Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"

Topics: Plays

The following example essay on “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet” is an analysis of a literary work. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is about true love and how it fights against all odds to overcome the problems in their lives.

Too many ironic co-incidents, two feuding families and two rebellious lovers; Romeo and Juliet. Juliet is shown as the ideal Renaissance women, the dutiful daughter of Capulet. She is obedient and respectful, however with changing circumstances came a complicated Juliet; objective and opinionated.

In the eyes of a Renaissance audience this was an outrage, though a modern audience would be more accepting of Juliet and praise her bravery. I think the development of Juliet from a young girl to a love struck women makes her an admirable character in the play, as she tries to break the rules that women of the Elizabethan era were meant to abide by.

Juliet at the beginning of the play is a calm and collected person.

Surprisingly Juliet uses a very formal register with her mother, making us think her relationship with Lady Capulet is limited. Juliet seems to have a more loving relationship with the Nurse and sees her as a mother figure. Juliet’s use of language in Act 1, Scene 3 is very short and formal, for example when her mother asks : “How stands your dispositions to be married?” Juliet replies “It is an honour I dream not of”

Juliet does not show emotion to what her mother is asking her, her reply is straight to the point.

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Even though Juliet’s replies are short, she is very assertive and answers calmly, in spite of the fact that her mother seems impatient and wants Juliet to answer “in brief”, as though she has not got time for any long winded replies. Juliet in this scene is shown as a young girl, who does not make decisions for herself.

Throughout the scene you realise that Juliet is a very level headed person whist being respectful as well and you can tell this by her use of words, as she does describe marriage as an “honour”, though saying she has not thought much about it, however this indicates that she might give it more thought as this is what her parents want. This was expected of all girls in the Renaissance era, they were given expectations to marry when they were told to marry, but most importantly to marry who they were asked so they could provide good bonds with richer and more influential families than their own, afterwards cementing that relationship by having children as soon as possible.

In the ball scene we see another facet to Juliet that was unknown to the audience until this point. Romeo has spotted Juliet and has fallen in love with her at first sight. Juliet’s flirting with Romeo is totally unexpected because of her behavior and attitude earlier in the play you don’t think that she would be confident or daring enough to be flirtatious with him. However, she is confident and after Romeo kisses her she says to him, ” You kiss by th’book”

This makes you think that she is experienced, although there has never been any mention of her ever being experienced earlier on. She changes a lot throughout this scene as she is no longer quiet and speaks to him flirtatiously as she plays with him through words, she shows emotion towards Romeo as when the Nurse call hers, she asks the Nurse to go ask his name and says ” If he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed”

She makes up her mind that this is the man for her having only just met Romeo, and despite having been told by the Nurse that he is an impossible choice, he is a Montague. Shakespeare here is also giving some hints to the audience, about what may appear later in the play; these techniques grab attention and keep the onlookers curious. In the Balcony scene, Juliet does not know that Romeo is there and confesses her love for him, and also says the fact that him being a Montague does not matter at all, as it is just a name, ” It is nor hand nor foot, nor arm nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man.”

The language used reveals that Juliet is reassuring herself that Romeo being a Montague does not matter. The effect of her saying this makes her more assured that what she is feeling and thinking is right. When Romeo finally answers her and declares himself to her she has a lot of mixed emotions. Juliet is wary that men can say they love you without meaning it, she tells him that she should have gone through the usual act of being more modest, however she cannot do it making her more honest and truthful than most women of the Elizabethan Era, as they were to act very shy before they confess their love.

She tells Romeo she wants a simple answer though after the Nurse calls her, Juliet changes her mind and says that she will send a messenger to Romeo to arrange the wedding. This shows she maybe was feeling confused and acting rash but overall, she’s very spontaneous and confident her decision is right. In Act 3, Scene 2, we see a very different persona of Juliet. Juliet is excited that Romeo is coming to her, and is anticipating his arrival. Juliet is ecstatic, as she knows that they will be able to consummate their marriage and become man and wife lawfully, ” Thou sober-suited matron all in black, and learn me how to lose a winning match , played for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.”

Juliet is awaiting night to fall, as it will bring her lover to her. She asks the night to teach her how to love him; this shows a very sensual side to Juliet. Her language used is a passionate as well, as she describes herself losing her virginity, then gaining Romeo forever. Thinking in the intense way that Juliet is was probably extremely rare in the Renaissance Era, showing she was a very advanced for the women in that age. This was probably shocking to the audience, drawing a lot of attention to the play.

