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Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, has many techniques such as iambic pentameter and sonnets to show the how strong love can be between two young people; caught in between a family feud which kept them from truly experiencing free will to love who they desired. Although the play is about the love affair of Romeo and Juliet, there are many other parts which show the two lovers being tied into other relationships like Juliet with Paris; where there is a traditional arranged marriage for more power and allies. Also lusting over somebody else, like Romeo with Roseline, this can be seen as more physical love and attraction. Both these key elements play a crucial part in the meeting between Romeo and Juliet.
The prologue is imperative as it introduces the themes; love, trust, power and social status, to the audience. These all are shown through a sonnet which shows the love within the play; traditionally in the Elizabethan era, men would try to win the respect of the woman they desired, by either fighting for her or romantically proposing gifts, like sonnets, and publically demonstrating his desire. Within the prologue, the scene of the play is established; the audience become familiar with the ‘ancient grudge’ of the Montague’s and Capulet’s- there were so many problems that even the servants and grounds keepers would have disputes with each other.
There are many types of love which can be seen throughout the play, of which include; sexual love, unrequited love, courtly love true love and love at first sight. The sexual love can be directly seen from Mercutio, he talks about experiences with women and what he assumes Romeo should be taking part in at his age. Mercutio uses crude and coarse language to describe women “O Romeo that she were, O that she were/An open-arse, thou a pop’rin pear!” which shows he does not take love seriously; it also suggests that he could have had a painful relationship. This has an impact on Romeo as he looks up to Mercutio as a role model, and therefore takes in his pain, this reflects upon his views about relationships. The nurse has the same views on love as Mercutio; she thinks of it as mostly physical- describing the physical features that are meant to attract Juliet to Paris. She talks about sexual innuendo with Juliet, about Paris, in a very forward way “lady, such a man / As all the world – Why, he’s a man of wax.” This shows that the nurse thinks of Paris as perfect ”wax” suggests he can be made to suit all of Juliet’s needs as a husband, but also providing allies with the same dignity as the Capulet’s.
Juliet and Paris’ relationship is unrequited and courtly love; it’s true from his side but not from hers. At first, before she has the meeting with Romeo and, Juliet was content with marrying Paris although she was still very young. As the only daughter of a powerful family Juliet would have been kept under supervision at all times, except for when she visited the church for confession- because of this meeting people her own age would be limited. The head of the family- her father- would have been in control of her future; selecting who she married and for the reasons she married- courtly love. Paris’ love for Juliet is very strong; he admires her from afar and proposes to her father about the marriage many times before he accepts for his daughter. Juliet probably would have married Paris if she had not have met Romeo at the Capulet’s masquerade ball; which Mercutio had convinced Romeo to attend secretly with him- he allowed Romeo to think that Roseline would be impressed with this gesture of breaking rules for her.
The connection between Romeo and Roseline is also unrequited love- he thinks that he loves her when in fact, the way he talks about her shows he is indeed, just lusting “Is the day so young? / Ay me, sad hours seem long” the tone of his expression when saying this can be perceived as a sad teenage boy who takes a liking to the popular girl who he knows he cannot have- In addition this sets a comparison for later in the play. Roseline plans on becoming a nun, which means she cannot have a relationship with a man; this still doesn’t stop Romeo from being fond of her and loving her from afar; he says things like “Aye me sad hours seem long”, “In sadness, cousin, I love a woman.” The expression of this can be seen as sad because he states he has nothing better to do then wait for her; additionally this can be pictured as pathetic as he never informs Roseline of his infatuation for her. In act one scene one Romeo uses paradoxes to describe his feelings for Roseline “O brawling love, O loving hate…O heavy lightness…” which shows he is indecisive about his feelings for her; this illustrates to the audience how he is not truly in love with her as he cannot make his mind up.
We may never know what the ancient feud is about between the Capulet’s and Montague’s; whether it be a political difference or an eventful marriage between the two families before this generation; consequently the love connecting Romeo and Juliet is stronger, more powerful and- to an extent- purer. Under any other circumstances: Romeo not lusting for Roseline, Juliet not preparing to marry Paris and Mercutio not only thinking about physical love- the two lovers would have never have met. This is evident to the audience as the youth of the Montague’s approach the Capulet household; Mercutio is struggling to break the love sickness of Romeo “”If love be rough with you, be rough with love” “rough” implies if Romeo isn’t receiving love from Roseline, he should seek out ways to make her love him, even though this wouldn’t be true- as love in all respects isn’t meant to be rough but soft.
As we now know about the other relationships the young lovers are tied into; Shakespeare introduces the new relationship between Romeo and Juliet themselves to the audience. In act one scene five Shakespeare uses hyperbole to demonstrate the difference of feelings compared to earlier in the play- “Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!” Romeo is shown here metaphorically lifting Juliet up at first glance; he insinuates his true sincerity by using such words as “beauty” in comparison to talking about Roseline- who he has completely forgotten about by this point. This shows he could not have been truly in love with her. At the same time, Juliet captures the image of Romeo standing across the room looking at her; this causes her to lose her breath in surprise which could be seen as love at first sight. The fact that Romeo mirrors Juliet’s movements as she moves around the room, reveals that he’s taking her lead- he does not know how to approach the situation as he has not experienced this before. Shakespeare does this to show the innocence of the two characters- making it evident that this is a special, one in a lifetime experience. Had the feelings between them just been lust they would have not been so eager to find each other.
