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In this essay I am going to compare the two scenes from the famous play, ‘Romeo&Juliet’ written by William Shakespeare. My essay question is to; compare how Romeo is presented in act 1 scene 1 alongside act scene 2. I will ensure that I answer this question directly in my conclusion as well as discuss the contrast between the two scenes. I will also discuss the differences and similarities between the two scenes, in the main body of my essay.
The famous play ‘Romeo&Juliet’ is a drama of great tragedy.
It is a story of the young ‘star-crossed’ lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. They are young teenagers who fall deeply in love. However their families are bitter enemies, back from the ancient days where this grudge still carries on. Regardless of the feud, Romeo and Juliet marry in secret, by Friar Lawrence. Who believes that this marriage could be the answer to the end of this ancestral grudge of such hatred.
They make every effort to conceal their actions, but with Tybalt – Juliet’s cousin demanding to fight, Romeo sits back helplessly unable to explain to Tybalt why he cannot fight him. Mercutio now angry, frustrated and disappointed at Romeo, steps in to fight for Romeo. That battle only ends with with the death of Mercutio alongside a curse above the two households. Romeo now upset and angry, becomes reckless murdering Tybalt. Careless of his actions, only realises afterwards the warnings of Prince Escalus. Romeo thereafter is banished from the great land of Verona.
With Romeo’s banishment, Capulet and Lady Capulet are organizing the supposed to be happy wedding of Juliet aside Paris, in order to hinder away the sorrow of Paris’ death. Whilst the Capulet household is gleaming with excitement, after excitement Juliet is silently soaring in her distress. One day before her festive wedding, she drinks the sleeping potion that would fool all the people of Verona of her death. Juliet’s nurse comes into her room, on the day of the weeding to discover Juliet has passed away. The Capulet household now is even more grievous with the deaths of two Capulets. Friar Lawrence was to send a letter to Romeo explaining the situation, however news of Juliet’s death reaches him first.
With this news, no boundaries seem to keep Romeo away from his wife. He drives back into Verona careless of the warnings. Only to find Juliet in the church resting peacefully on her death bed. Romeo nestles beside her and drinks the poison ending his life forever. Problem strikes once again, as Juliet wakes up from her deep sleep, only to discover her husband has passed away. Juliet can’t stand the thought of a life without Romeo, so she stabs her self to dead. The story ends in tragedy, just the way it started with the deaths of Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt and Mercutio.
Act 1 scene 1, is the scene in which Montague, Lady Montague, Benvolio and Romeo is present. This scene is the discussion of of the two parents concerns, about Romeos erratic behaviour. As well as the conversation between the two cousin, about Romeo’s so passionate love for Rosaline. Rosaline, the women who made the decision to be a virgin for the rest of her life. This statement can be proved. For example Romeo states ‘she’ll not be hit with cupids arrow. She hath Dian’s wit. And in strong proof of chastity well armed.’ Shakespeare, here refers to Roman mythology. Mythology of the cupid and the virgin goddess Diana. Rosaline is compared to the goddess Diana, to substitute the actions of Diana and how she can resist love. By Romeo comparing Rosaline to a goddess suggests her beauty, but also her power. She is powerful enough to break his heart. She doesn’t want a sexual relationship, so therefore Romeo feels rejected.
In act 1 scene 1, Romeo is presented in various ways. I will be mentioning some of these many ways that Romeo is presented. Firstly Shakespeare presents Romeo as an immature individual, driven very much by his passion. His so-called love for Rosaline reveals the immaturity within. For instance Romeo states, ‘Tut I have lost myself’ and claims he is not here. His exaggeration not only reflects his almost deluded believe in love, but also his self destructive nature. This is then further emphasised by Romeo’s attempt to try and describe his feelings for Rosaline. For example Romeo implies his feelings as ‘ cold fire, sick health, still waking sleep.’ these consecutive oxymoron’s demonstrate Romeo’s clichï¿½d view of love, which is clearly an exaggeration of love itself.
Not only now is Romeo presented as immature, but also has a clichï¿½d view of love towards his audience. All thanks to Rosaline. For example Romeo states; ‘O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything of nothing first create!’ These consecutive use of oxymoron’s not only prevails once again Romeos immaturity but also his clichï¿½d view of love. The oxymoron’s have been used so many times that it loses it purpose and meaning. Thereafter the effect of this makes Romeo, sound childish as well as hyperbolic. Most importantly, it presents Romeo as a drama queen over exaggerating his feelings.
