Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s ultimate romantic tragedy, tells the story of, arguably, the world’s most famous literacy young lovers. Star-crossed by fate, their romantic, impulsive young love is doomed from the start, yet we follow innocent, enthusiastic pursuit with eager anticipation.
In witnessing this tragic path of ‘true love’, the characters of Romeo and Juliet are beautifully developed by their own words and, of course, by the words and actions of those around them. In contrasting and comparing their individual characters, we can vividly see how alike they are, and ultimately how tragically they differ.
Romeo is the only son of Lord and Lady Montague an aristocratic family living in Verona. He is eighteen years old and desperately in love with a young lady called Rosaline who wants nothing to do with him, as she wants to remain a virgin. Romeo wanders around aimlessly, with a heavy sadness, as his love spurned during his wandering he comes across a street fight between his own household the Montague’s and another the Capulet’s. These two families are “daggers drawn” Romeo meets his friend Benvolio who is sick and tired of Romeo talking about Rosaline. Romeo tells Benvolio how much in love he is with Rosaline “A right good mark-man, and she’s fair in love.”Order now
“She hath, and in the sparing, makes huge waste: for beauty Stair’d with her severity, cuts beauty off from all prosterity. She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair, to merit bliss by making me despair: she hath forsworn to love, and in the vow, do I live dead, that live to tell it now.” Benvolio tells Romeo he should forget Rosaline, as how can he know he is in love with her, as he has never met anyone else to compare her with “Be rul’d by me, forget to think of her.
Juliet is almost fourteen years old, and is the only surviving member of the Capulet household. Juliet’s father has asked for her hand in marriage to Paris a rich nobleman related to the Prince of Verona. She is going to the Capulet feast on Sunday evening to meet Paris and to see what she thinks about him, as Juliet is not sure whether she wants to marry or not. She is very close to her nurse and tells everything to her rather than her mother. The nurse reveals more about Juliet’s character than anyone because she confides in her. Juliet is very dramatic, and yet not allowed the freedom that Romeo has.
On the evening of the Capulet party Romeo is seconded to read the guest list, and discovers that one of the guests is his beloved Rosaline. Benvolio suggests that Romeo should gatecrash the party to enable him to compare Rosaline with other ladies.
“compare her face with some that I shall show. And I shall make thee think thy swan a crow” During the evening he meets with Juliet and both felt instant physical attraction. For Romeo it was not, as before, in love with the idea of love.
“O she doth teach the torches to burn bright it seems she hangs upon the cheek of night as a rich jewel in an ethiop’s ear-beauty to rich for use, for earth to dear” Romeo flirted with Juliet, but was dismayed when he was asked to leave, because he was a member of the rival household. Both Romeo and Juliet were upset when they discovered they were from rival households.
“O dear account. My life is my foe’s debt”
“My only love sprung from my only hate too early seen unknown, and known to late prodigious birth of love is to me that I must love a loathed enemy.”
Romeo is so passionate about Juliet that he decides to seek her out, and he jumps over the orchard wall onto the Capulet land, amid jeering from his friends, who still think he is in love with Rosaline, and tells to go home to bed.
Romeo speaks to himself, saying why should she continue to be chaste, and it is only fools who are virgins. He is then left wondering whether Juliet knows of his presence. His speech is dramatic and is full of passion “the brightness of her cheek would shame those stars as daylight doth a lamp. Her eyes in heaven would through the airy region so bright that birds would sing and think it were not night” He is telling her how beautiful she is, and her eyes are sparkling like stars.
Juliet reply’s with “Oh that I were a glove upon that hand that I might touch that cheek” Juliet wishes that she could touch the cheek of the speaker.
When Juliet speaks the famous quotations “Romeo, Romeo wherefore are thou Romeo?”
She is not actually looking for him, but wishing he was not a Montague, nor her a Capulet.
Juliet asks who he is, and Romeo can no longer hold back and revels his presence. “I know not how to tell them who I am: My name dear saint, is hateful to myself” Juliet asks Romeo how he has managed to get in and fears for his safety, but Romeo insists on staying.
