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Compare and contrast Romeo's speeches in Act 1 scene 1 when he speaks of Rosaline and Act 1 scene 5 - when he sees Juliet

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Introduction

Compare and contrast Romeo's speeches in Act 1 scene 1 when he speaks of Rosaline and Act 1 scene 5 - when he sees Juliet. What changes in Romeo's language, feelings and opinion of love can be noted and what conclusions can be reached about the nature of his love for the two women? Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare was written around the 16^th century. Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" is a love-tragedy about two people who fall in love from two feuding families. The intended audience was for Elizabethans who visited the theatre regularly. An Elizabethan lover was very different to a typical lover nowadays. An Elizabethan was a deeply pious person and was typically married at a very young age. This can be illustrated by Juliet who is only 13 or 14 and yet she marries Romeo despite the fact that he is also quite young. The lover would attract the opposite sex by the use of poetry and various romantic words. As well as different characteristics, a typical Elizabethan lover also held different moral values. Society at that time believed strongly in maintaining high moral values and trying to set good examples for the rest of their community. For instance, if two people fell in love with each other, but they were not married at the time, (or were from two feuding families), it would be frowned upon by other members of society for those two people to act upon their emotions & feelings of love. ...read more.

Middle

Romeo frequently refers to Juliet as being the light that emblazons his life which to him, seems to be surrounded by darkness and discontent. Shakespeare uses this technique in Romeo's speech in Act 1 scene 5, when Romeo first sees Juliet. The language used in the scene emphasises how powerful Romeo's love is for Juliet. "For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." Romeo asks himself if he had ever loved before and whether he had ever seen such beauty until now. This may encourage the reader to doubt his feelings for Rosaline. The final theme in the two speeches is the theme of religion. Shakespeare conveys this message of religion because it reflects the religious nature of most Elizabethans. Romeo refers to Juliet as being some kind of `holy shrine' as he says "If I profane with my unworthiest hand the holy shrine...gentle sin". Romeo then asks if lips could do what hands do; i.e. to pray and worship. This shows that he would look upon Juliet as some kind of goddess and worship her. The contrasting symbolism is apparent in the language because he wants to express his love for her as if he worshiped her. He then kisses Juliet for the first time. The theme also emphasises the spirituality of their love by incorporating some religious metaphors used by Romeo when describing pilgrims and Juliet. This can be shown when he says: "...my lips two blushing pilgrims ready stand...." ...read more.

Conclusion

Romeo also seems to become more mature and from looking at his speech and the language he uses, the reader can identify that Romeo is really in love with Juliet. The nature of Romeo's feelings for the two women is very different. Romeo acts in a childish way in Act 1 scene 1. This because he is not actually in love; he is in love with the idea of being in love. Therefore this causes Romeo to behave like this and say things he does not mean. For instance, he said he would only ever be in love with Rosaline and looking at other beautiful women would do nothing but remind him of Rosaline. In scene 5 Romeo becomes an entirely different person. He speaks in an appropriate way; he becomes more mature and does not say things unnecessarily. His language becomes more sophisticated and he describes Juliet with a contrast between `light and dark' with powerful imagery. He also describes Juliet as being `holy.' The reader is given the idea of her being pure and beautiful. Romeo was not in love with Rosaline as at that time, he did not know the meaning of love and he was in love with the idea of being in love, so behaved in a childish manner. Romeo's love for Juliet is clear and distinguishable. Lastly, Romeo is a quick and indecisive character at the start of the play; he acts childish and talks in an illogical way. During the play, when he first sees Juliet, he becomes more mature and begins to act like an adult. ...read more.

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