Explain how Shakespeare presents the characters of
Romeo and Juliet in Act 1
The famous love story by William Shakespeare depicts the romance between two youngsters who ignorantly fall in love without realising the danger their affections contain. Romeo, the only son of Montague, unknowingly falls for the beautiful Juliet, who is the only daughter of Capulet, his father’s arch enemy. It is truly love at first sight.
When we first meet Romeo, he is presented as a character that is insanely in love yet heartbroken and has been taken over by these feelings. However he does not seem himself as he says, “I have lost myself, I am not here, this is not Romeo, has some other where”. We can tell that this is not the real Romeo that we are seeing as he talks in the third person, therefore referring to himself as a whole other person. Shakespeare doesn’t allow Romeos true personality to appear as Romeo says that he is not himself at the moment. Also, this makes the audience ...view middle of the document...
When Romeo first sets eyes on Juliet, he falls for her beauty immediately. His passionate feelings are shown when he says, “she doth teach the torches to burn bright”. This tells us that Romeo thinks Juliet has a power from which she can even make torches brighter. She has the power to illuminate all things around her with her burning beauty. Also the alliteration of the harsh ‘b’ in ‘burning bright’ and the soft ‘t’ in ‘teach the torches’ gives a sense of random emotion from Romeo who is trying to work out his feelings for Juliet.
Juliet is presented very differently from the way Romeo is presented. She comes across as shy and extremely obedient when approaching her mother. We know this because she speaks more formally towards her mother, “I’ll look to like, if looking liking move”. Although she doesn’t speak for most of the scene, the bits where she does are spoken extremely formally and respectfully. Through this we see a side of Juliet that is respectful towards her mother, yet between them we see that there is no closeness and that Juliet seems happier when with the nurse as they share a bond of friendship and trust. Also, we realise the awkwardness of Lady Capulet’s relationship with Juliet, through Juliet’s line above, which is very awkward and stilted. This shows that mother and daughter don’t really know how to talk to each other.
When Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time ever, they share a sonnet. Through this sonnet we see the different, more realistic side of Juliet. She is not always the quiet and obedient girl, yet wilder and more mature. We see this when she says, “And palm to palm is hold palmers kiss”. We see that she is not as young and naive as before, but understanding and more adult. Although she likes Romeo, she plays hard to get by pushing him away and not letting him get to her at first. This shows that she likes to have fun yet she knows what is right and wrong. We also see that she can make decisions well as she says, “...that I must love a loathed enemy”. Her maturity is proven in the fact that she can individually make a decision and again say what she believes is right and wrong.
In conclusion, Shakespeare makes both characters appear to be different to their real selves which is very confusing for the audience but works extremely well.