“Romeo and Juliet” is a love tragedy based on different kinds of loves. Romeo and Juliet become married in a forbidden relationship over the high tension brawl between their rival families which Shakespeare clearly shows in the play. Despite the family brawls, the pair decides to let their “perfect” love defeat all. Peoples ideas have changed in the space of 400 years, for example back then some loves featured in this play would produce different reactions to the audience, than today.
Shakespeare opens the play with the chorus who speaks a sonnet, where love imagery is found;
“Two Star-crossed lovers”
This hints the couple feeling stuck and desperate to be free to love one another.
The stars in this quote means their love is bound to happen, the forbidden bit is in the darkness, as stars are covered by darkness meaning the two lovers are as well, but as stars shine in the dark night this proves their love is everlasting in spite of the hard situation.
In Act 1, scene 1 straight away we are involved in the fight scenes followed by the violent action which would have entertained the Shakespeare’s audience 400 years ago.
In the first scene fighting is going on and rude comments are being passed out between the two families.
Some other quotes showing how much the two families hate one another, which could lead even to risking their own lives just to show how brave they were. We also know that the two families liked winding each other up which would lead up more fights therefore some more entertainment for the Shakespeare audience.
The first love we see in Romeo and Juliet is the love not between the two star crossed lovers but Romeo and Rosaline. The type of love for these two is Elizabethan courtly love, this is when some one uses flowery words and actions with out really meaning them, Benvolio describes this supposed love in Act 1, scene 1.
Courtly love is unrequited love between two people. In this case Rosaline is apparently too good or unattainable and Romeo is inadequate for her, and he is using what we now call false love language to show her his fake or empty love for her.
“Alas that love so gentle in his view should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!”
Benvolio in truth says that this love is fake and very different to the love we see later on in the play with Juliet.
When Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time in the Capulet party Romeos language changes from Elizabethan courtly love to real almost perfect love. Shakespeare shows this to us because he uses religious words and thoughts to highlight the quality of their love. The sonnet split between them is a form of love poetry used quite a lot in Shakespeare’s time. The actors also shows love by language and hand movement as the part played by Juliet was played by a man 400 years ago.
“if I profane with my unworthyest hand this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this.”
Already we can see a big difference in language from the language he used with Rosaline you can tell he is speaking form the heart and Shakespeare made sure of that.
Shakespeare I think also uses some religious actions and words in his play as hand movements are used in prayer as well.
“O then dear saint, let lips do what hands do. They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn to despair”
In Act 2, scene 3 when Romeo stands outside of Juliet’s balcony he talks about Juliet in true love imagery.
“Arise fair sun, and kill the envious moon”
“The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars”
Romeo compares Juliet as if she was the sun, stars and heaven, which again Shakespeare uses imagery to tell the audience how much Romeo is in love with her as the characters were played by men, unfortunately. Juliet then talks to herself in soft, peaceful imagery showing innocence and love for Romeo.
“When he bestrides the lazy puffing clouds, and sails upon the bosom of the air”
Juliet’s parents have arranged a marriage for Juliet and Paris. Arranged marriages in Shakespeare’s time were common in powerful families. Her parents think that it is because of her cousin, Tybalt’s death caused by Romeo that she is upset but they are wrong and the audience know the truth, this is an example of dramatic irony.
“Marry, that ‘marry’ is the very theme
I came to talk of. Tell me, daughter, Juliet”
Juliet is worried and troubled by the idea of the arranged marriage as she is married to Romeo secretly, this scene only would shock the audience of Shakespeare’s time as marrying some one and then marrying a second man was thought to be outrageous, more like unthinkable.
“Ere he that he should be husband comes to woo.
I pray to tell my lord and father, madam,
I will not marry yet, and when I do I swear
It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,
Rather than Paris.”
Juliet tells Lady Capulet, her mother how much she doesn’t want to marry Paris and uses Romeo as an example to show her how much she hates him as he murdered Tybalt. The audience knows this is not true so this is an example of dramatic irony. Juliet is trying to make her parents understand how much she despises the idea of marrying Paris but her plan does not work, as she wants it to.
“It is not yet near day; it was the nightingale”
“It is some meteor that the sun exhaled”
Here Shakespeare shows us how they don’t what to leave each other just yet, those extra more seconds with each other mean a lot and even dough its morning they are not that worried about getting caught in bed together. As it is their first morning together being husband and wife.
Mercutio, friend of Romeo is a playful character full of sexual innuendos. His lines are full of puns, especially when he can add a sexual meaning. Mercutio takes love as a joke and is the ‘clown’ who entertains the audience and his friends with his funny lines.
