In the play, Shakespeare creates in his two lead characters, not merely a love based on physical attraction, but, as his choice of language shows, a meeting of minds and souls. Discuss the dramatic effect of this in your choice of key scenes.
The play “Romeo and Juliet” was written in the 16th century. It expresses how two “star cross’d lovers” show that their love is merely more than just a physical relationship, as suggested in the spoken language they are “made in heaven” a union? The lovers, Romeo, a Montague and Juliet a Capulet come from “two house holds both alike in dignity” who are powerful feuding families.
Both Romeo and Juliet are powerful characters. We first sense Romeo’s compelling frustration when Shakespeare uses oxymoron “O brawling love! O loving hate!” this implies that love is a scrap and you are desperately trying to fight against it. The loving hate means that you don’t want to fall in love but you cant help it.
We discover Juliet’s quick wit early in the play. “It is an honour that I dream not of.” This conveys that Juliet knows exactly what she wants and she will not let anybody influence those ideas. Juliet also shows how she can sophistically answer people in a polite manor and not in the typical teenage language.
The quote “For saints have hand that pilgrims hands do touch,” suggests that the language rapidly becomes similar culminating in the beginning.
During act 1 scene 1 Romeo again questions the meaning of love with Benvolio “love is a smoke with the fume of sighs.” In this section Romeo is talking about the sad aspects of love, and smoke implies that love is unclear. Shakespeare uses language that makes Romeo sound clever and intelligent. “Not having that which, having makes them short.” Here Romeo cleverly and wittingly quips that the possession of something makes a person happy, suddenly makes time run quickly.
In the same scene Romeo plays with words and the meaning of love as he speaks with Benvolio. Romeo is a very clever 16 year old, he is mature within his inner feelings, however many people believe he is not mature and clever.
Although Juliet doesn’t say much in act 1, what she does say is spoken in volume and shows propriety. “it is not an honour I dream not of.” This implies that Lady Capulet and Juliet are having an in depth conversation about how Juliet is to be married. However Juliet expresses her feelings in a mature and polite manor. During the conversation, Lady Capulet asks the question “Speak briefly, can you like of Paris love?” Juliet again answers in a mature manor, “I’ll look to like, if looking liking move.” This means that if Juliet likes the look of Paris she will try to like him. It also shows how she can use her language in a sophisticated way.
In the prelude before the Capulet’s feast Mercutio tries to persuade Romeo to dance at the feast, but Romeo insists that he is too “love lorn” to do anything but hold a torch “Give me a torch… I will bear the light.” this means that he wouldn’t do any dancing and wouldn’t wear a mask. He is being a party pooper, why? He is depressed and is questing love. In his quote however, he does emphasise the word “light.” The reason why the word “light” is enforced is because he sees Juliet as the best and that she represents light.
In act 1 scene 4 Rome has a premonition of some doom hanging in the future. “I fear too early; for my mind in the stars…” In this quote Shakespeare shows how Romeo and Juliet’s language entwines and blends together, this suggests just not how their minds think alike but it is a meeting of minds met by fate.
Act 3 scene 5 shows Juliet also has a premonition of the future “… Me thinks I see thee… so low in the bottom of the tomb.” Juliet’s vision is similar to Romeo’s in act 1 scene 4. Again Juliet is pessimistic and words such as “bottom of a tomb” confirms this. Elizabethans felt that fate played a vital part in the way people lived because God was very important and people believed that fate was due to this.
During the feast in Act 1 scene 5 Romeo’s speech shows smitten with Juliet’s beauty. “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright.” Romeo conveys that her beauty is brighter than the blaze of any torch and that her presence enlightens the whole room. This also means that Juliet’s beauty is radiant and enriches everything. Romeo says a few more things to enforce her beauty. He then makes his plan. When the dance is over, he will note where she is, then make his way to her and touch her hand. “I’ll watch her place of stand, and, touching hers, make my rude hand.” Romeo’s speech is a iambic pentameter and it in 5pairs of rhyming couplets:
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear:
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping for crows,
As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.
