'Romeo is changed radically by his love for Juliet'. How far do you agree with this statement?

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'Romeo is changed radically by his love for Juliet'. How far do you agree with this statement?

In the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare describes the couple as ‘star crossed lovers’ that are doomed and face ‘ill-fortune’. In the play, we see Romeo change, but it is evident that this change is not a radical one as such. It is also ridiculous to claim that this is because of his love for Juliet and it is much more plausible to believe that it is in fact other factors that come into play such as the spell of youth, his impulsivity which is more accredited to him as a person rather than the cliched idea of his love for Juliet and his fickle mind. However, Shakespeare certainly depicts Romeo as a different character at the start of the play and at the end of the play ; there are vast improvements in his writing and overall, it seems as though Romeo is much more content and views love in a significantly more positive light after meeting Juliet.

Certainly, there are ways in which Romeo has indeed changed as a result of his love for Juliet. One distinct way Shakespeare depicts this change is through the improvement in Romeo’s writing and poetry. When the audience first meets Romeo, he is infatuated with Rosaline and presented as a cliched Petrarchan lover, where his feelings were not reciprocated. In his first verse, in Act 1 Scene 1, he speaks in rhyme with the couplets including ‘still’ and ‘will', 'create’ and ‘hate’, and ‘is’ and ‘this’. Romeo expresses his emotions in a series of oxymorons such as ‘O brawling love’ and ‘O loving hate’. In these lines, we see Romeo overexaggerating and expressing extreme emotion for a woman through the use of oxymorons as well as the repetition of the word ‘O’, which again expresses the overdramatic nature of Romeo’s word which is further presented as slightly ridiculous after the audience finds out that he wasn’t really ever in love with Rosaline and that these emotions paled in comparison to those he dedicated towards Juliet. I think Shakespeare intends to present Romeo as initially, an immature lover and as a stereotype of the youth; Romeo does not know what love is. His use of rhyme, iambic pentameter and Petrarchan style also makes his words seem unnatural and forced. This is contrasted with the significant improvement in Romeo’s language once he meets Juliet and falls in love with her. He becomes much more fluid with his language, abandoning his use of rhyme which makes his words sound significantly less forced and overall more natural, suggesting that his love was more legitimate with Juliet and perhaps highlights the difference between reciprocated love with Juliet and the unreciprocated, depressing version of love that he felt for Rosaline. In act 2 scene 1, when Romeo first meets Juliet, rather than using overused imagery to describe love, he describes her using multiple images of light and compares her to an angel in a consistent way that does not appear to be lifted straight from a poetry book. He invests time and lines to his metaphor of her being the sun and executes the metaphor well. ‘It is the east, and Juliet is the sun./Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,/ Who is already sick and pale with grief’. In this line, we see Romeo describing Juliet’s beauty as so striking that she is like the sun despite the fact that it is the night, transforming the darkness into daylight. He also says ‘As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven/Would through the airy region stream so bright/That birds would sing and think it were not night’ claiming that her eyes were so bright that birds would think that the darkness was daylight. In this phrase, he uses images of light with the words ‘lamp’ and ‘heaven’, ‘airy’ and ‘bright’ as well as mentioning birds that sing in relation to Juliet’s beauty. This powerful imagery all in relation to each other contrasts with his language at the beginning of the play where the extent of his literary devices were overdramatic and overused oxymorons that were plunged into his speeches.

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Before meeting Juliet, Romeo expressed love, or at least his idea of love, as painful and something weighing him down. His use of the oxymorons ‘O brawling love’ and ‘O loving hate’ suggest that Romeo is certainly confused by love and cannot pinpoint his feelings and also expresses the misery he is feeling whilst being in love with Rosaline. Again, when talking about his love for Rosaline he uses more paradoxes such as ‘O heavy lightness . . . Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health.’ The image of a feather suggests flight, freedom and almost a heaven ...

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