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The name Romeo, in popular culture, has become synonymous with “lover”. Romeo Montague, in William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ does indeed experience a love of such purity and passion which drives him to death, when he believes the object of his love, Juliet Capulet, has died. Emotions and changes are conveyed in Romeo’s use of language and his gestured. It is the scenes in which Romeo and Juliet are together that I shall study in the following essay to show Romeo’s changes and how Shakespeare’s language is used to show this.
At the beginning of the play, Romeo pines for Rosaline, proclaiming her to be the paragon of all women and despairing at her indifference towards him. Romeo’s Rosaline-induced histronics seem rather juvenile. Romeo is a great reader of love poetry and the portrayal of his love for Rosaline suggests he is trying to re-create feelings about which he has read. He is the epitome of the Elizabethan courtly lover who wallows in self-pity. After first kissing Juliet, she tells him “You kiss by th’ book” , meaning that he kisses according to the rules, and implying while proficient, his kissing lacks originality.
(I. V. 107). In reference to Rosaline. It seems Romeo loves by the book. It is love which causes Romeo to change his beliefs and his actions. In Romeo and Juliet, love is at first portrayed as a violent ecstatic overpowering force which supersedes all other values, loyalties and emotions. Romeo’s language when pining for Rosaline is certainly full of oxymorons, which helps display his sorrow with his unrequited love -“Heavy lightness” ” sick health” and these excesses also help portray his immature understanding of what it is to be in ove.
The oxymorons show he is full of turbulent feelings and also show his stress. Supposed love has transformed him into a person even he himself can’t recognize. He says “Tut. I have lost myself. I am not me” Romeo talks about love emotionally but in a clichi?? d way. His exaggerations are of a sickly manner. “When she dies her beauty dies her store”, showing this in not love, it is infatuation. Romeo also uses rhyming couplets and this is evidence that what he feels is false love. The are learned words- not from the heart. Romeo is not in love with Rosaline.
He is in love with the idea of being in love,. This love is a sharp contrast to the love which Romeo will later feel for Juliet- that is true love. It is in Act 1 Scene 5 that Romeo first meets Juliet. “Did my heart love till now? ” He directs this phrase at Juliet before the two have even met. When they do at last meet, Juliet shares with Romeo not one but two kisses, the second induced by Juliet. ” Thus from my lips by thine my sin is purged” These shows of affection in the time in which the play is set would be ung=heard of upon a first meeting.
This shows just how the pair truly epitomise the phrase, “Love at first sight” for they did not let the fact they were total strangers hinder the strength of their feelings even if the feelings were simply lust. However, we cannot yet tell whether Romeo is being sincere in love this time rather than just lustfully infatuated as he was with Rosaline because Shakespeare gives rOmeo the same indulgent highly petic language. However, he proves himself later in the act by saying “Call me but love and I’ll be new baptised. Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
” By saying this Romeo is offering to change his name if it would make Juliet love him and be with him. During Shakespeare’s time, denouncing your name was no smaell feat. Your name was whee your loyalties and true priorities lie, especially if it was a name of high social standing such as Montague was meant to be. The previous scene ended with Romeo’s premonition that “Some consequence yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin his fearful date” When Romeo sees Juliet, indeed this meeting proves to be very momentus.
His speech is rich in romantic imagery. The striking simile which Shakespeare uses ” It seem she hangs on the cheek of the night as a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear” (44-45) , in which Romeo compares Juliet to a sparkling jewel in a black man’s ear. And the image of her as “A snowy dove trooping with crows” are inkeeping with the associations of brightness and white that run throughout the play and are often mentioned in relation to love. We now recognize the passion with which Romeo speaks and his feeling of love for Juliet is sincere.
Juliet is the one who “doth teach the torches to burn brightly” (43) Juliet is referred to in terms of “true beauty”. Romeo has forgotten about Rosaline. It is a sharp contradiction to the description of Rosaline in which he tells us ” She will not stay the siege of loving terms/ Nore bide the encounter of assailing eyes / Nor ope her lap to saint- seducing gold” Whereas one proves Juliet is a beacon to him, the other reflects a nai?? ve and immature belief that nothing can languish Rosaline’s power. When Romeo and Juliet speak, the exchange is a sonnet, very popular for love poetry in Elizabethan times.
The sonnet uses religious imagery “Holy shrine”, “Gentle sin” , “Pilgrim” and “Saints”. Romeo describes his lips as “two blushing pilgrims” (94) Shakespeare is saying that Romeo is a pilgrim who is devoted to Juliet. The word “Palmers” (99) is another word for pilgrim. When Romeo asks Juliet “Have not saints lips and holy palmers too? ” He is asking her “Are you not a saint who is worshipped by pilgrims? ” The final two lines of the sonnet are shared between Romeo and Juliet showing how in tune and connected they are.
