In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ there is anger, grief, hatred, love, fear, despair, passion and violence. Write about these elements in the play in as much detail as you can.
The themes named in this title are what give the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ its quality and it’s beauty, and making it one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays in my eyes.
The play goes straight in with a sense of violence, as in Act 1 Scene 1 where a fight fuelled by the hatred of the opposite family, and the hatred of peace, ‘…and talk of peace? I hate the word,’ such as Tybalt says in the heart of the battle. This reveals the loathing that is upheld against each family by the other. Both Lord’s of the Families try to join in, as they feel the fight is not complete without their appearance. However they are restrained by their wives. All of this is also invigorated by anger also, as the ‘ancient grudge break to new mutiny.’
This means that there has been a long running feud between the two families, and this current clash counts for nothing compared to the years of fighting that have already taken place. The Prince of Verona broke up this fight, but they all know that the dragon which is the burden of hatred over the city may rear its ugly head when unwanted at any time, and it will most likely be when they least expect it.
Later on in this scene, Romeo shows the first signs of his unpleasant mood that continues throughout most of the play. He is love-sick, and despairing that his one true love does not love him, even though he does, ‘Out of her favour where I am in love’. He is not enjoying love to its full potential, as said in the quote ‘This love feel I, that feel no love in this.’ This says that he is in love, but is not enjoying the experience. As we receive this introduction to Romeo’s character, it is in shock because this one true love does not turn out to be Juliet, as some may expect, but it is of Rosaline, of whom we do not see throughout the play, but only here of. Benvolio, Romeo’s friend, tells his to move on and try and pursue other women that will love him back, but Romeo explains that this will be impossible for him to do.
The next scene again shows signs of love, and this is the point in the play where we are introduced to another main character, in Paris, who is the kinsman to the Prince, and a powerful nobleman. The self-confidence and dignity has an effect on the reader, so that he seems to be a desirable person to marry and be associated with. We learn that there is to be a masquerade feast occurring at the house of Lord Capulet, which is traditional and happens annually. Capulet invites Paris, who has persuaded the Lord to let him woo Juliet in the hope that she will marry him. At this stage, Lord Capulet makes a mistake in sending Peter, a servant that cannot read, to take a list of names and visit the invited and tell them about the party. Romeo and Benvolio happen to be passing by at the time when Peter is struggling to read one of the names, and asks them to read out the names.
The two Montague’s duly obliged, and are invited by the servant, who believes them to be Capulet’s. Benvolio explains to Romeo that this will be the perfect time to see that there are other women and compare them to Rosaline, ‘Go hither, and with unattained eye, compare her face with some that I shall show’. The imagery in this small speech creates the gate of unprejudiceness that Romeo must go through if he is ever going to succeed in love. Romeo agrees to go, but only because of Rosaline’s presence there. Through Shakespeare’s manipulation of the plot, the audience start to feel the beginnings of approaching fate, where he will meet Juliet at the feast.
Carrying on from this, in Act 1 Scene 3, the Nurse, who raised Juliet from the age of around 2, speaks of her love for Juliet, and how much she would like to see her married. Lady Capulet then proceeds to put pressure on her daughter to marry her arranged suitor, Paris. Lady Capulet speaks of how brilliant Paris is, and gives a lengthy lecture saying why he is so amazing. Phrases in this speech, such as ‘Verona’s summer hath not such a flower’, and ‘this precious book of love, this unbound lover’ give the reader the image that it’s impossible to not love this man, and are aimed to affect Juliet’s image of him. However, Juliet is very stubborn on this matter, and is determined not to marry. But she is persuaded to at least give him a chance at the feast by her unsatisfied mother, and says that she will ‘look to like…but no more deep will I endart mine eye…’, meaning that she will go with an attitude to like him, but will not pursue his love significantly, believing that true love will take it’s own course.