The effect of the language on Juliet is exciting her, making her look forward to seeing Romeo. The change in her character is extraordinary, from her language to her tone, from her thinking to her actions has changed. Juliet’s happiness is shattered from devastating news from the Nurse; Tybalt has died at the hands of Romeo. Juliet’s reaction is what we would expect of her, she is saddened and shocked, she describes Romeo as, ” A damned saint, an honourable villain”

Juliet’s language shows how frustrated and confused she is feeling , her use of an oxymoron suggests she is not sure of what to think and is deeply troubled. However her belief in him is still intact as after thinking about it she says:

” But wherefore villain didst thou kill my cousin? That cousin would have killed my husband.”

Juliet questions herself and then answers the question herself, she knows that her husband is before any other member of her family, fulfilling her duty as a ideal Renaissance women, as they had been brought up to know that a husband meant everything for a women, without him, a women would be incomplete. Juliet loves Romeo, more than she loved Tybalt and her faith in Romeo is unbroken as she decides to stand by him. This shows the intensity of their relationship and that their relationship is very strong, and everything that has come in the way of them has not affected how they feel for one another. Juliet knows that Romeo is right, she has an amazing belief in him, considering all of the problems they have been faced with.

Juliet has become very seductive, through her use of language in Act 3, Scene 5, she says to Romeo: “Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near the day. It was the nightingale, and not the lark…Believe me love, it was the nightingale.” Juliet’s questions are rhetorical and short, while her language has been repeated, she is trying to be convincing. Her tone does have an effect on Romeo as he is ready to believe her, although he knows what she is saying is nonsense. You can tell that Juliet loves Romeo dearly as afterwards she is ready to be separated from him, so that he is safe. This shows that their love is unbreakable and their relationship as well.

Later, in the same scene, Lady Capulet arrives trying to console her daughter. Juliet replies to her mother as she talks about her hatred for Romeo, Juliet says: “Indeed I never shall be satisfied with Romeo, till I behold him – dead – is my poor heart so for a kinsmen vexed.”

Juliet’s language is so complicated and completely unlike her at the start of the play. She speaks with a double meaning, confusing the situation. She talks of her kinsmen being Romeo, however Lady Capulet thinks of the kinsmen being Tybalt. This is a great change from the truth telling, assertive girl we saw at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet. Juliet although hurt and depressed, is being sly and manipulative and lies to the parents she once respected above everyone else. For Juliet, her love for Romeo is subliminal, furthermore her language itself is more deeper and meaningful than before.

Lady Capulet, in a feeble attempt tries to uplift Juliets mood by telling her she has good news. ” Marry my child, early next Thursday morn, the gallant, young and noble gentleman , the county Paris, at St Peter’s church, shall happily make thee there a joyful bride”. Lady Capulet is extremely happy her daughter is to be married, although she seems even happier that Paris is the person Juliet is to be married to. You can tell Paris means a lot to Juliets mother as she describes him as “gallant, young, noble” . In her eyes, he has no faults, nor can he do anything wrong. This shows Lady Capulet has a much stronger relationship with Paris than her own blood, her own daughter.

Juliets reply is most unexpected for Lady Capulet and Capulet, as she says: “He shall not make me there a joyful bride. I wonder at this haste, that I must wed.” Juliet flatly refuses to marry Paris, and even says she would rather marry Romeo, the villain. Shakespeare has obviously used dramatic irony here as he wanted to grip the attention of the audience, as we know that Juliet has married Romeo.

Juliet seems to be saying what she is feeling and what she wants, as opposed to attempting to please her parents by saying what they would prefer to hear. A definite change has appeared in her, she is thinking of Romeo and herself, rather than the expectations of others. She is extremely honest for a women in the Renaissance era, as she they would do what they were told, she is different, more modern; Juliet speaks her mind. Capulet’s towering rage is shocking too, after hearing his daughters refusal to marry Paris he says: “How, how, how, how, chop-logic. What is this? ‘proud’, and ‘I thank you’, and ‘I thank you not’, and yet ‘not proud’… out you green-sickness carrion, out you baggage”

Capulet’s language is disgusting and considering he is talking to his daughter in this manner shows what a ruthless man he truly is. He mimics her pleas and calls her “baggage”, which is horrible and talks about her as she is merely a load that he has to carry and as she is refusing to marry, that weight will stay on him. He sees her as he sees his property and clothes, something that can be passed down. Capulets true side is nasty and inexcusable. A Renaissance audience would be accepting of this, as they would feel if Juliet has refused marriage from the man her parents have chosen for her, she would bring ‘shame’ onto them, though in contrast a modern audience would be sympathetic toward Juliet as they can understand the dilemma she is in.

