This story written by William Shakespeare of love, life and death is one of the most well known and most romantic stories ever written. There have been many adaptations of the play in the forms of books, films, ballets and plays. These are always so popular because people want to find true love. The words Romeo and Juliet conjure up images associated with true love: but the play explores many views of ‘love’. Each character in the play has a different personality and view on life, therefore they perceive ‘love’ in their own distinct way, adding a clear contrast to Romeo and Juliet’s first love, which is true and pure.
If you ask anyone what Romeo and Juliet is ‘about’ his or her answer will almost certainly contain the word ‘love’.
It depicts the lives of two, fourteen-year-old lovers ‘ Romeo and Juliet’. They both come from two wealthy families in Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets. These two families have been feuding for years and when Romeo and Juliet fall in love they know they must keep it a secret.
In act 1 we see that Romeo is a young man has a melancholy and depressive personality, he seems hopeless and in despair but he has not always been like this. When Romeo falls in love with Juliet Mercutio says it’s like the Romeo they used to know:
‘Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo. Now art thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature, for this drivelling love is like a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble hole.’
We find out that Romeo is desperately in love with a Capulet, Rosaline who does not return his love, he is feeling confused gloomy and upset. He compares being in love to being mad or in prison:
‘Not mad, but bound more than a madman is; shut up in prison, kept without my food, whipped and tormented, and-Godden good fellow.’
He also feels mixed up because love to him is like a religion and anyone who denies it is a non-believer. We can see that he is confused by the speech he uses:
‘O brawling love, o loving hate, oh why anything of nothing first creates! O heavy lightness, serious vanity, mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms, feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health.
This speech shows impossible opposites like ‘cold fire, which doesn’t make sense because a fire is hot but Romeo says it is cold. These opposites are called oxymorons.
He also has very deep feelings and emotions and he is very romantic. We see this when he is describing Rosaline’s beauty:
‘ Well in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit with cupid’s arrow. She hath Dians wit, and in strong proof of chastity well armed, from love’s weak childish bow she lives uncharmed. She will not stay the siege of loving terms, nor bide th’ encounter of assailing eyes, nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold. O she is rich in beauty, only poor, that when she dies, with beauty dies her store.’ He uses words to describe her beauty like rich, which shows how in love he is with Rosaline. Romeo is impetuous and always in a hurry.
Juliet is different to Romeo in act 1 she does not have the same thought as Romeo. We see that she plays the dutiful daughter who is independent on her mum and nurse. She obeys her mum, dad and nurse when they call. We can see this when the nurse shouts her and she answers ‘ How now? Who calls?’ then replies ‘Madam I am here. What is your will?
We also learn that she is almost fourteen and is still quite mature for her age. We don’t know much about her parents past but we know that she is now close to her mother and turns to the nurse for a mother figure. Juliet often shares lively jokes with the nurse, and the nurse recalls moments from when Juliet was two.
We also find out that Juliet is going to wed County Paris in an arranged wedding, which she will consider.
Juliet is quite a mature character who acts more than her age, and Romeo falls in and out of love instantly.
They meet at the Capulets house in a masked ball in act 1 scene 5, which Romeo attended to take his mind of Rosaline and to meet new people. Romeo is still gloomy and says he won’t dance but will carry the torch because he is too heavy hearted: ‘Give me a torch, I am not for this ambling. Being but heavy. I will bear the light.’
He complains that love is rough and hurts those who fall in love: ‘I am too sore empierced with his shaft, to soar with his light feathers: and so bound I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe. Under love’s heavy burden do I sink.’
Romeo is in a sombre mood but then catches sight of Juliet and is amazed by her beauty:
‘What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand of yonder knight?
They then speak for the first time:
‘If I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this, my two blushing pilgrims ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.’
They then kiss. She says that he is an expert kisser and asks for him to kiss her again:
‘You kiss by th’ book’. ‘Give me my sin again.’
Their conversation is like a board game; Romeo speaks first then Juliet, then Romeo again. They take it in turns to speak, which is like a game to them.
Juliet’s mother then calls her and the guests start to leave. Romeo is then astonished to learn that Juliet is a Capulet:
‘Is she a Capulet? O dear account, my life is my foe’s debt.’
