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How is the character of Romeo presented in Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

How is the character of Romeo presented in "Romeo and Juliet"? In "Romeo and Juliet", Shakespeare uses a variety of techniques and methods to present Romeo to ensure that an audience will have formed a strong opinion of him both as a character and as a person by the end of the play. He also uses these techniques to try and influence our opinion, and change it throughout the course of the play. The main technique that Shakespeare uses is language; and in that it is mainly the language of Romeo himself. For example, when we are introduced to Romeo in Act 1 Scene 1, one of the first lines he speaks is "Ay me, sad hours seem long". Immediately this quote begins to help the audience form an opinion of Romeo; albeit an unflattering one. This is because this line is very self-pitying, emphasized by the use of "Ay me" implying that Romeo feels he is hard done by. From this quote, the audience begin to feel negative feelings towards him, as we begin to believe that he will not prove to be a likable character. The audience also begins to feel superior to him as a result of this line, as it implies he is a person with a weak character. This instinct is somewhat heightened by Romeo's language in the next few lines; mainly because he continues in the same tone and style of language. He makes three main speeches over the next few lines, all giving a similar impression. In these speeches, Romeo uses words and phrases that are melodramatic, such as "Should I groan and tell thee". This quote furthers our unflattering opinion of Romeo, as the use of the word "groan" implies that he is looking for attention, as it is a dramatic word and doesn't make Romeo seem serious about his feelings. This makes the audience feel that perhaps he is not serious about his love for Rosaline, and that the love in itself is not serious. ...read more.

Middle

As the audience dislike Romeo for his over-dramatics, Benvolio disagreeing with the use of the dramatic word "Groan" puts him more into an audience's favour as we feel that he is a more down-to-earth character and are able to believe what he is saying more, as his language is more realistic. The comparison again alienates Romeo from the audience as a character, because we cannot empathise with what he saying as it is hard to believe. It would be especially hard for a modern audience to empathise with Romeo, as they would have the barrier with the Shakespearian language as well as the dramatic. In the play, Shakespeare uses comparison a lot to present Romeo, both with other characters and by using different language. The main character that Romeo is contrasted with throughout the play is Mercutio, as they have many scenes together. The contrast between them, for the majority of an audience, would lead to Mercutio being the favoured character, as in general we perceive him as more interesting. An example of this is in Act 2 Scene 4, where Mercutio says "How thou art fishified!" This quote is very light-hearted, and also makes Mercutio seem a humorous character, as the use of the word "fishified" implies that he is very witty and therefore makes him seem an interesting and amusing character. Also, it is a word that he has invented himself, giving the impression that he has a good imagination and as a result means the audience would be inclined to give him more attention. The use of the "fish" imagery in the word gives connotations of Romeo gasping for air, like a fish - showing that perhaps Mercutio is implying that Romeo is struggling with his situation. This seems as if he is laughing at Romeo, and therefore the audience are perhaps able to relate to Mercutio more. When an audience thinks of Romeo in the early parts of the play, as a result of the comparison with Mercutio we dislike him more. ...read more.

Conclusion

The change in character could be showed also through the production; costume colour could change during the play to show how Romeo changes from overdramatic to more sincere and realistic. The acting would also be important in showing the change; using first the methods mentioned earlier and later on a quieter, understated style of acting would work alongside the language change, showing how Romeo changes as a character. Having this aspect in the production would be important in modern times, as the changes in language would be harder to notice for modern audiences, meaning that we would find it difficult to see the subtle differences in what he says, only really noticing how the actor delivers the lines. An audience would reacted differently now to Juliet's father forcing her into a marriage, as in earlier days this would have been seen as normal, but now a forced marriage, and even an arranged marriage is considered very old fashioned, and having contrasting opinions in this matter could affect how the whole play is seen. In the 16th century, audiences may have been more against Romeo, however, as they might have felt he was taking Juliet away from a very profitable marriage, but in modern times audiences could favour him as he could be seen as saving her from a marriage she does not want. This aspect may have affected the overall view of Romeo in those times, as this unfavourable opinion of him from the start of the play may have been hard to change for an audience watching then. Although Romeo may be disliked by audiences towards the beginning of the play for his over-dramatics, Shakespeare uses various methods and techniques to change how audiences feel about him throughout the play. These methods all try and show the reader that the main thing that has changed how Romeo behaves is his love for Juliet, and he has presented the character in a way that ensures audiences know that is the reason for the change. ?? ?? ?? ?? Laura Clark 11P ...read more.

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