The punctuation used tells a lot as well as he says ” you tallow-face!”, the exclamation mark emphasises his fury to the fullest. Capulets also repeats a lot of his words suggesting maybe his disbelief at what Juliet is saying, the news has totally shocked him, as he has always know the well-mannered Juliet and now, she is the antithesis of her former self. Juliet is fighting a losing battle with her parents and tries to make them see reason, ” Good father, I beseech you on my knees”.

As daughters obeyed their parents during the Elizabethan era, Juliet is in a difficult position. Any father seeing their daughter begging in front of them, would calm down, or at the very least listen however, Capulet has none of it. He is furious, Juliet is kneeling down in front of him in, though his anger does not alter in anyway. Capulet obviously shows no pity, no feelings for his daughter at all and even sees her as “unworthy” of Paris, which is an appalling thing to say. It shows he has no respect for his daughter at all and sees her as a second-class citizen. Capulet before this scene was show as a very considerate father, for example when he is talking to Paris he says: “yet a stranger in this world, she hath not seen a change of fourteen years. Let two more summers wither in their pride ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.”

He thinks she is too young to be married and also says that he would give his consent to marrying the man she chooses, however you can sense that he feels his daughter will choose the man he chooses, so he is putting an act on for Paris to show what a great father he is. Capulet also has a lot of expectations from Juliet and is certain she will obey them as he does say ” I think she will be ruled in all respects by me”, He still thinks Juliet is a young girl who will change her decision but is unknown to the fact she has a mind of her own and is no longer a girl but a young women. However, in Act 3, Scene 5 you see a change in Capulet, he is harsh and quite hard hearted. Lady Capulet and Capulet both do not support Juliet, which leaves her totally heart broken, her relationship with them had deteriorated rapidly.

Juliet shows another manipulative side again after she tells her mother she is going to the church to ask for forgiveness for what she had done, and for the way she had spoken to her father, however they do not know how cunning she is. Nevertheless you cannot blame Juliet for deceiving her parents as they had refused to listen to her, and misunderstood her. She feels lost and sees this as the only way out. At the new of Juliet’s death, Lady Capulet is distraught. She screams at Juliet to wake up or she will die. Both parents feel a sense of loss, as Juliet was their only child. After she ‘died’ they realise what she meant to them. Lady Capulet screams, ” O me, o me, my child, my only life. Revive, look up or I will die with thee. Help, help! Call help.”

Lady Capulet is obviously devastated of Juliets death, and her language backs up her shock, as she seems horrified and repeatedly calls or help, despite of the fact the Nurse has already pronounced Juliet dead. This is a very big change in her from Act 3, Scene 5 and she feels she will die with Juliet, if she does not wake up. Capulet is traumatised, he says, ” O, child! O, child! My soul and not my child. Dead art thou, alack my child is dead, and with my child my joys are buried.”

Capulet also like Lady Capulet in is utter amazement that this has happened. The day Juliet would have got married would have been the day Capulet would have been free from his duties and passed his daughter to Paris. The dreams he saw for Juliet, the expectations he had for her were now all gone. He truly realises, after the ‘death’ of Juliet what she meant to him.

Juliet’s relationship with the Nurse is a very loving relationship. Juliet’s sees a mother in the Nurse. The Nurse has fulfilled the role of a mother more than her own mother as she breast fed Juliet, brought her up, became a friend to her in need and sympathised with her in her time of need. In Act 1, Scene 3 Juliet’s mother tells the Nurse to go way but then calls her again, as if she cannot talk to her daughter without the Nurse there.

The Nurse seems a very loud character and when she remembers Juliet as a toddler, it gives you the idea that the Nurse was far more involved in Juliet’s childhood than her mother, as Lady Capulet seems left out while the Nurse is talking. From this you assume that Juliet’s spent a lot of time with the Nurse and they share some nice memories together. The Nurse also gets very happy when she finds out Juliet is getting married as she says, ” I might live to see thee married once, I have my wish”.

This shows that she does care a lot for Juliet and sees her as her own daughter. In Act 2, Scene 5 the Nurse goes against everyone for Juliet as she knows that Romeo is Juliet’s happiness; the Nurse is the one Juliet shares all her feelings with and the only person apart from Romeo that she can confide in. However in Act 3, Scene 5,this changes. When Capulet was arguing with Juliet the Nurse is the one who backed her up, despite her Mother standing there watching, she sided with Capulet.

Juliet is distraught, she wants advice, some reassurance that everything will be fine but the Nurse tells her to forget Romeo and marry Paris. Juliet is shocked as she asks the Nurse if she means it, and the Nurse says yes. Modern audiences may wonder why does Juliet not pretend to go through with the marriage? Even so Shakespeare’s audience knew that it was a mortal sin to attempt marriage when you were already married. If you succeeded to remarry, you would go to Hell which was what the Renaissance era believed as they were very religious during this period of time, and believed there was a heaven and hell.

