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Study Romeo and Juliet in the play that takes their names. Do you think that their deaths were inevitable because of the sort of personalities they had? Which lover do you think is most vividly depicted?
Romeo and Juliet is a world-renowned play written by William Shakespeare. It is a story of “a pair of star crossed lovers” from two feuding families. It is set in the Italian City of Verona, which is full of bloodshed and poverty.
In act one we see Romeo for the first time, he seems very low at this point and unwilling to express his feelings.
This comes across as quite immature and childish. We find out that Romeo is in love and feels completely confused. Romeo explains to his cousin that his love is not being returned by saying that he is,
“Out of favour where I am in love”. We see from this that Romeo is a follower of his emotions, he shows this quite a lot throughout the play and we find that he is a man of emotional extremes.
We see through the play that Benvolio is one of Romeo’s closest friends, we see that Romeo trusts Benvolio a lot I think this is because Romeo is quite an impractical person and needs to have a helping hand so he doesn’t do anything stupid, like take his own life. For example Benvolio tells Romeo
“Be ruled by me, forget to think of her” he also tells him to “examine other beauties”.
This is when Romeo is incredibly low and would do anything, even harm him self.
When we find that the Capulets are having a party we also find that Rosoline is Capulet’s niece, this could be Shakespeare’s way of showing that any relationship Romeo has with a Capulet will not work out. So far fate does not appear to be on Romeo’s side from the very start, yet it is by fate that Romeo knows there will be a party when he stops a servant who is delivering invitations.
The audience first sees Juliet in Act 1 Scene 3, instantly I saw her as quite a practical girl. She knows what she is looking for and she has her own feeling and opinons and will stick to them. She shows this when her mother tells her they have found a suitor, Paris, she says
“Ill look to like, if looking liking move. But no more deep will I endart mine eye than your consent gives strength to make it fly”
This also shows she not afraid to experience new things. Meanwhile Romeo was still in a sombre mood despite Benvolio’s efforts to tempt him out of it but he seemed to refuse help. This give me the impression that Romeo has quite self centred and feels sorry for himself a lot during the play, this seems to be quite the opposite of Juliet, who is more even-tempered.
We learn a lot more about Romeo and Juliet’s personality at the Capulets house during the party scene. It also means we can compare both of their personalities because this is the first time they meet. In Act 1 Scene 5 we see that Romeo is a well-respected person. Tybalt recognises Romeo and goes to Capulet, but Capulet refuses to let Tybalt start a fight because of Romeo’s good reputation he says to Tybalt
“Content thee gentle coz, let him alone. ‘A bears him like a portly gentlemen;
And say the truth, Verona brags of him To be a virtuous and well governed youth.
I would not for the wealth of all this town here in my house do him disparagement.”
This shows just how respected Romeo was in the town which i think could mean he has a lot of influence over a lot of people, and know a lot of people who would possibly support him in the future. Even his father’s enemy respects Romeo, so his qualities must be strong.
When Romeo sees Juliet for the first time I noticed that he changes his mind almost instantly about his love for Rosaline. This slightly worried me about his character because if he changed his mind about Rosaline so quickly, who was there to say he wouldn’t the same to Juliet as well, that kind of impulsiveness could also get him into trouble in the future.
The first thing Romeo does when he notices Juliet is talk to her, he instantly tries to start wooing Juliet. This again shows his impulsive and self-centred personality. Juliet is not troubled with Romeo’s attempts of wooing and “flirts” with him as well. This was not very common in those days because there were rules for how a lady should conduct her self in a relationship with a man. She should turn him down to begin with, the women should be adored, the relationship should be very public and formal, the wife should become the possession of her farther and her husband also the ideal wife should be a virgin and be perfect in every way possible. Even though this set of rules known as Courtly love would be frowned upon today, they were kept to very closely in that time era. Her flirtatious attitude towards Romeo showed how much of a “free spirit” Juliet was, and how she wanted to rebel against the rules of her age such as Courtly Love. I think the reason she was so interested in Romeo from the start was because she saw some of her self in him because of the way Romeo approached her.
We find that the two of them fall in love instantly shows us more about the characters personalities, we could say that this shows us that they are rash. I think they should have found a little out about each other like, the families each of them belonged to, this is because of the state of the two family’s relationship and what effect it would have on them in the future.
