Romeo and Juliet was written in Elizabethan times, and the traditional Elizabethan language that was used in the play, was used to convey emotions. As the play progresses, the language Romeo uses changes, making it indisputable that his feelings change. These changes are shown by figurative clevices, such as metaphors, similes, and cosmic references. As the play moves on, Romeo’s language changes from oppressive to unrestrained and carefree. Looking at scenes from the play, I will display these changes.
In Act One, Scene One, Romeo is in a despondent, and dejected state of mind, because of his feelings for Rosaline. He proves his depression with use of references to time. “Ay me, sad hours seem long.” He says this whilst conversing with Benvolio, and Romeo then goes on to speak about if Rosaline returned his feelings, his time would go much faster “Not having that, which having, makes them short.” He subsequently speaks in highly pretentious, metaphorical speech, using oxymorons, such as “loving hate”, “heavy lightness”, and “serious vanity”. It was very fashionable in the love poetry of Elizabethan times to put together such contradictions.Order now
This language shows that he is more interested in being in love with love, rather than being in love with another person, and also that he is in love with her beauty rather than her heart. “Show me a mistress that is passing fair”. This portrays him as being juvenile and inexperienced. After his use of references to time, and oxymorons, he begins to use metaphorical speech. “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs”. He chose smoke with a fume of sighs as an example to show that he is being choked by pain because of his passion shown towards the renowned Rosaline, which again shows his oppressive side.
The first scene in which we see a change from the use of depressive language that Romeo first uses, is Act One, Scene Five, which is the first meeting between Romeo and Juliet. He uses example of hyperbole, when he speaks of Juliet’s beauty, but the language he uses, contains gratified speech, and he no longer speaks of how his feelings for Rosaline give him torture and affliction, but how Juliet is an asset to his life.
“O she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
Sara Moulds LVJP
As a rich jewel in Ethiops’ ear-“.
His former feelings for Rosaline are simply forgotten, on sight of Juliet. He goes on to use religious terminology, in reference to Juliet.
“If I profane my unworthiest hand
“This Holy Shrine, the gentle sin is this, my lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand,
“To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”
Romeo then learns that Juliet’s family and his own, are enemies, but this does not stop his optimistic thoughts. In Act Two, Scene Two, he begins with a soliloquy using cosmic references, when he talks about Juliet, despite what he knows about the conflict between the two families.
“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,”
He is speaking, again in a jovial manner, and is no longer speaking as the third person in the conversation. He speaks of himself using words such as, ‘I’, and ‘mine’ rather than ‘Romeo’ and ‘Romeo’s’, which shows that he is more relaxed, being in love with Juliet. He also reveals his sexual intentions for Juliet.
” Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.”
In this scene, Romeo is portrayed as an idealist, with the contrast of Juliet being a realist. His idea of changing his name, proves that he would do anything for Juliet, if it came to it.
” My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee;
Had I written it, I would tear the word.”
He goes on to talk of love being light, and that he could do anything with love, whereas, in Act One, Scene One, when he is speaking of his love for Rosaline, his love is a burden to him.
“This love feel I, that feel no love like this.”
Romeo says in reference to his feelings for Rosaline, and he says this in reference to his love for Juliet, meaning that his love is so strong, even the problems of their families could not stop them being together, proving him to be a romantic, as well as an idealist.
Sara Moulds LVJP
“With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls,
For stony limits cannot hold love out,
And what love can do, that dares love attempt:
Therefore thy kinsmen are no stop to me.”
Romeo’s bright language remains constant throughout Act Two, Scene Six, with the use of personification, when he speaks of death, and he shows his view, that as long as he has his love for Juliet, even death cannot hurt him.
“Then love- devouring Death do what he dare,”
He again uses romantic, elaborate poetry in this scene, The Wedding Scene, showing that his love is real, as when he spoke of Rosaline, who his love for proved to be based on lust, he used nothing but oppressive language.
The next change in Romeo’s language is seen in Act Three, Scene Three, when he hears that he will be banished from Verona, and also from Juliet. He begins again to speak as the third person, and his punctuation is more formal and concise.
“But Romeo may not, he is banished.
Flies may do this, but I from this must fly ;
They are free men, but I am banished.”
From lines twenty-nine to fifty-one, he repeats the word “banished”, five times, linking it to death, which shows his dejection again.
In Act Three, Scene Five, Romeo is content again, because he has just spent the night with Juliet. He speaks of death, but now, without unhappiness, as he is with Juliet, and content to be so.
“Let me be tane, let me be put to death,
I am content, so thou wilt have it so.”
I also think he is offering himself to be put to death, while he is so happy, before he is separated from Juliet, because he does know it will happen, and is trying to escape the suffering, while looking mannish at the same time.
The next time we hear from Romeo, is when he is informed of Juliet’s death, in Act Five, Scene One. He is surprisingly calm about the news, which I would have expected him to be devastated at.
“Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight.
Lets see for means. O mischief thou art swift”
Sara Moulds LVJP
He is just optimistic about being able to be with Juliet, his true love again, this time forever, without being sent away again.
When Romeo enters the tomb, in Act Five, Scene Three, we see him using formal language around Juliet for the first time. He uses a poetically sensitive adaptation of modern day speech. There is again reference to light and dark, keeping some of the play’s use of language constant.
” For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence of full light.
Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interred.”
The fact he then proposes a toast to Juliet, with the poison, shows his devotion for Juliet, as these words are his last.
“The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark!
Here’s to my love!”
I conclude, that although Romeo begins the play, as an immature idealist, as the play progresses, his love deepens, showing his language becoming simpler, and more legitimate. I think that this change is brought by the exchange of conversation with Juliet, who’s sensibility, realistic views and straightforward language, brings Romeo back to the practicality of a situation. At the end of the play, I believe Romeo has learnt a lot, including the meaning of true love, and therefore, has matured greatly.