Juliet is also dismayed to learn that Romeo is a Montague:
‘My only love sprung from my only hate, too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me, that I must love a loathed enemy. This is Juliet’s first love and it is with her enemy but she knows she can’t change he feelings for him.
Romeo can’t keep away and he knows he is in love, after leaving he rushes back to the Capulets house to be with Juliet:
‘Can I go forward when my heart is here? Turn back dull earth, and find thy centre out.’
Romeo has climbed up the wall of them house and arrives in her garden to see Juliet’s shadow in a window. He compares her to light through out this scene. In one quote he compares her to the sun:
‘But soft, what light through yonder window breaks, it is the east and Juliet is the sun.’
He also mentions:
‘Bright angels.’ And ‘The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars.’
Juliet then comes out onto her balcony and speaks aloud of her love for Romeo.
‘O Romeo, Romeo wherefore out thou Romeo?’ This speech says why are you called Romeo (Montague) and not some other name.
She also makes other references to the rival names:
‘Thou art thyself, though not a Montague’. Which means that he would still be the same even if he were not a Montague.
‘So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.’ This means that he would be perfect even if he wasn’t called Romeo.
The names to Juliet seem unimportant.
Romeo then appears and Juliet asks him how he got there, he says that love has given him a way:
‘With love’s light wings did I o’erperch (fly over) these walls, for stony limits cannot hold love out, and what love can do, that dares love attempt. Therefore thy kinsmen are no stop to me.’
Juliet asks if he loves her, as she loves him, she wants a simple answer and not one full of oaths, she is worried incase Romeo thinks she is too forward. Romeo and Juliet exchange vows of love:
‘Th’ exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.’
They then arrange to be married:
‘If they thy bent of love be honourable, thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow, by one that I’ll procure to come thee, where and what time thou wilt perform the rite, and all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay, and follow thee my lord throughout the world.’
I think the love they show for each other in this scene is powerful, it’s the love that many people crave. This immense love is pure and true. They love each other indefinitely and will do anything for each other even die. We can see from the first moment the couple meets that they have a special bond between them, they share the same language and both use religious and biblical words to express themselves. The first time they speak is in the form of a sonnet:
Romeo: ‘If I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this, my lips two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.’
Juliet: ‘Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devotion shows is this, for saints have hands that pilgrims hands do touch, and palm to palm id holy palmer’s kiss.’
I think their actions were slightly rash they had known each other for such a short time and rushed straight into marriage with outs any thoughts at all. They didn’t think of the consequences but let their emotions get the better of them. This is presumably Juliet’s first love and is slightly naï¿½ve she immediately falls in love with Romeo when she is supposed to be marrying Pairs. For Romeo this isn’t his fist true love from scene 1 we saw that he was deeply in love with rosaline and them instantly fell in love with Juliet off the rebound. This could mean that Romeo doesn’t actually love Juliet but just thinks he does.
This was unusual for a woman like Juliet to behave because she is a high class young woman who isn’t really ready to get married but is supposed to have a planned wedding arranged by her parents which is normal in Juliet’s time.
In act 3 scene 2 Juliet awaits Romeo’s arrival so they can be together. She waits anxiously and impatiently for him to arrive. Phoebus Apollo is the god of he sun, who drove across the sky in his chariot, Juliet urges them to gallop fast so that night will come and Romeo will arrive.
Juliet speaks of the darkness of night as though it were her friend since it will bring Romeo to her:
‘Come night, come Romeo, come thou day in night; for thou wilt lie upon the wings of night, come loving black-browed night, give me my Romeo, and when I shall die cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night, and pay no worship to the garnish sun.’
She then talks about ‘Losing a winning match.’ Which means that she will lose her virginity but win Romeo. She is looking forward to consummating her marriage that evening.
She also quotes:
‘O I have bought the mansion of love but not possessed it, and though I am old not yet enjoyed.’ She is married to Romeo but she has not slept with him.
She desperately wants the night to come.