Shakespeare thereupon uses Romeo to explore the theme of false appearances. For instance Romeo claims Rosaline to be ‘saint-seducing gold,’ but also ‘rich in beauty,only poor.’ on hand Romeo’s lines suggest that Romeo, obviously sees Rosaline as beautiful. However he believes her beauty will die out. It wont live for all eternity. Just the way he thought his love was for all eternity. She’s just a woman he loved, where love cannot succeed. This unrequited love, that could never be physical. Therefore this is linked to false appearances in the way that, Rosaline is the one who hid her true features. Her false appearance is then emphasised further when Romeo claims ‘For beauty, starved with severity, cut beauty off from all posterity.’ These lines suggest that Rosaline outside appeared to be true beauty, but inside was the pain she released that broke Romeo’s heart. He assumed that Rosaline was forever. After all she had promised to be his forever. But now she had taken back that promise. She was not what Romeo perceived her to be. For example the proof, that Rosaline promised Romeo, is when Romeo states, ‘ She hath forsworn to love and in that vow, do I live dead, that live to tell it now.’ Shakespeare has made the use of using the word ‘vow.’ it is a religious reference, or even powerful vocabulary. By using this choice of words, shows that it is different to just saying promise. It is like you have made a vow to god, but broken that promise, with religious terminology. That’s how strongly Romeo feels about Rosaline’s, false appearance, that he describes it as a vow to god.
Another way that Shakespeare has presented Romeo is obsessed. It is his love for Rosaline that reveals his almost completely deluded obsession. For instance I quote Romeo, ‘O teach me how I should forget to think.’ These lines suggest Romeo’s desperation for help, from only the people he feels close to. Benvolio, his cousin. The fact, that he has a constant reminder of Rosaline and can’t simply just brush her off points out Romeo’s obsessive emotions for his so-called love.
One other theme, that Shakespeare has characterized Romeo to be presented as; is confused. For example Romeo claims ‘ This love I feel, I feel no love in this.’ Firstly this could be interpreted as Romeo just trying to show off how cleverly he can use words. However what would be the use of that in the play? Nevertheless it can also be interpreted as how important love is for him. One thing though, how can you say you feel no love in love? Obviously these are two contradictory terms and may have two sides to it, but at stage as soon as the words are spoken, before anything can be registered properly,the immediate reaction of the audience is infusion. This statement would puzzle the audience as well as Romeo. As Romeo feels two contradictory terms, both at the very same time.
Even though Romeo is seen as an immature and confused. He is feeling symptoms that many teenagers go through. Romeo is presented a lovesick. For example I quote Benvolio, ‘step aside. I’ll know his grievance or be much denied.’ this suggests Benvolio’s concern for Romeos, strange erratic behaviour. Benvolio feels confident that he can find out what’s wrong with Romeo. Even the line itself, indicates that there is something obviously wrong with Romeo, and Benvolio just had to be the one to be out there to go and solve it. The thing that hints, that Romeo is lovesick is the fact that Romeo, cannot speak to anyone about his problems because it is a very sensitive subject, therefore he can only reveal the problem to the people he feels most closes too, in other words to Benvolio.
Another way that Shakespeare presents Romeo is; as an ignorant being not weary of the more worldly issues. For example Lady Montague states, ‘Right glad I am, he was not at this fray.’ not only does this reflect the relationship between mother and son but Romeo’s self-interest in ancestral fights. Romeo obviously has a caring loving relationship with his mother. However there is also the hint of concern in her voice. This reflects Romeo’s importance of love compared to a family feud. Romeo’s ignorance is then expressed further, with a previous quote I have used, but is also appropriate to use to reflect Romeos ignorance is when; Romeo states ‘O teach me how I should forget to think.’ This urgent cry for help portrays Romeo’s way of going against his uncontrollable emotions.
