How does the scene in which Romeo learns of his banishment contribute to our understanding of him in the rest of the play? Paper
Romeo and Juliet is a romantic tragedy about two young lovers from rival families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Set in the sixteenth century, the two lovers have to conceal their love. However, two people who know about their passion filled romance are Friar Lawrence and Nurse. Despite the fact that they are enemies they are married within one day of meeting each other. However, not everything goes according to plan as seen through the duration of the play. Romeo learns of his banishment in Act three scene three, it introduces us to a very intense portrait of Romeo. This scene is helpful in understanding Romeo throughout the play, containing a vast range of moods, including immaturity and rationality.
Act three scene three introduces us to a conversation between Romeo and Friar Lawrence, discussing Romeo’s banishment from Verona. This occurred because of the murder of Juliet’s cousin Tybalt. The greeting from Romeo to the Friar immediately implies that he is in a sour mood: “Father what news? What is the Princes doom? What sorrow craves acquaintance at my hand that I yet know not.” Romeo is portrayed as a moody teenage boy who is over dramatic and childish throughout this scene. In Romeo’s eyes banishment is worse punishment than death itself: “Be merciful, say death: / for exile hath more terror in his look.” Romeo believes this because he knows he could see Juliet if he were not banished, but if he were dead then he would never be able to see her again for definite. In this way he is selfish because he would rather end his agony and leave Juliet and his family alone and grieving for him instead of seeing in the good of the situation and seeing his love occasionally. He is so consumed by his own pain that he does not consider how his circumstances may be affecting Juliet, for example she may have wanted to run away with him.
He is very disturbed and lacks in reason. The world in which Romeo lives in is nothing without Verona, and Verona is meaningless to him without Juliet. This is shown where he says: “Banish’d is banish’d from the world,” and “There is no world without Verona walls.” He also mentions this a few lines later: “Heaven is here/ where Juliet lives.” He is unable to forget about Juliet because she has become a piece of him. Romeo is also unable to comprehend how beautiful she is, using words like “white wonder,” “immortal blessing” and “pure” to describe her. Not being able forget about her may be hard for people to understand because only a few days before he was in love with Rosalind, who appears to be only a distant memory now. This scene echoes the beginning of the play when Romeo was pining for Rosalind. This suggests that he is fickle and is more in love with the feeling of love than love itself, for imminently proclaims love to Juliet, when he was supposed to be sulking for Rosalind.
The advice that Friar Lawrence gives to Romeo is common sense, but Romeo is so deluded that he cannot see sense or that the Friar is right. The Friar thinks that he should behave like a man and be pleased that Juliet is alive and that he has been banished and not executed. He should also be happy because Tybalt, his enemy is dead. Romeo is stubborn in this scene and will not listen to what Friar Lawrence has to say: “O then I see, that madmen have no / ears?” Romeo then replies with “How should they when wise men have no / eyes?” which enhances the fact that he is acting childishly. Romeo thinks that the Friar should not speak to him because he does not know how Romeo feels. Romeo believes that those that are punishing him are mocking him: “Thou cut’st my head off with a golden axe, / And smilest upon the stroke that murders me.” In Romeo’s eyes, beings of a lower status, such as flies, have a better relationship with Juliet than he may have, due to his banishment, even though he is the only one who appreciates her beauty: “more courtship lives/ in, in carrion flies, than Romeo.” He feels that flies are free-beings and he is not; he is locked away from the one person that he yearns for and these flies may roam free to see her as they so please. He feels imprisoned. Romeo feels that it is a privilege to be near Juliet and these “flies” can pass her without a care, this is ironic.
Romeo wants to die: “and fall upon the ground as I do now / taking the measure of an unmade grave.” At this point he is irrational and desperate. When someone knocks on the door, he refuses to hide, wanting to be found. However, it is nurse, who has come in search of Romeo. Romeo has cried so much that he is disillusioned: “Doth she not think of me an old murtherer, / now I have stain’d our childhood of our joy.” He is obviously very distraught as he thinks his own wife would think so badly of him, when all she has done is praise him in the past. He seems modest, feeling unworthy of her love is actions – he would take them back if he could to save his love. Nurse tells Romeo that she sits and mourns like him: “Even so lies she/ blubbering and weeping and blubbering.” Once again someone accuses Romeo of being melodramatic. Nurse puts Romeo’s dignity at stake: “Stand up, stand up and you be a man.” However, even this is not enough to make Romeo stand up. It is only when Nurse says for Juliet’s sake to stand up that he actually does. It is apparent that he will do just about anything for Juliet or to be with Juliet. However, Romeo is still desperate enough to try and end his life by offering to stab himself with a knife that Nurse grabs from him.
Once again Romeo’s mood changes, at the end of this scene. His spirits are lifted when Nurse gives him Juliet’s ring as an object to focus on.
We first meet Romeo in act one scene one, where his parents appear to be very concerned about him. This is because they cannot find out what is wrong with him. Benvolio says that he will find out and being a good friend to Romeo he does. His greeting automatically gives the impression that there is something wrong with him: “Is the day so young?” This indicates that Romeo is in a bad shape and that he is surprised that it is still morning. Romeo tells Benvolio that he is: “Out of her favour, where I am in love.” The problem in Act one scene one is that Romeo is distraught and confused about love. He feels that love is cruel as well as kind because when he told Rosaline how he felt about her, she would not love him back: “Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health! / Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!” He uses speech throughout this scene, which is full of opposites making it confusing to understand him. However, Benvolio understands him and sympathises with him.