In act 3 scene 1 Romeo faces conflict with Tybalt. It starts with Benvolio and Mercutio in the street and Benvolio wants to go inside to escape the Capulets who are looking for trouble. Mercutio refuses and calls Benvolio the troublemaker. Tybalt then approaches them looking for Romeo:
‘Mercutio thou consortest with Romeo.’
Romeo then appears and Tybalt insults Romeo in an attempt to provoke a fight, as this is Tybalt’s usual behaviour:
‘Romeo the love I hear thee can afford, no better term than this-thou art a villain.’
Romeo responds calmly to this and will not take up the challenge:
‘Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee doth much excuse the apparenting rage to such a greeting. Villain I am none, therefore farewell, I see thou knowest me not.’
Mercutio then challenges Tybalt and Romeo tries to stop the fight:
‘Draw Benvolio, beat down the weapons. Gentlemen, for shame, forbear this outrage. Tybalt, Mercutio, the prince expressly hath forbid this bandying in Verona streets. Hold Tybalt. Good Mercutio. In confusion Tybalt stabs Mercutio and quickly escapes. Mercutio is fatally wounded and dies immediately. Romeo realises the tragedy:
‘This day’s black fate on moe days doth depend, this but begins the woe others must end.
Tybalt yet again appears and Romeo reacted badly to Mercutio’s death and wanted to show Tybalt he wasn’t a coward so he grabbed the sword and attacks him frenziedly in a rage, which kills him.
In act 3 scene 3 in the friar’s cell Romeo is hiding, he asks the friar what his punishment from the prince is:
‘What less than doomsday is the princes doom.’
The friar replies:
‘A gentler judgement vanished from his lips; not bodies death, but bodies banishment.’
Romeo breaks down and cries that he will no longer be able to be with Juliet and it might as well be a death sentence:
‘There is no world without Verona walls, but purgatory, torture, hell itself. Hence banished from the world, and worlds exile is death. Then ‘banished’ is death mis-termed. Calling death ‘banished’, thou cut’st my head off with a golden axe, and smilest upon the stroke that murders me.’
He becomes increasingly wild and repeats that he might as well be dead. This is childish behaviour and Romeo is not acting his age. He should think about his action before doing something and this would of all been prevented. He is far too impulsive and immature.
I think that Romeo is foolish to take the friars advice because although the friar is the person he trusts the most, I think that the friar is covering his own back so that he doesn’t get found out about the secret marriage. I think that Romeo should have gone to the prince and sorted things out instead of making them worse by running away from his problems and not standing up to them like a grown up would.
In act 2 scene 3 we see how Juliet copes with the news of Tybalt’s death and Romeo’s banishment.
When the nurse tells Juliet of the news:
‘Ah weraday he’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead, we are undone lady, we are undone. Alack the day, he’s gone, he’s killed, he’s dead’.
At first she thinks that it is Romeo who is dead:
‘Romeo can; though heaven cannot. O Romeo, Romeo, who would of ever thought it? Romeo!’
But then the nurse mentions Tybalt. Juliet then discovers the truth and is mortified at the conflict of loyalties. She loves Romeo and is happy that he is still alive but he has killed her cousin and is very upset.
She can’t believe that Romeo is banished and repeats the word ‘banished over again’. It hasn’t sunk in but she is coming to terms with what has happened:
‘Tybalt is dead and Romeo banished.’
In act 3 scene 5 Juliet’s father tells her she will marry Paris. Juliet’s mother starts talking badly of Romeo and Juliet uses words to agree but also means that she loves him:
‘O how my heart abhors to hear him named- and cannot come to him-to wreak the love I bore my cousin. Upon his body that hath slaughtered him. ‘This has a double meaning she wants Romeo to be with her so that she can show him her love but her mother assumes she means that she wants avenge on Romeo for Tybalt’s death.
Lady Capulet then tells her husband that Juliet does not want to marry Paris. ‘Ay sir, but she will none, she gives you thanks. I would the fool were married to her grave.’
At first Capulet thought Juliet was to young and thought it was a bad idea but has come around to the idea. He cares a lot for his daughter because she is special to him and wants her to be happy:
‘Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she; she’s the hopeful lady of my earth.’