In Act 1 Scene 4, grief is prominent as Romeo is stood outside the Capulet mansion, preparing to enter to go to the party. His friends try to cheer him up, and it is at this point in the plot that we are introduced to the fanatical but caring character that is Mercutio. He proceeds to launch into random and meaningless dialogues, trying to lift Romeo’s gloomy mood. These are well represented by quotes such as ‘O then I see Queen Mab hath been with you, she is the fairies midwife…she gallops by night through lovers’ brains…’. Queen Mab is the queen of the fairies here, and he describes how this make-believe character races through the night making lovers dream of love and there loved-ones. He is finally calmed by Romeo, and Benvolio sends Romeo into the house, saying they are just wasting time, and in a sad and unhopeful mood, he goes into the party.
Love is the leading element in the next scene, as it is the first time Romeo sees Juliet at the party, and is stunned by her beauty. He says her beauty stands out of the crowd like ‘a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’, and like a ‘snowy dove trooping with crows’. He also claims that she has ‘beauty too rich for use’. These quotes from the speech by Romeo in lines 43-52 are the start of a long relationship between the two, and Romeo seems to totally forget about Rosaline, when he exclaims, ‘Did my heart love till now? Forswear it sight, for I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’
Love quickly turns to hatred then, as Tybalt recognises Romeo as a Montague, as is all ready to start a fight and goes to Capulet to get his approval. However, Capulet stops Tybalt from starting any violence, and says to leave him alone because ‘I would not for the wealth of all this town here in my house do him disparagement’, meaning he didn’t want any such events like mocking the other family and its member under his roof with members of the public around. In line 104 love turns to passion as Romeo and Juliet share their first kiss at the party. However, this passion is short-lived, as after they part and find out for sure who each other were from others present, they learn that they are from the opposite family, and that it could never work because of the hatred between the two. They tumble into despair, as Romeo says ‘O dear account, my life is my foes debt’, and Juliet says that her ‘only love sprung from my only hate’ and is sad that she ‘must love a loathed enemy’.
As Act 2 begins, Romeo’s love re-enters into his mind after the shock and despair of his discovering about Juliet, and he decides after the part to leap over a orchard wall to see her once more. Benvolio and Mercutio then have despair of their own when after trying jokingly to call Romeo back, and then seriously calling him back, he still does not return.
The next scene switches to the Capulets orchard, where Romeo is seeking out his love, Juliet. It is here in the play where Romeo uses poetic imagery to create a picture in the audiences mind about Juliet, saying that the moon is envious and ‘sick and pale with grief’. Diana, the goddess of the moon, was served by virgins, and wore sickly costumes, coloured sick and green. However, the moon is envious Juliet because she is more beautiful than the rest of her servants and even in Romeo’s eyes more beautiful than the moon itself. Romeo wants Juliet to stop serving the moon, stop being a virgin and become Romeo’s lover. He watches her at the window, adoring her, and sees her put her hand on her cheek. He says he wishes he ‘were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek’. He continues to describe her as such a beautiful and amazing person, and then Juliet begins to speak, ‘ O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’.
Then she asks him to ‘refuse thy name…and I’ll no longer be a Capulet’. This ment that if he disregarded his family name and just loved her, she’d no longer be a Capulet, just his lover. Romeo then speaks to her, saying ‘call me but love and ill be new baptized’, implying that he would no longer be Montague, and never will be Romeo, so there love will not matter. He shows great passion for Juliet here as he shows he is willing to go to any measure to make Juliet be able to love him. Juliet then wonders how he got over the orchard walls. He answers by telling her that ‘with love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold out love’. This implies that love conquers all. Then she asks how he found out where she was in the first place. He claims love guided him all the way;
‘By love that first did prompt to inquire;
He lent me counsel, and I lent him eyes.
I am no pilot, yet wert thou as far
As that vast shore washed with the farthest sea,
I should adventure for such merchandise’
This long speech by Romeo to Juliet confirmed his desire to have Juliet as his lover, by saying that he would travel to the furthest side of the ocean if Juliet were there to find her. Juliet wishes Romeo to sware his love for her, but only by himself and no other thing. She also doesn’t want Romeo to think she is showing too much passion to soon, so she says she doe not like the rashness of the nights proceedings, and to wait till next time they meet. She assures Romeo however that a messenger will be sent to him of a time and place where they can be married.
