From the very first reference to fate, contained within the iambic pentameter at the beginning, to the tragic and untimely end. There is no doubt that Romeo and Juliet are ‘star-crossed lovers’. They were destined to meet, love and die. Throughout the majority of the play we feel constant pity on both Romeo and Juliet. They are both victims of their youth, inexperience, passion, their parents feud, and of course, fate. Romeo and Juliet both act of impulse, and have no control over the ‘greater power’ that seems to follow them with ‘unhappy fortune’.
Romeo and Juliet’s whole relationship appears to revolve around bad luck, and it is because of this, why we pity them so much. Romeo is a very complex and confusing character. While he is extremely confusing to the reader, it is obvious that Romeo is actually very confused himself, and we do pity him for this. We originally begin with a feeling of pity for Romeo. He is suffering with the pains of unrequited love from the unobtainable, Roseline. Romeo certainly makes sure that everyone is aware of his pains. He continues by saying ‘thou canst teach me to forget. We could sympathise with Romeo here. He is saying that nothing anyone could do would help him forget about Roseline.
I do not feel any pity for Romeo. His language instead suggests that he is simply feeling sorry for himself, and indulging in self-pity. Romeo’s previous words are shown to be very ironic, very early on. As soon as Romeo sees Juliet he immediately says ‘did my heart love till now? ‘ He is denying ever being in love, despite what he has only just said about Roseline. We also begin to look on Romeo as being extremely shallow.
He has not even spoken to Juliet, but he is already in love with her. On the other hand you could argue that Romeo’s language concerning Juliet, on page 67, sounds much more loving and ‘from the heart’ than when he described his feelings for Roseline at the beginning of the play. Romeo describes Juliet as a ‘rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear. ‘ Meaning that she stands out like a diamond, for example, upon the ear of a black person. In Shakespeare’s time this comment would have been seen as a perfectly acceptable thing to say, and probably as very flattering towards Juliet.
Today I believe that this would be seen as racist, and generally not a nice thing to say. Romeo also talks of Juliet as a ‘snowy dove trooping among crows. ‘ This again is very flattering, but these two compliments have both been said prior to Romeo actually even talking to Juliet. They are wholly based on her appearance so I still see Romeo as being very shallow. I have no feelings of pity for him at this stage, whatsoever. Our almost immediate response to Romeo as being shallow and self-piteous changes slightly when Capulet, the enemy of Romeos family, talks of him as being ‘a virtuous and well governed youth.
Capulet should be the person to talk ill of Romeo, rather than praising him and allowing him to stay at his house. When Romeo finally does talk to Juliet at the party our view towards him changes further. The language Romeo uses when he talks to Juliet seems very genuine and loving. Romeo calls Juliet a ‘good pilgrim’ and a ‘dear saint’. Both of these would have been very nice names to address a woman by in Shakespeare’s day. During the famous balcony scene, starting on page 83, Romeo gets the chance to talk to Juliet for the second time. Romeo appears to have a very ‘dreamy’ approach to his and Juliet’s relationship.
Juliet is being very practical and mature, while Romeo is not. He seems to be very absent-minded, which could suggest that he truly is in love with Juliet. Juliet asks Romeo how he managed to climb the high walls surrounding he house. He replies: ‘with loves light wings’. This is very loving, but also very impractical. As we near the end of the scene I feel that Romeo no longer needs our pity. It is obvious from his language that Romeo is deeply in love with Juliet. The reason that he no longer needs our pity though, is because Juliet is evidently just as in love with Romeo, as he is with her.
We can tell that Romeo and Juliet are both in love with each other because they are constantly picking up on each other’s beautiful imagery. When they first met they both ‘clicked’ straight away, and they continue to show the true strength of their relationship. On page 93 Juliet begins by saying ‘O for a falconer’s voice, to lure this tassel-gentle back again. ‘ She is referring to Romeo as a highly prized male falcon. Romeo later replies with ‘My nyas? ‘ He is implying that he is a young hawk that cannot yet fly. They continue to play with this idea of Romeo being a bird of some kind.
The majority of Romeo and Juliet’s conversation contains this affectionate language, which proves that Romeo and Juliet were meant for each other. They truly are deeply in together. Although I do not think this is the case, one way of looking at this scene would be to pity Romeo further. We could pity Romeo because he is, quite obviously, a vulnerable, ‘romantic fool’ and it could appear that Juliet is rushing him into marriage. Juliet says numerous different things that could suggest this: ‘I would have thee gone, And yet no farther than a wanton’s bird, Who lets it hop a little from her hand . .
And with a silken thread plucks it back again. ‘ Juliet is basically saying that she would like Romeo as a bird on a piece of string, which she can pull back when she pleases. Although, as I have said, I do not think that this is the case. As the scene ends Romeo announces that he is going to his ‘ghostly father’s cell’ to tell him of Juliet. He is actually referring to Friar Lawrence. We pity him because he clearly feels closer to Friar Lawrence than his own father. During the course of the novel so far Romeo has appeared to be very impractical concerned his and Juliet’s relation.