Juliet then becomes very embarrassed, and she knows he has heard her speaking of her love, but she decides, as she has already committed herself she must ask Romeo, if he does love her.
Romeo swears by the moon, that he loves her, but she asks him not to swear by the moon as it changes nightly.
Juliet begins to worry, saying “it is too rash, too unadvis’d, too sudden”
Romeo asks “O wilt though leave me unsatisfied”
Juliet is a good Catholic girl, and although very much in love, she is more practical. She knows that if they met their love would be so strong they would consummate their love, so she wants to make plans for their marriage.
Romeo makes a promise that he will send someone to see her tomorrow who will perform the marriage.
“If that but of love be honourable, thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow”
Romeo was far more impulsive than Juliet. He wanted everything to happen immediately. Juliet was very sensible for her age, although rather dramatic.
Romeo meets Juliet’s nurse, and tells the nurse, Juliet must go to Friar Laurence’s cell to confession in the afternoon and they will be married. The nurse must also put a rope ladder down from Juliet’s balcony so Romeo can consummate their marriage that evening.
Romeo’s impulsiveness comes across, whilst he is waiting in Friar Laurence’s cell for Juliet. He intimates that there is no need for all the hassle with the marriage, it is enough for him to say “Juliet is mine”
“Do thou but close our hands with holy words then love-devouring death do what he dare it is enough I may but cell her mine.”
Friar Lawrence thinks Romeo is too impetuous. Anything that arrive quickly, will die quickly, just like their love. It is better to take things slowly and then it will be everlasting.
“These violent daylights have violent end, and in their triumph die like fire and powder. Which as they kiss they consume. The sweetest honey is loathsome in his own deliciousness, and in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately, long love doth so, too swift arrives, as tardy as too slow.” Juliet arrives and they are married. Romeo is cook-a-hoop, and meets his friends he is full of bravado and wit “good morrow to you both, what counterfeit did I give you?”
Mercutio: “The slip sir, the slip, can you conceive?”
When the nurse enters, Romeo makes fun of the nurse
Romeo: “Here’s a goodly gear. A said, a said.”
Mercutio: “Two, two a shirt and a smock.”
Romeo would never have spoken about the nurse like that, and certainly would not like Juliet to hear him. He is acting flippant, and big headed.
Another quarrel breaks out in the street, Mercutio teases Benvolio, then Tybalt picks a quarrel with Mercutio over Romeo. When Romeo arrives Tybalt calls him a villain, but Romeo backs down, knowing that he is now related to Tybalt, and tries to diffuse the situation. Mercutio is appalled at the sudden cowardice of Romeo, and draws his sword at Tybalt. Romeo tries to separate them, but unfortunately Mercutio is fatally wounded by Tybalt’s sword trust under the arm of Romeo.
Romeo is distraught, and when Tybalt returns Romeo fights with him and kills him. Benvolio tells the truth about the incident to the prince, but the prince insists he is lying, he exiles Romeo telling him he will be put to death if found in Verona.
Juliet is demented waiting for Romeo to come and consummate their marriage. Her nurse comes to tell her what has happened, and she is very upset both over the death of Tybalt and the banishment of Romeo, both Romeo and Juliet see banishment as death “take his last farewell.”
Juliet plans to die a virgin, but the nurse assures her Romeo will come back.
Romeo is hiding in the Friar Lawrence’s cell and is beside himself with grief. However the nurse arrives and takes him to his beloved Juliet where they consummate their marriage.
Juliet tries to pretend it is not yet morning so she can keep Romeo a little bit longer and he intimates he will stay and risk getting killed, but she realises it is not practical.
Romeo: ” It was the lark, the herald morn; No nightingale; look love what envious streaks do lace the severing clouds in yonder east. Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops, I must be gone and live, or stay and die.”
Lady Capulet is arranging Juliet’s marriage to Paris, but Juliet is adamant that she cannot marry Paris. She turns to her nurse, but she sees no harm in Juliet marrying Paris as no-one knows she is married to Romeo. The nurse starts to call Romeo and praise Paris.
Juliet: “Speakest though from the heart?”
Nurse: “And from soul too”
Juliet decides to leave and go and consult the only person who knows she cannot marry Paris, the Friar.
