Romeo and Juliet Coursework

Romeo and Juliet is an epic love story that climaxes in tragedy. The story follows two lovers from opposing families over the course of two days, and it features many twists and turns that always keeps the audience on its toes. In my opinion, Romeo and Juliet is one of William Shakespeare’s greatest plays. It features love, tragedy, comedy, action and a classic story that will never be forgotten.During this essay I will discuss the passions that are in this play, and how they feature. Are passions dangerous, and do they need to be controlled? Or are passions what make life worth living, and without them the world would be dull and meaningless? I will discuss both these questions, and try to come to a conclusion.Every character experiences some kind of passion during the play. Romeo and Juliet obviously both feel love, but they feel other passions such as anger, sadness and vengefulness. For instance, Romeo feels anger when Tybalt has killed Mercutio. “Alive, in triumph! and Mercutio slain! Away to heaven, respective lenity, and fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!” is what Romeo says when he eyes Tybalt after the killing.This shows how angry Romeo is at Tybalt. Previously, Romeo was speaking in kindness to Tybalt, telling him he loved the Capulet. Tybalt did not yet know that Romeo and Juliet were now husband and wife, and wished to fight the groom. Romeo declined, and Mercutio stepped forward. Mercutio was killed in combat, and Romeo became angry. In his fury, he killed Tybalt. This is a defining moment in the play because the fight resulted in Romeo being banished from Verona.Yet, as Romeo feels such anger at one point, he feels much loveduring another. “Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night, as a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear” is what Romeo says upon seeing Juliet at the Capulet party. This not only demonstrates that Romeo thinks Juliet is absolutely beautiful; it also brings some poetry to the play. Throughout the scenes, Shakespeare manages to add many pieces of poetry into the play, which gives the scene that little extra magic. This quote also highlights how passion is necessary at the right moments. If there were no passion during this scene, the scene would be pointless.I think it may be worth noting at this point that since the couple met, they have never held a real conversation. I think it is ironic how the two can tell each other they love one another when they have never talked about their personalities or lives. Whenever Romeo and Juliet meet, all they ever talk about is how they love each other and want to stay togetherJuliet has a wide range of emotions and passions throughout the play. She also feels happiness, but also feels sadness and deep sorrow. “Is there no pity sitting in the clouds that sees into the bottom of my grief?” is what Juliet speaks when she finds that she must marry Paris, even though she is married to Romeo. Yet she cannot tell her parents she is married, as they can never know she is sharing her life with a Montague. I think she also feels anger towards her family at this point too. She cannot be with her love because of the families’ frivolous feud and she wants it to end. It is worth noting that Shakespeare never reveals why the families quarrel. I believe he does this because he wants to make the audience feel that the grudge they bear against each other is so old, neither families remember why they fight. I think this shows that angry passions do need to be controlled, as they can have dangerous consequences.Sadness features quite often in this play. Most characters feel sadness at some stage in the play. Once again, it is ironic that possibly the greatest love story ever written features so many negative feelings. Maybe Shakespeare wanted to teach us something about love; love can only lead to pain. While many good things come from love in this play, it all eventually leads to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet dying. One could blame their deaths on the families fighting, but they would never have died if they had not been in love.The audience always knew that the play would be ending in sadness and tragedy. In the prologue the audience is told “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life”, revealing that both Romeo and Juliet kill themselves. Therefore, throughout the play the audience always has on their minds that the couple will kill themselves before the end of the play. Even when the audience should be happy that Romeo and Juliet are in love, they always know that it will end in death. I think Shakespeare does this to keep the theme of tragedy running in the play, even at the happiest of moments.In contrast to many other characters, Mercutio’s personality rarely changes. At every appearance during the play, even leading to his death, Mercutio is witty and charming, his language filled with sexual comments. However, during Mercutio’s death scene his words become deadly serious. When Mercutio first appears, he is headed with Romeo, Benvolio, and friends to the Capulet party. Mercutio debates everything the sad, gloomy Romeo says and lightens up the mood with his wit. His upbeat personality contrasts sharply with Romeo’s melancholy. He counters Romeo’s every complaint with comment that is bound to make the audience smile. It is also ironic how Romeo is