This poetic speech would have been a grand example of his social position and high breeding, which Elizabethans would understand and appreciate the poetry.
During lines 92 – 109 Romeo and Juliet play the game of blending together and using poetry to portray this.
With Tybalt’s threat still echoing in our ears, we now see Romeo holding Juliet’s hand and wittily offering to kiss it. He says, “If I profane with my unworthiest hand…” Romeo sounds sharp, but he’s not. The popular love poetry of the time often portrayed the lover as one who worshipped his beloved with religious devotion. Romeo is willing to pay the penalty (“fine”) for touching Juliet’s hand (“this holy shrine”) by kissing it.
Juliet willingly joins in Romeo’s game. Showing her own wit, she tells him that there’s nothing wrong with his hand and that he’s showing proper devotion by holding her hand-a kiss is not required. She adds, “For saints have had that pilgrims’ hands do touch…” meaning that it’s allowed to touch the hand of a saint.
The grander design of his poetry rushes onto us when Romeo and Juliet meet. The poetic thread of language joins both characters as he says one line and she finishes the next. They’re both poetically entwined, and Shakespeare does this artistically by adding rhyme, which additionally blends the language together giving movement. The language relates to the couples relationship as Romeo and Juliet both use the same devices and their language mingles. This suggests that the two are growing increasingly closer and stronger as a pair.
Act 2 Scene 2 is one of the most important and dramatic scenes in the play. Romeo over hears Juliet’s thoughts and feelings over him.
“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn of love
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
Here Juliet expresses her feelings towards Romeo. She suggests that if he tells her that he loves her she will no longer be a Capulet. She also implies that she is in love with the words. “Be but sworn of love.” Without this in distraction their romance could not progress as quickly. During this scene there is a lot of dramatic imagery “It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” This enforces how powerful Juliet’s appearance is, pursued by Romeo. As the dramatic imagery and poetic language enfolds between Romeo and Juliet the audience senses that the two “star cross’d lovers” are perfectly matched. Shakespeare’s language in this scene is shown to be un – realistic as it is “stage language.” The reason for thinking this is because in every day speech the language is not as always expressive, poetical and full of imagery and dramatic irony.
Juliet then suggests defiance, an ability to fly in the face of conversation when she calls on him to “doff his name.” This quote by Juliet, expresses her feelings towards Romeo and she suggests that Romeo can have her and she will be his. Juliet then explains how he is the man she loves, not the name, its only the name that is the enemy and that even if he gets rid of his name, he will still be the same person. I believe that the term ‘the name is the enemy’ relates to Romeo being a Montague.
Shakespeare again uses oxymorons in his language, this time Juliet uses the device in her parting line “parting is such sweet sorrow.” Shakespeare is finishing a very powerful and dramatic scene with the thought of Romeo and Juliet on the edge of meeting fate.
After Act 2 scene 2 the lovers only meet on two further occasions, their wedding and when they part. During these two happenings the mood of the language is changed as it is made precise and compact making each scene seem very short. The reason for this is because if the audience gets confused the whole plot of the play could be lost.
Throughout Act 3 scene 5 both, Romeo and Juliet use imagery between themselves. Juliet uses opposites and Romeo starts his replies with personification.
“Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierc’d the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.
These two quotes show the personification and opposites used by the two lovers. The language is very poetic and has a slight rhythm to it. This allows flow to the language. On the other hand as this section enfolds their language becomes close.
The audience can see that Juliet intends to carry on and to compare the music to represent them parting. Their division, which is sweet and the fate, that is to tear them apart. “some say the lark makes sweet division this doth not so, for she divideth both.”
As fate compels the two “star cross’d lovers” they are never to meet again in life. Romeo and Juliet’s parents are both punished by their beloved children’s death. Yet, fate is seen as a double punishment: through their very words Romeo and Juliet are evidently a perfect union.