Romeo and Juliet is certainly among the world’s greatest plays, and the story of Shakespeare’s ‘star-crossed’ young lovers whose fate is sealed by their quarrelling families, the Montagues and the Capulets, is the touchstone fable of romantic love. Coincidence, chance, unawareness: fate weaves its inexorable pattern against the background of a bitter and deadly feud, working through persons who would never knowingly harm the lovers, but who do so nonetheless. This story contains aspects of both a love story and tragedy. The tale of two teenagers who fall in love at first sight and then marry, become true lovers and then risk it all for their love is fundamentally a tragedy.
It is evident that this romantic play will have an extremely tragic ending from the beginning. The chorus states that the love between Romeo and Juliet is “Death mark’d” and that the lovers “take their life” this is essentially dramatic irony. The audience therefore knows more than the characters. Some examples of tragedy in this romantic play include: – quite obviously, the misfortune of Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden love. The blight of the messenger not getting to Romeo in time which leads to Romeo just missing Juliet’s awakening is surely a tragedy. To me this is one of the most frustrating things in the play, because if he just waited two minutes he would have been reunited with Juliet.
And lastly, the death of Juliet. It is sad that she felt she had to take her own life to be with the one she truly loved. I think the unusual storyline, the language that Shakespeare uses and the fact that this play is timeless is what has made it so popular over the centuries. This timeless play points out several things like: – how older generations can affect the younger ones. How we can try to control people and how they can rebel to this control, what can happen if younger people are not listened to and how people can rush into things but overall the main message is where there is civil strife, nothing is resolved.
Juliet is one of the main characters, who is intelligent- we can see this from the amount of wordplay she uses. She is also articulate, reserved, and sensible and yet she is ultimately socially independent. Which is expected in the time the play was set, whereas as a character, Juliet is fully independent. In terms of age, she is fourteen although is mature for her age, but even so, we are reminded that she is a fourteen year old teenager who is very young at heart. She is part of the Capulet family who are at the centre of a deadly feud with Romeo’s family the Montagues.
Her relationship with Lady Capulet (her mother) by modern standards isn’t a ‘proper’ relationship due to Lady Capulet not being very motherly towards Juliet which isn’t surprising considering that in an upper class family in medieval Verona, a mother wouldn’t have much say in her daughters life. Whereas her ‘adoptive’ mother is the servant nurse as she is the one who has looked after Juliet all he life. Her father is Lord Capulet who is the head of the Capulet household and who can get an irritable temper if he doesn’t get his own way, for example
“Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thursday,
or never after look me in the face” (Act iii Scene V)
This proves that lord Capulet can get a temper and that if he doesn’t get his own way he can be very mean and inconsiderate.
Shakespeare makes the audience feel sorry for Juliet in this extreme scene by making her a young lady and the fact that she is an innocent victim makes the situation much worse. We feel sorry for Juliet when she falls in love with Romeo because he’s a Montague, ‘his name is Romeo, he’s a Montague’- (Act I Scene V line 135) and she’s a Capulet ‘is she a Capulet’- (Act I Scene V line 117). Dramatic irony also creates sympathy towards Juliet as right from the word go we know that this play is a tragedy and is going to end in tears ‘A pair of star cross’d lovers, take their life’ taken from the prologue. This one sentence concludes the play in great detail, that the audience can’t help but feel the sense of dramatic irony.
