How does Shakespeare use language to tell us about people’s personalities Essay
How do different characters talk, what can we tell about them from the way they talk, how does Romeo’s language change as he changes, how does it change according to his mood?The language plays an important role in “Romeo and Juliet” as it defines and characterizes the characters in the play. It is used to display which social class they are in, signals the change in the characters and reflects their mood or feelings. The languages special importance lies in giving color to the love between Romeo and Juliet.The importance and social status of a character can easily be identified by the way they speak. The more important characters, which all belong to the higher classes all speak in verse form and use much imagery. This verse is sometimes even in sonnet form. The imagery used gives color to the language and there are certain imageries, which reappear more often in the play, so called iterative imageries, one of these is light and darkness. This image gives a strong contrast used to describe Romeo’s and Juliet’s love for one another. The less important characters, which most of the time are the lower class, such as servants or musicians, do not have such richness in their word choice to bring color to the language. They speak in prose and often speak very bawdily. The language was used as a tool to separate the more important and less important characters.The bawdy language is mainly used by Mercutio and the Nurse but they mention physical love in different contexts. Mercutio is made sympathetic to the audience because he is joking a lot, teases other characters and mocks them with bawdy remarks. He does this for fun and amuses the audience by for example singing “An old hare hoar, and an old hare hoar” (Act 2, Scene 4) about the Nurse. The Nurse however is a very simple character and she sees love as a simply practical thing to make children. “Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit” (Act 1, Scene 3) is what she says about Juliet becoming pregnant. Through the bawdy comments the audience is entertained and at the same time the characters are characterized.The language is also used to express feelings of the characters. Juliet makes use of the language to express her real feelings but at the same time make it seem different for her mother, hiding a double meaning in her words. This is the only time she hides her feelings using the language. Other than that she expresses her feelings openly. Revealing the character’s feelings is a important part the language has to play.Especially Romeo changes his language throughout the play, very much according to his mood. At the beginning of the play he is lost in his unrequited love for Rosaline. He uses much rather dark imagery to express his grief. He speaks of love being “a madness most discreet” (Act 1, Scene 1) and connects it with illness and death. However this changes as soon as he sees Juliet the first time. To describe her beauty he uses the imagery of light and darkness as in “Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear”(Act 2, Scene 5). As he is banished and his mood becomes worse again he compares his banishment with hell ad something much worse than death saying:”For exile hath more terror in his look, much more than death” (Act 3, Scene 3). Romeo varies his language and especially his use of imagery very much with his mood.The imagery is however mainly used to describe the love between Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet both use imagery to describe their love for each other. They use images of light and darkness very often but also other ones such as a flower. “This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath, may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.” (Act 2, Scene 2) describes how their love with time can grow from a small bud to a big, beautiful flower. However they fear the association of their love with lightning and the moon because they pass so fast. The imagery is an essential part of the play and it brings color to the play.The language was Shakespeare’s most important tool. Through the language he tells the audience about each character’s personality and position. Their mood also reflects on the way they talk and to express their feelings the character’s use imagery of every kind representing every sense. Shakespeare’s language is so rich that it can substitute for the special effects which can be seen in today’s movies and theatre.