the main character and hero of the story yet the focus is always on Mercutio whenever the cheerful character is around.Mercutio dies in a very memorable way. He and Tybalt are duelling, and Mercutio is doing very well. Yet Romeo foolishly intervenes and Mercutio is slain. It is debatable that if Romeo had never got in the way of the duellists, Mercutio would have probably won the duel. However, Romeo’s new found love for the Capulet family blinded him and all that was on his mind was stopping the fight, no matter what the cost. This obviously shows that passions do need to be controlled in certain situation, as they can lead to this. However, if the characters passions were controlled this scene would not exist. If they were controlled there would be no anger felt toward each other therefore this encounter would have been avoided.When Romeo tells Mercutio that the wound is not deep, Mercutio replies: “No, ’tis not as deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but ’tis enough, ’twill serve”. This time, Mercutio’s wit is accompanied by a curse on both families. The wound is only small, but is enough to kill him. He says “A plague o’ both your houses!” many times before he dies. This shows that even when Mercutio has been witty and charming, he is angry with the families because of their frivolous row. As Mercutio is one of the audience’s most loveable characters, this makes the audience angry with the families for such a ridiculous feud that can lead to such consequences.From Mercutio’s death, the play’s tragedy doesn’t stop. A vital character from the play is killed, and this triggers the tragedy. From this moment on, nothing happens that is celebrated. Many people are angry with Shakespeare for killing off such a cheerful and important character half way through the play. I agree with them.The friar is a close friend to both Romeo and Juliet. It is the Friar who agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet in secrecy, though he knows their parents would not consent. He also concocts the plan for Juliet to play dead and is supposed to get the word out to Romeo. He fails. I cannot help but notice that everything that the Friar touches goes wrong.I believe that the Friar’s passion is to bring the two feuding families together. This is why he marries the two star crossed lovers as he believes that it will bring the two families closer together.Romeo greets the Friar “Good morrow, father”, and Friar Lawrence responds by calling Romeo “Young son”. Though these exchanges are appropriate because of the religious context, this interchange has greater importance. It is not just the exchange between the priest and the penitent. The Friar also stands in for Romeo’s own father since there are no scenes between Romeo and his parents. The Friar is the only person to whom Romeo turns for advice, and he is the last person to whom Juliet turns after all others have forsaken her. In this sense, he is father to them both and responsible for upholding order.The Friar is always there to comfort and help the two lovers, especially Romeo. One part that stands out is in the Friar’s cell, when Romeo has just been banished. Romeo is having a tantrum, and is incredibly upset that he has been separated from Juliet and fair Verona. The Friar tells Romeo this: “O deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness! Thy fault our law calls death; but the kind Prince, Taking they part, hath rush’d aside the law, and turn’d that black word “death” to “banishment.” This is dear mercy, and thou seest it not.” The Friar is telling Romeo that he should be thankful and lucky to still be alive. At this point, The Friar tells off Romeo, and demands that he stop crying and acting like a girl. From this scene it is obvious to see why The Friar is seen as a father figure to Romeo, as he is saying everything a father would say to his boy in such a situation.However, even though he is seen as a father figure, many of his ideas go awry. He is the person to suggest that Juliet should fake her death, therefore leading to Romeo’s death. This was obviously a ridiculous idea from the start, one that would never work. I think the Friar has a constant passion, one that is to try and direct Romeo and Juliet. This shows that passions need to be suppressed and controlled because he often leads the couple the wrong way. Ultimately, it is the Friar that kills Romeo and Juliet. He is the person to suggest the ludicrous ‘fake death’ plan, and this drives Romeo to suicide. Romeo’s death then destroys Juliet.At the end of the play, the Friar’s loyalty is tested. He is in the tomb when Juliet awakes, and she spies Romeo’s corpse. Instead of staying to help, he hears a noise and flees. How can someone seen as a father figure do this? Even though the two lovers regularly turn to him, his advice is usually bad and he proves how disloyal he is at the end of the play.Even though such terrible things can come from passions, I still believe that the world needs them. I believe that they could never be controlled as they put the excitement into our lives. Without passions, there would be no point in living. Without passions, life would be incredibly dull. We need passion to keep us alive. I believe Shakespeare felt the same, even though such feelings can lead to such disastrous consequences. As the old saying goes, what is the point in living if you can’t feel alive?

