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How are the main themes of 'Romeo and Juliet' introduced in Act One?

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How are the main themes of 'Romeo and Juliet' introduced in Act One? Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' is a classic tragedy. The main themes of the play are love, fate, hatred and beauty; all these key components are depicted in Act one. Shakespeare displays these timeless themes through language, characters and the plot. Throughout Act one, various types of love are portrayed; for example, lustful love, infatuation, and love at first sight. Different views of love are also shown. In Scene 1, Romeo indulges in love sick. Shakespeare uses oxymoron to show the duality of love, such as 'heavy lightness', 'serious vanity', and 'bright smoke'. These imageries make the audience visualize and imagine how love can be both sweet and painful. Romeo also comments that 'love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs: being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes; being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears'. This, again, shows the two different sides of love. 'Fire' and 'sea' contrast with each other, since one is bright, and the other is rather dull; which is a smart portrayal of love. Although both images are linked to eyes, i.e. ...read more.


Fate is a crucial topic of 'Romeo and Juliet'. This theme is revealed in the prologue. 'Star-crossed lovers' shows that the two main characters are ill-fated; the idea of 'star' helps to relate the lovers' story to destiny. The words 'misadventured' and 'piteous' indicate that they have tragic fortunes. The phrase 'Death-marked love' illustrates that Romeo and Juliet's story happens as if it is pre-destined; Shakespeare uses the word 'death' to specify that the lovers will die at the end. In Scene 4, Romeo says he dreamt that something bad will happen. 'Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars', this line implies that something fated is going to happen, but it is not yet revealed. Again, Shakespeare makes use of the idea of 'stars', which associates with fate. 'By some vile forfeit of untimely death', once more, death is mentioned. This responds to the prologue given that the audience is told that Romeo will die, which creates dramatic irony. Hatred is another significant theme of the play; and not surprisingly, this is depicted in Act one through various scenes. Hatred between the two families - Montague and Capulet - is introduced in the prologue. ...read more.


In Scene 2, 'ne'er saw her match since first the world begun', Romeo, again, suggests that nobody is comparable to Rosaline. In Scene 5 at the house of the Capulets, Romeo sees Juliet; and through Romeo's soliloquy, Shakespeare uses imageries to demonstrate how Juliet is so beautiful that she stands out. 'Teach the torches to burn bright' illustrates that Juliet does not only glow, but she is like the leader who helps lighten up the entire atmosphere. 'Hangs upon the cheek of night' is a personification, and signifies that she is as dazzling as a star. An Ethiop is a black American; 'as a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear' portrays very effectively how conspicuous Juliet is, just like a diamond shining in front of a black surface. 'Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear' implies that Juliet's exceeding beauty is precious and valuable. Like how the themes of fate and hatred are introduced in the prologue within a relatively short period of time, all the key elements of 'Romeo and Juliet' are depicted within Act one. Shakespeare portrays the main themes through refine language, while the different viewpoints are revealed through diverse characterisation. The major components: love, fate, hatred and beauty play a big role in making 'Romeo and Juliet' a successful tragedy. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jacqueline Cheng UC4V 11th Oct 2007 ...read more.

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