Romeo and Juliet is a play written by William Shakespeare. The play is about tragic love.
Love, in the play, is presented in many different forms such as unrequited love, filial love, forbidden love, platonic love, romantic love and sexual love. The most important type of love that Shakespeare presented was true love. At the end of the play, true love ended the ‘war’ between the two families (the Capulets and the Montagues). The play also shows different attitudes towards love such as love is beautiful.
In Act 1 Scene 1 Shakespeare presents unrequited love,
‘Out of her honour, where I am in love’
Romeo has just been heart broken by Rosaline, a girl whom he loved but she did not love him.
After this heartbreak, his being against love and says that it’s ‘a choking gall,’ this is a metaphor. He says this because love hurts, he also uses oxymoron such as ‘brawling love’ ‘feather of lead’, Romeo sees love as light and gentle but after he lost his love, he feels love is heavy, it’s too much to bear. He has been hit with cupid’s arrow, however, he says:
‘She’ll not be hit with Cupids arrow’ ‘she lives unharmed’ so Rosaline will not be hit with cupid’s arrow, she will be unharmed, whereas Romeo is already harmed by cupids arrow.
In Act 1 Scene 2, Paris is asking to marry Juliet. He says:
‘But now, my lord, what say you to my suit?’
Capulet says that she is too young and still is ‘a stranger in the world’
Paris then says:
‘Younger than she are happy mothers made’ this shows that Paris is in a hurry to getting married, this could be because at that time people did not live long enough.
However, Capulet then wants him to win her affection towards him, which shows that she can learn to love him; this is an attitude towards love. He also does not want to spoil her and that she is his only child:
‘Too soon marred… Earth hath all my hopes but she’ this quote could mean that he may had other children before Juliet but they all died ‘Earth hath all my hopes’. Capulet is not against arranged marriages but he is an overly protective father who loves his daughter.
In Shakespearean times, people used to have arranged marriages and could marry at an early age. The audience in those days would not be surprised whereas nowadays we would.
Lady Capulet goes and tells Juliet that she is going to get married to Paris and tries to persuade her to agree:
‘Read o’er the volume of young Paris face…so shall you share that he doth possess’ she tells Juliet that Paris is good looking and wealthy. She tells her that he is wealthy because in those days women cannot earn any living or possess anything until she is married. Even though she is persuading Juliet to marry, I think her attitudes towards love are the same as Juliet’s father; you can learn to love someone and that love is a duty. Juliet does not seem to care about marrying because she does not seem to even dream of this honour. Here the love is family love between Juliet and her parents. Parents have the responsibility for looking out for the best interest for their child, and do what is best for the child. The Capulet parents practically did the opposite; they chose Paris as Juliet’s future husband.
Romeo finds love complicated and cruel because of his broken heart:
‘Is love a tender thing? It is too rough…it pricks like a thorn’ for him love hurts as if a thorn had just pricked him.
On the other hand, Romeo’s friend Mercutio attitude towards love is different; he thinks that love can be cured by saying:
‘If love be rough with you, be rough with love…and beat love down’ Mercutio is saying to fight back, he wants him to gain Rosaline’s love or someone else’s, this quote also shows that he sees love as a battle. Romeo goes to a party held by the Capulets, he and his friends are all wearing masks, In those days it was not surprising for people to wear masks to parties because wearing masks to parties were more popular. In another play called ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ Shakespeare did a whole scene wearing masks to a party.
Romeo sees Juliet and asks a serving man whom the lady is ‘that doth enrich’ the hand of the man she is with. This is a metaphor, which means that Juliet is like a jewel, so she is precious to him. After the serving man told Romeo he did not know her name, Romeo starts talking about how beautiful she is; Shakespeare uses metaphors to show this:
‘She doth teach the torches to burn bright’, he says, meaning both that her beauty is brighter than the blaze of any torch and that her presence makes the whole room light up. He says a few more things about how beautiful she is, ‘Beauty too rich for use, for earth to dear’, ‘Burn bright’ and ‘rich’ are used as metaphors. Bright and rich are powerful words with an image. Romeo says Juliet teaches the ‘torches to burn bright’ because Juliet was so bright, like the sun, that she could teach these torches about burning brightly. This image shows Juliet’s brilliance, light, purity, and beauty. Her beauty is rich, but rich as in magnificent and precious.
Romeo expresses his strong feelings of love for Juliet: ‘Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear’. This shows that Romeo tries to inform Juliet of his love for her in the strongest way he can. He shows his love by saying that she is richer than anything is, she is worth more than the world and that she is heavenly.