At the point where Romeo is no longer visible, it is evident in Juliet’s face that the hope is lost; Shakespeare uses this expression to his advantage, by showing the audience the contrast between her facial appearance when Romeo is hidden and when he caresses her hand softly. This contrast shows true feelings she has- from hope to a feeling of loss and self hate for not finding him in time. The first thing Romeo says to Juliet is “If I profane with my unworthiest hand”- “unworthiest” reveals he does not think he is valuable for her; he is putting himself down to elevate her status, as with “holy shrine” and “saints” which are biblical references. During the Elizabethan times, religion played a significant part in everyday life- Shakespeare uses religious imagery and language to show Romeo’s true feelings for Juliet and the sincerity of them. Romeo refers to himself as a “pilgrim” which is inferior to his actual status; this confirms that he believes Juliet is too valuable and worthy for himself. “So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows” – Shakespeare uses oxymoron’s to compare Juliet with the other females in the room; he refers to her as a “dove” among the “crows”, stating she is pure and beautiful this shows his genuine appreciation for her appearance.
Romeo questions the love he thought he had for Roseline and love itself- “did my heart love till now?” this shows he is maturing and questioning what he feels truly; “heart” suggests that he didn’t love Roseline with this in the first place as it could be a different feeling. Shakespeare also uses iambic pentameter as Romeo speaks about Juliet to show his desire and sincerity of words- this establishes trust in his feelings from the audience. Comparing the way Romeo talks about his love for Juliet, and how the nurse talks about love- in free verse- Shakespeare builds trust from the audience in Romeo’s judgements about his feelings of lust towards Roseline, and the true love he feels for Juliet, thus constructing the audiences perspectives that the feelings are genuine.
Deeper into the play Romeo is seen devoting his ever growing love for Juliet-Act Two Scene Two is set on the Capulet’s land in their orchard behind Juliet’s quarters. Shakespeare chose this location to show the extent of the love Romeo has for Juliet, as this is exceedingly risky for an foe to be doing. “O blessed, blessed night I am feared, being in the night, all this is but a dream” Romeo knows it is reality, but still he refers to it as a dream- he continuously believes Juliet is a goddess; too good for him. Juliet is willing to give up everything for Romeo “Deny thy father and refuse thy name” she is even prepared to give up her family name and her family itself for him. Shakespeare uses things which the audience can relate to; family and the bloodline of the family were exceptionally important in the Elizabethan era, so Juliet declaring she would not be reluctant to leave her family and the comforts of her home to run away proves how much she cares for Romeo.
“‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy”- Juliet refers to her own name to be her enemy and her curse- she questions why he has to be a Montague and proposes he changes his name. She also states that if he will not change his name, he should marry her; meaning she would change hers so that they no longer be feuding by name. Juliet worries about Romeo as he devotes his love to her; she contemplates what might happen if the Capulet’s guards find him- she is more practical within her love for him. Shakespeare uses soliloquy to show the audience Juliet’s true feelings for Romeo when on the balcony; the language used is that of a teenage girl writing in her diary- she talks about marrying him like in a fairytale, where everybody “lives happily ever after” even though she understands that this will never be the case. Half way through the couple devoting there love- by stating they will ignore the family names- the nurse calls for Juliet- the way the lovers pull back together and say how they love each other can be seen as the same as couples on the phone in modern times; “you hang up…” this shows they do not feel able to be parted and jut want to hear each other’s voices longer.
As the scene progresses the love between the young couple develops to true romantic love; this is evident as Shakespeare starts to use sincerer language and further fluent iambic pentameter.” And I’ll still stay, to have thee still forget, Forgetting any other home but this” Romeo refers to Juliet’s home as his home in iambic pentameter; this shows he believes with her he is home. A home is meant to be safe and comforting; somewhere a person can be themselves with nobody to impress- by saying this Romeo is stating he feels completely at ease with Juliet even after such a short period of time with her. During this era, marriages where three quarters of the time for money and power; the people involved would gradually, if at all love each other not truly but because they had. Shakespeare uses this to his advantage within the play, as some- if not most- people in the audience would have been involved in an arranged marriage.
Shakespeare uses many ways of showing the sincerity of Romeo and Juliet’s true feelings for each other; the iambic pentameter plays a crucial role in showing the contrast in feelings they each feel each other and for Roseline and Paris and how different people view love, such as Mercutio and the nurse. They talk about love in free verse; they speak about the physical side of love rather than the emotional- which in comparison to the love Romeo and Juliet talks about; shows the sincerity of the love between them. The prologue informs the audience of the love between the two lovers before they even know each other exist, this shows that the relationship is what the play revolves around. The way Shakespeare has subtly used religion within the descriptions of Juliet from Romeo’s point of view assists in showing the pureness of his feeling towards her. The way enjambment has been used- when Romeo speaks about Juliet- shows how much he cares for her; he speaks as if it is a poem dedicated to her and it’s essential that he is able to convey all his thoughts and feelings before she stops listening.
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