It was lady Capulets idea for her to marry because she described Paris as: ‘Valiant and charming: a perfect suitor.’ She does not seem interested in whether the couple love each other and more concerned about how suitable he is.
Juliet refuses to marry because of her love and marriage to Romeo. Capulet is furious and shouts:
‘How, how, how, how, chopt-logic. What is this? ‘Proud’ and ‘I thank you’ and ‘I thank you not’, and yet ‘not proud’. Mistress minion you thank me no thankings, nor proud me no prouds, but fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next, to go with Paris to saint peters church, or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither. Out you gree-sickness carrion, out you baggage, you tallow-face!’
Capulet gives Juliet an ultimatum to either marry Paris or he will disown her.
The nurse steps in to defend Juliet but Capulet is in such a raging mood that he shouts at her.
Juliet was foolish to follow the friar’s advice because the friar was watching his own back and making sure he didn’t get into trouble for marring her and Romeo in secret. I think that she should have gone to the Montagues or seen the prince, but this may have been her only option, as she felt trapped in a corner.
In act 4 scene 3 Juliet faces up to her fears when she has to drink a vial (sleeping drug) which will make her appear dead so she can be put into a vault where Romeo will meet her, and they can be together.
In her bedroom she takes out the drug and by her speech we know how far she is from the innocent young girl she was at the beginning of the play. Then the world was full of hope and promise for her; now she dearly sees the power and threat of evil. She wonders about the consequences of taking the drug and she has doubts:
‘What if it be poison which the friar subtly hath ministered to have me dead?’ what if the Friar, not wanting anyone to find out he’d married them, gave her poison?
What if she wakes up in the tomb by herself and suffocates with the lack of oxygen?
What if she wakes up in the tomb, and she’s so terrified by the bodies and the spirits that she goes crazy? She might even dash her brains out with some kinsman’s bone.
Her courage and love prevail, however, and she drinks the Friar’s drug. She has overcome all her fears because of her true love for Romeo, she has stepped into the world where she will not no whether she will live or die but is willing to risk it for Romeo. We can see this at the end of the speech when she says: ‘Romeo! Romeo! Romeo! I drink to thee.’
In act 5 scene 3 we also she Juliet overcome more fears as she wakes up in the tomb.
She is confused and still gazed from the potion and wants to see Romeo:
‘O comfortable friar, where is my lord? I do remember well where I should be, and there I am. Where I my Romeo?’
The friar explains what has happened and tries to make her leave but Juliet refuses. The friar leaves and Juliet sees Romeo on the floor, she goes over to him and realises he is dead. She sees that he’s died of poison, and she kisses his lips, (in fairy tales this would normally bring him back to life) hoping that there will be enough poison there to kill her. She discovers that his lips are still warm- she missed him by minutes:
‘Go get thee hence, for I will not away. What’s here? A cup closed in my true love’s hand? Poison I see hath been his timeless end. O churls, drunk all, and left no friendly drop to help me after? I will kiss thy lips? Haply some poison yet doth hang on them, to make me die with restorative. Thy lips are warm.’
The watchman is coming, so she acts fast: she grabs Romeo’s dagger:
‘Yea, noise? Then ill is brief. O happy dagger! This is thy sheath; there rest, and let me die.
She then stabs herself through the heart overcoming fears and doubts.
In act 5 scene 1 Romeo hears the news from Balthasar of Juliet’s death:
‘Her body sleeps in Capels’ monument, and her immortal part with angels lives.’
Romeo then decides to kill himself so he can be with Juliet, he knows an apothecary which is so poor that they can be persuaded to sell him some poison even though it is illegal:
‘Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight. Let’s see for means. O mischief thou art swift to enter in the thought of desperate men. I do remember an apothecary-.’
Romeo then goes to the apothecary and the man tells him that the poison is enough to kill 20 men and Romeo accepts it:
‘Put this in any liquid that you will and drink it off, and if you had the strength of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.’
Romeo is unafraid at this point and knows what he must do to be with Juliet after death.
In act 5 scene 3 Romeo goes to see Juliet in her tomb but some one tries to stop him and he kills them- it is Paris who has also come to see Juliet.
