With close reference to the text explore Shakespeare’s presentation of Romeo

In Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, our first impression of Romeo is a sultry, moody courtly lover. We hear about him hiding in the woods. This may portray him as being weak and selfish; unable to confront his problems. But by the end of the play, it seems he may have matured considerably. He has a genuine reciprocated love for Juliet and this makes him strong and able to make decisions. Romeo feels that without his love, life is not worth living.In Act 1, Scene 2, Romeo reveals to Benvolio that ‘sad hours seem long’ and ‘not having that which having makes them short’ is what is depressing him, and sending him into gloomy temperament. We know he is talking about Rosaline. Before he meets Juliet, he is a courtly lover, only showing his affection from afar. He uses elaborate language to describe his ‘love’ for her. But because she is never seen in the play, we know she will not be a big part in his life for much longer. Since his love for Rosaline is unreciprocated, he becomes narcissistic and concerned only with his own outlook, and is also very unaware of the riot between the Montague and the Capulet households. In his speech, Shakespeare uses oxymorons such as ‘Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health’.These show his confused feelings for Rosaline. While Romeo is miserable, you wonder whether he might be enjoying his unhappiness. Imagery and metaphor are used when love is described as a ‘smoke made with the fume of sighs’ and ‘a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes.’ Rhyming couplets are also used to accentuate artificial ‘courtly’ expressions of emotion. Romeo uses rhetorical expressions to make a greater obsession with his supposed misery. Neither Mercutio nor Benvolio take Romeo seriously, and just see his ‘misery’ as a fashionable pomposity. Shakespeare’s method in us never seeing Rosaline makes the audience agree with Mercutio and Benvolio; that Romeo is just wallowing in his self obsessed misery.At the Capulet masked ball, Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time. Even thought Romeo starts off using elaborate language with Juliet, he soon uses more natural, easy-flowing language to describe his feelings for her. To begin with he tells the audience ‘It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night/As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’. Romeo has a reciprocal feelings for Juliet and a method of enjambement is used by Shakespeare to show the heart felt passion Romeo feels for Juliet. The language used by the lovers is in comparison to the noise of the party which surrounds them. Shakespeare uses rhyming couplets and ‘o’ and ‘s’ sounds.These are more flowing interpretations of Romeo’s new, genuine love which are softer and more instinctive. The sonnet, which is spoken by both Romeo and Juliet, was a popular poetic form in Elizabethan times. Sharing the lines of this sonnet accentuates the lovers’ closeness and is also written in Iambic Pentameter. Shakespeare includes lots of religious imagery in his speech, which emphasises the spiritual nature of their love. This contrasts to Tybalt’s harsh, aggressive language, such as ‘What dares the slave’ and ‘To strike him dead I hold it not a sin’. The sonnet ends in a kiss between the lover. The language Romeo uses is very romantic. He says ‘Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take’. The ‘prayer’s effect’ is the kiss.In Act 2 Scene 5 Romeo doesn’t give up on loving Juliet because she is a Capulet. This shows us that his love for her is genuine. He questions ‘Is she a Capulet? O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt’. Romeo hasn’t matured much, because he takes action quickly, such as climbing the Capulet orchard walls to see Juliet, without thinking about the consequences. He still acts on emotion rather that common sense. Romeo refers to Juliet using the words ‘stars’, ‘twinkle’ and ‘sun’, although his language is basically less elaborate and fancy towards her. This shows that their relationship is advancing, and Shakespeare writes ‘the brightness of her cheeks put the stars to shame’, which is extremely affectionate, without the Elizabethan custom of courtly love. By the end of this scene, the couple agree to marry, which definitely ends the tradition of courtly love, because Juliet feel just as strongly towards Romeo as he does to her.In Act 3 Scene 1, Romeo shows maturity by refusing to fight Tybalt, and trying to keep the peace between Tybalt and Mercutio. However, his sensible behaviour ends in Mercutio’s death, which leads to Romeo killing Tybalt. This shows how easily upset and temperamental Romeo still is. Shakespeare writing causes you to question whether Romeo has changed at all? Near the end of this scene, Romeo proclaims ‘O I am fortune’s fool!’For this crime Romeo is banished. His first reactions are hysterical, selfish and suicidal, and he doesn’t think clearly. He is, again, caught up in his emotions, and unable to understand other peoples points of view. As with Rosaline, he does not seek the rational solution, but dwells on his misery, saying ‘There is no world beyond Verona walls/But purgatory, torture, hell itself.’ He has given up hope and is thinking the worst of his current situation. When confronting Friar Lawrence with his problems, the Friar reminds him of reasons to be optimistic and hopeful. The Friar then conceives a plan for the young lovers to spend the night together. In all of Romeo’s suicidal hysteria, we see, perhaps for the first time so far, how genuine his emotions are. When the lovers meet, Romeo becomes calmer and is more level headed. The couple make plans and reassure each other, while making sure neither is caught. This is a definite contrast to Romeo’s previous behaviour, showing how much they are infatuated with each other.In Act 5 Scene 3, Romeo’s love is clearly shown in his final speech, which is honest, and he is totally unaware of any self pity. His language powerful and lacks artifice. He is going to kill himself, but thinks he is already dead without Juliet. He says he is ‘by a dead man interred’. Anybody would sympathise with Romeo here, ignoring earlier judgements of him, because of the power of his love and grief. His decision to kill himself, is not made on impulse, but considered because he feels that he can no longer live without Juliet. Romeo says ‘Come bitter conduct, come unsavoury guide. / The dashing rocks thy sea-sick bark.’ Shakespeare is comparing Romeo’s willpower to the pilot, and his body to the boat which is being steered onto the rocks of death.Shakespeare presents Romeo to us as an emotional, mood fluctuating teenager. However he does show character and maturity in his love for Juliet. His main strength is determination, and I think Romeo did gain sensibility and development towards the end of the play. I think the reciprocated love between Romeo and Juliet, made Romeo strong, and would have developed him into a clever, rational responsible adult. Therefore, I think Shakespeare wrote about Romeo in this way to make people think that, so it would be even more tragic and poignant when the lovers part in death.

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