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    Romeo and Juliet Critical Essay

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    Romeo and Juliet is a tragic love play written by William Shakespeare. Although it is about love, it is also much about hatred. In this play there are many different types of love, from infatuation to real love. At the beginning of the play Romeo says,’ With cupid’s arrow, she hath Pian’s wit’. Here is speaking about Rosaline and from his words we know he is exaggerating. When he speaks about her it sounds very insincere, artificial, and not at all original. This is an example of infatuation in the play. However, when he meets Juliet, it is love at first sight. He says, ‘Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!’ This shows how amazed and passionate he is about her. You find him struggling for words, ” – “, when he is talking about/to Juliet., which shows his love is real, original, new, and not something he supposes is love.

    Love for the family is important too in this play. When Lord Capulet asks, ‘Is she not proud? Doth she does not give us thanks’, you know he wants the best for his daughter and is very concerned about her. Love for friends is another type of love that plays a big part in this play, as well as love for family honour and name; which leads to the hate between the two feuding families to which the lovers belong. This hate is indirect and impersonal, just a hate to anyone to belongs to the opposing family. ‘From ancient grudge break to new mutiny’, this shows that this feud is ancient and ongoing. However the hate that Tybalt has for Romeo is personal.

    I will be looking more at how Shakespeare explores the themes of love and hate through the words of his characters, Romeo and Juliet.

    In Act 1, Scene 1 we see Romeo talking about love, or what he thinks is love for the first time. This time he is talking about his “love” for Rosaline. This is an example of unrequited love. ‘Be rul’d by me, forget to think of her’ is what Benvolio advises Romeo to do about Rosaline because he is never going to get her. When Romeo talks about Rosaline he uses oxymoron. An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear in union such as ‘deafening silence’ and ‘bittersweet’. Example of oxymoron’s Romeo uses to describe Rosaline are, ‘feather of lead’, ‘cold fire’, ‘sick health’, and ‘bright smoke’. Here he is trying to show how much he loves her and how beautiful she is but ends up sounding conventional, fake and insincere. It only makes him sound like he is over exaggerating.

    In act 1, scene 5, from line 43 onwards, we see Romeo talking about his love for Juliet. From lines 43-52 he uses celestial imagery to describe how beautiful she is. ‘Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear’ here he means she is too beautiful to just die and be buried in the earth and yet too beautiful to be used. He says she is ‘as a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear-‘. This imagery gives the impression that she stands out beautifully, like a shiny pearl against dark skin. This tells us how strongly he feels about her, he is obviously stunned by her. He sounds genuine when he speaks about her, and uses natural imagery to express what he really feels. From lines 92-109, Romeo and Juliet talk to each other for the first time. Romeo describes Juliet as a ‘shrine’ meaning she is holy.

    ‘If I profane with my unworthiest hand, this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this. He is afraid that if he touches her he might spoil her as she is so precious and fair. As Juliet replies, one can tell she is intelligent, witty, and bright, but nevertheless returns Romeo’s love. A quotation to show this is when Romeo says he is ready to kiss her to ‘smooth that rough touch’, she replies,’ A palm to palm is a holy palmers kiss.’ Meaning all he has to do is touch her and it will be blessed. Shakespeare puts their conversation into the form of a sonnet. This is the first conversation they have together so the fact that they do a sonnet together emphasizes how perfect they are for each other. It is like a language symbolizing their unity.

    In Act 2, Scene 2 Romeo and Juliet meet again very early on Monday morning/late Sunday night on Juliet’s balcony. They swear their love for each other again and make plans to get married the next day. ‘Juliet is the sun’ is how Romeo describes Juliet when he is outside under her balcony. It shows that he thinks very highly of her and cannot live without her as we would not be able to live without the sun. He uses lots of imagery to describe her in this scene such as the sun, moon, stars, clouds, angels and birds. All of these words are either heavenly or to do with nature. This fits into the way he was describing her in the last scene. He described her as a ‘shrine’ which is holy and is now referring to her as heaven & angel, things that are also holy. He talks about love repeatedly when referring to her. Juliet is romantic and passionate in this scene. She adores him and thinks he is perfect.

    It is obvious she is completely in love even though she is trying to be the sensible one. ‘So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d. Retain that dear perfection which he owes.’ She is very straight forward about her feeling for him and does not feel the need to play hard to get as she should because she loves him too much to play games. ‘In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond’ meaning she is too in love to pretend that to be modest. As they speak, ideas and metaphors flow between them. They address each other as ‘love’ and ‘dear love’ to show their affection for each other. They are both being rather na�ve about their situation; they both cast aside their families without giving it as much thought as they should have. However Juliet is the more practical of the two, and shows her worry because if Romeo is caught on the Capulet grounds he will be killed. Juliet is aware of danger whereas Romeo is still lost in romantic metaphors.

    Romeo says a painful goodbye to Juliet for the last time in Act 5, scene 3, from lines 74-120. He believes that Juliet is dead and has come to the tomb to kill himself and lay next to the one he loves for eternity. When he says,’ Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, he is wondering why she is still so pink and flushed and still beautiful if she is dead. This is called dramatic irony because we know that she is not actually dead. He asks, ‘Why art thou yet so fair’ again he is amazed at how beautiful fair and alive she looks. He describes her in similar ways in different scenes. ‘Death that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath, hath no power yet upon thy beauty’ Also showing his amazement at how exquisite she looks. One way that he shows his love for her is by dying to protect her. He wants to protect her from Death, who he believes will take possession of her. ‘That unsubstantial Death is amorous’ This creates a rather sick image. So in order to stop any of this happening, Romeo feels he must kill himself too. Also because he simply cannot live without her, he feels he must join her.