Inside the tomb he is stuck by Juliet’s beauty:
‘O love, my wife! Death that hath sucked the honey of thy breath hath had no power yet upon thy beauty. Thou art not conquered; beauty’s ensign yet is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, and deaths pale flag is not advanced there.’
He then takes out the potion:
‘Come bitter conduct, come unsavoury guides. Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark. Here’s to my love! (He drinks the potion) o true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.
In this speech Romeo compares his will power to the pilot and his body to the boat which is being steered onto the rocks of death. Like Juliet Romeo overcome his fears with love for Juliet, he pushed them to one side and followed his heart.
I admire Juliet as she faces death because she is fourteen years old and extremely strong willed she was determined to be with Romeo in death because they couldn’t be together in life. This shows braveness, true love and a great deal of courage. We get a picture in our head of them together in death with their sprits together. To do what Juliet did took a lot of determination and a lot of love to die for someone. This shows that she cared for Romeo a lot and did truly love him. I think that she killed herself because at the end of the play everyone she has truly cared about her has left her or turned against her and she was taking the easy way out.
Her character changes through out the play, she becomes more mature and independent. Although I admired Juliet in some ways I thought she was selfish. She defies her father about Romeo and Paris, she lied to keep herself out of trouble and went behind everyone back and married Romeo after the trouble they had gone through to arrange a marriage for her.
I also admire Romeo because he is so young yet like Juliet determined and overcome all his fears and killed himself so they could be together. It was a brave decision to make and took a lot of courage to do. Like Juliet there are some points of Romeo’s behaviour, which I don’t admire. I think he was foolish to kill himself because unlike Juliet he had his family to live for.
I think that Juliet was the most vividly depicted character. During the story we see her personality change and Juliet turns into somewhat of a rebel who deceives people. We also find out Juliet’s background and we get to know the people closest to Juliet and find out how they effect her personality. With Romeo we don’t know his parents and only get his friends views of him.
Juliet was an admired character in the story she had a loving father and nurse who was like a mother to her as Juliet’s mother resented her. Towards the end of the story all the people closest too her began to turn their backs on her and Juliet felt very alone with none to turn to, and when Romeo kills himself she doesn’t feel she has any other choice but to take her own life.
I think that Juliet showed a great deal of courage and bravery when she faced death and disaster, and considering her age was strong willed and determined. These are the points that I admire in Juliet and the fact that she was willing to die for love was extraordinary. Most people didn’t admire Juliet in the story because she was rebellious and went against her parent’s wishes, but none of them understood why she was like this and her deep love for Romeo. Juliet was an almost believable character she had fears, thoughts and feelings like normal people and this is what made Juliet a true character.
I think that Romeo and Juliet were destined to die. The plot of the play, fate works in the means of coincidences. It is a coincidence that Capulet should send out the invitations to the feast using a messenger who cannot read, at just the moment when he will meet Romeo and so ask him to read the list for him. It is also a coincidence that at a crowded party, where there are many attractive young women, Romeo catches sight of Juliet, at this same moment Tybalt catches sight of Romeo which is fate love and death captured in one split second which could be an omen of their deaths.
Many other coincidences happen: Capulet brings forward the wedding, Balthasar is able to travel fast to reach Romeo and give him the news of Juliet’s death yet friar John is prevented from leaving Verona because of an outbreak of plague in the poorer part of the town. Juliet also wakes after Romeo has taken the potion and Romeo’s impulsive nature seems violent and unstoppable as he acts rather than thinks. Romeo also has dreams of their deaths, which are omens that show they are going to die.
Tension builds up throughout the story and the more coincidences that start to appear the more we know that they were never meant to be together.
By the end of the story we are dreading the ending, we know that Juliet is going to wake but as the audience we are feeling tense and horror because we cant stop Romeo killing himself. The tragedy that happens is inevitable they are seconds away from happiness but their deaths happen and if Romeo had waited maybe a few more seconds then they would have been together but we new the story wasn’t going to be a happy ending. Their deaths were meant to happen and their deaths were destined from the first moment they met, this was a tragedy, which couldn’t have been prevented. This was the story of the ‘star crossed lovers’.