We have been studying ‘Romeo and Juliet’; it is play by Shakespeare using earlier sources of the poem ‘Romeus and Juliet’ by Arthur Brooke. It is an unusual tragedy due to there being two protagonists. Aristotle describes the protagonist of tragedy as being noble but having a flaw that causes his downfall. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the flaw is not in the lovers but in their families.
The chorus provides a prologue and introduces the emotions of anger, grief, hatred, love, fear and despair an example ‘from ancient grudge breaks to new mutiny’; this quotes points towards acts of hatred. The chorus acts as a pointer to what will happen in the play.
The first emotion that is displayed in the beginning of the play is hatred. Hatred is overwhelming as it is the basis of all the problems later caused in the play. The most defined hatred is that of the Montague’s and Capulet’s, it is not known why these two noble, aristocratic families despise each other, but it has become a habit.Order now
Act 1 scene 1 is an example of the Montague’s and Capulet’s hatred for one another. The servants of both the Montague’s family and the Capulet’s family are also involved in this bitter hatred. The hate of the two families disturbs the whole city, and disturbs the quite of Verona, “Three civil brawls bred of an airy word … have thrice disturb the quite of our streets.” The prince shows his hate for this civil brawl, and continues to say “If ever you disturb our streets again your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace”. Another example of hatred is Tybalt’s for Romeo and his intrusion at the Capulet’s ball, “To strike him dead I hold it not a sin”. This acts as a pointer for the audience by the languages he uses.
It is only in Act 3 scene 1 that Romeo’s hatred for Tybalt and the Capulet’s family had disappeared “I do protest I never injured thee, but love thee better than thou canst devise”. The audience are aware that hatred is overwhelming in the play and can only come to an end after the tragic loss of many lives including Romeo and Juliet. The viewers feel despondent that hatred is allowed to go on for so long and to cause such loss.
The emotion of love is introduced in Act 1 scene 1, when Romeo is in love with Rosaline. Love is expressed in many ways such as in the form of oxymoron to express the contradictions of being in love, the feelings pair because his affections for Rosaline are not returned. Act 1 scene 1 lines169. Romeo “why them, O brawling love, O loving hate”, these oxymorons along with Romeo’s behaviour convinces the audience it is genuine love.
It is only when Romeo takes the advice of Benvolio, to compare Rosaline with other beauties, that young love is clearly portrayed, in the way he forgets Rosaline and falls in love with Juliet. The audience at this point are quite sceptical of Romeo and his love for Juliet because he was deeply in love with Rosaline and now she’s insignificant towards Romeo. In Act 1 scene 5, the meeting of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo describes Juliet in comparison with light “Romeo: O she doth teach the torches to burn bright”. Romeo uses the personification to describe how she teaches the torches. Shakespeare’s language is full of figures of speech which add to the richness of the text. Metaphors are used in Romeo’s description of Juliet.
“As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear”, it shows how Juliet is the jewel and is conspicuous against the dark complexion of an Ethiop.
The metaphor “so shows a snowy dove troping with crows”, this figure of speech is effective through the use of contrast, Juliet is expressed as a dove among crows, this means she is so beautiful that she makes other women unattractive.
The audience are convinced Romeo has indeed been struck by cupid’s arrow, thus the emotion of young love is shown .This is illustrated by their actions Juliet says “my only love sprung from my only hate! Too early see unknown and known too late.”, when these two lovers learn they are prepared to pursue it despite the difficulties.
To show their unity in love, Romeo and Juliet speak in sonnet form, both characters share rhymes, to give the audience a sense of their togetherness. This sonnet is rich in metaphors that express the lover’s feelings for each other.
Act 1 scene 5 lines 104-105
“Juliet: saints do not move through grant for prayers’ sake.”
“Romeo: Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.”
In Act 2 scene 2 love between Romeo and Juliet is shown in it’s fullest in the balcony scene, the language used is highly poetic. “Romeo: but soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun”. In summary Romeo is saying she is as beautiful as the sunrise.
At this brief meeting between these two lovers, love is express through words that are spoken poetically and through actions such as kissing, making the audience both thrilled and excited. Their bondless love is further confirmed through their secret marriage.
Another emotion shown in the play is grief; grief is developed in Act 3 scene 3 onwards. Grief is first displayed with Romeo, who is mourning the death of his friend Mercuitio, this is made known through the words he says, “My very friend, hath got his mortal hurt in his behalf; my reputation stained with Tybalts’ slander.”
Lady Capulet is grief stricken when she sees Tybalt’s dead body; her grief is displayed through her words saying “Tybalt my cousin! O my brother’s child! O prince! O husband! O the blood is spill’d of my dear kinsmen! O cousin!”
It becomes clear through the text that she is emotional and grief stricken by the frequent usage of exclamation marks.
Also Romeo and Juliet have to live with the fact that they will not be seeing each other at all, this brings about grief among both Romeo and Juliet “Juliet: there is no end, no limit measure, bound in that word’s death; no words can woe sound”. When Romeo hears of his banishment he says “there is no world without Verona walls but purgatory, torture, hell itself.”
All examples are highly dramatic moments, which give momentum to the action. The audience recognise clearly the emotions expressed, they are pointers towards the final tragedy.
Grief overwhelms the Capulet’s household, when they think that the sleeping Juliet is dead, it brings about great grief and anguish among Capulet saying “death is my heir, my daughter he hath wedded. I will die, and leave him all; life, living all is deaths”. Capulet in this text expresses himself as deeply traumatised.
In conclusion grief is therefore powerfully portrayed through speech, action and has an enormous impact on the audience.
An emotion studied was fear. Fear is shown during Act 4 scene 3 as Juliet is considering the possibilities of taking the drug, given by Friar Lawrence.
She imagines how the terrors of the place will drive her insane, “so early waking- what with loathsome smells, and shrieks like mandrakes”. It is at this point of the play the audience feel sympathy for her whilst suspense.
It is in Act 3 scene 5 that we notice an example of the emotion anger. Juliet informs her father, she refuses to marry Paris, and this leads to a great fury shown by Capulet, “hang thee, young baggage, and disobedient wretch!” the audience once more feel sympathy for Juliet in her predicament. Sympathy is also shown for Capulet because he doesn’t know what the audience knows. This technique is called dramatic irony and adds to the tension, suspense and drama of the play.
The final emotion expressed is powerful during the death scene, the dramatic climax of the play. Despair is felt greatly within Romeo due to the sight of Juliet’s sleeping body and despair overwhelms him to the point he takes his own life. The same despair is felt when Juliet awakens and finds Romeo’s dead body. She exclaims “O happy dagger! This is thy sheath there rest and let me die” and commits suicide.
The audience are aghast at this loss which could have been avoided. The families reconcile through their grief, but gaining no pity from the audience. Therefore the audience realise the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ occur within ordinary families, thus sending a messages that hate and anger will only lead to grief and despair.
In conclusion the most exhilarating and thrilling moments of the play, would have to be the climax, where Romeo finds Juliet’s body, it not only brought suspense and excitement it showed the strong and everlasting love they have for one another. The language also excited me with the use of metaphors “a jewel in an Ethiop’s ear”, personifications, sonnets and oxymorons to summarise characters feelings in the play “Romeo and Juliet” is also occurring within modern society such as interracial relationships.