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Compare and contrast Romeo's conversation with Mercutio (Act1.4) with his soliloquy before Juliet appears in the balcony scene. How does the language used show the change in Romeo's character and in his attitude to love?

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Introduction

Compare and contrast Romeo's conversation with Mercutio (Act1.4) with his soliloquy before Juliet appears in the balcony scene. How does the language used show the change in Romeo's character and in his attitude to love? Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies about love and passion between two young people. Romeo is considered by many to be the perfect romantic hero, however upon closer analysis he can be characterized as just a young man, transformed by love. This can be seen in Romeo's initial interest in Rosaline, which is superficial and passive in comparison to the more complex and active relationship he develops with Juliet. The language used in Act 1, Scene 4 and the beginning of Act 2, Scene 2 shows this transformation clearly. Act 1, Scene 4 begins on a Sunday evening outside Capulet's house. Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio and about five or six other Maskers or Torch-bearers are about to make an appearance at the Capulet's feast. Mercutio may be an invited guest as he has friends in the Capulet household, but Romeo and Benvolio, Montague kin, certainly are not. However, they have come prepared with masks and an introductory speech which will get them into the party. Romeo, unlike the lively Mercutio and Benvolio, is very melancholy at this time, not really in the right spirit to attend a feast. He is obsessed with Rosaline; a woman who will never love him. Romeo has been encouraged previously by Benvolio to forget his present love and consider other women however he has been determined to keep on loving and suffering. When Benvolio discovered that Rosaline would be at Capulet's feast, he challenged Romeo to attend the feast in order to compare Rosaline with other beauties. Romeo agreed to this however he said he was not going to see ladies more beautiful than Rosaline, but to prove to himself that Rosaline was the most attractive woman in existence. ...read more.

Middle

"Take our good meaning, for our judgement sits / Five times in that ere once in our five wits." By this, Mercutio is telling Romeo to stop being witty and accept their true meaning as it is probably five times more trustworthy than impressions received through the five senses. Romeo refuses and instead he makes a pun on "meaning" and "wit", "And we mean well in going to this mask, / But 'tis no wit in going". Romeo is stating that they have good intentions in going to this party; however there is no sense behind why they are going. Since the start of the scene, Romeo has been determined to spoil everyone's fun. This whole conversation started when Romeo said he would not dance, however now he is saying something more serious. He feels that it would not be a wise thing to go to the feast at all. Mercutio is now getting a little aggravated with Romeo. He refuses to accept Romeo's comment and finishing off Romeo's previous sentence and iambic pentameter, he adds, "Why, may one ask?" Romeo replies that he had a dream, though he does not go on to explain what it was. This may have been because Mercutio does not give him half a chance as he interrupts by saying, "And so did I." Mercutio is getting fed up with Romeo's whining when he just wants to have fun. When Romeo then asks what his dream was, Mercutio replies that it was, "That dreamers often lie", and Romeo wit fully finishes Mercutio's sentence by saying, "In bed asleep, while they do dream things true." Mercutio's famous "Queen Mab" speech starts at this point. It is said in prose as Mercutio's speech always is showing his flippant, humorous character. The speech is motivated by Romeo's stubborn refusal to join in the fun that Benvolio and Mercutio have planned. Mercutio has finally had enough with Romeo trying to spoil their fun and he lets his imagination run wild as he describes the dream he had the previous night. ...read more.

Conclusion

He would be doing anything possible to get close to his love. Therefore I feel Romeo realises that the type of love he is experiencing is infatuation not pure love. When Romeo begins to make puns and include light imagery he is proving that he still does have the ability to lighten up. It is showing that perhaps Romeo's love for Rosaline is fake as previously he was so depressed to do anything, and now he is able to compose witty puns. By this, Romeo's superficial approach to love is revealed as I think he is showing how he is in fact not in love with Rosaline herself, but he is in love with the thought of being in love. Act 2, Scene 2 takes place very late on Sunday night. It is the same evening that Act 1, Scene 4 took place on and also the same evening that Romeo met Juliet for the first time. The setting for the scene is in Capulet's orchard. Romeo is sitting alone where he has just been listening to Mercutio mocking Romeo's love-longing for Rosaline. Romeo's first words in this scene are therefore about Mercutio: "He jests at scars that never felt a wound". Romeo's point is that Mercutio can make jokes about the pain of love only because he has never felt any such pain. The last word of this line purposely half rhymes with the last word Benvolio spoke in the previous scene to indicate that no scene break is intended. If I were directing this scene I would place Romeo under a tree, so that it fits well with Mercutio's description in the previous scene ("Now will he sit under a medlar tree"). Romeo then looks up at the Capulet's house and sees Juliet come to the window, and says, "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and Juliet is the sun." During the first 47 lines of this scene, all of Romeo's speech is said as an aside proving that he is showing his true self during this time. ...read more.

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