“Romeo and Juliet” is a love tragedy based in a patriarchal society where male dominance and rape is highly over rated. Romeo and Juliet engage in a forbidden relationship over the high tension and feud between their bickering families which Shakespeare exacerbates throughout the play. Despite the family feud, the pair decide to let their perpetual love conquer all.
Shakespeare immediately alerts the audience of the catastrophic storyline with his use of oxymorons which he includes in the prologue, where universal imagery is found;
“Two Star-crossed lovers”
This hints the young couple feeling trapped and desperate to be free to love one another. The stars in this quote signifies their love, the tension and the feud being darkness surrounding them, but as stars twinkle in the black night this proves their love is enduring in spite of the situation. Romeo and juliet love essay.
In Act 1, scene 1 straight away we are immersed in the fight scenes accompanied by the violent action which would have entertained the groundings.
“Push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall”
“I will cut off their heads, their maidenheads”
This refers to the serving men taking the Montague maid’s virginities. The quote also shows violence and power.
“Put up your swords, you know not what you do”
“Do you bite your thumb at us sir?”
Some other quotes showing how much the two families despise one another which meant even risking their own lives just to show how courageous one was. We also know that the two families liked winding each other up which would stir up more fights therefore entertainment for the audience.
When Romeo and Juliet meet, Shakespeare uses a strand of extended religious imagery and thoughts to emphasize the quality of their love. The speech, although split between them is in sonnet form, a form of love poetry common in Shakespeare’s time, this includes petrachan sounds that sonnets base on. He also shows love, sexual awareness and activity through use of language as the female parts in Shakespeare’s time would have been portrayed by only men. Shakespeare makes the language both romantic and sexual. He also juxtaposes the scene. Religious lexical sets-
Shakespeare uses the idea of hands as a symbol of love, again it is a Religious imagery as hands are used as a sign of prayer.
“Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which is mannerly devotion shows in this; for saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch, and palm to palm is holy palmer’s kiss”
“Have saints lips, and holy palmers too?”
“Ay pilgrims lips that they must use for prayer”
“O then dear saint, let lips do what hands do. They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn to despair”
“Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake”
In Act 2, scene 3 when Romeo stands outside of Juliet’s balcony he talks about Juliet in universal imagery, this verse has five iambs which underpin natural speech.
“Arise fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she”
“The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, as daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven would through the airy region stream so bright that birds would sing and think it were not night”
Romeo compares Juliet as if she was the sun, stars and heavens which again Shakespeare uses imagery to tell the audience how much Romeo is in love with her as the characters were played by men. Juliet then talks to herself in soft, heavenly imagery showing innocence and love. The balcony scene, Act 3, scene 2 is an echo of the universal imagery in the prologue.
Juliet’s eyes likened to the stars by Romeo:
“As glorious to this night, being o’er my head, as a winged messenger of heaven unto the white-upturned wond’ring eyes of mortals that fall back to gaze on him, 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 County Paris. Arranged marriages in Shakespeare’s time were a familiar feature in dynamic powerful families. Her parents think that it is because of her cousin, Tybalt’s death that she is upset. Arranged marriages were a view of society’s view of love.
“Marry, that ‘marry’ is the very theme
I came to talk of. Tell me, daughter, Juliet,
How stands your dispositions to be married?”
Juliet is distraught by the idea of the arranged marriage.
“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. These are news indeed!”
“O bid me leap than marry 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 loathes him as he murdered Tybalt. The audience know this is not true and that Juliet is trying to make her parents understand how much she despises the idea of marrying Paris.
“Evermore weeping for your cousin’s death? what, wilt thou wash him from his grave with teachers? and if thou couldst, thou couldst make him live; Therefore have done. Some grief shows much of love, but much of grief shows much of love”
On the night of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding, Romeo and Juliet spend the night together. In the morning they both speak of night/day/light imagery which reflects on the universal imagery to underpin their love now that they are married.
“It is not yet near day; it was the nightingale, and not the lark, that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear”
“Yond light is not daylight, I know it, I: It is some meteor that the sun exhaled to be
thee this night a torch-bearer, and light thee on thy way to Mantua.”
The imagery involves the use of emotionally charged words and phrases, which create vivid pictures in the minds of the readers or listeners. Shakespeare’s imagery often includes metaphors or similes to explore and add emphasis to a particular idea. Apart from using imagery to enrich the descriptive qualities of the language, Shakespeare also uses it to highlight and develop key points and themes.
“My bounty is as boundless as the sea”
“My love as deep”
Shakespeare has written “Romeo and Juliet” mainly in poetry but he does use some prose too. The kind of verse he uses is blank verse. This kind of verse is the form of verse that is closest in rhythm to natural speech. This makes it the ideal form of dialogue
which does not rhyme and is composed of lines, iambic pentameters. This is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. The five iambs in a row make a line of iambic pentameter.
“But soft, what light though yonder window breaks?”
