Romeo and Juliet

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Paige Pidcock

Explore the various ways in which Shakespeare portrays the developing love relationship between Romeo and Juliet.

The romantic tragedy “Romeo and Juliet” follows the relationship rollercoaster of the lives of two teenagers as they fall in love. Both children of two feuding families, their love is not to be. We know right from the beginning that their love is a time bomb just waiting to explode. Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting is at the Capulet party where its obvious Romeo is infatuated by Juliet’s beauty. You can see that both Romeo and Juliet fall in love at first sight. As it seems they lose all thought of the party going on around them.

The prologue sets the story against a backdrop of violence, bitterness and feuding. In the prologue, Shakespeare introduces the play with the opening sentence “Two households, both alike in dignity” He explains right from the beginning that there is a lot of anger between the two families as they are so alike. Shakespeare describes Romeo and Juliet as “A pair of star crossed lovers...” and then tells us “Who take their lives…” Shakespeare explains to us that their relationship is doomed from the outset and that their deaths are inevitable. Shakespeare describes the love of Romeo and Juliet as “Death-marked.” This creates a sense of foreboding as it becomes clear that their love is destined for death.  Shakespeare uses a lot of vulgar sexual language to begin the play. He does this to contrast with Romeo and Juliet’s love, as their love is described as “holy” and passionate unlike that what is described in the opening scene. When we are first introduced to Romeo he seems to be in a melancholy mood and seems to show a lot of sympathy for himself. When his friend Benvolio tells him the time he replies: “Ay me, sad hours seem long.” Shakespeare shows Romeos confusion between love and hate.

 “O brawling love, O loving hate.” it’s obvious that Romeo is confused as there is little difference between the two. Shakespeare also uses an oxymoron to help express Romeos confusion. Before Romeo decides to go to the party he says to Benvolio: “One fairer than my love!” … “l go along no such sight to be shown”. Shakespeare explains how Romeo is determined that he will not find anyone else to love but Rosaline. He is soon very mistaken, as when he meets Juliet his attitude completely changes.

 When we are first introduced to Juliet Shakespeare expresses how naïve and vulnerable she is. He shows us how obedient and respectful she is towards her parents. This is shown when Lady Capulet asks Juliet if she would consider marrying Paris. Juliet replies: “It is an honor I dream not of”. This is because she feels she is not ready to be wed yet. But her feelings are soon changing when she meets Romeo. 

 Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting is in act 1 scene 5 where immediately you can tell Romeo is awestruck by Juliet. Romeo uses light imagery to describe Juliet’s beauty.                                                                           “O she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night.” This contrasts with what Romeo said in act 1 scene 2 as he was using dark miserable language to express his feelings. Shakespeare also uses a question to express how Romeo contradicts himself when he said that nobody could be as beautiful as Rosaline.                                                                                                                     “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! for I ne’er saw rue beauty till this night” This shows Romeo is so overwhelmed by Juliet’s beauty he dismisses all thoughts of Rosaline from his mind.

 Romeo also uses religious imagery and language to describe Juliet’s beauty.                                                                                                                   “Holy shrine”... “Blushing pilgrims”                                                                            “…O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do:”                                                    This shows Romeo’s feelings towards Juliet, and that their relationship is pure. He expresses Juliet like a faith, almost as if he worships her, like somebody would a god. Juliet is his idol that he looks up to.

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 At this point in the play it’s becoming more evident Juliet now feels she is in love with Romeo. Shakespeare uses antithesis to help show how Juliet feels about falling in love with her enemy.                                                                                                “My only love, sprung from my only hate                      ...

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