Romeo and Juliet is thought to have been written in 1595. Shakespeare adapted the story; however it is his version that is known to many of us. It is a tragic story of love. The whole episode of Romeo and Juliet’s meeting, falling in love, marriage, and tragic end, takes place within five days.
This play discovers many different themes; however Love is a theme that is expressed all throughout the play.
I to have my own opinion on love, I believe that love is something someone must earn it is not brought. Love is something that can not be broken, for example a mother’s love for her child, a mother will always love her child regardless of the child loving her or respecting her. I also believe that love that a man has for a women is a type of love when broken can not be replaced hence me believing that when people get married 2nd time because of death of old partner, will not be as successful as first. This however is my opinion of Love, many others may differ.
William Shakespeare begins his play with a scene of violence. The scene involves Sampson and Gregory the two servants of the house of Capulet, talking about what they would do to the wife’s of the Montague.
Sampson: “A dog of that house shall move me to stand: I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague’s.”
He then goes on to say:
Sampson: “‘Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant: when I have fought with the men, I will be civil with the maids; I will cut off their heads.”
Gregory also says that he would rape the maids of the Montague’s.
Further on in this scene two servants of the house of Montague enter and become involved in conversation with the servants of the House of Capulet because Sampson makes a rude gesture of biting his thumb towards one of the Montague servants.
Sampson: “Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it.”
Abram: “Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?”
Sampson: “I do bite my thumb, sir.”
Abram: “Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?”
Sampson: “Is the law on our side if I say ay?”
Sampson: “No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.”
Gregory: “Do you quarrel, sir?”
Abram: “Quarrel, sir? No, sir.”
Sampson: “But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as good as man as you.”
I believe this establishes some important elements for the audience. It shows that the two families hate each other so much that even the servants fight when the see each other. It also allows for a good introduction of the dramatic foils in the play including Benvolio (whose name means “peaceful’) and Tybalt (whose name means “Terrible”).
Most importantly it establishes the rule that if anyone from these families fight, it will mean death.
Prince Escalus: “If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.”
Later in the play Romeo appears to be in Love with Rosaline. When Romeo is first mentioned in the play, it seems as if he is in true love with Rosaline.
Although Rosaline is Romeo’s obsession, it is when he talks of her that the audience realises that this is an artificial love. When Romeo is describing her to his friend Benvolio, Romeo’s descriptions are normally referencing to Rosaline’s physical beauty and attractiveness.
“She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste, For beauty starve with her severity”.
Later, Romeo goes to a party (hosted by the Capulet family, enemies to his own) in the hope of meeting her. Romeo spends his time, not looking for Rosaline (which was his main objective). But meeting Juliet and having his first kiss with her.
“Have not saint lips but holy palmers too?”.
Paris is another character in the play that illustrates the symptoms of unrequited love. He proposes to Juliet, but she has a negative response – so negative in fact, that she kills herself in the end to avoid having to marry him. Similar to Romeo, Paris does not actually know Juliet, just her family and what she represents; therefore he is marrying a name, not a person. But we can still tell by his actions throughout the play, of his true love for Juliet especially at the end when he hears news of Juliet’s death, he wants to give his life up.
Unlike her situation later on in the play, at the beginning Juliet seems to be very obedient to her parent’s wishes.
“I’ll look to like, if looking move but no more deep will I endart mine eye than your consent gives strength to make it fly.”
In this quote, Juliet is saying that she will find someone she likes, but will not go too far with them until she has her parents consent to do so.
But all her naivety and obedience changes once she discovers true love with Romeo. She matures in a way. Instead of siding with her parents this time, she sides with Romeo, who is her new husband. This is surprising as even after Tybalt’s death her mind does not change; although she does say that he was “the best friend I ever had”.
Mercutio is Romeo’s best friend in the play. He is a character who is interesting to study. Mercutio actually means mercury which matches his personality very well. Mercury changes with heat and is very dangerous when unleashed. Mercutio is like this when his mood suddenly changes from mocking people to sword fights and joking around to evil, we see this in Act 1 when the Montague’s gate crash the Capulet’s party. Mercutio is needed in this play as he keeps the audience focused and laughing through what he says. However he is also intelligent and witty. Next to Romeo and Juliet I believe his the next most developed character.
To Romeo Mercutio is funny and a great friend. When Romeo is down in love Mercutio knows the cure and when Mercutio is in a fighting mood Romeo is sensible enough to calm him down and prevent any outbreak. Mercutio tells Romeo that sex is better than love and Romeo then cheers up whereas Romeo thinks opposite. Mercutio uses sexual puns which show that he speaks what he wants and so he speaks from the heart and this is why Romeo is similar with him because Romeo shows love from the heart. The major difference between them is that Mercutio is rude and Romeo is polite. Mercutio can be seen as the sort of person that is taught something and thinks it’s true until proven wrong whereas Romeo will find out for himself, for example the feud between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s, this interests Romeo in no ways at all, but Mercutio does hate the Capulet’s even though they have done nothing to him during his lifetime. This is also why Mercutio thinks Romeo has let the Montague’s down by not backing up Mercutio in the fight against Tybalt. To Romeo death is final but to Mercutio death is nothing but a joke.There are many different interpretations of Mercutio. Three of the main ways are:
2. Straight – Jealous of Romeo, never been in love.
3. Been in love and been hurt so does not approve of love.
Friar Laurence marries Romeo and Juliet even though he believes that the marriage will end up in tragedy. However he marries them in hope that it will end the continuous feuding between the two families. When Romeo asks Friar Laurance to marry him with Juliet the Friar doesn’t think that his love is true.