When they both learn the family origin of each other it is Juliet who speaks of the problem of what their family names cause them. She says
“O Romeo, O Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny they father, and refuse thy name. Or if thou will not, be but sworn thy love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.” This at first sounds very impulsive of Juliet but she then goes on to explain her thought by saying
“‘Tis but they name that is my enemy. Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What” Montague? It is nor hands or foot, Nor arm nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O be some other name. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, Retain that dear perfection that he owes Without that title…”in this she explains how she thinks that a name is just a tag and does not reflect the way that person acts. This was a very odd way of looking at it in that era, especially from a girl of Juliet’s age. People usually relied on the reputation of the family and how much money status and power they had for a judgement on the people in it. The way she speaks about Romeo’s name is more proof of how Juliet it is practical and how she has her own opinions.
The implication of Juliet’s family does not concern Romeo either as he has fallen in love with Juliet too deeply for things like that to worry him. When they begin to speak in the garden Romeo explains he would give up his name to be with Juliet. He says
“My name, dear saint is hateful to myself. Because it is enemy to thee. Had I it written, I would tear the word”. Juliet then asks him how and why he has come over the walls, because of the actual scale of the walls and also because of the danger he has put him self in to see her. He explains he did it for love by saying
“With love’s light wings I did o’erperch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold love out, And what love can do, that dares love attempt. Therefore they kinsmen are no stop to me.” All three of Romeo’s actions show quite clearly the obsessive romantic side to Romeo. This is one of Romeo flaws because he loses the power of rational thought when he becomes deeply in love
We now see a serious side to Juliet; this contrasts with Romeo’s impractical nature. She asks Romeo if he loves her, she does not want an answer full of oaths, she just wants to hear the truth. I think this is an example of Juliet being quite sensible because she does not want to be fooled by Romeo. She wants to know if it is worth the risk of changing the way she lives so they can develop a relationship with each other. When Romeo replies yes to her question. Juliet then says she will send a messenger to Romeo to sort out a date for marriage. I think this is very rash, but there is so much love between them. It is the easiest thing to do for both of them because we find they would prefer to die than lose each other. This could be portrayed as a selfish act, but I don’t believe there would no other solution and that it is the only thing they could realistically do.
After Friar Laurence has married the two lovers, we see Romeo and Juliet’s relationship immediately facing troubles. This begins with the conflict between Romeo and Tybalt in Act 3 scene 1. I think Romeo handled him self quite-well at the start of this scene. When Tybalt was insulting Romeo, he took it very well and controlled his anger, this shows that he is maturing and becoming wiser. Although this controlled anger may have been because Romeo and Tybalt were now family, although he does not tell Tybalt this, he does say to Tybalt that he holds no grudge. He says
“I do protest I never injured thee, But love the better than thou canst devise. Till thou shalt know the reason of my love. And so good Capulet, which name I tender as dearly as my own, be satisfied.”
Because of Romeo’s calmness Tybalt gets angry. Mercutio is also made angry by the way Romeo is acting, he feels he should be fighting and so starts fighting for him, a brawl breaks out and Tybalt kills Mercutio. Romeo then reacts to his friend death in a very impulsive manner; he challenges his now cousin in law Tybalt to a fight to death by saying
“That late thou gavest me, for Mercutio’s soul is but a little way above our heads, staying for thine to keep him company. Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.” During this fight, which I have seen in both of the films Romeo fights with a lot of passion for his dead friend, they also portray him as a very skilled fighter. This scene shows he is quite a violent man with a lot of honour, pride and anger. It also shows his loyalty and caring of a friend. From this we could say that it proves that Romeo wasn’t laying when he told Juliet he was serious about the relationship. He then kills Tybalt and escapes. The prince learns of what happens and banishes Romeo. I think Romeo was wrong to do this and could have handled it better although I do understand why he did it. My view is that it was his impulsiveness that got him into trouble, he just didn’t think of the consequences. This fight I think is the main cause of Romeo and Juliet’s Problems from that point on, because Romeo was unable to enter the city and Juliet was still very much confined to her house. It ment they could not be together and so both lovers had to depend on others to help them. I find this quite selfish because both of them are using others to get what they want.