“The pox of such antic, lisping, affecting phantasimes, these new turners of accent! ‘By Jesus, a very good blade! a very tall man! a very good whore!”
When Juliet is first aware that Romeo has killed Tybalt her love and anger blend in a series of romantic words which illustrate her emotional state.
“Dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb!”
“Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical!”
“Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom”
Juliet talks alone with the nurse and she begins to question Romeo being with her, this shocks Juliet as she believed in the nurse all along but now she’s changed her mind and advises her to go for Paris. The nurse is showing her love for Juliet, as she doesn’t want her to get caught with Romeo. The nurse is not telling her this so she doesn’t get in trouble, but she’s telling her to help her. And the nurse feels it is the right decision to go with Paris.
At the beginning of Act 3, scene 2 we see Juliet alone waiting for her husband and she is very impatient to see him. She compares her love for the night with her love for Romeo.
“Cut him up into little stars”
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
The use of star and sky imagery is used again to show us how her love and missing of her husband Romeo to the night once again.
Another love in Shakespeare’s play is the friendly love between Romeo and Mercutio. Tybalt kills Mercutio, and Romeo because of this love risks his life to get Tybalt, he finds him and kills him to avenge Mercutios death. But before Mercutio died he blamed Romeo for getting him stabbed, so you could say this love is one sided, with only Romeo loving Mercutio.
Although Tybalt is dead, Juliet still remains in love to her husband by standing by his side and defending him even though he murdered her cousin. This shows how strong her love is for Romeo even dough he has killed one of her close family members.
“Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?”
“But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?”
“That villain cousin would have killed my husband.”
In Act 4, scene 3 we see Juliet and Paris in Friar Lawrence’s cell talking about the wedding. Paris doesn’t know about Juliet’s affair with Romeo. Juliet goes along with the wedding uneasy for what she should do to get out of it.
“That may be, sir, when I may be a wife”
Juliet’s responses are full of answers, which refer to Romeo; only the audience knows what Juliet is talking about. After Paris leaves, Juliet looks for help from Friar Lawrence who gives her the potion to make it look like she’s dead and escape marriage to Paris. This is an example of unrequited love because Paris loves Juliet but she doesn’t love him back in the same way.
“O’ercovered quite with dead men’s rattling bones,
With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls”
Shakespeare adds scary imagery to Juliet’s speech. Juliet would rather take this potion and escape with Romeo than marry Paris this again shows how much they love each other. The dreadful imagery ends and the result is she takes the potion.
Act 4, scene 3 when Juliet is saying her goodbyes before she takes the potion we see Juliet frightened as she thinks about what will happen if this plan was to go wrong and all these strange thoughts going trough her head about being stuck there and Romeo not being there when she wakes up.
“As in a vault, an ancient receptacle,
Where for this many hundred years the bones
Of all my buried ancestors are packed,
Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth”
She commits herself and lets go of all these thoughts and just takes the potion in the hope of her awaking to find her husband there to greet her.
Act 5, scene 3 the scene where Paris is crying for Juliet’s death. As Juliet has taken the potion everyone thinks she’s dead and was put in the vault with her ancestors as the plan said. When Romeo enters in search of Juliet Paris stops Romeo and they both fight for Juliet’s love. Romeo murders Paris this shows how much Paris loved Juliet but she didn’t love him back this is unrequited love something Romeo felt at the start with Rosaline. Paris’s last request was to get Romeo to lay him by her side this shows how much Paris did love her. When Romeo finally sees Juliet in her vault he takes the imagery to a new level by using dreadful and disturbing imagery, which he cries out in pain. He then takes some poison and dies for Juliet thinking she was dead all because Friar Lawrence’s message didn’t get to him in time.
When Juliet wakes up from her sleep she finds Romeo dead and the shock of seeing all this go wrong makes her just think of killing herself. Juliet’s direct speech is shorter than Romeo’s as Juliet feels guilty and is in pain to see al this tragedy. As Friar Lawrence tells Juliet the watch is coming she stabs herself before they ask her why she’s still alive and what’s been going on, Juliet does this to save herself and to be with her husband Romeo, after death.
“Yeah, noise? Then I’ll be brief. O happy dagger,
This is thy sheath; there rust and let me die.”
Love triumphs in the end because the two families are united. So although Romeo and Juliet have to die, love wins in the end-in a strange way. The Capulet and Montague’s learn to re-unite because of the tragic death that the fight brought. Both County Paris and Romeo die because of Juliet and she kills herself because Romeo is dead, they erect a statue for them and mourn.
“Go hence to have more talk of these sad things,
Some shall be pardoned, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo”