In this assignment, I will be looking at the play of Romeo and Juliet. I will analyse how Shakespeare has used language in the play for figurative effect. I will also comment on how the structure of the play relates to how Shakespeare convinces us about the love between Romeo and Juliet. I believe that Shakespeare does convince us about the love between Romeo and Juliet because we are always at the edge of our seats, when there are dramatic scenes. I will also comment on the historical context of the play and its relevance today.
Throughout the play, there is a constant clash between love and hate. This is portrayed to us from the very start of the play, when we find out that these two families are arch rivals; we get an inner feeling that something bad is going to happen. The prologue gives a brief summary of the whole play and includes an oxymoron: ‘death-marked love’. This provides the reader with contrast and because they are so opposite the reader does not expect death to be associated with love; it also has relevance to the theme of the play throughout. We now know that something mysterious and strange is going to unwind and we are gripped into the play by Shakespeare because we want to find out more.
In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, fate plays an extremely powerful role throughout the story. Romeo and Juliet are “star-crossed lovers,” as the prologue at the start of the play indicated, they had fate against them. In that time, people were very wary of what the stars said. If two people’s stars were crossed in the sky, they would never remain together. Obviously, Romeo and Juliet did not live happily ever after, as they both died at the end of the play. The prologue also shows fate was against Romeo and Juliet through the negative language and the foregrounds of their deaths:
“The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove”
This insight into the plot provides the audience with the anticipation of the finale and causes them to think negatively throughout the play. It also allows Shakespeare to make use of dramatic irony, as the audience knows something that the characters do not. This increases dramatic tension for the audience, which in turn would help to keep their interest in the play.
In the first part of the play Romeo is away from everyone and not present in the fight at the start. He only comes in at line 152; I think that Shakespeare waited this long, to deliver Romeo to the audience so he could add an heir of mystery about this character and also show that he really is tied up in his feelings. This adds to the dramatic effect because there’s a certain buzz around him because everyone is talking about him and we haven’t met him yet.
Love at first sight is a widely debated notion. Some say that true love based on physical appearance without a deeper understanding of a person does not exist. Others argue that one may be able to recognize true love immediately. Shakespeare devotes part of the play to this question. He makes reference to Romeo and Juliet as ‘star-crossed lovers’. In other words, the two lovers are thwarted by destiny from the very beginning. Although not meant to be together, they may still truly love each other.
Romeos view on love is a lot different to Mercutios view, for example Romeo is very confused about love you can tell this by the oxymoron’s he has used: “Feather of Lead”, “bright smoke”, “cold fire”, “sick health” this shows his confusion; on the other hand Mercutios view on love is much different he thinks that you should be rough with love “prick love for pricking” is one of his quotes. He thinks it’s just something rough and easy, but Romeo thinks it’s tender and difficult. When Romeo first sees Juliet, he believes that her beauty is lighting the room up at the banquet. He says, “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!” He is so fascinated at her beauty that he feels like she is the most beautiful person on the world and that she is the bright sun. We can also say that Shakespeare has created a superb effect, as we feel that Romeo seems to be guided by the light to Juliet and that she unlike Rosaline will love him back. Shakespeare is starting to use light imagery, which brings forth the upcoming of the next scenes of love and mystery.
After Romeo and Juliet meet at the ball they do not know who one another is and after enquiring they find they are from the rival families. After Juliet finds out Romeo is a Montague, she says to herself: “My only love sprung from my only true hate!”
This means that Juliet thought she had found her true love yet she cannot love him as he is a Montague.
The themes that can be found in this scene are: love, marriage, conflict and hate. Love in this scene refers to Romeo meeting Juliet and them instantly falling in love. Marriage in this scene refers to when Paris wants to marry Juliet. Conflict in this scene refers to when Tybalt wants to get Romeo taken out of the Capulet party. Hate in this scene is seen in Capulets party being gate crashed by Romeo Montague and that the families are foes.
The Luhrmann version of the film dramatises this scene as the characters are wearing clothes that reflect their roles in the play. Romeo wears armour and this makes him a knight in shining armour that will come to rescue Juliet. Juliet wears an angel costume to symbolise that she is young and pure. Tybalt wears a devil costume to symbolise that he is looking for trouble.
Act 2 Scene 2 or ‘The Balcony Scene’ has a larger effect on the rest of the play than all the other scenes I feel. This is because it is concerned with nearly all of the recurring themes during the play. Youth and Age is one theme there is a contrast between these right through the play, Romeo and Juliet are young lovers that are almost starting a revolution actually marrying for love and want to put an end to their family feud, and contrast to that you have Old Capulet and Lady Capulet who are very stubborn and opinionated people who expect everything to be done correctly .This was a revolutionary thing, to marry for love, as large families such as the Montague’s and the Capulet’s would marry for other reasons other than this, for things such as money and property. Marriage was seen as an opportunity to gain assets not a way of uniting two people. Romeo and Juliet are very young and reckless children this is what makes the play interesting and romantic but it also a reason why the play ends tragically as they do no think there relationship through. Love and Hate is also a theme that is stressed during the play as Romeo and Juliet experience this love at first sight when they should be sworn enemies if they were to do what their parents tell them and follow tradition. Fate plays a big part during this play as we are warned at the start of the play in the chorus, it tells us ‘A pair of star crosses lovers’, Greek people a long time ago used to believe that stars told peoples fortunes from the moment they are born, telling us that Romeo and Juliet are ‘star crossed’ suggests that bad luck will have It in for them right from the start as it were. Unfortunately it does as they fall in love with each other before realizing who each other is; they are descendants of families with a blood thirsty feud.
Shakespeare gradually takes us with him as we explore how he uses such strong and powerful vocabulary to convince us of the love between Romeo and Juliet. Act Two Scene Two is the only real first scene, where Romeo and Juliet are alone together. Even though both loved each other; they were both faithful and didn’t do anything that would harm Juliet’s face in society. Juliet seems open at times but just as Romeo begins to spot this Juliet shuts herself, it seems like she feels she is insecure. Shakespeare convinces us about the love because Romeo, the hero, risks his life just to see how Juliet feels about him.
The balcony scene is physically separate from the rest of the play by being set in a moonlit garden. The lovers exist outside the feuding and quarrelling but cannot completely ignore it. Their love is shown as eternal and pure, rather than motivated by physical desire, lust or money grabbing. This is reflected in the kind of language and imagery that the lovers use. We see the language of love exchanged between Romeo and Juliet in the balcony scene when Romeo speaks of,”… a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!” this shows that he will do anything to be with her. It also shows us how Romeo is so deeply in love.
Romeo and Juliet seem like the perfect couple. They are willing to do almost anything for each other, even sneak between feuding families to show their love for each other! It is only hope that the two families will stop feuding and become allies for the sake of Romeo and Juliet’s marriage. Romeo is very brave for risking his life to see Romeo and Juliet. He truly loves her.
When Romeo is standing outside of Juliet’s balcony, he uses a variety of similes. Here is an example; “O speak again bright angel for thou art/ As glorious to this night o’er my head. / As is winged messenger from heaven.” In other words, Romeo is trying to say that Juliet is like an angel from heaven. Romeo thinks that she has lit up the sky with her beauty, and nothing else can be compared to her.
Shakespeare has gradually convinced us of the love between these two characters, and we haven’t noticed this because we are so much into the play, that Shakespeare can now relax and let the play flow without any misunderstanding. He can now start unravelling the twisted path taken by the two lovers.
The light and dark imagery that Shakespeare uses in this passage describes Juliet as a young and eager lover. Romeo associates Juliet with light meaning goodness. Then Romeo says that Juliet looks like the excellent night. The night that Romeo speaks of represents Rosaline. Romeo basically says through with light and dark imagery, that Juliet is as good as Rosaline to love. Romeo then compares Juliet to a “winged messenger of heaven” who filled with lightness and goodness. He says that all humans look upon this kindness as the messenger “bestrides the lazy puffing clouds” while doing his errands. Romeo explains using this imagery that everyone looks at Juliet because she gives off a stunning and intricate outlook. The angel messenger represents the integrity in Juliet’s heart. This is ironic because Romeo doesn’t notice how an angel might forgive him for his sins.
The light and dark imagery develops character by showing what is inside Romeo’s mind. As he looked upon Juliet, he saw a girl who was as worth loving as much as Rosaline. He calls Juliet an angel showing that he reveres this girl the minute he saw her and all thoughts of night, or Rosaline, is gone. The way Juliet is portrayed with light imagery shows how young and innocent she is. Naturally, the audience believes that Rosaline is much older than Juliet’s fourteen years of age. When Juliet is called a “bright angel”, Romeo shows that he knows Juliet is a young and foolish little girl, yet he falls in love with her.
If Romeo hadn’t met Juliet, Romeo wouldn’t have had to die for Juliet but fate made both characters meet and caused the death of the two innocent characters. Shakespeare alternates the scene. He uses violence and then Romance. He keeps on alternating from these two themes in this scene. There is tension in this scene from the beginning, even though it is a romantic scene. The scene is made tense when the ‘nurse’ constantly calls Juliet and interrupts their flow. There is a lot of foreshadowing of death. Their love is tainted by love.
Some may say that the scene doesn’t convince us of the love because the two characters are too young and vain. Romeo falls in love too quickly and he moves from Rosaline to Juliet to quickly, and their decision to marry is too rash. There is an ancient incompatibility from the stars above; some may say.
I believe that Shakespeare does convince us of the love between Romeo and Juliet, even though they are too young and rash. Shakespeare has led us carefully and with dramatic tension to Romeo and Juliet’s fall in love and tragic death. Some may say that Romeo is matured by Juliet and I agree with it but Romeo is still to rash; because if he just waited a minute he would have not needed to die. The foreshadowing of the play comes true in the end. There was no escape for both of them. Fate had played its role.
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