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Romeo And Juliet Essay

2500 words - 10 pages

Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy by world-renowned English playwright William Shakespeare. It has managed to capture the hearts and minds of every generation from the Elizabethans to the current population, making it startlingly apparent that the themes of the play – conflict, death and true love – were just as relevant in the past as they are today. The play’s continued survival and popularity are evidence that, despite the stricter moral codes of the Elizabethans, all generations have been able to sympathise with the titular characters. In this essay I will write about the ways in which Shakespeare convinces both modern and Elizabethan audiences that Romeo and Juliet’s love is special and ...view middle of the document...

Shakespeare does not hesitate to introduce the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets already spoken of in the prologue. In one line, Lord Montague asks Benvolio “Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?” or in simpler words “Who has re-started the feud between our families?”. The introduction of the conflict so early in the play ensures that it will continue to be a key theme throughout. Later, Lady Montague says “Right glad I am [Romeo] was not at this fray” which is the first clue that, perhaps, Romeo is gentle, but it is not his gentle nature which first hints that his love for Juliet will be true. It is his mood in this first scene, one of love-sickness and rejection because his love for the woman Rosaline is unrequited (“[I am] out of her favour where I am in love” says Romeo to Benvolio later). The audience’s knowledge that his “sad hours seem long” at the beginning will make his joy with Juliet seem like an assurance they are really are in love at first sight.
​Shakespeare’s introduction of the feuding family members before Romeo or Juliet allows both Romeo and Juliet to appear more peaceful and gentle than their families. In Romeo’s introduction he seems gentle because his is not involved in the fight and in Juliet’s introduction she seems gentle because of her obedience (like when she speaks to her mother, asking “What is your will?”). Perhaps Shakespeare introduces them both as gentle characters in order to draw parallels between their personalities. Although this technique is very subtle, it does allow the audience to realise that Romeo and Juliet are very similar. Such an audience could come to the conclusion that the love of two so very similar characters would have to be fated.

​However, it is not only the structure and the stagecraft of the play which helps to convince the audience that Romeo and Juliet’s love is special and meant-to-be; the behaviours of the characters in the play (and the changes to these behaviours) demonstrate their love is special, too.
​Romeo is introduced to the play as a depressed, discontented character, entirely preoccupied with moping about his unrequited love Rosaline. He talks of how Rosaline “hath Dian’s with” or can avoid Cupid’s arrows (Dian is the goddess of chastity) and of how Rosaline “hath forsworn to love” or has vowed not to fall in love. With the fight between the Capulets and the Montagues having occurred before his introduction to the play, it is quickly evident to the audience that he is perhaps more of a peacemaker than his relatives. His loneliness is likely the most noticeable aspect to his personality in this first scene but it will become clear later on that the purpose of the play starting with Romeo in low spirits is only to contrast with his high spirits around Juliet later. His language in the opening scene differs entirely with his language in Act 1 Scene 5 – the scene where he first meets Juliet – he switches from sad phrases like “Tut, I have lost myself, I am...

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