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What was the purpose of Romeo's dream in Act 5 scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet? |

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If we look at the very beginning of this scene, we see Romeo saying that his "dreams presage some joyful news at hand." This establishes dramatic irony in light of what follows. Also look at the line, "Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight." This turns out to be, sadly, true, but not in the manner Romeo had intended.

Establishing with these hints that Romeo feels sure he is on his way to a happy ending with Juliet, then, Shakespeare inserts Romeo's tragic dream into the scene to force the audience to question Romeo's belief—can Romeo's optimism actually be borne out in the face of this kind of foreshadowing? Romeo dreams that "my lady came and found me dead," but then that she managed to revive him with a kiss so potent "that I revived, and was an emperor." To an extent, this dream of Romeo's gives the audience false hope, and increases the tension as such, because we know already that Juliet is not really dead, and the image Romeo describes is a mirror of what Juliet hopes will occur between herself and Romeo. The audience at this juncture can still bear out some hope, like Romeo, that what the dream presages is a happy ending, although we know it is extremely unlikely given the genre of the play.

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