How Does Shakespeare Present The Character
Of Romeo Montague?
Romeo is one of the main characters in Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet" and is portrayed as a tragic figure, who is guided by his destiny. Shakespeare initially introduces Romeo to be a romantic sentimentalist, who is over-obsessed with his own emotions. Romeo, however, loses these personality traits towards the end of the play, and becomes more mature after falling deeply in love with Juliet. His love for her is strong and over-whelming, and Shakespeare vividly represents this by dramatic visual moments throughout the play, culminating in the tragic climax of Romeo's suicide, to join with his Juliet in death.
Shakespeare introduces the audience to Romeo, a son of Lord Montague, whose House is involved in an ancient feud with the House of Capulet. Briefly, Romeo divulges to his friend Benvolio that he has a profound and absorbing love for Rosaline, but his love is unrequited. Shakespeare writes Romeo various oxymoron's, "Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire", to show Romeo's ability to use elaborate language and to express his poetic nature. Romeo talks about the brawl that had previously taken place between the two families, and knows that love and hate are closely related to each other. The audience would witness Romeo's self-centredness and concern for his own feelings, through the comparisons he makes. Taking these comparisons literally as imagery, we can see Romeo comparing himself to Rosaline; being completely different to each other.
Shakespeare also conveys Romeo's weakness with love, as further on in the play, he rapidly diverts his desires to Juliet. Romeo and his acquaintances arrive uninvited to the Capulet Ball. Romeo is dubious about this, as the night before, he had a premonition through a dream, warning him that something terrible was going to happen if he went. This is one of the many themes that Shakespeare provides to suggest foreboding early on in the play. The omen is ambiguous as it firstly implies Romeo is worrying about something that will not happen and is generally nervous about arriving uninvited. However, it could imply that in going to the Ball, he will meet Juliet, which will cause drastic events to happen, and eventually lead to both their deaths. This is one of the main themes during the play and is successfully entwined in Romeo's script to introduce foreboding to the audience without the character realising it. He disregards the omen, and continues with his friends to the Ball. On arrival, he seeks Rosaline, but his attentions rapidly divert to Juliet Capulet, "She seems to hang upon the cheek of night" displays Romeo's persona to be fickle and to have a fluctuating nature. He had before thought Rosaline to be beautiful, but now he sees Juliet as the most beautiful woman in the world. This is one of the more romantic traits of Romeo, and Shakespeare uses many metaphors and similes in Romeo's speech and successfully interlaces them to represent the poetic and child-like wonder that Romeo experiences when he sets eyes on Juliet.
Romeo's role is consistent throughout as 'The Romantic Lover', which is proved by Shakespeare to be one of Romeo's strongest traits. In Act 2 Scene 2, widely known as the balcony scene, Romeo hides in Capulet's Orchard below Juliet's window and watches her, marvelling at her astonishing beauty. Juliet is unaware of Romeo's presence, and speaks of him kindly and shows lust for him. Romeo shows uncertainty on whether he should remain hidden or speak out, but waits; waiting for her to say that she loves him in the same way that he does her, "I will answer it / I am too bold", without the need for a stage direction, Shakespeare mutely directs the character Romeo to briskly start to stride towards Juliet with his arm out-stretched as a welcoming gesture, as if to say that she is out of reach. This is plausible because the audience would easily recognise and understand the gesture. Romeo would also be seen to be anxious and excited in seeing Juliet, however it is clear from Romeo's following words that he is "too bold" and stops abruptly to rethink his decision when he realises that it is, "not to me (he) she speaks". He retreats back into the shadows of Capulet's Orchard and continues to listen to the sweet-sounding voice of Juliet. This scene emphasises Shakespeare's desire to portray Romeo's two different frames of mind, dominant in his romantic desires and then indecisive. Later on in the scene, Romeo poetically describes Juliet's eyes to be, "two of the fairest stars", in which Shakespeare, through this metaphor, effectively reveals Romeo's passion and adoration for Juliet.