‘As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’, this quote, is also by Romeo for his love to Juliet. He cannot tell Juliet or anyone how much he reveres her. Shakespeare uses powerful images of wealth to try to give the reader an idea of how much Romeo loves Juliet and is using imagery of light and dark.
Romeo acts as if he has been hit by Cupid’s arrow again.
Sonnet form was used when Romeo and Juliet speak to each other for the very first time. Sonnets are mainly used for love poems. When Romeo takes her hand and claims: – ‘If I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, the gentle pain is this: My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss’. Romeo wants to kiss Juliet. He expresses words, which make his lips sound as if Juliet would receive a pleasant feeling if she were to grant him a kiss.
Words like ‘Profane’, ‘shrine’, ‘sin’, ‘pilgrims’, ‘devotion’, ‘saints’, ‘palm’, ‘palmers’, ‘faith’, ‘pray’ are expressions related to religion and faith. It is clear that Shakespeare’s audience needs to be shown that the love between Romeo and Juliet was not lustful or immature, even if it was sudden.
This connection with religion also serves another purpose: religion celebrates death as well as love. Towards the end of this scene, Juliet tells the Nurse to find out Romeo’s name, and says to herself; ‘If he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed’, this irony helps to underline the sense of Juliet’s feelings. She is prepared to marry Romeo and no one else. The audience however, already knows that she will die.
However, Romeos feelings are broken, when he finds out which family Juliet belongs to: ‘Is she a Capulet?’ Romeo has news from the nurse that his love is part of the Capulet family; Shakespeare does this to increase the tension.
‘My life is my foe’s dept’. Romeo was deeply in love with Juliet, and suddenly he has fallen into great debt. This part of the play makes the scene effective on stage because it takes away all the feelings of love as it builds up tension.
Romeo and Juliet are madly in love; however, they are in great danger. A disturbing emotion hits Juliet when she finds out that her lover’s name is Romeo, a Montague.
‘Go ask his name. If he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed.’ Juliet wants to find out as much as she can about this man, and when she does, it is not what she wanted to hear. After finding out who he really is, she says:
‘My only love sprung from my only hate!’ The one person who happened to give Juliet the feeling of love had to be the one person who would be least welcomed by her family. The remainder of her family, would have the opposite feeling towards him as she had, her family already hates him.
Act 2 Scene 2 is the balcony scene. Romeo goes and hides away, from his friends and sees Juliet in the balcony. Romeo says:
‘Brightness of her cheeks would shame those star’ Juliet’s cheeks are brighter than stars.
‘Her eyes in heaven, would through the airy region stream so bright, that birds would sing and think it were not night’ her eyes are so bright that the birds would be singing in the night because they will be thinking that its not night.
When he sees her, he wants to touch her:
‘O that I were a glove upon that hand that might touch that cheek’
Juliet speaks and asks why Romeo is Romeo, a Montague
‘O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I will no longer be a Capulet.’ She is willing to give up her name just for him.
Then Romeo speaks and says that he will change his name.
Juliet asks, how he climbed up the walls, he replied:
‘For stony limits cannot hold love out’, the word ‘Stony’ was chosen because it may mean that even the balcony (made of stones) can not stop him to get to her, it also could mean that love is so strong that nothing can block it.
Romeo would rather die for her love,
‘My life were better ended by their hate, than prorogued, wanting of thy love’
Juliet is in doubt about her love, so ask Romeo to swear that he loves her:
‘O swear not by the moon… that monthly changes in her circled orb… lest that thy prove likewise variable’ She does not want him to swear by the moon because it changes shape (i.e. Full moon, half moon) but to swear by something that does not change. She says this because she wants to know if Romeo is not lying to her and because she does not want him to become weak in love for her later because she really, really loves him.
‘My bounty is as bondless as the sea, my love as deep, the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite’, this quote is said by Romeo, the more love he gives to Juliet, the more he gets back.
The image of the sea is used to describe his love; the sea is endless, powerful, and deep. His love for Juliet is endless just as the sea is, and because the sea is powerful, so is his love and because the sea is deep so is his love for Juliet. Towards the end of the scene, Juliet wants to get married to him and wants to know when.
Romeo goes to Friar Laurence; the love between Friar Laurence and Romeo is like a son and father love. They have an extremely tight bond and are willing to do anything for each other.