Furthermore, Shakespeare uses Romeo to characterize and explore the theme of depression. Instantly Romeo is characterized as depressed. Shakespeare has accomplished this, through the device of patterns of words. For example when Romeo is mentioned, he is imagined a s a sick/ill person. This is proven through Monatgue’s script ‘ And makes himself an artificial night.’ This suggests that either Romeo doesn’t like or finds difficulty to socialize, or even just doesn’t like the daylight. However as we already know, Romeo is a confused, lovesick, immature teenager. It’s most probably that he feels withdrawn. And we also have to take into consideration, the fact that Romeo is choosing to isolate himself. Normally people could say this is just the reactions of a typical, moody teenager. However, from what we know already these symptoms can be categorized as symptoms of depression. In addition to this Romeo has proven to his audience, to have erratic behaviour; all because of the effect of Rosaline. This shows that even the people Romeo normally has a close relationship, cant understand him aside his feelings. That is the extent of his depression.
Given that Romeo is distant form his family, is perhaps unsurprising because Shakespeare presents him as an individual disengaged from the concerns, of which concern the other majority of other characters concerned with. For instance whilst most of the other characters are focused on dignity, honour and feuds, Romeo is purely concentrated on the concept of love. For instance, a quote that I used previously, but also presents Romeo’s disengagements, is when Lady Montague states, ‘Right glad I am he was not at this fray.’ This proves Romeo plays no role in involvement of his family feuds. The fact that Romeo is not concerned with the conflicts reflects, his uninterested emotions towards fighting,, his weakness and that he may be a vulnerable character in this play.
Another way that Romeo is presented in the play is someone, who is in love with love. For example Romeo states ‘Love is a smoke made with fume of sight; Being purged, a fire sparkling loves eyes; Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears.’ Shakespeare, here uses a series of metaphors, comparing love with nature. Therefore he has used the device of creating natural imagery. However after studying the lines a little longer, you will notice he talks about love and not for the love he feels for Rosaline. So therefore Romeo is not in love with Rosaline but in love with the concept of love itself.
Throughout act 1 scene 1, Shakespeare has managed to create as well as build up tension, before the audience actually get to meet Romeo on stage. This has been accomplished through the dramatic devices- entrance/exits and interruptions. For example when Montague and Lady Montague are discussing Romeo’s behaviour with Benvolio. It builds up a kind of tension, making the audience eager to meet this mysterious Romeo. This tension is then broken when Romeo enters the Montague Mansions. In act 1 scene 1, they’re are also some contrast parallels. For example a contrast parallel used is when Benvolio, who doesn’t say much is trying to find out what’s wrong with Romeo.
Now that I have discussed how Romeo is presented in act 1 scene 1, I will discuss how Romeo is presented in act 2 scene 2. Act 2 scene 2 is the famous balcony scene in which Romeo & Juliet are present. In which they both exchange vows to get married and be together forever.
In act 2 scene 2, Romeo is presented in various ways. This is the scene in which Romeo is no longer a depressed teenager. Instead his depression is replaced with the theme of hope. For example the proof that presents Romeo as hopeful is when Romeo states ‘ With loves light wings did I o’er perch these walls.’ Here Romeo has personified love, implying he has borrowed cupids wings. By saying he has borrowed cupids wings, reflects his determination to get to Juliet as well as be with Juliet. The fact that he didn’t give up, in climbing those high orchard walls, demonstrates his strong will and hope.
Secondly another way Shakespeare has presented Romeo is once again, a immature individual driven very much by his passion for love. Knowing that Romeo was seen as immature act 1 scene 1 as well as act 2 scene 2 suggests, that immaturity may be apart of Romeo’s integral personality. The proof that comprehends Romeo as an immature individual, is when Romeo states, ‘Call me but love, and I’ll be new-baptized.’ Not only does this cause tension for the audience but also, reveals Romeo’s carelessness and lack of using logic. By Romeo saying, that he is willing to change his name for Rosaline, reflects how committed he is to this relationship to work out well. However, on the negative point he doesn’t stop to think, how many feuds he could be causing just by doing so, all because of his lack of using logic, due to his immaturity.
Another way Romeo is presented is Committed. For instance Romeo states ‘ T’h’exchange of thy loves faithful vow for mine.’ These lines suggest, that actually Romeo doesn’t actually just want a sexual relationship, but truly actually wants Juliet. Therefore, through his intention of marriage, not only uncovers his trusting side but also his commitment to be with Juliet.