    As mentioned in the introduction, this play is just as much about hate as it is about love. The play begins with a violent scene the two houses. Tybalt is the one who begins the dispute, from the way he is behaving you can tell he is out for a fight and unprepared to reason. He tries to provoke Benvolio into fighting by insulting and threatening him, ‘Turn thee Benvolio, look upon your death.’ Benvolio reacts t this by saying, ‘I do but keep the peace.’ This shows that he is reasonable, thoughtful and a person who is bale to negotiate and keep peace. Tybalt claims he hates the word peace as much as he hates the Montagues, ‘as I hate hell, all Montague’s, and thee.’ Then he begins to fight Benvolio. It tells us that Tybalt is very illogical, unreasonable, harsh, violent and unprepared to see things from a different light. When Capulet hears the noise wants his sword in order to join the fight and his wife exclaims that a crutch would be more suitable because he is growing old. I think he feels he has to join the fight because old Montague has and he does not want to look weak.

    In Act 1, Scene 5, from lines 53-91, an argument takes place between Capulet and Tybalt. Although Romeo did not know, he had been spotted at the Capulet’s masked ball party and Tybalt was ready to kill him. ‘Strike him dead, I hold it not a sin’ this is because he thinks Romeo is showing disrespect and thinks their stupid. However Capulet disagrees with him, as he realises Romeo is not doing any harm. ‘Verona brags of him’, here Capulet means that Romeo has a good reputation and is a good guy. They are both quick to get angry. Capulet makes it clear that no harm shall come to Romeo in his house. Tybalt persists that Romeo is a ‘villain’. Capulet gets angry, and demands to know ‘Am I the master here, or you?’ he calls Tybalt, ‘saucy boy’ and ‘princox’ which means fool, idiot. He also calls him ‘goodman boy’ which means little boy, that is very insulting to someone like Tybalt. Tybalt is very immature and won’t let it go.

    The fight in Act 3, Scene 1 comes about when Mercutio says starts acting aggressively towards Tybalt. He makes fun of Tybalt for using the word ‘consortest’. He laughs and swears at him, ‘Zounds, consort!’ Benvolio does no react to any this. Mercutio makes the first threat, ‘one word with one of us? Couple it with something; make it a word and a blow’. Benvolio, always the peacemaker suggests they either stop it or go to a private place but Mercutio is too proud and says, ‘I will not budge for no man’s pleasure’. When Romeo appears, Tybalt is ready to fight him but Romeo refuses to fight and behaves in a calm manner. He says to him ‘but love thee better than thou canst device’.

    Tybalt just thinks he is a coward because he does not know that they are now related. Mercutio is ashamed and humiliated by Romeo’s behaviour because he is bringing shame to the family. So instead he starts a fight with Tybalt, when he is asked what he wants he replies, ‘Goodking of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives’ Again, he is making fun of Tybalt. They begin to fight and Romeo tried to break it up. In the process, Mercutio is stabbed under Romeo’s arm. As Mercutio is about to die he manages to make a joke about it, ‘you shall find me a grave man’. However he curses both the families a several times before he dies, ‘a plague a’ both houses’. Romeo is distraught, devastated, and angry. He blames himself for this happening so he goes to find Tybalt to kill him. He says to Tybalt, ‘either thou or I or both must go with him’ meaning someone else has to die now, either him or Tybalt. They fight and Tybalt is killed.

    In act 3, Scene 5, Juliet refuses to marry Paris, and Capulet gets extremely angry with her. At first, he is kind as he believes she is still upset about Tybalt. She is crying so much he describes as her tears as the ‘sea’. Juliet claims she is ‘thankful even for the hate that is meant love’. This is because she may not like it but she knows he did it for love therefore she is thankful. I think he gets so angry because he only wants the best for her and worked hard to get her the best man in the city and she just refuses to marry him without a good reason. ‘Doth she not give us thanks?’ He is finding it hard to come to terms with it. He gets out of control and calls her a number of things a ‘minion’, ‘a green sickness carrion’, and ‘baggage’. Juliet tries to make it better but he is not finished, he says, ‘get thee to church on Thursday. Or never look me in the face. He also says that she is a curse. ‘We have a curse in having her’. He also makes it clear that if she does not go through with it, he will disown her. He lets her know if she does not do it, he will cast her out and she can ‘hang, beg, starve, die in the streets.

    After reading the play, I have concluded that the play is just as much to do with hate as it is about love. The title does not indicate that the play is about either love or hate, so it is pretty suitable because you don’t get the wrong idea. It is also suitable because the play revolves around the two lovers. The two families are brought together at the end, by the death of the young lovers, and make peace; it is excellent that they have resolved everything. However it should not have taken such tragic events, and so many deaths to make them realise that the dispute was irrelevant and foolish. This play is about a number of tragic events caused by the hate in everyone around but at the same time love does not cease to exist.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Romeo and Juliet Critical Essay. (2017, Nov 03). Retrieved from

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