Guid Essay

Guid Essay

Examining The Acts Of Romeo And Juliet English Literature Essay

Shakespeare convinces the audience that Romeo and Juliet are truly in love by using a range of techniques such as shared sonnets (Act 1 Scene 5, when the pair first share any words); iambic pentameter – whilst regarding the concept of love and being engulfed in it – this is utilized generally in a sonnet and soliloquy; soliloquy is used to show how the character truly feels (Act 2, Scene 2 – when Romeo is profaning his true feelings towards Juliet); a variety of language is also used, such as similes, metaphors and religious imagery. Religion in Elizabethan times was the most elevated one could attain status wise – thus Romeo does declare his love for Juliet by elevating her status to the highest form available to him. Shakespeare is also obliged to show how Romeo is not truly in love to begin with. This comparison allows the audience to see Romeo’s attitude change once he is truly in love, confirming this fact and that it is not lust. Shakespeare conveys these techniques throughout the play when the audience are fully engaged and hooked into the plot, especially when the characters show their true emotions.

The prologue is a vital tool Shakespeare has at his digression, as it is essential to setting up the play and giving the audience an insight as to what themes the play will revolve around. These themes consist of constant love, love vs. hate, forbidden love and the hatred towards families. The prologue is written as a sonnet, uses Iambic Pentameter and the rhyming scheme is couplets every other line: ABAB. These techniques are crucial to convey these themes to the audience.

Shakespeare introduces the main character Romeo profaning his love for Rosaline to his friends by using a variety of techniques which to him show his love, but it is incredibly clear to the audience that he is just perplexed with her beauty and her rejecting him adds to his lust – thus proving he is not truly in love at his point. In Act 1, Scene 1, Shakespeare uses the first two pieces of dialogue from Romeo to demonstrate this: “Is the day so young? / Ay me, sad hours seem long”. The use of monosyllabic words here shows his depression and the use of a rhetorical question emphasises a sense of self-pity; “Ay me” vocalises this though sound, expressing his emotions to both the other characters and the audience. Shakespeare uses this to show Romeo’s role of playing with love, unsure of what it truly entails – heightening his love with Juliet later; also it is used to draw the attention to him, immediately verifying that he is the main character.

His depression and childlike state is expressed through the use of language too: “Sad hours seem long” is an example of hyperbole and the way this is used to express to the audience that he is lusting over her rather than being in love with her.

These examples show how Romeo is performing the way he believes one should when in love. “Sad hours seem long” shows us how he is moping, like a depressed lover would feel after a break up, or one missing a partner in a relationship. This itself is ironic, as he has not experienced either in this instance, which again demonstrates the idea of playing with love. “long” shows that to him time is dragging on – how he needs her to be complete once more – pining for her; this is ironic too as he did not have her to begin with. The actions the actor would accompany these phrases with on stage would be in a depressing, lethargic way, almost in slow motion – like a child in a strop who is sulking around complaining. Similarly conversed with the use of expression when he articulates the lines; it would be said as if in a childlike state, a whiney tone for example. His behaviour mimics that of courtly love, which was commonly used in the Elizabethan era, thus showing how he is not truly in love, he just desires her and is mesmerised by her.

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“In love? / Out – / Of love?” is another example of Romeo not being truly in love at this point. The use of a sycamore expresses how Romeo is playing with his words, playing with this concept of love. He uses sycamore – love sick because the love he has for her is only skin deep; he does not know what she is really like, he only wants her for her appearance. Implying he is sick with this illness – comparing love to a disease. If Romeo were truly in love with Rosaline he would not be playing with words, using them in vein, or the feelings associated with this powerful emotion. Another example: “O brawling love / O heavy lightness / Feather of lead”. The repetition of “O” – shows how he is in a child-like pretence, whinging and whining about how he needs her -he is expressing himself repetitively through sound once more; the paradoxes express how he is mentally unstable, confused – unsure of his true feelings for Rosaline – supporting how he is feigning these feelings of love.

In addition, the way in which Mercutio speaks about women is coarse and crude: “By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh, / And the demesnes that there adjacent lie.” As Romeo looks up to Mercutio and sees him as his role model, he consequently thinks he must feel the same way about women – Romeo only wants Rosaline sexually. Romeo has probably seen Mercutio using courtly love on other girls, so feels he must live up to the expectations of this too – thus confirming to the audience how Romeo is not truly in love with Rosaline.

Similarly, Juliet’s maid – the Nurse – has same views as Mercutio, but expresses this in a different, much more direct way. This shows how her status is much lower than the Capulates’ and the Montagues’. These two rival families have their own servants, which connotes they have a large quantity of money and power at their disgression. This also suggests they have status. Seeing as they have big families that are respected by their representative people, and maids and servants to do their bidding, it can be assumed that they are wealthy.