Although, on page 117, we see that Romeo has matured slightly. Romeo asks for ‘cords made like a tackled stair’ so that he can be with Juliet for their wedding night. During Act 3 Scene 1 Mercutio and Tybalt battle. As the scene ends our pity for Romeo has considerably increased. As Mercutio and Tybalt fight, Romeo continually attempts to stop them. Eventually he accidentally distracts Mercutio and Tybalt kills him. We pity Romeo because he desperately tries to stop the fight but actually cause the death of his closest friend. Mercutio shouts at Romeo ‘Why the devil came you between us? Romeo simply replies ‘I thought all for the best. ‘ At this point Shakespeare’s audience would have expected Romeo to follow and kill Tybalt. Duels were acceptable, although today it would be very different. When Romeo does kill Tybalt I respect him.
I do not respect him for the reason that he has just killed someone though. Before they battle Romeo says: ‘Either thou or I, or both, must go with him. ‘ This shows us that he is a brave and loyal friend, who is willing to die for Mercutio. I believe that Romeo deserves our respect for this. Although, he also says ‘fire-eyed fury be my conduct now. Which also tells us that he knows what he is about to do, and he has gone after Tybalt with the intent to kill him. Even though he would have been expected to defend Mercutio’s honour and avenge his death, it does not make it right to kill someone. Romeo does show that he has significantly matured in this scene though. When Tybalt first challenges Romeo he simply tries to make peace with him, but as the scene ends we see that it is just another case of Romeo’s bad luck. Romeo is completely correct when he proclaims that he is ‘fortune’s fool. ‘
Later, on page 159, we find Romeo at Friar Lawrence’s cell, after he has been banished from Verona. We can definitely see that Romeo loves Juliet because he constantly repeats that he might as well be dead than without her. He no longer talks in oxymoron and seems to be very genuine indeed. Romeo says that it is ‘torture and not mercy. ‘ Romeo asks Friar Lawrence if he has any ‘poison mixed’ or a ‘sharp-ground knife’. I really do pity Romeo at this point because I do believe that he is deeply in love with Juliet and genuinely feels that he cannot live without her.
As Act 5 begins we worry and pity Romeo for what will happen next. Romeo has been told that Juliet is dead. He is very upset and says ‘I defy you, stars’. He is basically saying that he will no longer be a victim of fate, but as he says this he still is ‘fortunes fool’. We pity Romeo because we know that Juliet is not dead and again, it is a case of Romeo’s miss-fortune. Romeo shows that he has dramatically grown up when we see him buying poison from the apothecary. He is being very mature, and almost fatherly to the chemist. Romeo is very calm and we can really see that he is very upset.
When Romeo arrives at the tomb containing Juliet he appears to be very single-minded and determined about what he is going to do. Romeo has previously appeared to be very weak, both mentally and physically, but this is a huge contrast. Again his language is very caring and even maternal towards Balthasar. Although Romeo is also firm so that he is not disturbed. We feel great pity on Romeo once again, this time he is disturbed by Paris. Romeo tries to be calm. He calls Paris a ‘good gentle youth’, but Paris challenges Romeo, and once again Romeo does not want to fight but eventually kills Paris and we pity him once again.
Romeo enters the tomb in which Juliet lies and we really do pity him. We pity Romeo perhaps the most we have during the whole play. If only Juliet would wake up now the whole tragedy could be avoided, but again Romeo is the victim of unfortunate happening, and Juliet does not wake. Some of Romeo’s last words are: ‘I set up my everlasting rest; And shake the yolk of inauspicious stars. ‘ He is again saying that he will rid himself of fate, but again Romeo is merely the victim of fate, itself. As Romeo takes the poison Friar Lawrence arrives just seconds too late to stop him.
Juliet appears as such an innocent girl throughout the play. She has led a very sheltered life and is ‘yet a stranger to the world. ‘ She fell in love with Romeo at first sight and Juliet earns both our pity, and respect, during the play. At first we have mixed feelings for Juliet. Paris asks Capulet if he can marry Juliet. Paris is a rich, handsome and most noble, eligible bachelor, and he his asking for Juliet’s hand. Capulet also shows himself to be a very nice and decent father, with a good approach to parenting. We are shown this from the way he handles Paris’ proposal.
Many fathers in Shakespeare’s time would have been expected to find a suitable husband for their daughter. I believe that Paris is much more than suitable. Many girls in this time would have also married at the age of 13, but Capulet agrees that Juliet can marry when ‘two more summers wither in their pride. ‘ I personally feel that Juliet does not need our pity at this stage. She obviously has a very loving father. Soon on though, I do feel that Juliet deserves our pity. Her parents do evidently not have a particularly good relationship.
When Paris asks Capulet for Juliet, on page 39, Capulet says ‘ too soon marred are those so early made. ‘ He is referring to his young wife and suggests that he is not very happy with her. Also, during the large sword fight near the beginning, Capulet asks his wife for his ‘long sword. ‘ Lady Capulet replies with ‘A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword? ‘ She is saying that he is too old for a sword. These are just two of the many examples that imply that Capulet and his wife do not have a good relationship, and we feel sorry for Juliet when we hear this.
