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Recurring motifs and images in Romeo and Juliet.

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As in all of Shakespeare's plays, Romeo and Juliet is full of recurring motifs and images. In addition to the more obvious themes of love, war, and death apparent in the Bard's tragic tale, there are other concepts that Shakespeare refers to again and again, all of which work to enrich the already engaging plot and characters. To supplement your reading and understanding of Romeo and Juliet, we have explained some of these themes below. Light and Dark Throughout Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare utilizes light or the absence of light as a motif that enhances and/or contributes to the mood of a particular scene. As we watch Romeo and Juliet fall in love, and we watch as more and more obstacles get in the way of their burgeoning love, Shakespeare has alternately included light and dark images in the text of his play. When Romeo first encounters Juliet in the Capulet house, he exclaims "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!" and when he sees Juliet later in the famous balcony scene, the smitten Romeo says, "But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and Juliet is the sun." ...read more.


Juliet tries to find drastic measures to defeat time. Time is precise and because there is no way to add or take away time Romeo is already doomed. Romeo's destiny was being based on his letter from the Friar. Romeo spent time in Mantua waiting for the Friar's letter. Friar does not get the letter to Romeo because of time. The Friar's instincts are to send a letter to Mantua through a messenger but, the timing was not good because of the diseases and his frailty. Friar John says," I could not send it (here it is again) now get a messenger to bring it thee, so fearful were they of infection."(V:II: 25). Likewise in Harold Goddard's critical essay he discusses The Friar and Romeo's meetings about Juliet. His idea is Romeo and Juliet were too quick with their decisions. Goddard states, "A moment too late. That fear is with him Shakespeare shows by another echo." Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast," the Friar had warned Romeo on dismissing him after his first confession of his love for Juliet." (48) Timing is everything. If one thing is not on que then everything thereafter has the same problem. Romeo finally begins to see that time is taking the two lovers away from each other. ...read more.


As the Chorus states immediately in the Prologue of Romeo and Juliet, "A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life." In other words, the young Romeo and Juliet are doomed from the very beginning: their "stars" are misaligned. No matter what they do to attempt to repair their tragic situation, something always inhibits them from prevailing: Although they fall in love, their families prevent this love; although they get married, Tybalt is slain by Romeo, and Juliet must marry Paris; although Juliet escapes marriage by pretending to die, Romeo does not get the Friar's note and believes she is dead. Near the beginning of the play, in Act I, scene 4, Romeo aptly predicts his own fate: I fear, too early: for my mind misgives Some consequence yet hanging in the stars Shall bitterly begin his fearful date With this night's revels and expire the term Of a despised life closed in my breast By some vile forfeit of untimely death. Indeed, even though Romeo attempts to challenge fate, stating "I defy you, stars!" in Act V, scene 1, later in the play (Act III, scene 1), Mercutio is killed by Tybalt, and Romeo attributes his death to "this day's black fate." Shortly afterward in the scene, when Romeo kills Tybalt, the exasperated Romeo exclaims, "O, I am fortune's fool!" ...read more.

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