Other than the fact that Nurse is clearly presented as a servant, she speaks in a much lower form – comparative to how the peasants would have spoken in this era – in free verse and a rather crude manor: “Thou wilt fall backwards when thou comest to age”. This character plays an important part in enticing as many people to see this play as possible; the peasants would connect with her as she speaks as they would, aiding Juliet in her love conquest, arranging the lovers to meet secretly and organizing their wedding. Furthermore she would appeal to the middle-class audience, as they would probably have someone like that in their life – like Romeo correspondingly does.

As Shakespeare has now clearly shown how Romeo is playing with love, his influential friends and the era of which this play is set through the language and descriptions made about concepts by other characters; he is now able to begin to convince the audience of Romeo’s true feelings of love towards Juliet from the moment he meets her.

To do this, Shakespeare uses a variety of techniques placed in strategic positions of the play to gain maximum effect. Religious imagery is an especially significant technique used, as in the era in which the play was both written and set, religion played a very important part of peoples’ lives. Faith was a very powerful tool to use and God influenced every aspect of their life. Shakespeare used this to his advantage: In Act 1 Scene 5, Romeo uses religious imagery and hyperbole collectively to elevate Juliet’s status metaphorically as high as possible. He uses his language to create a god-like status, which Romeo constantly allocates to Juliet. “If I profane with my unworthiest hand / This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:” is a clear example of using language to his advantage. “Profane” is an example of hyperbole, proving to her that she is incredibly special to him – imposing a higher status on her than he has – and that he is extremely lucky to even be in her presence. “Unworthiest hand” illustrates how he idolizes her and how he is not worthy, placing himself lower than her for he is not pure whereas she is and has the ability to purify him with her affections and god-like status. “This holy shrine” demonstrates Romeo creating Juliet to have an angelic and god-like status, both in the way she looks and her pure nature. She is elevated as highly as possible by this point, confirming the fact that Romeo believes to be in love with Juliet already. This contrasts to the beginning of the play: the change of attitude and language style immediately informs the audience and Juliet herself his true feelings and affections towards her. This type of love is love at first sight; however, this still leaves questions in the audience’s minds as to if it really is true love as suggested.

“My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand / To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss”. “Two blushing pilgrims” softens what he is saying – the use of metaphors makes it sound pure, thus implying she herself is pure and can cure him of this disease that has struck him; “pilgrim” is used to emphasize how he is lower than her and worships and idolizes her – how he has been on a pilgrimage all his life to discover her, seek her affections – hence illustrating to her and the audience his true feelings of love for her. “To smooth that rough touch” shows how Romeo has elevated her status, emphasising her purity and the effect she has on him. Once she purifies him with the power she holds over him, he will finally be complete after his “pilgrimage”.

This segment of Act 1 Scene 5 is a Sonnet, which is shared by both Romeo and Juliet, consequently proving that Juliet is intrigued by Romeo’s propositions and the feelings he has about her may similarly be shared by her herself. “Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, / Which mannerly devotion shows in this; / For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch, / And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.” – “Good pilgrim” shows how she is acknowledging what he is attempting, mimicking the language he uses, implying she feels the same way. “Wrong your hand too much,” shows acknowledgement towards his propositions and that she does not feel she is as important as she implies, possibly because she feels overwhelmed by this, or embarrassed and overwhelmed by being romanticised. However it is obvious she likes this, but at the same time she is questioning what he is saying – questioning if it really is true love he is profaning or if he is just swooning after her. “Saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch” shows us that she accepts her elevation and feels complimented by him; “pilgrims’ hands do touch” shows her similar feelings towards him – how she contemplates the possibility of them being together. “Palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss” enlightens us that she ultimately feels after this brief meeting that she wants to kiss him back – she has been entranced by his language and the way he uses it – thus Shakespeare endeavours to convince the audience that the pair share true love this early on.

Romeo: “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand” is a terrific example in this shared sonnet to show the vast techniques used by Shakespeare in this one instance. The parenthesis commas puts emphasis on the words “blushing pilgrims”, declaring his status means nothing compared to her; enjambment shows he has so many things to say to her at once – his true feelings for her are profound; caesuras break up the tone to make it sound softer and purer. This again shows Romeo’s true feelings towards Juliet, even though they have only just met.

Juliet turns down Paris – a suitable partner recommended by her parents – for Romeo, a miscreant of the families’ rival. Paris’ love for Juliet was true: “If thou be merciful, / Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet.” Is an example of true love, as he cannot bear to be apart from her, if he must die for her then he shall.

