Although both Mercutio and the Nurse refer to the sexual act, the Nurse’s language is crude and lacks the refinement of Mercutio’s wit. Here Shakespeare presents to us a member of the lower classes, deprived from a formal education.
The play links death with love and sex on numerous occasions. For example Capulet on discovering his ‘dead’ daughter exclaims “Death has deflowered my daughter”. Juliet later even compares Romeo to death in an erotic manner. One example of this is when Juliet is committing suicide, and when clutching the dagger says “O happy dagger/…This is thy sheath/there rust and let me die”. The dagger can here be a sort of phallus of Romeo with Juliet being its sheath in death, a strong sexual symbol.
At the beginning of the play we see Romeo in love with Rosaline. Here we see Shakespeare’s presentation of a Patrachan lover. In his speech Romeo elevates Rosaline above all other women “The all-seeing sun/ne’er saw her match since the world first begun”. He describes her to be much better than she could possibly be. Initially, we see Romeo very unhappy because his love for Rosaline is unrequited. This once again is the conventional stance of the courtly lover.
Shakespeare presents the idea that Romeo is not in love with Rosaline, but he is in love with love. “I am in love with a woman”. He doesn’t answer with her name, but simply emphasises the fact he is in love, which further suggests his being in love with love.
The main love plot that we see is between Romeo and Juliet, who meet at the Ball. We instantly see a change in Romeo, who at the beginning is very unhappy. At the sight of Juliet he completely forgets about Rosaline. “Before this night I have never seen true beauty”. This substantiates the idea that he was not truly in love with Rosaline. Although, they are truly in love Romeo still takes the role of the Patrachan lover and elevates Juliet above what she could possibly be. Romeo continues to comment on her beauty right up the time when he thinks that she is dead. “Death…/hath no power yet upon thy beauty”. This shows how deep convention is rooted in Romeo, that even when he is truly in love he still takes the role of the courtly lover.
On their first meeting Shakespeare makes them share a sonnet. The sonnet was traditionally used to write love poetry. The face that they share the sonnet suggests their compatibility.
They use religious images, which elevates their love. “Juliet: and palm to palm is holy palmer’s kiss./Romeo: have not saints’ lips and holy palmers too?” This sonnet immediately displays to the audience their intellectual and emotional suitability. This suggests their love is associated with God and intended by Him. Juliet uses these metaphors to test Romeo’s feelings for her, and he understands the subtlety of what she really means. This not only shows the intellectual compatibility of the two, but how exceptional Juliet is by being blatant with her words. Also, the use of physical contact in the sonnet suggests physical intimacy between the two.
The balcony scene is important for many reasons. On the one hand it is a romantic setting and appropriate for the presentation of romantic love. On the other hand it is useful for making a contrast between Romeo and Juliet. The most obvious contrast we see is a physical one. We here see Juliet placed on the balcony above Romeo. This shows how Juliet is though of more highly in our opinions because she is more practical and more mature than Romeo, who is impulsive. From this scene we can see an obvious contrast between Romeo and Juliet’s speech. Where Juliet is practical Romeo is impractical and doesn’t realise consequence. For example, they discuss together the issue of their families. “What’s in a name?” Juliet thinks logically about the issue of names and in contrast: “Henceforth I never will be Romeo”. He thinks the issue through illogically and comes to an unreasonable conclusion; mainly because he is blinded by his intense love for Juliet, but also because this is his nature. Furthermore, Romeo’s impulsive nature, which leads him to enter the Capulet orchard and risk his life to see Juliet, shows a big contrast between him and Juliet because Juliet shows worry about him being there “It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden”.
In this scene we are shown how exceptional Juliet is because she takes the practical steps and proposes to Romeo. At the time I was completely unheard of for a woman to propose to a man.
In the morning after their marriage we see how the strength of their love affects Juliet. The moment before Romeo is due to leave Juliet becomes irrational and suggests Romeo stay apparently unaware of how much danger he would be in. “Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet a new day”. Here we see how her love for Romeo has blinded Juliet of her practicality and what she wants overrides her usual response to be realistic. However, Romeo also drastically changes in this scene because he knows that if he stays he’ll never be able to see her again. “I must be gone and will than stay and die”. He is rational because he knows of the danger. But later he becomes irrational again and decides to stay. However, Juliet comes to her senses against at the thought of her love being in danger and tells him to leave.
At the end of the play we can see how deep rooted the couples love is and we see Juliet’s willingness to do anything for Romeo. When the future of their love is threatened Juliet decides to take a potentially dangerous potion to see him. Ultimately she is dubious as to the safety of the plan and she articulates this in her soliloquy. “Seeking out Romeo did that spit his body/…Romeo! Here’s drink – I drink to thee!” However, by mentioning Romeo she remembers how she feels about him and this spurs her on. Her love drove her to carry out the plan despite her doubts. This shows the sincerity of her feelings, as other relationships in the entirety of the play never go as deep to risk their life for a lover.
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
There are some good points made in this essay that could be developed to further link different parts of the play. Useful textual references are identified but at times they could be explained in more detail, particularly when making comparisons between characters. 4 Stars