Characters of Romeo and Juliet Essay
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In The Prologue of Romeo And Juliet, the fate of the “star-crossed lovers”, the title characters, is already told. They have been doomed to “take their [lives]” before the play has even begun. This foretelling of what the audience is about to see displays that the play is about how and why the events unfold, and not what happens. Act Two, Scene Two is an important scene in the play, which is because this is where Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, the two children born of the “fatal loins” of their feuding parents, meet for the second time, after Capulet’s Masquerade.
They fall in love, starting the chain of fated events that cause their deaths. Before meeting Juliet, Romeo was seen to be melancholic; he was supposedly in love with Rosaline, which was unrequited. He seemed to be introspective, and have a very negative outlook; in Act One, Scene One his father, Montague, said that Romeo had been shutting himself “[a]way from light” in his room. Romeo appeared to have a very poetic, yet bleak, attitude to love. This is demonstrated by Romeo’s use of extended oxymoron in Act One, Scene One, where he talked of “loving hate”, and “misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms”.
His poetic words seemed to indicate that perhaps Romeo was not in love, rather in love with the idea of being in love. He spoke of Rosaline, the object of his love, as though she was a deity, even stating she has characteristics of the goddess Diana (“she has Dian’s wit”). The goddess Diana was an emblem of chastity, and the object of Romeo’s affections has taken a vow of chastity. Ironically, Romeo refuses to “examine other beauties”, as his friend and kinsman Benvolio suggests at the end of Act One, Scene One.
In Act One, Scene Five, when Romeo firsts saw, spoke to, and kissed Juliet, he still used decorative language, and said similar to what he had previously said about Rosaline. He said that Juliet “doth teach the torches to burn bright”, a metaphor, after first seeing her in Act one, Scene Five, after calling Rosaline the “all-seeing sun” in Act One, Scene Three. This seems to indicate that Romeo is too quick to announce his love, saying of Juliet what he had said not long ago about Rosaline.
He did, however, denounce his previous love and say that his love of Rosaline was not comparable to his love for Juliet in Act One, Scene Five, with the rhetorical question “[d]id my hear love till now? “. In Act One, Scene Three Juliet is seen to be polite and respectful young girl. Her mother, Lady Capulet, who is less close to Juliet than her Nurse, tried to persuade Juliet to marry a suitor that has been chosen for her. Marriage was an “honour that [Juliet] dream[ed] not of”, being only thirteen years of age. Lady Capulet, in Act One, Scene Three, told her daughter that “[t]he valiant Paris seeks [Juliet] for his love”.
Juliet seemed in no rush to fall in love and marry at such a young age, she stated she would “look to like”, but “no more deep [… ] endart [her] eye”. She appeared grounded, with no unrealistic expectations about love, and in no hurry to find a husband, despite her mother’s insistence that girls younger than Juliet “[are] made already mothers”. When Juliet met Romeo for the first time in Act One, Scene Five, although she echoed Romeo’s poetic and metaphor rich language, she appeared more playful and flirtatious, telling Romeo he “kiss[es] by th’book”.
In Act Two, Scene Two, Romeo speaks of his love for Juliet and watches her after she appears at the window. He compares her beauty to that of the sun: ” [it] is the east and Juliet is the sun/Arise, fair sun,” when she appears at her window. Shakespeare uses this language to depict that Romeo has elevated Juliet to the stature of a goddess. This is reinstated, with Juliet’s beauty repeatedly being compared to (and bettering) the brightness of celestial objects; Romeo says that the “brightness of her cheek would shame [the] stars”.
Shakespeare used more positive metaphor, repetition, and a less structured and poetic approach to Romeo’s speech to show that Romeo’s newly found love of Juliet has effected a change in his language. Romeo is presented as more happy to love, and simply be in the presence of Juliet: he is eager for her to “speak again”, rather than strike up a conversation instantly. When Romeo begins speaking to Juliet, after hearing her speak of her love and asking why she must love a member of the family she hates, asking “wherefore [is he] Romeo? “, Shakespeare wants us to understand Romeo’s devotion to Juliet.
Romeo offers to forsake his name, saying that “[h]enceforth [he] never will be Romeo” demonstrating his willingness to make sacrifices for the love of Juliet. During this scene Shakespeare repeatedly uses names, or words referring to names (for example, “name”, or “called”) to show the conflict between language, the words and names, and experience, reality; Juliet states that “a rose/By any other word would spell as sweet”. Romeo is eager to “exchange [Juliet’s] love’s faithful vow for [his]”, which shows not only Romeo’s eagerness to prove his unchangeable love to Juliet, but his need to be loved in return.
He tries to swear his love many things, including “yonder blessed moon”, Juliet takes vowing love much more seriously, and asks Romeo not to swear by the “inconstant moon” as it is too changing to vow such an important thing on. This presents Juliet as a mature girl, who tries to consider the consequences of actions and promises, whereas Romeo is completely absorbed in the idea of love. Juliet is concerned that her and Romeo’s love is moving too fast, saying that it is “too like the lightening”.
Shakespeare uses this again showing Juliet’s rationality, but also showing that she is young, love is new to her and she is in no rush. Romeo does not appear to share these concerns; he is more concerned with loving and being loved, only satisfied by Juliet’s “faithful vow”. She is however in love with Romeo, and is not happy to see him go, “[p]arting is such sweet sorrow”, but is eager to see him again. Towards the end of the scene Juliet’s language becomes more like Romeo’s in eagerness to vow love, and in use of simile, comparing Romeo to a “wanton’s bird”, tethered by her love.
Romeo’s rashness, loyalty, and need to love Juliet and be loved in return are important characteristics that will end up sealing his grim fate at the end of the play. Juliet’s young age, and contrasting maturity, grounding in reality and strong will in her love will be ever important, and her need to see a plan through will be important factors that help lead her towards her tragic ending. “For never was there a story of more woe/Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. “