However this love was unrequited, as Juliet did not love him in return. This is another form of love expressed in the play, which enables Shakespeare to establish the true and pure love Romeo and Juliet share. Paris’ rejection would appear to show Juliet’s love for Romeo; however, this could be seen as an act based on impulse because of her age – immature, pubescent. Romeo being a Montague and Juliet being a Capulet meant the pair were deprived of meeting previously because of the family feud – which is an apparently unknown reason as it originates from “ancient” times – consequently showing that, because they know they are forbidden to love, it drives them towards each other more. Juliet wants to rebel and defy her parents’ wishes by being with the detested Romeo, which was an incredibly appalling thing to do because in this era family was exceedingly important and must be strictly obeyed; whereas Romeo appears to be expressing his true emotions to Juliet from the very first moment they meet. Romeo is more mature and so he knows the consequences of their actions, but chooses to ignore them because his love for her is too strong to ignore. This shows how he will do whatever it takes to be with her, and he loves her for the real her, regardless of her background. “Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight! / For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” This shows he questions love and is not instantaneous, again how his feelings are true – from the heart. “Ne’er saw true beauty till this night” is important, because Romeo will have met many women and been a possible suitor for a woman before, so this has more effect, showing that these feelings are true and from his heart. “This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this” is an example of religious imagery, also showing how his love for her is pure, which will be conveyed to the audience as they know how important religion is – thus how he truly loves her.

Soliloquy is an effective technique as it informs the audience of the characters true thoughts and emotions, clearing up any doubt in their minds. Shakespeare uses this technique to build on the foundation of Romeo and Juliet’s love previously laid in Act 1, Scene 5 – when they first meet. In Act 2, Scene 2, Romeo speaks in Iambic Pentameter (showing his families’ status as he has had a good education); also demonstrating how he truly feels about Juliet – as he speaks about her so highly even to himself and in this way which traditionally shows true love. Shakespeare uses soliloquy to his advantage to effectively convince the audience of Romeo’s true feelings about Juliet. in addition he uses imagery from nature to convey this: “…Juliet is the sun. / Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon”. This phrase shows that Romeo believes she is pure by comparing her to the sun, which is a symbol of angel-like purity. Romeo uses nature to also show her innocence, as universally nature is described pure, innocent since they are carefree and oblivious to the dangers live can hold. Romeo also uses the words “bright angel” to describe her later. This raises her status once more, showing his true feelings of love towards her and the hold she has on his emotions and very life he lives; he is baring his soul to her for all to see. Shakespeare uses this repeatedly in this segment to ensure the audience are aware that Romeo truly feels love for Juliet.

To begin the Act, Juliet too speaks in soliloquy, speaking openly and honestly about her love for Romeo. Convincing the audience furthermore of her true love for him. After her and Romeo engage in a conversation she similarly responds to him by using similes, metaphors and imagery using nature. She too speaks in Iambic Pentameter. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” is an example of simile use to show her feelings towards him, and the use of alliteration here emphasizes this. Similarly to Romeo, in this scene she too declares her love for him by using religious imagery, calling him “the God of my idolatry”. Calling him “God” shows how she too is elevating his status to show her affections, putting him on a pedestal above him like he does to her. “Idolarity” again emphasizes this proposal of true love.

Act 5 Scene 3 has a completely different tone than the majority of the play, and is essentially the main component Shakespeare has in his artillery to prove to the audience that the audacious main characters are truly in love with each other. The fact that they would choose death so they could be together once more – that life was nothing, pointless and inept without the other in it – is incredibly powerful, showing their love is immortal. This is conveyed to the audience, as death is the ultimatum: there is no turning back or second chances. This proves to everyone that their love is truly pure, strong, and sacred.

Romeo: “O true apothecary! / Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.” This shows how their love is sincere, as the last thing he chooses to do before he dies is to kiss Juliet just one last time.

Similarly Juliet’s true love is shown to be parallel, as once she sees Romeo’s body she herself wants to die: “What’s here? a cup, closed in my true love’s hand? / Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end: / O churl! drunk all, and left no friendly drop”. She describes poison as being “friendly”, making this phrase “friendly drop” an oxymoron. This shows how Juliet truly feels that Romeo is welcoming her in death and that to be truly happy she must die.

We can see by all the evidence collected: the subtle techniques and language used, the ways in which Shakespeare proves to the audience Romeo and Juliet’s love is true, genuine and pure. This is made evident to the audience by showing the different points of view on love and the many varieties of love. Shakespeare communicates this to the audience by combining a variety of techniques. The techniques and language in particular are very effectively used and positioned strategically throughout the play – both blatantly and subtly. This is made imminent towards the end of the play, particularly the death scene where their love is made eternal – the ultimatum.


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