeare wrote the dialogue between Romeo and Juliet in a way that shows that the two lovers are in conflict to make their deaths less painful as instead of seeing them as a perfect couple, the audience sees them as an arguing couple that aren’t meant for each other. The structure is asymmetric which shows disorder, which is exactly where the play is headed. Shakespeare uses imagery that contradicts itself in order to expose the conflict between Romeo and Juliet. They both insist that they have seen different birds which are opposites of each other. The birds do not only represent day and night, but whether or not Romeo should go as day means he has to leave before being found and executed, while night means that he can stay hidden until dawn without getting into troubles. The imagery of the birds show opposition in their meanings as well as in Romeo and Juliet’s beliefs which again reveal conflict between the two of them and warns the reader of the tragic ending that is coming up.
Shakespeare also plays with the imagery as he turns around the expectations the audience has for night and day; the audience is more likely to see night as the time when murders, deaths or bad things in general happen and light as the nice part of the day, where the two lovers can be together. Shakespeare challenges these expectations by associating night with lust, and a moment when Romeo and Juliet can be together and light as the moment where the most dying, destruction and tragic events occur. Shakespeare uses language and rhymes in an interesting way that brings out the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet’s situation as well as the tragic ending that is coming up. Romeo’s last line in this passage is quite poetic, but at the same time dark and tragic. While leaving, Romeo is basically saying that as the sun rises up, his sorrow and problems will rise as well as he will have to face banishment and separation from Juliet.
If the reader interprets the line literally, the sentence becomes a paradox as “more light” cannot darken “our woes”. One of the few rhymes in the dialogue is in lines 27-28. In these lines, Juliet says that the lark, the bird of the day sings “so out of tune” and to her it all sounds like “unpleasing sharps”. This line shows that Juliet cares about Romeo as she dislikes the lark only because it is the symbol of their separation. This raises the question that was addressed in the prologue of whether Romeo and Juliet are a pair of “star-cross’d lovers” or if they are doomed to die from the very beginning.