In my opinion Act III Scene V is important to the play because it’s the breaking point and it’s also the scene, which creates the most sympathy towards Juliet. When the scene opens up Juliet is refusing to believe that Romeo has to leave
‘Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day
It was the nightingale, and not the lark
That pierc’d the fearful hollow of thine ear’
This is Juliet trying to convince herself that it is not morning and her beloved Romeo does not have to leave to Mantua. She’s so desperate for Romeo to stay that she even makes up stories about ‘some meteor that the sun exhaled’ to try to convince Romeo to stay and be with her. Shakespeare uses beautiful, romantic and timeless imagery, which makes us feel that we want and they should be together, and thus doing so creates sympathy towards them both. The language Shakespeare uses is vivid and just proves that Shakespeare is a timeless writer. And then, eventually, Romeo does give in to Juliet by saying
‘I have more care to stay than will to go
Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so’
These two sentences is the realisation for Juliet that Romeo must leave unless she will never see him alive again. Suddenly Juliet snaps into a mature adult and claims
‘It is the lark that sings so out of tune, straining harsh discords’
As this is what being told that he has to leave sounds to her and it proves how much of an adult Juliet can really be- without the audience not forgetting that she is a fourteen year old girl. But when Romeo is about to leave to Mantua they come together and say
‘More light and light it grows
More light and light, more dark and dark our woes’
These two sentences are talking about the danger that daybreak brings. When they part they talk about death and dieing which just shocks us because they are a extremely young couple who have the rest of their lives to live, but unfortunately this is dramatic irony and we know that it’s the last time they will see each other alive, this creates extreme sympathy towards both of the characters. Juliet is upset that Romeo has killed Tybalt because due to his actions he is banished from Verona and she will never see him again. Although in my opinion I think Juliet is more confused than anything because she is torn between Romeo- the man she loves who is good on the outside and bad on the inside, and Tybalt- her cousin, but given the evidence we clearly see that she is more bothered about Romeo being banished than the death of her cousin.
Things go from bad to worse from there on because not only has Romeo left her the next to do so are her parents.
As Juliet starts crying, Lady Capulet walks in. she immediately presumes that Juliet is crying over the death of Tybalt but the audience know different which creates the enormous sense of dramatic irony, as we know something the characters don’t. Her mother says
‘Evermore weeping for your cousins death?
What, wilt thou wash him from his grave with
And if thou couldst, thou couldst not make him live;
Therefore, have done. Some grief shows much of
But much of grief shows some want of wit’.
This is showing Lady Capulets extreme incapability of comforting her daughter. This could be due to the fact that they have a very formal relationship as Juliet calls her mother ‘Madam’ and ‘Ladyship’. In lines 85-86 and lines 101-102 this is where Juliet talks with double meaning. We know that she is talking about getting to Romeo because she loves him with all her heart whereas her mother thinks it is to get revenge. But all of a sudden this conversation goes from bad to worse when Lady Capulet proposes to Juliet that she marry the county Paris (lines 113-116). When Juliet is told she must marry Paris she acts how we would expect her to act because we know that she is married to Romeo
‘I will not marry yet; and when I do, I swear,
It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate’,
This is another double meaning as she is already married to Romeo but is meant to make her mother think she hates the idea, this is another way of creating the sense of dramatic irony, because the audience knows that Juliet is married to Romeo but the characters don’t. After Capulet has abused Juliet, She turns to her mother hoping she will understand. Her mother ignores the plea and suicidal threat and disowns her
‘Talk to me, for I’ll not speak a word
Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee’,
Thus both her flesh and blood have deserted her’
This quote is extremely effective in creating sympathy towards Juliet because this is where Juliet’s own mother abandons her.
When Juliet repeatedly refuses to agree to marry Paris and meet Capulet’s demands he hurls a torrent of insults and abuse towards Juliet such as ‘Disobedient wretch’, ‘young baggage’ and ‘hilding!’ he imitates her and even threatens his own daughter with phrases, he talks about dragging her to the church ‘I will drag thee on a hurdle thither’, he talks about hitting her ‘My fingers itch’ and about kicking her out into the street and watching her die in the streets ‘hang, beg, starve, die in the streets’. Juliet goes from worse to terribly upset when Capulet abandons her
‘never after look in my face. Speak not, reply not, do no answer me’.