“Young men’s love then lies not truly in their hearts but in their eyes.”
As was his love for Rosaline, the Friar believes that his love for Juliet will not last. Even though he thinks that the marriage is flawed he agrees to marry them in his own self interest of ending the feuding.
“In one respect I’ll thy assistant before this alliance may so happy prove.”
This is the first action that will eventually lead to the young couples’ deaths. He marries them even though he feels that the marriage may end in tragedy. The Friar’s intentions are well however he himself even warns Romeo that rushing into it will not work out. The marriage of Romeo and Juliet is the beginning of the events that will soon come
The relationship of the Nurse and Juliet is more like a mother and daughter relationship where as lady Capulet and Juliet isn’t. The Nurse takes care of Juliet and is very protective of Juliet. She tells Romeo to not mistreat Juliet.
“But first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her in a fool’s paradise as they say it were a very gloss kind of behaviour.”
The nurse does stand up for Juliet’s father’s violent rage against Juliet. The nurse was the only person that Juliet could turn to for help and comfort. At this time Juliet gets threatened to marry Paris and she need the Nurse to help her to persuade her parents. She is in a helpless situation, she is already married to Romeo and the Nurse knows that. After all the outburst of Juliet’s parents the nurse advice Juliet to marry Paris, Romeo is banished he’s as good as dead, “disclout”. From this point Juliet turns against the Nurse. When the Nurse confirms what she really thinks, that Juliet should marry Paris, Juliet says “Amen” I agree. But she doesn’t mean it, she turns against the Nurse, she has changed and has her own mind. The nurse is no longer the person to whom Juliet can turn to. Juliet is angry and let down by the Nurse.
“Thou and my bossom henceforth shall be twain”
I think the Nurse still has Juliet’s best interest at heart and has not betrayed in any way. I feel the only reason the Nurse is telling Juliet to marry Paris as opposed to Romeo is because then she will still keep a good relationship with the Capulet family and so she doesn’t end up on the streets, with no money and not a healthy life. As Romeo is banished, he cannot provide a good home and family for Juliet while Paris can and Juliet does not break her bonds with her family.
Capulet treats Juliet, during his conversation with Paris, as being an independent girl, having reasonable freedom to do as she wanted to an extent as if he cares very much about her.
“She’s the hopeful lady of my earth”
He also says
“And too soon married are those early made Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she. She is the hopeful lady of my earth.”
This is saying that he can see immense prospects in her, and has hopes for her succeeding in life. Earth is a key factor of survival, and without it we could not live. He compares Juliet to the earth. However from the beginning as shown above, Capulet has a very big change in character he changes his ways drastically.
In Act III Scene IV, we see the effects that the murder of Tybalt has on Capulet. Capulet wants Juliet to marry Paris as soon as possible
“A’ Thursday let it be”
It is possible to assume that Capulet is being irrational, just wanting to take the matter into his own hands. This is the complete opposite as to his behaviour in Act I Scene II in which he wanted to keep Juliet. Now her happiness is not at all taken into consideration. His attitude towards Juliet has become far more unconcerned, even though he is still trying to keep what he thinks are her best interests in mind.
In Act 1, Scene 3 Juliet speaks politely to her mother calling her ‘madam’. This also shows they have a distant relationship as she talks to her mother like she is talking to a stranger. Lady Capulet does not know how to approach Juliet to discuss marriage with her and needs the nurse there. The lady excuses the nurse but then immediately calls her back as she does not know how to approach Juliet her own daughter she does not know her very well.
She also has to confirm Juliet’s age with the nurse,
‘Thou knowst my daughter’s of a pretty age.’
The Nurse has brought Juliet up, so she knows her better. It was fashionable for wealthy people to employ a nurse to look after their children at this time.
In Act 3, scene 5 the nurse goes into Juliet’s bedroom to tell her that her mother is coming. Juliet asks herself
‘What unaccustomed cause procures her hither?’
This tells us that her mother does not visit her often. Juliet is crying and her mother thinks it is because she is grieving Tybalt’s death. She is very cold towards her daughter and tells her to stop crying, as she is crying too much. She does not comfort her at all. The audience knows that Juliet is not crying for her cousin she is crying for her Romeo’s departure. As her mother talks Juliet is thinking of other things, but still Lady Capulet is talking about marriage. This is important as it shows the gap between Juliet and lady Capulet.
In conclusion to all of this I personally feel that modern world has changed all morals and beliefs, as time has gone on. However in some countries, religions or maybe different cultures arranged marriages still go on. In some countries people even get married to people from a different country just so that they can move to that country.
If we look at the views in this play we can see clearly that Shakespeare believes that love is stronger than death. The way in which Juliet kills herself shows the strength that true love can give. Also Romeo picks up the courage drink the potion knowing that it would kill him.
For someone to do this they must have mighty power and will. In this play True Love is what gives these powers.