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Explore how Shakespeare Uses Imagery to Build up our Expectation that Romeo and Juliet's Love is Doomed

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Anna Glynn English Course work Explore how Shakespeare Uses Imagery to Build up our Expectation that Romeo and Juliet's Love is Doomed. One reason why Shakespeare's work is so successful, popular and very much around today is that it is written in such a way that makes it appealing to the audience. The plots are held up by a firm backbone of imagery and clever literary techniques. They are more than just a beginning middle and end, the whole plot is linked together with predictions and coincidences and it all unravels throughout like a ball of wool. One prime example of this is Romeo and Juliet. From the start of the play, in the prologue, Shakespeare uses language and imagery to build up the expectation that Romeo and Juliet's love is doomed. Uncommonly, the play begins with telling us that the main characters are going to fall in love and kill themselves. We know this because it says, 'the fearful passage of their death mark'd love' and 'a pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life'. This is an important image as people in the time of Shakespeare were superstitious and believed in astrology. And beginning with saying they were star-crossed meaning that their love was intertwined with their doom and it said so in the stars, is particularly poignant for those times. This is also a link to when Romeo finds out of Juliet's supposed death and cries out 'then I defy you, stars!' With this exclamation, Romeo is saying that he defies destiny. This image makes the play somewhat cyclic, with it beginning with saying that it is destined for them to die and ending with Romeo defying his destiny, to lose Juliet and at the same time by taking his own life fulfilling it. ...read more.


Again the point is stressed that in their case, love and death walk hand in hand, inseparably. When Romeo and Juliet spend their first night together, they also spend their last. As Romeo is leaving and Juliet is trying to persuade him to stay, he says to her, expressing his happiness after spending the night with her, 'let me be put to death, I am content, so thou wilt have it so' He is saying that now he has spent one night with her he doesn't care if he is caught and dies for Juliet's sake, it is his love for her that makes him say this. In the same way he says, 'Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so'. Both of these are predictions that Romeo will indeed die for Juliet. Also when Juliet says 'window, let day in, and let life out' this is also a prediction that though the day is dawning now when the day is over, so will be their lives. Also when she says 'be fickle, Fortune: For then I hope thou wilt not keep him long, but send him back.' This is dramatic irony as the audience know from the prologue and the other predictions so far throughout the play, that Romeo's fate is to die, and Juliet will never see him again after this moment. There are more predictions and ironies in the speech by Juliet when she is taking the poison that will fake her own death. One irony is when she says 'how if, when I am laid into the tomb, I wake before the time when Romeo come to redeem me?' ...read more.


The plot of the play and how Romeo and Juliet take their own lives is in itself ironic. Romeo commits suicide to be with Juliet in death when she is in fact faking her own death to be together with Romeo in life. Unfortunately he does not know this and as it is written in a way that makes the audience feel for the characters, they would understand the desperation of Romeo and how he wants to die and be with her, but at the same time they would know that she is not dead and realise that if Romeo kills himself Juliet will awake and find him dead. She does so and takes her own life out of her love for him. Therefore from the start of the play Shakespeare puts all of these techniques together, to back up his clever plot and builds up the audiences expectation that Romeo and Juliet's love is doomed. One main theme that runs through the play is how love and death are inseparably linked. Many times throughout the play is this point reinforced through imagery and other literary techniques. The fact that it is love that causes Romeo and Juliet's deaths is not just it, it runs deeper than that. Their families had been rivals and duelling amongst themselves for a long time before Romeo and Juliet. This just shows that even between two families who are opposed to each other love will conquer and bring them together, even though for this cause, the fate of the lovers is to die. Therefore, as this is laid down in the prologue, the audience are introduced to this idea and their expectations of the lovers deaths are high to start with and reinforced by plentiful imagery of love and death being linked. ...read more.

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