This behaviour is extremely unusual of Capulet, as elsewhere in the play we certainly haven’t witnessed him address Juliet in this manner, which brings the message across of Capulets frustration more vividly. This is also especially unusual behaviour because from the beginning of the play, it is learned that the Capulet’s held the decisive judgement of what Juliet’s future would have in store. Also at the beginning of the play Capulet was the person who didn’t want Juliet to rush into marriage
“But saying o’er what I have said before. My child is yet a stranger in the world. She hath not seen the change of fourteen years. Let two more summers wither in their pride ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.” (I ii, 7-11)
This demonstrates Capulet’s intent of choosing Juliet’s husband, and now that he has his motives it’s the other way around. Juliet has been abandoned by a second person, her own father
Shakespeare also shows paternal love to go along with the others in the text. I guess that you could say that their was a bit of love from Juliet’s parents towards her in that they only wanted what they thought was best for her as well as getting what they want at the same time. They imagine that Juliet would be happy living her life with Paris, although Lady Capulet was much more loving than her husband was.
After Lord and Lady Capulet have left Fearing she doesn’t have anyone left Juliet turns to the only person who understands her- her good maid, the nurse. She wants words of comfort but that is not what she receives- lines 214- 226. This is not what she wants to hear, she can’t marry the county Paris, it is impossible and inappropriate, and she is already married to Romeo so a second marriage is out of the question. This betrayal results in Juliet telling nurse she won’t confide in her again ‘thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain’. Shakespeare shows us that Juliet is so desperate for help that she is willing to take her own life ‘myself have power to die’ Romeo.
Shakespeare uses vivid language to show us that Juliet feels isolated and confused such as ‘Ancient Damniation!’ and ‘if all else fails, myself have the power to die’. This is sad; to think that Juliet thinks that killing herself is going to solve her problems. This makes the audience see how desperate she is and how much she is in love with Romeo. This also proves how isolated and confused Juliet really is because her mother, father and even the nurse want her to get married to Paris, so much that if the visit to Friar Lawrence’s Cell doesn’t work she will take her life. This scene is tremendously effective in creating sympathy towards Juliet because of the way her family are turning against her, the way her father behaves and the fact that her true love- Romeo has left to Mantua.
If I was the director of a stage production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, in Act III Scene V I would have Juliet Kneeling on the floor of her bedroom wearing a white nightgown in order to make the audience to feel more sympathetic for her. This idea is similar to the costume that Juliet is wearing in Baz Luhrmann’s dazzling and unconventional adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Lord and Lady Capulet would wear suits to bring the message across that they are formal and important. The nurse would wear the traditional nurses outfit. Lord Capulets gestures would be harmful towards Juliet for example-: pushing, hitting, shoving, etc. in order to create more sympathy towards Juliet whilst Juliet’s will be screaming, crying and wriggling etc. the nurse and Lady Capulets would be similar such as clinging, pulling and dragging Capulet away from Juliet.
This story is one of the greatest love stories of all time. There would not be too many people who have not heard of it. The story would not be as popular if Romeo and Juliet met, their families made up, they married and lived happily ever after. Even today, the tragedy resembles a blueprint of the problems that the adolescents of the twentieth century must face each day. In this play, Shakespeare explores the pitfalls of young love, and the consequences they receive from their actions
In today’s society, youth are constantly advocating the change from total dependence on family, to their own independence. Young people often think they know better than their parents, often believing that instead of helping them, they are only punishing them. Romeo and Juliet found that they new better then their parents, but after realizing the wrong they caused when both committing suicide. We love the tragic element of this story. It makes us cry, it makes us feel deep emotions, and it stirs up feelings like no other love story. The path of this true love is not smooth, but the path with its roughness and obstacles, seems to be the best way of showing the nobility and strength of true love. When Juliet sees Romeo dying at the end of the play we are filled with Sympathy towards Juliet and this is very important especially when Juliet takes her own life. In my opinion the moral of the story is when there is a civil strife nothing is resolved, and I think that if Romeo and Juliet hadn’t died the moral wouldn’t have been as strong. An apt quote to sum this up is spoken by Escalus, the prince of Verona.