The Friar constantly gives Romeo valuable advice, guides him with his wisdom, and acts as his voice of experience, his attitude towards love is to love moderately and that love can never last.
Friar Laurence is in the play to support Romeo and he has a similarly eternal love for him. Romeo goes to the Friar to express his feelings of great joy from the newly found love of Juliet, but Friar Laurence does not believe this is true love because of the way Romeo loves someone else: ‘So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies, not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes’. Friar Laurence is optimistic by nature and sees Romeo and Juliet’s marriage as a good way to bring peace between the Montagues and the Capulets, to solve the feud; this is why he decides to help them get married.
After getting married, Tybalt is asking Mercutio where Romeo is. When Romeo sees Tybalt, he tries not to have a fight but Tybalt wants to,
‘Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford, no better term than this: thou art a villain’. However, Romeo does not react at all as expected. He answers,
‘Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee, Doth much excuse the appertaining rage, to such a greeting’. ‘The appertaining rage’ is the anger anyone would be expected to feel at being insulted. Romeo is saying that he has a reason to love Tybalt and therefore he is going to overlook the insult. He then says he is not a villain, and starts to leave. Nothing could annoy Tybalt more. He did not come looking for words of love; he came for a fight.
He tries again: ‘Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries… therefore turn and draw’. Still Romeo does not fight; instead, he gives Tybalt words that are more loving: ‘I do protest I never in juried thee… And so, good Capulet, which name I tender as dearly as mine own, be satisfied.’ Romeo is saying that he did not injury Tybalt, he won’t know the reason for his love towards him and also adds that he loves the name ‘Capulet’ as dearly as his own, and asks Tybalt to be satisfied with that. At this stage, I think Romeo may have had different attitudes towards love; love can be a duty and you can learn to love someone because Romeo does not want to have a fight because Tybalt is related to Juliet and if he loves Juliet, he will have to learn to love Tybalt and the rest of the family members. The audience knows that Romeo loves the name Capulet because he has just married one.
Mercutio starts a fight with Tybalt. Romeo tries to stop the fight because for the sake of his, friend, family and true love and because of the Prince said that he will have to kill someone from one of the families (Capulets or the Montagues). Mercutio dies then Tybalt panics and runs away.
Now Romeo is alone for a moment. Romeo feels ashamed of himself, because his friend has just gotten hurt. He is ashamed that he let Tybalt slander him by calling him ‘villain,’ but more ashamed that Mercutio is dying because he fought Romeo’s fight. Romeo says, ‘O sweet Juliet, thy beauty hath made me effeminate and in my temper softened valour’s steel’ Romeo is ashamed that love has softened him or changed him into a ‘women’. This quote can also show that he gave up so much for love (e.g. his hate towards the Capulets).
Romeo goes and takes revenge of Mercutio’s death; this shows the love for friends (platonic love). Romeo challenges Tybalt, telling him that Mercutio’s soul is only a little way above their heads, waiting for Tybalt’s soul to join it. He says, ‘either thou, or I, or both, must go with him’ Romeo is determined to fight until death.
Tybalt dies. The Prince comes and decides to vanquish Romeo from Verona.
In act 3 scene 2 Juliet appears, she knows that the Nurse is going to bring the ‘cords,’ the rope ladder that Romeo will use that night. The balcony is the place for the rope ladder. She is waiting night to come.
She says, ‘Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die, take him and cut him out in to little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night, and pay no worship to the garish sun’
Juliet believes that when Romeo comes to her in the night he will be with her forever, even after her death, shining like stars in the night. Shakespeare also put in the quote religious love to show that she loves him so much and that it is pure. In the balcony scene, Romeo describes Juliet as the shining sun but in the quote above she is the sun but does not want any attention, she just wants the whole world to be in love with night.
After this, Juliet begins to come down to earth a little. She complains that although she and Romeo now belong to one another, neither of them really has the other one: ‘O, I have bought the mansion of love, but not possessed it, and though I am sold, not yet enjoyed’. This happened because Romeo and Juliet’s love is forbidden. Then the Nurse appears, carrying the rope ladder.
When Juliet sees the Nurse coming, carrying the rope ladder, she is sure that the Nurse has some news of Romeo. This makes Juliet happy, because ‘every tongue that speaks, but Romeo’s name speaks heavenly eloquence’, but in a minute her happiness will turn to sorrow.
