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In the first two acts of Romeo and Juliet are filled with impulsive decisions and interpretations of love, mixed with other emotions.
Romeo, the principal male character is, at first unsure about his love for Rosaline. The audience comes to believe that it is lust, not love that drives him to thinking he feels strongly about her. He mentions that his love is unrequited, when he tells Benvolio that he is “out of her favour where I am in love,” indicating that he loves her and she does not return the passion and lust that he dreams of.
Romeo at this point is not only portrayed as being disheartened, but extremely confused as well. He speaks with oxymoronic words such as “cold fire, bright smoke and sick health,” showing that he might not actually know what he wants. We get a different image of his perspective towards love in Act One Scene Five. Until this point Romeo has been depressed and sad because of Rosaline.
Yet, when he first lays eyes upon Juliet, his attitude spontaneously changes.
“Did my heart love till now? I ne’er saw beauty till this night.” This is an excellent quotation and it conveys a message of falseness; that Romeo has in fact never been in love with Rosaline. At the end of the act, when he kisses Juliet, he repeatedly asks to be given the sin again, referring to the kiss. After four lines since they met, they are already holding and touching each other.
Yet he does not refer to it directly as being a good thing and he does not yet know that Juliet is a Capulet. Shakespeare possibly puts this phrase in to show that maybe subconsciously Romeo knows it is wrong. It also shows that maybe love is the only thing that makes him continue.
Juliet’s mind works slightly differently at the beginning of the play. When Lady Capulet raises the subject of marriage. She says that “it is an honour,” meaning that it is a privilege to be married. When kissing Romeo at her father’s party, Juliet tells her newfound love, “You kiss by th’book.” This quotation shows that he is very professional, raisin the issue of whether he has kissed so much that he has become an expert. This could raises suspicion in the reader, as it could possibly raise the issue of whether Romeo actually loves Juliet, or is lustful. When he tells her that he is “so unsatisfied” she is alerted and comments back and asks, “What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?” This playful banter is well written by Shakespeare and is these innuendos continue throughout the play.
Friar Lawrence plays a huge role in the play, and is the connection between the two young lovers. In Act Two Scene Three, he mentions, “men’s love then lies not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.” This sexual representation adds to the feeling the Romeo is simply lustful and his desire for Juliet is not real. Whether she is a rebound from Rosaline or not, the Friar, at first doesn’t se true love forming.
Mercutio is another character that seems to want more fun that something serious. As soon as he suspects Romeo about sleeping with Rosaline, he tells Romeo that he has been “fishified.” This obscene sexual reference shows that even Romeo’s best friend expects him to have slept with someone, indicating that maybe the young Montague is not an innocent angel as he sees himself. Mercutio also sees love as being restrictive and a bad thing. “Is not this better now that groaning for love? Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo.” This quotation tells us that Romeo is only himself when not in love.
The two Capulets see love as a financial opportunity. They have no care for their daughter wants or needs and see an arranged marriage to be much more effective. She says that “gold clasps lock in the golden story, so that you shall share all that he doth possesses,” referring to Count Paris.
Romeo’s friends see his as a childlike character, unaware of the world around his, unaware of what will happen in the forthcoming act. The Capulet nurse, mentor and carer for Juliet, sympathizes with her and helps her to make the right decisions.
William Shakespeare shows well how complicated and unexpected love can be. With regard to the ages of Romeo and Juliet, they are very young and it seems irregular that two fourteen-year-old ‘children’ would suddenly fall head over heels in love. Love is portrayed excellently and presented with emotive and complex structure, which interweave with the overall plot of the play.
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