Another one of Romeo’s friends is Friar Lawrence. He is a very trusted by Romeo and Juliet. After Romeo killed Tybalt he fled to see the Friar. When the friar returns to see Romeo who is hiding in his cell he tells him of the sentence that the prince has given him. Romeo reacts quite childishly. Romeo does not want to hear the friar tell him he is banished, he says
“Ha, banishment? Be merciful, say death; for exile has more terror in his look, Much more than death. Do not say banishment.” This is because he thinks that since he will no longer be able to be with Juliet, It may as well be a death sentence. In this scene he becomes increasingly more wild and childish. This immaturity may be because of the fact he is greatly annoyed with him self, he believes that as it is his fault Juliet will be up set. And he also feels like he is being tortured by separation from Juliet, he says, “Heaven is where Juliet lives.” The friar tells him to accept his banishment and go to Mantua until the situation can be sorted out, and that he should be grateful both him and Juliet are still both alive. At this point I do not think that Romeo was given the choice by Friar Lawrence of whether to accept his punishment or not, but I think he was right to accept it even though he was more or less told to.
Before Juliet discovers the death of her cousin caused by her husband she is in her room on her own waiting for Romeo to arrive. This is where Juliet’s deep feelings come out about how she wants Romeo to arrive because its going to be the night she looses her virginity to the one she loves she says
“Come civil night, Thou sober-suited matron all in black. And learn me how to loose a winning match.” She also explains how she considers the act of making love as the action of chaste (pure) person who is really in love and how she regards her self as this person by saying “Think true love acted simple modesty. This is probably when we see Juliet happiest in the play, but it doesn’t last long. An audience at this point I think would be feeling sorry for Juliet because they are seeing her so happy but they know she will be upset when she find out about her cousins death.
When Juliet first discovers what has happened between Tybalt and Romeo she believes that both Romeo and Tybalt are dead. She says,
“Romeo slaughtered? And Tybalt dead?” The nurse tells her that
“Tybalt is gone, and Romeo is banished” she then realises that it was Romeo who slaughtered Tybalt. At this point she is shocked. She becomes very distraught at her conflict of loyalties. She loves Romeo but he has killed her cousin. Juliet then becomes angry at the nurse for criticising Romeo and becomes even more upset when she realises what Romeo’s banishment means to her. Because Juliet is a lot more practical than Romeo she send her nurse to find Romeo and bring him back so they can spend their last night together. Again this shows that Juliet is more practical than Romeo when facing danger or difficulty.
Yet when her mother then tells Juliet she will be married to Paris. This does not impress her and she becomes very angry and foolishly she says
“Now by Saint Peter’s Church and Peter too. He shall not make me there a joy full bride. I wonder at this haste, That I must wed ere he that should be husband comes to woo. I pray you tell my lord and father, madam, I will not marry yet, and when I do I swear It shall be Romeo, whom you no I hate, Rather than Paris. These are news indeed.” This shows how much Juliet is willing to speak her mind. I was very unheard of for a young lady to speak back to her parents. Her father becomes very angry at her reply to her mother and threatens to disown her. Even the nurse sides with lord and lady capulet and suggests that Juliet forgets about Romeo. Juliet having a very practical personality says she accepts the nurse’s advice and says she is going to Friar Lawrence to make her confession, which is not true, she is actually going to ask his advice. At this point she could be thought of a deceiver but I think she does the right thing to ask for someone else’s opinion, so she can consider thing from different points of view.
At the beginning of Act 4 Scene 1 Juliet is totally alone. She has to formulae a plan so she chooses Friar Lawrence to help. There she meets Paris and shows her self-control. She is able to talk and almost be light hearted with Paris about the plans to marry. Paris says to her
“That may be must be, love, on Thursday next”. Juliet then replies
“What shall be must be” This is where Juliet has to become quite deceiving to prevent any suspicion. For the second time in the play she has to manipulate her language, this time it is to make Paris believe she is happy to marry. She does this by making him believe that she thinks “What shall be must be” but she thinks that “what shall be” are her and Romeo being together
Friar Lawrence suggests a plan that could be risky for the both of them, she has to be decisive, and she accepts Friar Lawrence’s plan and acts upon it. The Friar explains what will happen,
“No warmth, no breath, shall testify thou livid…Like death when he shuts up the day of life…Thou shalt continue two and forty hours”. He also explains the qualities Juliet will need to succeed in this plan
“If no inconstant toy nor womanish fear”,
“Be strong and prosperous”. Juliet excepts the plan and gets on her way. With her Father Juliet does what the Friar told her to and deceives him in to thinking she will marry.