Act 3 introduces us to another main character, in Friar Lawrence. He is surprised when Romeo comes to him at such an early hour and decides that Romeo has been out all night. Romeo tells the Friar that he has forgotten about Rosaline and has a new love, the ‘fair daughter of rich Capulet’. He is slightly angered and in despair at this young man’s sudden change of heart and love; ‘Young men’s love then lies not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes’. He reproaches Romeo’s sudden change, and insists that he does not know what love is, as Romeo had said the previous day tht he was deeply in love with Rosaline. Nevertheless, he agrees that this time it may be true love, and that their love may bring the two warring families together. Romeo also asks a massive favour of F.Lawrence; ‘…thou consent to marry us today’. Friar Lawrence reluctantly agrees to this, but conversely inside he in actual fact does not want to carry out this holy procedure.
Act 2 Scene 4 brings happiness in love for Romeo as the Juliet’s Nurse brings him the message that they are to marry that afternoon with Friar Lawrence, and create a plan for a rope ladder to be hidden by Juliets window so he can get in that night for some passion after their wedding.
Act 2 Scene 5 is one first of despair for Juliet, as her nurse teases her, delaying telling her the news of Romeo’s acceptance of the plan for that afternoon. When she does tell her, she is overjoyed at the fact that Romeo and her will be bound together in love finally.
Act 2 Scene 6 is a scene purely of love, passion and happiness. This is perhaps one of the most important scenes in the play, as the newly-weds exchange their vows of love, and that may death do them apart. This last part is certainly the case. F.Lawrence wants everything to be over and done with quickly so there is less chance of being caught; ‘Come, come with me , and we will make short work… till holy church incorporate two as one’. They are happily married.
Hatred, anger, despair, love and violence are all involved at some point at this stage of the plot, in Act 3 scene 1. Benvolio and Mercutio are in the streets of Verona, and the Capulets are also about. They are looking for trouble, and Mercutio wants to give it to them, in spite of Benvolio’s warnings that the civilians will tell the Prince if they fight here. As Romeo arrives, Tybalt taunts him,addressing him as ‘boy’,hoping for a reaction of some kind from one of the Montague’s. Mercutio is not happy with Tybalt’s behaviour towards his friend and they begin to fight. The fight grows because of the growth of the violence between them, and Mercutio is stabbed. He then dies, which causes a mixture of grief, anger and despair in Romeo’s feelings. This brings about the drive in his mind to find Tybalt and avenge Mercutio. Romeo is in a violent frenzy when he meets him again, and kills him.
They make a quick getaway, and the Prince soon arrives. Benvolio, who did not escape with Romeo, is questioned by the Prince, and despairingly gives the details of the two fights. Benvolio then admits that it was Romeo that killed Tybalt; ‘Tybalt here slain, whom Romeo’s hand did slay’. The Prince believes Benvolio, and Lord Montague defends his son’s case by saying that he does not deserve to be executed, because he was only avenging his friends’ murder. So the Prince agrees, and declares that ‘immediately we do exile hm hence…I will be deaf to pleading and excuses…else,when he’s found,that hour will be his last…mercy but murders,pardoning those that kill.’ This announcement ment that Romeo will live, which was unusual and an exception to the laws, but if he is found, he will be killed.
Sadness, despair and grief are prominent next, as in Scene 2 Juliet discovers from the nurse that Tybalt has been killed. She is distraught at this news, and immediately goes into a state of mourning and grief. However, the news just gets worse as she finds out that it was Romeo that killed him. She all of a sudden has a conflict of loyalties. Romeo is her husband, but he has just killed her cousin. She is young and naï¿½ve, so does not know what to do in such a situation. She then learns that Romeo is to be banished from Verona, and she sends the Nurse to go to him at Friar Lawrence’s chamber. She sends her with her ring, and asks her to tell him to come and say a final goodbye that night.