Eagerly, Juliet asks what news the Nurse has, the Nurse, who has seen Tybalt’s body and heard how he died, she is so disturbed by it all that she confuses Juliet. Eventually, she tells her everything:
‘Tybalt is gone, and Romeo banished; Romeo that kill’d him, he is banished’. At this, it seems that Juliet’s heart turns against Romeo. She exclaims, ‘O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!’ She is saying that Romeo’s face looks so innocent and beautiful (like a flower) but his heart is like a serpent’s heart, which means that it is evil, poisonous and dangerous just like a serpent. Juliet follows this metaphor with more, all of which express shock and amazement that Romeo could look so good from the outside but be so bad from the inside. However, this mood does not last long. When Juliet exclaims ‘O that deceit should dwell In such a gorgeous palace’, this quote is similar to one before, she is saying that Romeo is the ‘gorgeous palace’ and that inside him is ‘deceit’. The Nurse replies that all men are like that, and says, ‘Shame come to Romeo!’
Juliet cannot forget Romeo, she replies, ‘Blister’d be thy tongue, for such a wish! He was not born to shame, upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit; for tis a throne for honour’. Then she blames herself saying bad things about him, saying, ‘O, what a beast was I to chide at him!’ This shows that Juliet cannot hate Romeo because she is married to him or she does truly love him even though he killed Tybalt.
Later she says:
‘Tybalt is dead, and Romeo-banished.’ Romeo’s banishment may seem shocking. She says the word ‘banished’ is worse than the death of ten thousand Tybalt’s, this shows her love towards Romeo.
At the beginning of the scene, Juliet was excited by the idea of Romeo coming to her in the night; now she is just angry by the idea that she will not see him again. After saying, the banishment of Romeo is worse than the death of her mother and father, because she loves him more than she loves her parents. She asks the Nurse where her mother and father are. The Nurse tells her they are mourning for Tybalt.
Feeling sorry for Juliet, the Nurse knows where Romeo is hiding; in Friar Laurence’s cell, and tells Juliet to wait for him in her room.
In Act 3 Scene 5 when Romeo is leaving Juliet, Juliet thinks that something bad is going to happen:
‘Methinks I see thee, now thou art below, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb. Either my eyesight fails, or thou look’s pale’. He tries to reassure her that they will see each other; he tells her that she looks pale, too, and explains that ‘Dry [thirsty] sorrow drinks our blood’. In those days, it was thought that sorrow dried up the blood, and Romeo is saying they are both pale from the lack of blood caused by the sorrow of their parting because of their love.
Lady Capulet tells Juliet that she is to marry Paris on Thursday, Juliet refuses and her father gets angry
Lady Capulet thinks he has lost control of himself and asks if he has gone mad, her intervention gives Juliet a chance to fall to her knees and beg for a chance to say just one word, but her father is not going to listen. He denies the love for his daughter, so she is forced to marry.
Juliet asks for help from the nurse but the nurse says that to marry Paris. Then she goes to Friar Laurence, then he tries to help her by making something like a poison but not a poison, if Juliet drinks it she will feel cold and change colour, her heart beat will slow done, then he will write a letter to Romeo to explain what is happening.
In the final scene of the play, Romeo goes to the grave where Juliet was lying. He finds out that he can be happy that his Juliet is still beautiful. He says to her, ‘Thou art not conquered; beauty’s ensign yet, is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, and death’s pale flag is not advanced there’. The colour in Juliet’s face shows the forces of beauty.
Looking again at Juliet, Romeo asks why she is still so beautiful, and thinks that perhaps death is in love with her and ‘the lean abhorred monster keeps, Thee here in dark to be his paramour’. To prevent death from being Juliet’s lover, Romeo will join her. He promises her, ‘I still will stay with thee; And never from this palace of dim night, Depart again’. Then Romeo kisses Juliet and dies.
Friar Laurence wakes up Juliet and she sees Romeo dead besides her, so she decides to stay. She sees a dagger next to Romeo and kills her self. Friar had to explain the full story to both the families.
The love between the Nurse and Juliet is the same between Romeo and Juliet. The Nurse advises Juliet about her relations with Romeo. She was always happy for Juliet, and supported her relationship with the Montague openly.
Romeo and Juliet is a play that has many themes. Love, has a major role in the play through Romeo and Juliet. I think Shakespeare really wanted his audience to believe that not all love stories end up as a happy ending; he maybe wanted them to see all the other types of love and attitudes towards love. In this play, they would have seen what true love is and maybe some of the audience may have changed their mind about arranged marriages. The side effects of forbidden love/true love is shown in this play such as Juliet being forced to marry Paris even when she said that she loves Romeo.