Juliet and her mother, Lady Capulet, share a very distant relationship, and we pity Juliet for this reason. On page 51 Lady Capulet asks Juliet if she would marry Paris. Lady Capulet has never met or spoken to Paris and is asking her own daughter to marry a man that she doesn’t even know herself. Also, earlier on page 45, Lady Capulet cannot remember how old Juliet is, and needs the nurse to insure that ‘come Lammas Eve at night’ Juliet will be fourteen. We pity Juliet. She has no friends her own age and she only has the nurse to confide in. The nurse is much older and can be a bad influence.
Romeo has Benvolio and Mercutio, who he can talk to. As Act 2 Scene 2 finishes we are left feeling less pity for Juliet because she now has Romeo ‘pouring his heart’ out to her, and saying all of these beautiful things. Juliet is also the mentally stronger side of the partnership, as we can see in this scene. As I have already said, Juliet shows herself as being very mature and practical. ‘O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? ‘ She does not know that Romeo is listening. She is basically asking why Romeo is a Montague, her family’s enemy. Juliet is also very practical in putting forward her feelings and thoughts. Although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden. ‘ I respect Juliet for this mature approach she is taking. Although as this scene ends we feel that Juliet has been a bit devious. Her family would like her to marry Paris, we know this from when her mother asked her ‘ how stands your dispositions to be married? ‘ She is arranging a marriage with Romeo without them knowing. Despite this, Juliet has always seemed such an innocent and obedient girl. We continue with mixed feelings for Juliet at this stage.
Later, upon page 153, Juliet learns that Romeo has killed her cousin, Tybalt, and that he has also been banished. Juliet’s language is full of oxymoron as she expresses her feelings, and how angry she is with Romeo. ‘Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical. . . A damned saint, an honour able villain . . . O that deceit should dwell in such a gorgeous place! ‘ We begin to question Juliet’s love for Romeo at this point. Soon the nurse begins to agree with Juliet and criticise Romeo, but Juliet leaps to his defence, hugely contradicting herself. The nurse says ‘ Shame come to Romeo. To which Juliet angrily replies ‘Blistered by thy tongue For such a wish. ‘ Juliet even says that she would rather have her whole family killed than Romeo being banished. ‘Thy father, or thy mother, nay or both. ‘ Juliet begins to realise what Romeo’s banishment means to her. She really shows how strong her feelings are for Romeo. We pity Juliet because she is only thirteen and is already going through all of this. Evidence of her love for Romeo is shown when she says that she is willing to die for him. ‘And death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead. ‘ Originally we have thought of Capulet as being a good man and a very decent father.
On page 169 Capulet agrees to marry Juliet off to Paris. We feel pity for Juliet because her father promised that he would marry her off in two years time, and for this marriage to be brought forward so suddenly I would imagine Juliet to be very scared. She is still yet to meet Paris. Soon after this we see another change in Capulet’s character. He learns of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship, and quite literally goes mad at her. Capulet is raging with anger. He calls Juliet all manner of names including: a ‘mistress minion’, a’fettle’, ‘young baggage’ and a ‘disobedient witch. ‘
Capulet is fuming, and wants to hit Juliet. ‘My fingers itch. ‘ We begin to pity Juliet. On the other hand Capulet is under an immense amount of pressure at this point. Romeo has just killed Capulet’s nephew, Tybalt, and now Capulet has learnt that his own daughter has married Romeo, behind his back. Capulet was only trying to cheer Juliet up and she has basically thrown it all back at him. At this point I greatly pity her, but I do partially blame her also. During Act 4 Scene 1, Juliet is talking to Friar Lawrence. It would be far more easier for Juliet to go ahead with her marriage to Paris, but she does not.
She repeats that she would rather die than be without Romeo. We respect her for her loyalty and devotion to Romeo. On page 211 Juliet is faced with the terrible choice that she has been dealt. She must either take the drink provided b Friar Lawrence, or marry Paris. She contemplates the many consequences of drinking the potion, all of which could come. We greatly pity Juliet here. She is not even fourteen yet and is in this dreadful position. ‘O if I wake . . . and madly play with my forefathers’ joints and . . . as with a club, dash out my desperate brains? ‘ Juliet takes a massive risk in drinking the ‘distilling liquor. She shows admiral courage and bravery when doing this, and we respect her for that. Overall, our feelings for Juliet are much more simpler than our feelings for Romeo. Considering this, Romeo does have a much more active role in the play as a whole. Romeo has been in love twice, once with Roseline, and again with Juliet. He has murdered both Tybalt, and Paris, against his own will. Romeo has been banished from Verona, and also bought illegal poison, and used it to commit suicide. Juliet has had a far less substantial part in the play, but I do believe that they both deserve our pity, and respect, throughout the novel.