After the Nurse leaves Juliet calls the Nurse an, “Ancient Damnation! O most wicked fiend!”. Here language is shocking as you can’t believe that Juliet is talking about the Nurse like this, calling her these foul names. This is the same Nurse that Juliet trusted beyond her parents throughout the play, the same Nurse she loved so much. From here on Juliet has changed a lot. Once the girl who used to depend of the Nurse for everything, the Nurse who helped her arrange her marriage to Romeo, is now the Nurse that Juliet feels has betrayed her.

Its from here when she makes her own decisions, and is no longer dependant on the Nurse, and feels alone in her problems. As Juliet tries to solve her problems, it shows she is a fighter, and has become independent finally. Juliet is now a women. If I had to present Juliet to a modern audience I would make her be very elegant. Being the daughter of the ‘Noble’ Capulet I would expect her to be very reserved. I would choose the Ball scene to perform to a modern audience as this is the scene where Romeo and Juliet first meet and where their love begins from. It is also where they both flirt with each other and realise they are from two feuding families. I would ask the actress performing Juliet to be very dignified and sophisticated as Romeo says,

“so shows a snowy dove trooping with crows.” It means she would have to stand out of the crowd like a white dove would between black crows. Her tone of voice and delivery of speech should be very formal and posh, as Juliet is from an aristocratic family. Her movement around the stage should be done with grace as Romeo watches her move. When Romeo goes up to her and talks to her, I would expect Romeo to hold her hand, as he talks about “holy shrines” and “unworthy hand .” There would also be the kissing scene and there would have to be a flirtatious atmosphere.

Juliet’s body language would be very relaxed and almost as if she is enjoying Romeo wooing her, and would be acting very coy. There would be a lot of eye contact between the two and a small proxemic to emphasise the fact how close they are and how much they have fallen in love with each other. You would probably be able to hear music in the background that people are dancing to, but show that Romeo and Juliet are lost in their own world. The lighting would be done to show Juliet as beautiful as Romeo thinks she is, as she he says, ” O she doth teach the torches to burn light.”

Romeo means that she is such a bright beauty that she even teaches the torches to burn light. The lights would be dim and more light would be focusing on Juliet to show how radiant she is. After they part I would show Juliet, forgetting that everyone else is there, lost in her own thoughts as she would be thinking deeply about Romeo and if he is married how she won’t be able to live without him. She would look quite sad, though optimistic as well as she is determined they will meet again.

Throughout the play Juliet has changed, at the start she was an na�ve girl, the dutiful daughter and even accepted her parents wishes for her to marry Paris. I think this shows she has a lot of respect for her parents and a very close relationship with the Nurse. She is a very determined girl and you learn she has a lot of strength throughout the play, because at the start of the play she is determined for her parents sake to like Paris, and later when she sees Romeo she is determined to be with him, although they come from families that hate each other. You learn that for Juliet, her love was everything for her and she would go to any length to escape her families plan to get her married. There was also a difference in how Juliet appeared to be and how she really was. For example in Act 4 Scene 2 , Juliet appears to be the innocent daughter of Capulet, who obeys his every wish. However, in reality, Juliet lies to her father and pretends to live up to his expectations in order to escape her fate.

I think the most interesting thing about Juliet was how she changed from a young girl into a independent, loyal, and capable woman. I think that her strength and determination was interesting too, as she realised that there were only a few people she could trust, she matured and knew she had to face her fate on her own. She also knew of the dangers of drinking the potion that Friar Lawrence had given Juliet to drink, she was sensible and thought of all the possibilities, but decided that this was her only option and drank the potion bravely.

I admire Juliet’s character for trying to break the mould of the way women were expected to behave, and break the expectations given to them. I admired that fact that she fought against her family because she knew she was right, and her love for Romeo was pure and true, which you get the feel of because of the way Shakespeare portrayed their first meeting by using words such as ‘holy’, ‘shrine’ and ‘sin’; this makes you feel their love is right and holy. Also Juliet’s decision to go to the tomb and kill herself shows the intensity of their love.

The presentation of Juliet to our understanding and enjoyment of the play is vital because the play itself is about Romeo and Juliet and how they were before they fell in love and after, the journey they take to be together. If Juliet did not change throughout the play we would see the same boring person, so when you see changing sides of Juliet it makes the play better to watch, so your enjoyment increases. The play also shows the effects of love on a person, and how they are willing to kill themselves to overcome the difficulties that people had given them, and be together in death.

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Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". (2018, Dec 27). Retrieved from

Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"
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