The meeting is happening at the same time as the party, however Shakespeare makes us forget about the events which are happening around them and we focus on the two lovers. One way Shakespeare manages to do this is by the change in the language. When Romeo first describes Juliet we are forced to forget the hustle and bustle of the party that surrounds and we are drawn to the images of beauty. When Romeo describes Juliet, he uses rhyming couplets, which interest us more than the blank verse that Lord Capulet uses and the prose that the servants use.
Another famous scene which focuses on the two lovers together is the most famous scene- known as the balcony scene. It is an example of Shakespeare’s most lyrical and beautiful writing. Its poetic flights of imagination, its love passages and ots lingering delays of paring, make it a charming scene with emotional impact. It is in this scene that Romeo continues to shed his image as a lovesick and sentimental youth, and expresses his devortion to Juliet with simplicity and intensity, The imagery of light and darkness are very important to the play and particularly to this scene.
When Romeo felt he was in love with Rosaline, his mood was dark and gloomy because she was cold like the moon and similar to the Goddess Diana in her aloofness. Juliet is a “Maid” of the moon because Diana is the patroness of chastity and Juliet is a chaste maid. Romeo, now under the darkness of night, lighted only by the moon, sees in Juliet the promise of bright warm love, far more beautiful than the pale, chaste light of the moon. He goes on to urge Juliet, who can’t hear anything he says, to stop being a maid to the moon because “her vestal livery is but sick and green/ and none but fools do wear it; cast it off. ” (2.
2 8-9) A “livery” is a uniform worn by the servants of noblemen, “vestal” means “chaste” and “green-sickness” is an anemia that was supposed to occur in unmarried girls, because they were unmarried. These words show that Romeo is changing. He wants Juliet as a woman, not as a distant object of adoration, as Rosaline was for him. When he sees Juliet, he instantly drops his poetic metaphoes and says simply “It is my lady, O it is my love/ o, that she knew she were! ” (2. 2 10-11). Romeo says that Juliet’s eyes are like star. ” I am too bold, ’tis not to me she speaks/ Two of the fairest stars in all the heavens/ Having some business.
Do entreat her eyes/ To twinkle in their spheres till they return” According to the astronomy of the time, each of the stars were embedded in transparent spheres which revolved around the earth. It seems to Romeo that two of the brightest stars have decided that they needed to leave their spheres and they are asking her eyes to twinkle in their places while they are gone. In Elizabethan times, the theories of the univers were still a mystery and Shakespeare’s astrological use of words show the relationship between love and the universe- both amazing and both having little explanation.
It shows that this love at first sight was something magical, the product of a higher power and trult epitomises the meaning of “true love”. Pensively, Juliet says “Ay me1” (2. 2. 20-25). To Romeo, these simple words are divine. He says “She speaks! 0, speak again, bright angel for thou art As glorious to this night, being o’er my head As is a winged messenger of heaven Unto the white upturned wondering eyes Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him Where he bestides the lazy puffing clouds And sails upon the bosom of the air” (2. 2. 25-32)
Comparing a beautiful woman to an angel was , and still is, a very common expression, but Romeo- who at this moment is whispering to himself- really believes that Juliet is angelic. “Glorious to the night” because an angel appears in a “glory”- a halo surrounding and emanating from its body. When the angel appears, people “fall back”, arching their heads, turning their eyes upward so that the whites of their eyes show. The angel moves with effortless ease, lighter than clouds, more graceful than a ship sailing on the swelling bosom of the ocean.
Romeo speaks all this as if though he has actually seen an angel and now is gazing upon another. This shows a dramatic change of language from when Romeo had pontificated about Rosaline’s many charms. His language, which once was so clichi?? d and unbelievable, now sounds increasingly beautiful and truthful. Shakespeare is showing the audience that this is real, and that this is a sharp contrast to the love of Rosaline. Shakespeare is showing us that Romeo is now maturing, growing up and capable of love, and full of it.
The audience, as this is written as a play to be seen, not to be read, feel involved in their love, that they have contributed to it just by watching and therefore are part of it. This sense of involvement makes the neding even more traumatic, and also shows Shakespeare’s true brilliance at understanding how to capture an audience and his genius qualities. When Juliet sees Romeo, Juliet reminds Romeo that if her kinsmen see him, they’ll murder him. He answers ” Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye/ Than twenty of their swords. Look thou but sweet/ And I am proof against their enmity” (2. 2. 71-72).
He means what was often said in love poetry at the time, that an unfriendly glance from the eye of a lady could kill the man who was in love with her. On the other hand, a sweet look from Juliet is all that he needs to protect him from her kinsmen. When again she worries, he points out in his one practical statement that he is hidden by the night and then says that if she loves him, its ok if her kinsmen find him, because his “Life were better ended by their hate than death prorogued wanting of thy love” (2. 2. 77-78). In other words, he’d much rather have her love and die on the spot, than not have her love and die later.
Romeo goes on to say that he’s a ship pilot but if Juliet was as far away “As that vast shore washed with the farthest sea/ I would adventure for such merchandise” (2. 2. 83-84) The verb “adventure” doesn’t mean “have fun”, it means “take a huge chance”. In Shakespeare’s time, there were many adventurers that risked their lives and often lost them looking for the Mystical North West Passage to China. And “Merchandise” as Romeo uses it, means not “saleable goods” but “rich treasure” When Romeo and Juliet have both declared their love for each other, Shakespeare’s language shows another change in Romeo.
It looks as if Juliet’s about to go, as the nurse has called her, but Romeo exclaims “O wilt thou leave me so unsatisfled! ” (2. 2. 125) and she asks ” What satisfaction canst thou have tonight? ” Juliet had worried that Romeo weas “unsatisfied” because he wanted sex which could have confirmed her lingering fears that Romeo might be the wrong kind of lover, the lover that loved Rosaline. However he has changed, their love has changed him and he answers thjat he wanted “the exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine” The wedding takes place in Act 2 Scene 6.
Romeo is already at the cell suggesting he is eager. Wr do not see them marry but it just means when we see them together its all the more potent. The Friar begins with a prayer, hoping the union of love and blessing. The Friar knows that the marriage will be difficult “So smile the heavens upon this holy act” showing that he is asking for some help from God. Romeo says ” One moment in her company is worth the world and a lifetime of sorrow. ” This is hyperbolic showing his seriousness, devotion and love. Romeo says he will give up anything to call her his, challenging death.
As soon as he sees Juliet he kisses her. This shows how actions can speak louder than words, especially in context off a play. The love that he feels is real and immeasurable. Romeo invites Juliet to describe their love. He wants to parade it. It is beautiful music, it is beyond words. Juliet cannot describe the way she feels. She is exaggerating and this shows that there is no control, that this is reckless. It is a warning. In Act 3 sScene 5 this is the last time they see each other alive. Proleptic irony is used, Juliet prefigures the ending; telling him he looks dead.
He tries to make light of the comment saying that “dry sorrow” drinks their blood. The ending is very sad different from the beginning of the scene when Juliet does not want her to leaves. She listens to her heart and not her head. Romeo is practical pointing out all the tangible objects to prove it is day and therefore he must leave. Romeo makes the ultimate romantic gesture and says he will lay down his life to spend a little more timw ith Juliet. He finally puts Juliet’s wishes before his own. His flowery language disappears and his words have force because of their simplicity. He’d rather stay with her and die, than leave.
The analogy of light is brought into this scene, but now the light brings misery. Romeo finishes Juliet’s couplet, showing that they are at their emotionally and most linguistically united, they must split asunder. Romeo assures Juliet that they will see each other again. Act 5 scene 3 Romeo campares himself in his deperation to an animal, nothing will stop him, he is determinded to end his life with Jkuliet, at the beginning of the speech he is reasonable, acting alone. Romeo compares the tomb to a ” maw” (a stomach) suggesting death is hungry, he calls it a womb of death, where he used to opposite words to juxtapose.
He is in a moelstron of emotion and compares the tomb to and an animal, to which jaws he must pierce open. He is willing to die nd pact more meat into death’s hungry jaws. He enters the tomb (line 85) Romeo returns to the light imagery it is full of metaphors and personification but it has lost it’s flowery conventionism and false romantic gloss, he is natural and dramatic. Again even in death she is still beautiful, radiant and full of light; he uses the lightening imagery their love and passion was a brief flash before death.
He calls her his love, his wife and uses term of indeerment, she is both a sexual object and a woman he loves and adores. Death has not stolen the power of beauty, ironic because she is really alive and not actually dead. He is overwhemelled by his feelings and how alive she looks. He speeks with emphatic language to him, she is still perfect and flawless. Romeo asks for Tybalt’s forgiveness, so that his sins will not go with him to the next life, he shows maturity, he asks lost of questions with no answers, because he can not believe she is not alive. He is jealous of death, who has a bigger hold over Juliet than him.
He compares the tomb to a palace, because in it he will finally be with Juliet, he take control of his own destiny and Shagspear uses the rule of 3 eyes arms lips building to a merging sensual desire and spiritual love for her in the climax. Devotion and desire without Juliet, he’s life is worthless, he is mature, acting alone to a steady pace. When talking about the possiion he compares his body to a shit and the poison the pilot who will take him to the next life. He tosses off Juliet one last time and dies with her name on his lips.