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Explore Shakespeare's use of language to emphasize the concept of oppositions in the play 'Romeo and Juliet'

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Megan Davies Explore Shakespeare's use of language to emphasize the concept of oppositions in the play 'Romeo and Juliet' 'Romeo and Juliet' is the first of Shakespeare's tragedies. It is radiant with the light of morning and oppressive with the death of all things bright. It centers on the story of two lovers Romeo and Juliet bound together by fate but thrown apart by cruel violence and hatred. Doomed from the start, their secret love is contrasted with the conflict of their two opposing families. Throughout the play Shakespeare's language uses many oxymorons. Oppositions such as love and hate are continually contrasted against each other, so that they are firmly established in the roots of the play. The prologue begins the play, its purpose being to introduce the story to the audience. It contains a vague outline of the play. Within the prologue there is a definite focus upon conflict, which prepares the audience for the rest of the play. 'Ancient grudge, break to new mutiny'. This language suggests that there is an old disagreement and fighting within the play. ' Civil blood' insinuates that blood is involved in the play, moreover the loss of it. ...read more.


One is more widely found and that is romantic love, the other is sexual love, which is evident in the crude sexual innuendo of Mercutio. An example of these innuendoes can be found in Act 2,scene 1. Mercutio makes reference to 'Venus' who is the goddess of love. He jests at Romeo in good nature, whilst Romeo is not with him. Mercutio calls him a 'homours, madman, passion, lover'. He talks of Rosaline, of whom he supposes Romeo to love, in a sexual manner, describing her body parts. 'Scarlet lip...fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh'. Mercutio refers to Rosaline as Romeo's 'Mistress' which insinuates she is Romeo's kept women. Mercutio makes many sexual insinuations in Act 2, scene 4, in which he mocks Juliet's nurse. He is not respectful to her in the slightest. Mercutio first jokes than she needs a fan to hide her face. 'Her fan's the fairer face'. Mercutio also claims that the nurse wants her wicked way with Romeo, that she is a prostitute. He calls her an 'old hare hoar', which is a very derogatory term to use for a lady. Juliet's monologue in Act 3,scene 2 also includes many sexual innuendoes. ...read more.


The idea of Death being Juliet's bridegroom is strongly lead throughout the play. Juliet first mentions this just after she has met Romeo. 'My grave is like to be my wedding bed'. The contrasting ideas of a grave, which symbolizes the end of life, and a wedding, which is the beginning of a new life, are brought heavily into Act 4,scene 5. In this scene Juliet is found dead on her wedding day. There is much talk of her death, but also of the marriage that she was to have had. Capulet declares ' Death is my heir'. He means that death will inherit. 'My daughter he hath wedded. I will die'. The language in this scene is very dramatic. Many strong adjectives expressing the tragic situation.' Unhappy, wretched, hateful day', 'O woeful, woeful day'. The effect of this is to emphasize the distress Juliet's family is feeling it creates a strong opposite to the joy of the wedding. Funeral arrangements were changed into from the previous wedding festivities. ' Turn from their office to black funeral'. Romeo and Juliet are objects of fates cruel consequence. There is an apprehension of misfortune, a feeling of dread that hangs heavily over the play from the beginning. The prologue describes Romeo and Juliet as 'star crossed lovers'. ...read more.

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