Explore how Shakespeare presents love and hate in ‘Romeo and Paper

Published: 2021-09-11 05:40:08
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Category: Romeo And Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet was written by William Shakespeare early in his career. The play is a tragedy about two young star crossed lovers whose death is the only way for their families to end a prolonged feud. Many suspect that Shakespeare ingeniously used the Capulets and Montagues (the two feuding families) to speak out on the civil war between the two churches, Catholic and Protestan. The highly religious Elizabethans could potentially decipher Shakespeare’s message with the assistance of the plethora of religious and biblical references used over the course of the play. Shakespeare uses a variety of dramatic and structural devices to enhance the idea he aims to present through his theatre. The play is written using a poetic structure and contains many subplots to enrich the story. Shakespeare switches between genres of romance and tragedy to give heightened sense of tension and uses foreshadowing to draw the audience in on account of their emotions. Skillfully expanding on minor characters, Shakespeare created a more vivid experience for his audience as they got to know the characters more personally and saw the flaws that were hidden under veils of deceit. These techniques and many more are used by Shakespeare to demonstrate the ideas of love and hate throughout the play. The Shakespearian sonnet is a key means by which Shakespeare shows love, which is shown by how Romeo grows more adept at the sonnet throughout the play and how his relationship with Juliet grows alongside the use of the sonnet. Through his play, Shakespeare set forth the concept of love and hate being two sides of one coin, he showed that forbidden love and passion will lead to violence and pain. Throughout the play, Shakespeare displays the opposing ideas of love and hate, Romeo and Juliet’s love being doomed from the start and the connections between love and death.
Throughout the play, Shakespeare juxtaposes the ideas of love and hate in order to exhibit the differences between the two. He structures his play in a way that love and hate are shown side by side in many different instances. For example in Act 1 Scene 5, immediately after Tybalt has an argument with Lord Capulet and threatens Romeo by saying,’ this intrusion shall now seeming sweet turn to bitter gal’ Romeo and Juliet meet. The audience would hear this and understand that the foreshadowing of Romeo’s death is becoming more and more forceful throughout the play. Tybalt also uses plosive language in line, ‘Patience perforce’ which makes him sound assertive and exasperated. Romeo and Juliet’s first encounter is presented in the form of a Shakespearian sonnet which is performed in an intermingled way. This brings the characters closer in order to assert the fact that they are indeed star crossed lovers from the very beginning. Shakespeare used phrases such as, ‘my lips, two blushing pilgrims’ to demonstrate the instant connection. The noun, ‘pilgrims’ and other commonly repeated nouns such as ‘saint’ reveal that Romeo and Juliets love is pure as there are religious connotations to those words. The Elizabethans were a highly religious people therefore religious imagery would create a vivid depiction of Romeo and Juliet’s love for each other. The unanticipated transition from a tense and argumentative discussion between two antagonised characters to a sonnet between destined lovers demonstrates that love and hate are two sides of one coin and Shakespeare sees them as parallel emotions. Shakespeare’s intent here is to allow the audience to obtain a sense of understanding and feel secure in the theme of love and hate are becoming more and more important as the play goes on.
Juliet’s soliloquy focuses heavily on the antithesis of love and hate. The line, ‘Like damned guilty deeds to sinners’ minds!’ Here Shakespeare used an exclamatory sentence and a simile to reveal how Juliet’s emotions have become a confusing mixture of love and anger and pain. The phrase, ‘damned guilty’ could be inferred as Juliet feeling as if she had something to do with the death of her cousin and banishment of her husband. The word, ‘sinners’ could represent not only the simile she is making to felons but to herself and her husband who got married in secret and are now causing chaos. The word, ‘sinners’ is recurring throughout the play and could also be linked to the families and their feud. The Elizabethan audience would feel annoyed because of this comparison to sinners as they would have been highly religious. Juliet feels responsible yet powerless. Juliet is an embodiment of an Elizabethan woman, however, her character is unconventional as she has to discipline her self to ensure she can stay supportive of her husband although he commits despicable crimes, . This is because marriage was very sacred and man and woman would become one flesh as seen in, ‘what tongue shall smooth thy name’ This metaphor indicates that Juliet understands that it is up to her to love Romeo in defiance of his crimes. Elizabethan audience would be patriarchal therefore would see it as Juliet’s duty to defend Romeo. The rhetorical question demonstrates how Juliet is conflicted between loving and hating Romeo. This is because she asks herself,’ what tongue’ meaning she is not given a choice in this situation. Love and hate are so closely shown by Shakespeare in the soliloquy because of the internal conflict that Juliet is feeling about the death of her cousin and the banishment of her husband. She does not understand if she should be upset that Tybalt was killed or happy that Romeo lived, but she does understand that they could not both live it was either Romeo or Tybalt, but one of them would have died in the end.
