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Study how Romeo and Juliet speak and behave in the first scenes when they first appear and in the 'party' and 'balcony' scenes. How does the way they are portrayed prepare us for the tragedy that befalls them?

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Introduction

Study how Romeo and Juliet speak and behave in the first scenes when they first appear and in the 'party' and 'balcony' scenes. How does the way they are portrayed prepare us for the tragedy that befalls them? For the purposes of this essay I shall be examining two different versions of Romeo and Juliet, one of which is set in the usual time period, directed by Franco Zefferelli, and the other is set in modern times, directed by Baz Luhrmann. The first scenes in which we see the main characters of Romeo and Juliet give us a fairly accurate idea of the type person they each are. Romeo retains his initial personality throughout the play, but Juliet's character appears to change fairly drastically after meeting and falling in love with Romeo. In the Zefferelli version we first see Romeo immediately after the conflict between the Capulet and the Montague walking towards the camera up a narrow street, staring at a bunch of flowers and with a melancholic expression on his face. He is clearly so absorbed into his own troubles that he has not even noticed the battle which has been going on in the streets. We soon find out that the cause of Romeos distress is that he is suffering from the unrequited love of a woman named Roseline. ...read more.

Middle

Before the scene begins Romeo and his friends are gathered elsewhere and we catch a glimpse of Mercutio's rather disturbed character. However, the most interesting occurrence here is Romeo's premonition. Once he has calmed Mercutio down, he goes on to say; "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, But he that hath the steerage of my course Direct my sail! On, lusty gentlemen" Romeo is of course speaking of the terrible events that are going to happen because of his and Juliet's meeting that night, though he does not know it himself. This gives the audience small idea of what is yet to come in the play, and of the importance of this scene. In both version of the film (and in the play script itself) Romeo and Juliet first meet each other whilst the rest of the crowd is entranced by a solo singer. As soon as their eyes meet they are clearly besotted with each other, but Juliet is soon drawn off by her nurse to dance with Paris. Though even whilst dancing with Paris Juliet is clearly thinking of Romeo, and often shoots glances in his direction. ...read more.

Conclusion

To me it would seem that Romeo is desperate for someone to love, and since he could not receive those feelings in return from Roseline he turned his interests to Juliet, who is very inexperienced in relationships and will therefore be much more impressionable and easier to seduce. Imagine you are a 14 year old girl who has never been involved with a man before, and then a handsome young man comes along and instantly begins to speak at length of how much he loves you, you would be blown over, as Juliet clearly is. We can tell this by the way in which her character has changed since we first saw her, instead of the mature young woman we saw in the opening scene she appears to have reverted into an impulsive school girl upon meeting him. This will obviously will (and in fact does) end in disaster, two people from warring families who believe themselves to be desperately in love with each other can't possibly end well. The character of Romeo himself is a dangerous one, he instantly became infatuated with Juliet, and anyone who can become so obsessive in an instant is a dangerous and unpredictable person to be around. I think that Juliet was merely unfortunate in meeting him since otherwise she seemed to be a very intelligent and sensible girl. In fact we are even given a rather large clue by Romeo himself that the play will end in tragedy just before the party begins. If only he had heeded his own warning. ...read more.

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