Despair is foremost in scene 3 as Friar Lawrence delievers the news of the exile to Romeo. He tells him that the Prince has been lenient in his decision, as the normal result of murder is execution. He calls it ‘a gentler judgment’ and that he should be pleased that its ‘not body’s death, but body’s banishment’. However, Romeo has a very different viewpoint on the matter, and believes that he might as well be dead in exile because;
‘There is no world without Verona Walls,
But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
Hence banished is banished from the world,
And world’s exile is death. Then banished
Is death mis-termed.Calling death banished’.
Friar Lawrence believes that Romeo is showing ‘rude unthankfulness’ by complaining about being exiled. Romeo continues to complain;
”Tis torture and not mercy.Heaven is here
Where Juliet lives…
Live here in heaven, and may look on her,
But Romeo may not, he is banished…’
Romeo is aggrieved that he will no longer be able to see Juliet, to live with Juliet, and to love Juliet, ever again because of the banishment. At this point in their conversation, the Nurse arrives, and on seeing Romeo’s sad state, tells them Juliet is lying on the floor in the same manner;
‘O she says nothing sir, but weeps and weeps,
And now falls on her bed, and then starts up,
And Tybalt cries, and then on Romeo cries,
And then falls down again’.
Romeo blames himself for all this and attempts to take his own life in despair. But he is stopped. Friar Lawrence explains he may stop the night with Juliet to offer her his last love, then at dawn go to Mantua until things are all sorted out again.
Meanwhile in scene 4, at the Capulet mansion, Lord Capulet is agreeing to Paris that he shall marry her on Thursday, but wants it to be a small wedding, so to contain the grief that may build up in Juliet at the ceremony, as it is so close to Tybalts death. He asks if Paris is happy with these plans, and he is. He is delighted; ‘My lord, I would that Thursday were tomorrow’. Capulet then sends his wife to put forward the proposal of marriage on the Thursday.
Scene 5 is set in Juliet’s bedroom, where the couple have spent the night together lovingly. Romeo is preparing to leave, but Juliet wants him to stay a little while longer. Romeo accepts her wish and says he will risk death to stay with her. But then Juliet changes her mind and sends him away; ‘O now be gone, more light and light it grows’. So after one final kiss and farewell, Romeo leaves for Mantua. A few minutes later, Lady Capulet enters and talks of Juliets marriage to Paris. Juliet refuses to get married to him. Capulet is angered at this ‘disobedient wretch’ and that even if she does not want to marry he will ‘drag thee on a hurdle hither’. He complains about her ingratitude and storms out. Her mother speaks no words of wisdom or comfort, and so she has to turn to the Nurse for help in her predicament. The nurse, in Juliet’s mind, is turning against her too, as she tells Juliet that she ‘think it best you married with the County…Romeo’s a dishclout to him…’ meaning that she thinks she should get married to Paris as her parents think she should, and that Romeo is nothing, a dishcloth, against Paris. Juliet heads to F.Lawrence for help.
Act four begins at F.Lawrences cell, Paris speaks of his love for Juliet and asks the Friar to marry them on Thursday, even though ‘the time is very short’. F.Lawrence is angered at the fact this is going ahead even without Juliets approval. Juliet arrives, and Paris asks her to confess her love for him, but she says she will do no such thing and that even if she was forced to she’d never say it to his face, but ‘being spoke behind your back’. She then begs F.Lawrence in despairation to help her, saying she’d rather kill herself than marry Paris. He replies by saying if ‘thou hast the strenght of will to slay thyself’, he could help her. He would give her a potion that would put her into a deep sleep. She must agree to the wedding, then take the potion the night before the wedding. She would then be buried in the family tomb and when she awoke again;
‘Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift,
And hither shall he come;and he and I
Will watch thy waking, and that very night
Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua.
And this shall free thee from this present shame,’.
In scene 2,Juliet hurries home to her father, asking for his forgiveness for her earlier behaviour, and that she shall marry Paris. Capulet is thus delighted and brings the wedding a day forward; ‘why I am glad on’t;this is well…this is as’t should be..’