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“Romeo and Juliet” continues to have as much relevance for a modern day audience as it did in Shakespeare’s time. It is an enduring play of love triumphing over hatred. Do you agree?Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous love stories of all time. The play focuses on two fourteen year olds who come from two different families. The two families have been big rivals with each other for many years: Juliet comes from the Capulet family and Romeo comes from the Montague family.In Elizabethan time, it would be acceptable to marry at fourteen years of age. In the modern society, it is illegal to marry (without parental consent) until eighteen years of age. I do not know if it was normal to get married so quickly (in Romeo’s case, just a day after meeting Juliet) in Elizabethan time, but nowadays most couples wait until they have been both together for at least a year. Another aspect to early marriage in Elizabethan time is that the life expectancy was only about sixty years old, compared to about seventy years old in the twenty first century.The audience learn that if two people are so madly in love then nothing or no one will stand in their way of their love. They are so filled with love for each other that they ignore their family’s differences and decide to get married. Romeo risks death just to be with his beloved Juliet, this teaches the audience how much he was in love for Juliet. E.g. in Act 2 Scene 1: Sunday night after the ball, Romeo climbs the orchard tree and over the wall to see Juliet, despite the risk of being killed by the Capulets.I think the violence is exciting to watch because the violence is “romantic violence”. This is violence that a person is fighting for another person. There are two types of violence in the play: revenge violence and rivalry violence.The rivalry violence is between the two rival families: The Capulet’s and The Montague’s. An example of this is at the start of the play when Tybalt and Benvolio are using fighting talk (most fights in the Elizabethan times started by “fighting talk”) then a fight starts with guns being shot and people dieing.Romeo influences the revenge violence. In Act 3 Scene 1, there is a fight scene between Benvolio and Mercutio against Tybalt and some of his friends. Tybalt wants the fight because the night before the Capulet intruded on what was meant to be a Montague family party. Romeo is trying to prevent another fight from happening because he believes that the two families should no longer be enemies because he has just married Juliet, but Tybalt and Mercutio are not taking the advice. Having just married Juliet, Romeo wants to make the peace with Tybalt because they are now family, but Tybalt calls him a villain but Romeo chooses to ignore his insult and walks in the opposite direction.But then the fight starts to commence between Tybalt and Mercutio and Tybalt ends up killing Mercutio and Romeo has broke his peace with Tybalt and decides to kill him in an act of revenge for killing his best friend Mercutio. Meanwhile after just getting married to Romeo, Juliet does not know anything about the fighting that is going on neither that her cousin, Tybalt has been killed by her husband Romeo this is known as dramatic irony, were the audience know what is happening but a person in the play does not.In act 3 scene 2, we see Juliet using soliloquy; in a speech to herself, she explains how she longs to be with her Romeo and how she wants the night to come soon so that she will be able to see him e.g. “for day to pass and night to come”. She does this by using imagery; she does this by telling us what she will do when she sees her Romeo e.g. “Give me my Romeo. And I will die”. Juliet also uses a lot of commands to tell the audience what she wants, in one line particularly she uses the word come three times: ” Come night! Come, Romeo! Come thou day in night”. So, she is explaining how she wants day to finish and night to come and how she wants to be beside her Romeo. She uses comparisons in her speech to compare some of the most meaningful things to her e.g.: she describes the night as, black-brow’d and her love for Romeo as big as a mansion. Juliet uses the colour black a lot, she describes black as the night e.g. “come, civil night, thou sober – suited matron, all in black”. But in contrast she uses white to describe the wings of the night: “whiter than new snow on a raven’s back”.Then in act 3 scene 5, she finds out that Romeo must be banished from Verona by the next morning. This means that this night was to be their last together, their speech and language tell us this because it is very effectionative: “therefore stay yet; thou need’st not to be gone”. Juliet in this scene changes her mind about night. As in two scenes before she longed for night to come and day to finish, but now she wants night to be delayed so that she can be with her Romeo and day not to come at all. She does this when the lark sung (signalling it was daytime). She says to Romeo: “it was the nightingale, and not the lark”. (When the nightingale sung it signalled that it was night).As well as Romeo and Juliet the other “peacemakers” are Romeo’s good friend Friar Lawrence and Juliet’s nurse. Together they act as cupid and bring the two together using their places in society. The friar helps the couple get married behind both families backs and gave Juliet the sleeping potion to ensure that she didn’t marry Paris. The nurse helped Juliet sneak in and out of her house to meet Romeo and played a major part in bringing the two together, often lying to Juliet’s mother about her whereabouts.In modern days people still exist, like the friar and the nurse, people that take personal risks to overcome hatred, such people as Martin Luther King who stood up for what he believed was right and found allies and his beliefs became reality.A lot of things can be learnt from people like the nurse and the friar, they proved that they were so determined to stop the feud that they used their courage to bring the two rivals together to try and merge the families as one.I feel that Romeo as a “tragic hero” is a false statement. Never comes into my mind. I think that Romeo is never seen as a tragic hero because he never does anything to suggest that he is a hero. The definition of tragedy is: the protagonist will make an error of judgement, the result of having to take a course of action at a crucial moment, perhaps choosing between divine law and human law. The only time Romeo shows this is when he kills Tybalt to avenge Mercutio’s death.In the twenty first century, there is not the elements of tragedy of love in this day. Evidence of this is the increase of divorces and less and less people are getting married. So, this shows not many couples are as passionate for each other as Romeo and Juliet. In a situation where a loved one has died, in the twenty first century I do not think many people would then commit suicide because of a death of a loved one. This shows that the love for each other in this society is not as passionate as it was in the Elizabethan times.Our emotions are played with during the play effectively by Shakespeare, he creates the emotion by shifting scenes from love to hatred, to love etc… This effectively gets the audience very tense and “on the edge of their chair”.The whole play revolves round act 3 scene 1. The build up of Romeo and Juliet’s love for each other builds up in the first two scenes: the first meeting is when the two have the conversation at Juliet’s house. Than at scene three the “tables turn” and the decision to kill Tybalt affects the play. As soon as Romeo kills Tybalt, then his life becomes a tragedy and a downfall. Romeo being banished from Verona, Romeo thinks that Juliet is dead (but actually she has took sleeping potion to trick her family) then kills himself because he cannot face life without his beloved Juliet.

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