That night when the nurse has left her as she requested, in her long speech she shows she is vulnerable. She faces up to her fears. She explains she is scared of death, suffocation in the tomb, of going mad with fear, the Friar and Romeo being delayed and also smells and sights in the vault. Yet she still goes ahead- she has a great deal of determination to be with Romeo. It shows she is a very courageous person of action. Some in the audience may think she is foolish for accepting the Friars advice, but I feel that she knew what she was doing. The plan when being explained sounded very unlikely to go wrong and she went for that plan was because she was so hopelessly in love and in such a powerless situation with Romeo so much she had to do something. I was surprised she didn’t look at other ideas first though because earlier in the play she has shown a practical nature practical nature.
In act 1 scene 5 it seems that fate breaks Juliet’s plan up. Balthasar, Romeo’s servant tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Because of an outbreak of plague Friar Lawrence’s letters were unable to reach Romeo. Romeo at first does not seem emotionally disturbed by this news but we do discover that he is planning to kill him self,
“Well, Juliet, I will lie with the tonight. Let’s see for means. O mischief thou art swift to enter in the thought of a desperate man I do remember an apothecary.” From this speech we get the impression Romeo is very calm, he is not being overwhelmed by his emotions for Juliet. I get this impression from his first sentence “well, Juliet, I will be with the to night” because it sound like his is not effected by seeing his “dead” wife. I also believe it is another of Romeo’s rash and impulsive decisions, which we have seen so much of through the play. It seems to me that he is so caught up in his Love for Juliet, that he believes nothing else matters, not even his life.
In the final scene we see Romeo and Juliet together again for the final time. Romeo is very tense at this point, as Paris proves when he provokes Romeo when he is trying to get to Juliet, Paris is slain. I think this shows how much of a desperate and violent man Romeo is and how self-centred he is. In Romeo’s last few minutes he sounded relieved and thankful that he would now be with Juliet forever. He even apologised to Tybalt for killing him and offered to do a favour for him –
“O what more favour can I do for the…” This shows that he saw his problem of impulsiveness and does regret his mistake. This I think is another sign of the way that Romeo has matured during the play.
As the Friar had described Juliet woke just like from a pleasant dream. She sees Friar Lawrence and says, “O comfortable Friar, Where is my lord? I do remember where I should be, and there I am. Where I my Romeo?” From this couple of lines it sounds as if she has woken looking forward to the future. And as she is told what has happened I don’t think these feeling stops for her. I think she is still glad that she can spend the rest of the life with Romeo even if it is in death. She tells decisively the Friar that she will not leave
“Go get the hence, For I will not away…” Juliet is also not stricken with grief when she hears of here lovers death, she also decides to kill her self. She regards this as a happy moment as when she draws the dagger she says “…O happy dagger!” I think she feels much the same way Romeo did when he was at this point.
As I look at these two characters as they face death I think their loyalty and the true love they have for one another really stands out. I think this is a very admirable part of both of their personalities, and that it was a horrible tragedy that both of their lives were ended.
At the end of the play I realised how emotional it actually was. As I read it and watched it in both film versions felt that their deaths were inevitable. As Aristotle said a tragedy is inevitable if there is a fatal flaw in the protagonist’s personality. This flaw will cause a tragic flaw. This I believe is defiantly true in this instance, Romeo’s impulsiveness and childish behaviour was definitely what caused his fall. Such as when he killed Tybalt and Paris, yet because of the way Romeo acted I found he became boring, and that Shakespeare depicted Juliet as so much more of a believable character. I think Shakespeare tried to show as many sides of Juliet as was possible.
She came across as an extremely strong willed character with an open mind and the ability to voice her opinions and she didn’t let anything get in her way. She was practical and calm at times of distress. In my opinion she was a very admirable person. Other characters in the play also admired her; Friar Lawrence describes her as needing “no womanish fear” if she accepts his plan. Juliet did and it showed her bravery.
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