Above is an example of a line containing an iambic pentameter.
“Her waggoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and they dream of love,
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on cur’sies straight”
Here we see Shakespeare using the iambic pentameter quite differently for Mercutio when describing his dream of Queen Mab. The syllables vary in each line but follows more closely the rhythm of speech. Shakespeare sometimes divides a line into two by a pause and many of the lines run on and, where necessary, his lines contain more than the ten syllables.
But where necessary for his effects, Shakespeare may shorten lines or make them longer in order to express his meaning, or use enjambment where one line flows into the next.
“O swear not but the moon, th’ inconstant moon,
That changes in her circled orb, lest that thy love prove likewise variable.”
“Give me that mattock and the wrecking iron.
Hold take this letter; early in the morning
See thou deliver it to my lord and father.
Give me the light. Upon my life I charge thee”
Mercutio, the friend of Romeo ‘s friend 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 groundings with his amusing 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!'”
“Signior Romeo, ‘bon jour’! there’s a French salutation to your French slop. You gave us the counterfeit fairly last night.”
Mercutio is a lively and witty character who’s sexual imagination begins to take over with his strong use of puns:
“Swits and spurs”
The scene starts to build up when Juliet’s nurse enters the scene, Mercutio starts being rude by playing his familiar language game, seizing every opportunity for sexual punning.
“A bawd, a bawd, a bawd! So ho!”
When Mercutio exits the scene he sings a song which sets him off on a hunting metaphor: chasing the hare. Here, ‘hare’, ‘hoar’, can mean or sound like ‘whore’-a prostitute. His song has the surface meaning that any old dish is good to eat when you’re hungry, but if it goes moudly, it’s not worth paying for. This song is sung about the nurse, saying how any woman will do if you’re desperate but if she doesn’t show any interest it’s not worth going through the trouble.
“An old hare hoar,
And an old hare hoar,
Is very good meant in Lent;
But a hare that is hoar
Is too much to a score,
When it hoars ere it be spent”
When Juliet is first aware that Romeo has killed Tybalt her love and anger blend in a series of poetic oxymorons which illustrate her emotional turmol.
“Dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb!”
“Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical!”
“Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom”
Juliet nemonstrates with the nurse as she begins to wish shame on Romeo:
“Blistered by thy tongue
For such a wish! he was not born to shame:
Upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit;
For ’tis a throne where honour may be crowned
Sole monarch of the unniversal earth.
O what a beast was I chide at him!”
At the beginning of Act 3, scene 2 we see Juliet alone awaiting her newly wedded husband with great eagerness. She likens her love and longing Romeo to the night.
“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 univeral imagery is used again to show us how She likens her love and longing Romeo to the night.
Although Tybalt is dead, Juliet still remains faithful 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.
“Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?
Ah, poor my lord, what a tongue shall smooth thy name,
When I, why three-hours wife, have mangled it?
But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?
That villain cousin would have killed my husband.
Back, foolish tears, back to your native spring,
Your tributary drops belong to woe,
Which you mistaking offer up to offer”
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.
“That may be, sir, when I may be a wife”
Juliet’s responses are full of double meaning that only the audience know what Juliet is talking about. After Paris leaves, Juliet seeks help from Friar Lawrence who gives her the potion to make it look like she’s dead.
“O bid me leap, rather than marry Paris,
From off the battlements of any tower,
Or walk in thievish ways, or bid me lurk,
Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears,
Or hide me nightly in a charnel-house,
O’ercovered quite with dead men’s rattling bones,
With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls;
Or bid me go onto a new-made grave”
Shakespeare adds dreadful imagery to Juliet’s speech, this is a distortion of natural imagery which Juliet would rather do than marry Paris. The dreadful imagery echoes the end result when 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.
“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”
Juliet uses violent imagery which underpins her desperation to be with Romeo and an un-natural death.
Act 5, scene 3 we are opened to the scene where Paris is grieving Juliet’s death. As Juliet has taken the potion everyone thinks she’s dead and was put in the vault with her ancestors. When Romeo enters in search of Juliet Paris stops Romeo and they both fight for Juliet’s love. Romeo murders Paris, when Romeo finally sees Juliet in her vault he takes the imagery a step further by using opposite imagery which he echoes with sorrow.
“A dateless engrossing Death!
Come, bitter conduct, come unsavoury guide!
The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark!
Here’s to my love! O true apothecary!
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die”
When Juliet wakes up from her sleep she finds Romeo dead and stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger. Juliet’s direct speech is shorter than Romeo’s as Juliet feels guilty and is in grief, both emotionally and physically.
“Poison I see hath been his timeless end.
O churl, I drunk all and left no friendly drop
To help me after? I will kiss thy lips”
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.
“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 an odd way. The Capulets and Montagues learn to re-unite because of the tragic death that the feud brought. Both County Paris and Romeo die because of Juliet and she kills herself because Romeo is dead.
” 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”