From the beginning of the play the distinct impression that is given is that Romeo will fall in love with anybody because he loves to be loved. This is ironic because within days of saying he is in love with Rosaline, he claims he is in love with Juliet and marries her within a day. This makes him very spontaneous. For a moment during this scene it seems like Romeo is tired of talking about love. He enquires to Benvolio about what they will eat before he exclaims: “O me! What fray was here?” It becomes obvious at this point that neither food nor fighting can turn Romeo’s thoughts away from love. He thinks that no matter how much people talk about hate and fighting, love is more interesting. He does not give Benvolio a chance to speak, but continues talking about himself and his obsession with love. He uses a condescending tone to Benvolio, which makes him appear immature. Benvolio, being understanding, gives Romeo a piece of advice, which is to forget about Rosaline. However, at this stage of the play it seems that Romeo is so engrossed in his love for Rosaline that he will not love anyone else. He seems very self centred and spontaneous in this first scene, unable to talk about anything except his love for Rosaline.
Act one scene four is set at the Capulet’s feast. The evening is supposed to be a night of fun and entertainment such as dancing. However, Romeo is too forlorn about his current situation with Rosaline. He is not in the mood for the feast and therefore asks one of the torchbearers to give him a torch: “Give me a torch: I am not for this ambling; / Being but heavy, I will bear this light.” At these festivities torchbearers did not take part in the dancing and flirting that the guests were usually involved in. He is heavily depressed and does not wish to have a good time. Mercutio tries to talk Romeo into a better mood, but Romeo constantly resists. His mood is enhanced here by the contrast between his pessimistic comments and Mercutio’s entertainer qualities: “You are a lover; borrow Cupid’s wings, / and soar with them above the common bound.” There are a lot of comments flying back and forth between Mercutio and Romeo which symbolises the confusion of love, just as Romeo and Benvolio had been doing during the first scene. Mercutio points out that love and sadness do not go together and that love can give him the power to make an extraordinary leap. Romeo seems like a moody teenage boy in this scene, as he refuses to listen to the truth and refuses to have a good time and try to forget about Rosaline. Once again he sees that love is not a tender thing, but rough and “pricks like a thorn.”
During act 3 scene 1 Romeo is unwilling to fight Tybalt and the Capulets, but Mercutio provokes Tybalt which results in his death. Act 3 scene 3 is the act of conversing between Friar Lawrence and Romeo about his banishment due to the fight of act 3 scene 1. Both scenes help to contribute to our understanding of Romeo’s personality throughout the remainder of the play. Romeo feels that without Verona, there is no world left for him because his whole identity, life and love revolves around Verona.
This may be true to some extent but Romeo is over-exaggerating the situation due to his opinion that “There is no world without Verona walls, / But purgatory, torture, hell itself.” It is his world that he has left behind – there is nothing else for him anywhere else in the world. Romeo believes that the majority of people in power are opposing him and are looking for excuses to punish him: “Thou cut’st my head off with a golden axe, / and smilest upon the stroke that murders me.” He thinks that everyone is against him, even Friar Lawerence, who is one of his friends and his confidant. He says that the Friar reminding him of his banishment means that he is: “a friend profess’d / To mangle me.”
However, it could be said that if Romeo is feeling as much woe and frustration as he claims then he would not need to be reminded of his banishment because it would be plaguing his mind anyway. He asks Friar Lawerence to talk no more of banishment and he is obstinate and unwilling to listen to what he has to say. Friar Lawerence wants to help Romeo: “I’ll give thee armour to keep off that word, / Adversity’s sweet milk, philosophy.” But Romeo says that he can hang up his philosophy if it cannot make him a Juliet – he is blinded by his infatuation and so the Friar says: “O then I see that madmen have no ears.” Meaning that Romeo must be mad if he refuses to listen to him, but Romeo cheekily replies: “How should they when that wise men have no eyes?” Meaning that how can you ask me to listen to you?
If you’re so clever, why can’t you see what this is doing to me? This is throwing back Friar Lawrence’s philosophical ‘equation’ and by imitating what he says he is being disrespectful. Romeo acts as if he is superior towards the Friar, even though the Friar is definitely older and wiser; he asks how can he comment on the situation – something that only Romeo feels and is all Romeo’s pressure? Romeo is being immature and melodramatic – he does not think that the Friar may be able to relate, which may be true to some extent, but he dismisses any help that the Friar may give him. When the Nurse knocks on Friar Lawrence’s door, Romeo is not bothered to move himself from her eyes when the Friar tells him to get out of sight: “Not I, unless the breath of heart-sick groans / Mist-like enfold me from the search of eyes.”
Romeo only feels his “heart-sick groans” and he does not care about anything else, most probably because he believes that the only other punishment he could get is death, something he thinks is more merciful than exile, so he is not worried, and may act as he pleases. The Friar tells the Nurse that Romeo has become drunk due to his tears; his tears have made him lose his sense and he has become disillusioned because of his depression. However, as the Nurse comes to speak of Juliet, and how her state is much the same, Romeo seems to forget his sadness and is concerned with Juliet. Romeo thinks that by killing Tybalt, he has done Juliet as much pain as if he had killed her instead and so he assumes that their love is “cancell’d” because he does not feel worthy of her love now he has killed her cousin.
This suggests modesty and he feels that he has ruined their love due to his actions towards her kinsman. He obviously regrets his actions and would take them back if he could to save his love. He sees the error of his ways and has faced the consequences – a contradiction to his earlier immaturity. However, Romeo is over-excited and over-exaggerates about the pain he is feeling for Juliet; he asks the Friar in which part of the body he exists so he can stab himself there and end his existence. This may sound a brave action on first hearing it, but on reflection it seems that Romeo is willing to kill again now he has experienced his first murder, by asking where he exists so he can cease his existence, he is making a show of his love and pain and expressing his immaturity further