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Oppositions and Contrasts are Strikingly Common in Romeo and Juliet. Illustrate and Comment upon this Point of View in Relation to the Language, Characterisation and Action of the Play.

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Introduction

Freya Ollerearnshaw Oppositions and Contrasts are Strikingly Common in Romeo and Juliet. Illustrate and Comment upon this Point of View in Relation to the Language, Characterisation and Action of the Play. Even in the prologue, it is apparent that Romeo and Juliet is a play of clashes and oppositions. The families of the lovers 'from ancient grudge break to new mutiny' and the action begins with a violent conflict between the two households. We see the two doomed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, battle against their opposing families to be together. The many examples of opposition seen throughout Romeo and Juliet are constant reminders of the conflict keeping the lovers apart. These are seen in the action of the play, the views and beliefs of the characters as well as in the language itself. I am going to explore these oppositions, explain their relevance in the play and how they influence key events. Throughout Romeo and Juliet there is an echo of the plays oppositions in the language of the characters, especially that of Romeo and Juliet, who frequently use oxymorons to describe their feelings. An oxymoron is the use of two contradictory words, used together in the same sentence, describing something to create a dramatic effect on the reader. In the case of Romeo and Juliet, oxymorons are used to intensify the emotions expressed by the two lovers. Romeo tries to describe his love for Rosaline in this way, as 'O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything of nothing first create, O heavy lightness, serious vanity. This love I feel, that feel no love in this.' His use of oxymorons in this context shows his confusion about how he feels and how he is being torn apart when such violent affections are not being returned. Juliet also adopts this language when she finds out that Romeo has killed her cousin, raging, 'Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave? ...read more.

Middle

Despite this, when the fight is broken up, he is interested to know who started the fight, saying 'who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?' The tone of this statement suggests Montague does not approve of the person responsible for starting the brawl. The reluctance for the older generation to cause trouble is also brought to our attention in Act 1 scene 5 at Capulet's party. When Tybalt discovers that Romeo has attended, he complains to Capulet who replies, 'Content thee gentle coz, let him alone, 'A bears him like a portly gentleman; and to say truth, Verona brags of him to be a virtuous and well-governed youth'. Here, Capulet has shown that he no longer posseses the blinding hatred for Montagues of his younger relatives. He has heard Romeo to be a pleasant and good person and therefore is unwilling to make a scene by forcefully removing him from his house. The attitudes of the youths of Verona are best illustrated in Act 2 scene 1 when Mercutio refuses to move else where to escape a brawl in the likely event that the Capulets will appear. When they do, Tybalt says to the Montague group 'good den, a word with one of you'. To this polite request, Mercutio replies with a provocative remark; 'And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something, make it a word and a blow'. Mercutio, in referring to the 'blow' of a sword, is challenging Tybalt to a fight without appropriate reason. Another factor which sets the two generations apart is the speed at which they live their lifes. Romeo reflects the typical youthful view that all action must be taken immediately and one must live for the moment. He demonstrates this with his intense love for Rosaline which is totally turned around upon his meeting of Juliet. Within a night of knowing her, Romeo is requesting that Friar Lawrence marry them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many characters in the play have their minds firmly set in the past and refuse to accept any agreement between the two families. Two characters that demonstrate this view most openly are Tybalt and Mercutio- both of who die because of it. Very few people in the play stop to consider the future and consequences of their actions before putting them into practice. Friar Lawrence is one of the exceptions. He reluctantly agrees to marry the lovers, though he has hidden motives for doing so: 'for this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households' rancour to pure love'. Friar Lawrence thought that by joining Romeo and Juliet in marriage, it would help to unite the households of Capulet and Montague, burying their quarrelsome past. However, the people of Verona are not as open-minded as Friar Lawrence and Romeo and Juliet keep their alliance a secret from their families in fear of the consequences so Capulet and Montague do not discover the truth until it is too late and the lovers are dead. There are other characters, however, who do not take into account the past, like Romeo who refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of the dispute and continues with Juliet, pretending everything will turn out fine. Romeo acts impulsively, not learning from his past actions or considering the future he is creating for himself by acting in the way he does. Like a typical youth his life revolves around the present and the immediate future. He cannot think far ahead and therefore fails to plan carefully or act rationally. Romeo and Juliet die because of their failure and the failure of those around them to look at the consequences of their actions and learn from the mistakes of the past to try and make a better future. In this sense the conflict and oppositions of Past present and future are the most important in the outcome of Romeo and Juliet. ...read more.

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