Nevertheless, Romeo maybe seen as committed, immature and hopeful, however he is also presented as a man with that hint of fear within him. For example Romeo states ‘O blessed,blessed night! I am afeared being in night, all this but a dream.’ by using the dramatic device of foreshadowing , it suggests that Romeo is fearful of the men that would soon be after him for trespassing the Capulet land, but even more importantly he is fearful of the fact that Juliet may just be one beautiful dream. This creates a sense of suspension. Romeo’s fear is then expressed further, when Juliet claims; ‘ If they see thee they will murder thee. ‘ Not only does this build up the tension, but also adds to Romeo’s fear, no matter how much he tries to disguise it with the joy of Juliet’s voice.
Once again Romeo is presented as a drama queen in this scene. For example Romeo states, ‘ Two of the fairest stars in all heaven. ‘ Shakespeare here has used natural imagery as well as a metaphor, playing with the idea that Juliet’s eyes are the stars. By doing this he expresses the greatness of his love, with the use of hyperbolic language. Therefore this illustrates his over-dramatic personality.
As well as being a drama queen, Romeo is presented as a desperate individual, driven very much by his passion. His love for Juliet opens up the desperation within Romeo. This has been demonstrated through the use of dramatic device; interruptions. For example the nurse states ‘ Madam, ‘ whilst
Romeo is trying to finish off what he has to say to Juliet, Juliet hesitantly states ‘ a thousand times goodnight. ‘ By Romeo being completely cut off at a sentence prevails Romeo’s desperation to finish off, what he had climbed those high orchard walls for, as if it was an unaccomplished mission.
Shakespeare has also presented Romeo as a honourable and even loyal individual, determined to stay that way. Differently around Juliet, Romeo is presented as honouring and loyal. For instance Juliet states, ‘ I have no joy in this contract tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden, too like the lightning. ‘ In spite of Juliet’s age, she is sensible enough to want to know how strong Romeo’s love is for her. She uses a simile to compare love to lightning. In this case Romeo understands her wishes, and stays loyal to them till his love is proven.
In act 2 scene 2, Romeo is also presented as Religious. Compared to act 1 scene 1, Romeo is everything but religious towards his love for Rosaline, however for Juliet it is a different story. For example Romeo claims Juliet to; ‘ bright angel ‘ as well as ‘ winged messenger of heaven. ‘ Shakespeare, uses religious imagery, comparing Juliet to an angel. He has used religious references, putting himself as well as Juliet first before god. This can be considered as being blasphemous which could suggest that their love is dangerous. However it can also prove that the two lovers, love is holy and honourable.
Finally now to conclude my points, I can finally say that Romeo is a very ambiguous character. To finish off my points I can say, that basically all the themes/ideas I have mentioned are literally all the same only presented differently. For example immaturity and depression. Between the two scenes one thing that was different, was the use of different references for each women in Romeo’s life. For instance in act 1 scene 1, Greek and Roman references were used to describe Rosaline, whereas religious references were used to describe Juliet. A thing that stayed the same is Romeo’s immaturity. The fact that it stayed with him throughout the two scenes uncovers the fact, that immaturity is juts apart of Romeo’s nature and personality. The only difference in Romeo’s immaturity, was that it was portrayed in two different ways. Romeo uses a lot of oxymoron’s to show his confusion and contrary feelings caused by love. Shakespeare uses a lot of imagery as well as natural imagery to describe their beauties and Romeo, just describing them in his own words.
For example when describing Rosaline, imagery of cupid and the virgin goddess is used, in the other hand to describe Juliet religious imagery of god and angels is used. In act 1 scene 1 Montague obviously stated that Romeo is not himself. In my opinion I think we see the true Romeo in act 2 scene 2. After all he did die for the women he loved. Another thing that stayed the same between the two scenes is the use of using war and violence to describe love. This time round, Romeo acted differently compared to act 1 scene 1 in act 2 scene 2, as we all know he wanted a sexual relationship. He saw virginity as an illness. People would ask if this really is ‘true love’? In my case I would say this is ‘true love’ because before it turned to a sexual relationship, Romeo stayed loyal to Juliet’s wishes, we also have to take into the consideration, that it must be love he died for that woman. One other thing that I should probably mention is that previously I mentioned, that Romeo maybe a vulnerable character in the play. Well I believe that Romeo’s vulnerability is his greatest strength. The fact that he can escape the matter of dignity and honour, shows that he can resist getting pulled into things, that some people in the world die for. The only thing Romeo would die for is love.
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