Juliet arrives at the Friar’s cell, but already Paris is trying to arrange their marriage. Juliet makes her excuses and says that she wants to make a confession so Paris leaves.
Juliet then breaks down in tears and despair and says she would rather be dead than marry Paris. She asks the Friar with all the years of his experience is there anything he can do to help. The Friar tells her he can make a potion that she may drink and it will render her unconscious, appearing to be dead, no pulse, colour in her face or heartbeat. The potion will last for 24 hours. Juliet is to take the potion in the evening, and when her nurse comes to wake her for her wedding to Paris, she will appear dead, her corpse will be removed to the family vault, where the Friar will arrange for Romeo to be when she wakes, and take her away to Mantua.
Juliet arrives home to tell her family she has decided to marry Paris the next day. The Capulet’s are very joyful. Juliet asks her nurse to leave her alone. She is very afraid all kind of doubts are running through her mind. She feels alone “I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins that almost freezes up the heart of life”
She knows she must act alone. Juliet begins to have doubts about the Friar, whether the potion will kill, but then she believes he is a holy man.
“What if it be a poison which the Friar subly hath minister’d to have me dead”
She worries if she wakes before Romeo comes she will be in a vault with no air to breathe and die strangled. Or if she were to live she would be amongst hundreds of bones of her deceased ancestors, foul smells and shrieking spirits “I shall not be stifled in the vault?”
“Or if I live, is it not very like”
“The horrible conceit of death and night, together with the terror of the place”
Juliet is absolutely terrified but knows that there is no way out than to drink the potion. If it is the only way she can be with her Romeo. Very bravely, if not dramatically she drinks the potion and falls to her bed.
Juliet’s nurse tries to awake Juliet to dress her for her wedding, and eventually the nurse realises that Juliet is dead. The friar organises a funeral instead of a wedding.
Romeo enquires from Balthsar if Juliet is well. Balthsar explains that Juliet is dead and he has seen Juliet in the family vault. Romeo reacted in a very dignified way although he looked pale and wild, he persistently asked were there any letters from the Friar.
“Rush though art deciev’d, leave me, and do the things I bid thee to do. Hast thou no letters from the Friar.”
Romeo is very impetuous and looks for an apothecary to sell him poison so he can die with his beloved Juliet.
Romeo goes to the tomb, where Paris is, bringing flowers and to mourn. Paris hides when he hears someone coming it is Romeo who proceeds to open the tomb Paris thinks he is going to do something dreadful with bodies and challenges Romeo.
A fight ensues and Paris is fatally wounded Romeo lays Paris in the tomb and discovers Juliet’s body.
“For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes this vault a feasting presence full of eight.” He also discovers the body of Tybalt Romeo takes the potion.
“Thy drugs are quick. Thus with thee die”
The Friar arrives and realises what has happened Juliet awakes and asks for Rome who is lying dead in her arms. The Friar wants her to leave quickly but she refuses.
Juliet takes the poison cup from Romeo’s hand, but the cup is empty. Juliet kisses his lips hoping there is some poison left on them.
She is disturbed by the watch, so quickly and decisively, she stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger, falls and dies.
“Poison I see hath been timeless end; O churl, drunk all, and left no friendly drop to help me after. I will kiss thy lips. Haply some poison yet doth hang on the.”
When everyone arrives they discover the deaths of Romeo, Juliet who was already supposed to be dead, and Paris. It remains for Friar Lawrence to explain the situation.
Unfortunately it has taken such a tragedy to unite the Capulet’s and the Montague’s.
Romeo and Juliet were two ‘star-crossed’ lovers who were both attracted to one another by instant physical attraction.
Juliet was more true to her parents and her religion, whereas Romeo could wander about without any recriminations by his parents.
Juliet was very brave but also dramatic because she did not take the poison to actually die. She was hoping that she would come round, and therefore make the statement that she was actually prepared to die for Romeo.
Romeo was very impulsive, and didn’t think to deeply of the consequences of his actions.
What should have been a happy ending for two young people in love, ends up in tragedy and regret by the two households involved which eventually brings them together in mourning.