In Act 3 Scene 1 we encounter the turning point of the play which was not uncommon for Shakespeare’s plays and it is where we encounter the first major death and heartbreak in the play. Here the Montagues and Capulets are situated on the streets of Verona, prepared for a fight to the death. Tybalt slanders Romeo and Mercutio stands up for him. The legal history of the early modern period of history tells us that, rapiers (weapons of choice) were illegal to use in dueling. Dueling plays a pivotal role in the Elizabethan drama as it is the cause for the death of Mercutio, followed closely by Tybalt. The line, ‘the reason that I love thee doth much excuse the appertaining rage’ demonstrates the rage Romeo must suppress in order to love his sworn enemy. The verb, ‘excuse’ is used by the character of Romeo in an attempt to lift some blame off of Tybalt’s shoulders for being rude and hostile towards the Capulets. The link between love and hate is seen clearly here as Romeo is forced to love Tybalt but ends up killing him in order to avenge Mercutio, a man he also loved. Tybalt does not know that Romeo is married to his cousin Juliet therefore it is ironic that he presumes that Romeo is mocking him by saying he loves him. Love and hate are also shown through Mercutio’s sudden change of mind. At first he was seen defending his best friend and merely seconds after he was wounded he set out to curse the houses by repeating, ‘a plague on both your houses’ three times. The Elizabethans highly relied on fate and superstitions therefore they would recognize the depth of his anger towards the rivarling families.
Foreshadowing is a dramatic device used by Shakespeare throughout the play in order to add tension. In the prologue it is said that Romeo and Juliet are, ‘fatal…star crossed lovers’. This is of significance because the Elizabethan audience were very superstitious and relied on stars and astrology, therefore the words, ‘star crossed’ would allow the audience to understand clearly that the play will end in death. Adjectives such as, ‘fatal’ and, ‘fearful’ are used in the prologue to tell the audience that Romeo and Juliet’s deaths are inevitable due to the fight between the families. Later in the play Romeo cries out, ‘then, I defy you stars’ as he sees Juliet dead in the tomb. With this Romeo is saying he wants to defy the stars and refuses to accept that their doom was intertwined with their love all along. The prologue tells us of an ‘ancient grudge’. The adjective, ‘ancient’ is used by Shakespeare to make the feud sound unnecessary and the audience is given no back story on the grudge to ensure that the audience does not focus on it. Dramatic irony is used in the prologue as exhibited in line, ‘bury their parents’ strife where the verb, ‘bury’ is used to signify the death of the grudge as a result of the death of the lovers.
The premonition of death makes the play seem cyclic as throughout the play characters seem to be hinting at death and doom in relation to Romeo and Juliet. Romeo speaks about his love for Rosaline and describes the emotion as being, ‘a smoke made with a fume of sighs’. Here Shakespeare uses a metaphor which could be inferred as Romeo feeling like he is being suffocated with emotion and not being able to see clearly what is before him. Despite that quote being about Rosaline, it relates to his and Juliet’s relationship, but the difference is that the smoke ends up killing them and their last sighs are that of love. In that same speech, Shakespeare uses a paradox by saying that love is a , ‘choking gal, a preserving sweet’ which once again foreshadows that Romeo and Juliet’s sweet and passionate love will in the end be the cause of their pain and death. This could be linked to how Lord Capulet tried to force Juliet into marrying Paris but she retaliated because of her deep devotion to Romeo. Lord Capulet is a strong example of the patriarchal model of society and therefore would have full control of Juliet and she had no right to disagree. This reflects the pressing social issues of the time as women were seen as property of their superior men because of the chain of being where men are above women. This is seen in the line, ‘And you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend, and you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets’. Here Lord Capulet tells Juliet that she must obey him or he will abandon and leave her to die. This is foreshadowing as she decides to fake her own death instead of marrying the man she does not love because her own father disowned her and left her to, ‘die’.

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