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How does Shakespeare portray ambiguity in the play Romeo and Juliet?

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´╗┐Emily Ambiguity ? Romeo and Juliet The exploration of ambiguity in the play ?Romeo and Juliet? encapsulates Shakespeare?s message of how there is no ?right? or ?wrong,? ?good? or ?evil?. This theme is sparked from the contextual circumstance of the play, set in Renaissance England, a time of great change and cultural ambiguity, bringing about the protestant reformation and the emergence of ?the new man? and new outlooks on love and romance. Shakespeare adopts descriptive techniques and distinctive wordplay, integrating literary devices and imagery to portray ambiguity subliminally throughout the play. The concept of ambiguity is portrayed by his use of oxymoron, for instance ?Oh brawling love, oh loving hate? depicts ambiguity through the binary of love and hate and how elements of both can be found in one another, thus highlighting Shakespeare?s message of how the entire concept of the play is ambiguous. An oxymoron is by definition ambiguous, and is often adopted to conceptualise ambiguous meanings and ideas. Similarly, Shakespeare uses paradox, for instance, when Juliet questions, ?was ever a book containing such vile matter so fairly bound?? to depict Juliet?s ...read more.


Ambiguity is also explored through the characters themselves. For instance, Friar Lawrence is portrayed to have a vested interest in the happiness of both Romeo and Juliet and appears as an advocate of their forbidden romance and even helps to marry the two in secret, later providing Juliet with a substance that will give her the power to fake her death to avoid her marriage to Paris. However it appears he has an ulterior motive fuelled by his peace loving disposition. This is portrayed when he states that ?this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households? rancour to pure love,? thus expressing the somewhat ambiguous nature of his character. Furthermore, his unorthodox behaviour may have in fact caused the deaths of the two lovers and thus Shakespeare portrays ambiguity in this instance by portraying the layers of the Friar?s character, how a peace loving man of God, whom Shakespeare initially appears to use as a plot device, gradually metamorphoses to someone who will, by any means necessary, attempt to achieve his goal, no matter how innocent his motives. ...read more.


He appears to sustain a dismissive, derogatory outlook on love, expressing that ?if love be rough with you, be rough with love.? He also appears as a loyal friend to Romeo, and advocate of the Montagues. However, it appears Mercutio?s alleged confidence is merely a facade fuelled by his insecure, volatile undertones. This is portrayed during his dying moments when he exclaims, ?a curse of both your houses!? portraying his volatility and insecurity as opposed to his initial confident, secure demeanour and thus conveys his character?s ambiguous fibre. Ambiguity is also distinguished through the themes integrated into the play and the plot itself. Shakespeare expresses how the conflicting themes included in the play, for instance ?Love and Hate? are merely adopted by Shakespeare to portray how there is no ?one or the other,? there is always a mixture of both. He uses the characters? emotions and actions to portray these themes as inversed extremes battling against one another to realise the ultimate conclusion mentioned previously. Similarly the plot in itself, a fickle feud fuelled by the insecurity of each other?s prevalence that ultimately resulted in the deaths of each of their own. ...read more.

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