Juliet and the Nurse are in her room in scene 3 and Juliet says’ I pray thee leave me to myself tonight’. this is so she can take the poison. Later on that night, Juliet is showing despair about the decision she took to take the poison, as she starts to think that the Friar wants her dead just to save his own reputation and thinks it will kill her permanently. She starts having feelings of anger at him, but then decides against that idea. But then she has another feeling of fear;
‘How if when I am laid into the tomb,
I wake before the time that Romeo
Come to redeem me? There’s a fearful point.
Shall I not then be stifled in the vault…
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…’
She has a fearful thought that she shall awake before Romeo comes, and have to lie there with all the bones of her dead ancestors, and Tybalt’s un-decomposed body. However, she takes the poison in the end, despite her fears.
Scene 5 is one of grief and despair, as the nurse discovers Juliet’s supposedly dead body and as Lord and Lady Capulet gradually arrive, they are all in a state of shock. The nurse is the most distraught, because she’s been more of a mother to her than Lady Capulet-her real mother. ‘Alas,alas,help,help,my lady’s dead!’. The Friar and Paris arrive too and are all equally distressed. Friar Lawrence tries to calm their grief by saying that she is now in heaven and that the parents could have done nothing to prevent death. He also proclaims that ‘she’s not well married that lives married long, but she’s best married that dies married young’, meaning that in a religious view she has had less time to sin, therefore will have an extremely happy afterlife. Everyone leaves apart from the nurse, who sadly prepares the body for burial.
Balthasar, a messenger, visits Romeo in Mantua, telling him of Juliet’s death, and after Romeo’s asking, tells him that there is no letter from F.Lawrence. He is once again surrounded in a world of grief, says ‘Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight’. He decides to kill himself, and to do that he will visit an apothecary to buy some illegal poison. He buys some poison that ‘if you had the strength of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.’
Scene 2 has news that also brings grief to Friar Lawrence, as he is visited by Friar John, who tells of a plague in Mantua, and so was unable to give Romeo F.Lawrence’s letter. He gets ready to go and rescue Juliet from her tomb.
Grief is outstanding in scene 3 whilst Paris and his page visit Juliet’s tomb. Romeo starts to come into the tomb area and so Paris and Page hide. Romeo opens the tomb and is struck with love when he sees Juliet’s beauty once again. Paris then comes out of hiding and starts reprimanding Romeo;
‘This is that banished haughty Montague,
That murdered my love’s cousin, with which
It is supposed the fair creature died,
And here is come to do some villainous shame
To the dead bodies.’
Paris’s anger drives him on to fight Romeo, and makes one last request to Romeo; ‘O I am slain. If thou be merciful, Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet’. And so Paris was dead, killed by Romeo. On opening the tomb again to lay Paris inside, he is once again struck by Juliet’s beauty, as vows to die beside her. He swallows the poison and dies. Juliet then begins to wake up, and she is overcome with sadness and grief as she sees Romeo’s dead body at her side. Friar Lawrence cannot persuade her to leave with him, so he runs away, showing fear of what may happen. As soon as he has left, Juliet stabs herself. Three watchmen enter the tomb and one brings back the arrested Friar Lawrence. The Prince and the aggrieved Capulet family soon follow. Montague, who is now widowed, is also doubly aggrieved;
‘Alas my liege, my wife is dead tonight.
Grief of my sons exile stopped her breath.
What further woe conspires against mine age?’
Friar Lawrence explains the catastrophic chain of events that led to the deaths of both Romeo and Juliet;
‘Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet;…
I married them…
…would have married her perforce,
To county Paris. Then she comes to me,
And,with wild looks, bid me devise some mean
To rid her from this second marriage…
But when I came…noble Paris and true Romeo dead..
…a noise did scare me from the tomb…
Did violence on herself…’
He tells the truth, and nothing but the truth, no matter how much grief he is in. Thus there is no hatred towards him, as both families know that he was trying to do the best for both sides. The two Lords of the two families realise it was their hatred, anger and violence that caused this sudden tragedy. They will raise a ‘statue in pure gold’ of each child, as a memorial and a reminder that they are now permanently at peace. It concludes with the last two lines being the truest of the whole play;