How does Shakespeare portray the character of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet?

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How does Shakespeare portray the character of Romeo in ‘Romeo and Juliet’?

Romeo is one of the main characters. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Romeo is portrayed very differently throughout the play, as Shakespeare wants the audience to see the development and changes in Romeo’s personality. Shakespeare uses different techniques such as imagery, metaphors and oxymoron, alliteration and the sonnet form, which makes Romeo a unique character in the play. Romeo is shown throughout the play to be an impulsive and confused young man, who is caught up in the powers of fate. Moreover, he deadly (for him Juliet is more precious than his own life) falls in love with young Juliet and their love tragically ends.

At the beginning of the play all Romeo does is talk about his love for Rosaline and how she does not even acknowledge him for his efforts. In Act 1, Scene 1, Shakespeare portrays Romeo’s character as a lovesick person receiving nothing in return. Romeo says: “Loves is bright smoke, cold fire, sick health.” This shows how confusing love is for him. Shakespeare used the oxymorons ‘bright-smoke, cold-fire, sick-health’ to show the contrast in the meaning of love and to show how different love can be for each of us. For example, love can be bright and easy to find or it can be hidden behind the smoke, which is all decided by fate and destiny. Shakespeare demonstrates Romeo’s character as a young boy, who is in love with Rosaline, through the use of romantic language, metaphors and oxymoron. Romeo defines loves: “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.” Shakespeare used metaphor ‘fume of sighs’. Love is supposed to be happy not full of sorrow. This suggests that Romeo’s love for Rosaline is not a real love. This statement says that love will bring sorrow and unhappiness. It also portrays Romeo as a man full of sadness as he felt that life was not worth living without Rosaline. This tends to cause audience to believe that he would not fall in love with someone else in the near future and it also keeps them wondering about where is Juliet, which is a perfect start for a romantic drama.

However, Romeo’s love for Rosaline did not mean anything but sorrow, as she does not return his love, Romeo says: “She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair, to merit bliss by making me despair.” (Act 1 Scene 1). This shows that Romeo is hard-headed, as he wants to continue proving his love for Rosaline regardless of the result. However, the audience can see that all Romeo cares about is her beauty and not her personality as he says: “O she’s rich in beauty…when she dies, with beauty dies her store.” (Act 1 Scene 1). Moreover, he loves to imagine having sex with her as he uses sexual language. He says: “In strong proof of chastity well arm’d” (Act 1 Scene 1) and he also makes some dirty jokes.

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However, in Act 1 Scene 5, Romeo’s emotions dramatically change, when he catches his first sight of young lady Juliet. In this scene, Shakespeare demonstrates Romeo’s character as a young man, who changes his mind so quickly on subject of love and a man who believe in ‘Love at first sight.’ In addition, Romeo is instantly bowled over by her beauty. He says: “O she doth teach the torches to burn bright!” (Act 1 Scene 5). This metaphor, suggest that Juliet is so beautiful that makes the place looks brighter and it warms his heart. The alliteration ‘Teach the Torches ...

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