At the beginning of the play Romeo appears to be a lovesick boy. He acts impetuously, rushing into love and marriage, at first oblivious to the war brewing around him. This essay will look at the different sections of the play with reference to some of the most poignant moments for Romeo. This essay will also look at how Romeo’s character develops and pinpoint any significant changes in his attitude to life. This essay will also identify Shakespeare’s techniques and how they help portray Romeo’s character, in order to gain a fuller understanding of the image the playwright was trying to put across when writing the play.
In Act 1 Scene1 Romeo appears to be the ‘lovesick boy,’ he is constantly talking of Rosaline. He is so obsessed with Rosaline he is oblivious to the fight brewing between the Capulets and the Montagues. Shakespeare uses oxymorons to show Romeo’s disturbed emotional state, “.
..O brawling love, O brawling hate…”Oxymorons were very popular in love poetry of Shakespeare’s time therefore contemporaries would recognise this and understand what Shakespeare meant. In the play Shakespeare is very poetical in order to portray Romeo’s character. When Romeo describes his love for Rosaline and he uses many rhyming couplets, “.
” and, “…eyes…” This makes him seem very besotted.
Shakespeare creates imagery,”With Cupid’s arrow, she hath Dian’s wit,” to express Romeo’s lust for Rosaline.In Act 1 Scene 2 Romeo’s lust for Rosaline becomes more intense, “Shut up in prison…” and, “Whipt and tormented.” Benvolio advises Romeo to look at other girls and forget Rosaline,”Take thou some new infection to thy eye,And the rank poison of the old will die.”Romeo acts in such a way that he seems to be devoted to Rosaline, “..
.then turn tears to fires.” Romeo claims his eyes would burn if he saw a more beautiful women as he would be lying to himself, for there is no woman more beautiful than Rosaline, “…when the devout religion of mine eye, maintains such falsehood…
“Romeo is constantly talking of love and how it is such a heavy burden, “Under love’s heavy burden do I sink.” Romeo says love, “…pricks like a thorn.”Shakespeare’s use of a simile leads the audience to assume he is lovesick and that he does not truly love Rosaline as Friar Lawrence later suggests.At the beginning of Capulet’s party Romeo is already showing signs of betraying his love for Rosaline by showing his admiration for Juliet, “What lady’s that which doth the hand of yonder knights?”Shakespeare uses many different techniques in order to portray Romeo’s personality, these include hyperboles, “O she doth teach the torches to burn bright!” Extravagant and exaggerated phrases like these are typical of Romeo lovesick mind.
“My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand.To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss,”are among Romeo’s first words to Juliet; Romeo often rushes into things, driven by his adolescent desire for love.In Act 2 Scene 2 Romeo says he will disown his family in order to gain Juliet’s love, “Neither, fair maid if either thee dislike,” even though he has only known Juliet for a few hours; therefore he cannot be truly in love.Romeo says that the high walls of Capulet’s mansion will not keep out his love for Juliet, “With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold thy love out.” The audience feels Romeo is still the lovesick boy because he believes he is truly in love with Juliet yet he has only known her for a few hours.When Romeo visits the friar to arrange his marriage Friar Lawrence tries to warn Romeo that he is rushing into things and what Romeo now feels is not true love but a teenage obsession,”Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here.
.Young men’s love then lies,Not truly in their hearts but in their eyes.”Act 3 Scene 1 can be seen as a turning point for Romeo’s personality, as he begins to act more responsibly. He tries not to get involved in the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt and pleads Mercutio to stop, “Hold, Tybalt! Good Mercutio!” Unfortunately in trying to prevent the conflict he makes it worse, resulting in the death of Mercutio. While dying Mercutio blames Romeo for his injury, this creates a deep feeling of guilt inside Romeo. In desperation Romeo dashes off to kill Tybalt before giving himself time to think, he shows signs of an immature youth once again.
In Act 3 Scene 3 Friar Lawrence breaks news of Romeo’s banishment. Romeo’s reply is that of a child, “Ha, banishment? Be merciful, say death”The Friar tells Romeo to, “Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.”Romeo fails to see banishment the same way, besides Juliet lives in Verona,”…heaven is here, where Juliet lives..
.”Romeo attempts to stab himself but the nurse snatches the dagger away. The Friar then questions Romeo’s manhood,”Art thou a man…/…
Thy tears are womanish.”Friar Lawrence tells Romeo to spend the night with Juliet then leave Verona until the dust has settled and his sins are forgotten. The plan revives Romeo’s manhood and he agrees, “…my comfort is revived by this.” During the pivotal point in the story Romeo’s character is very changeable, he turns from a crying child to a positive young man very quickly.
When Romeo hears of Juliet’s death (Unknown to Romeo, Juliet is not infact dead) he acts very slowly and plans what to do next,”Thou knowest my lodging, get me ink and paper,And hire post-horses; I will hence tonight.”Romeo plans to commit suicide alongside the body of Juliet,”Come, cordial and not poison, go with me,To Juliet’s grave, for there I must use thee.”These are the words of a man, not the lovesick boy we knew Romeo to be earlier in the play. Romeo no longer rushes into things but he takes time to plan his actions, for example his death.When Romeo enters the tomb Paris appears, Romeo insists Paris does not endure him as he is here to kill himself,”Put not another sin upon my head..
.For I come armed against myself…
“Before Paris dies he asks Romeo to place him beside Juliet, Romeo does so, the act of a man, “Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interred.”In Romeo’s last words Shakespeare creates dramatic irony. Romeo mentions that Juliet does not look as though she is dead,”Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,” this is ironic, as the audience knows Juliet is not truly dead. In Romeo’s last words he is no longer a love-sick boy but a contented and mature young man; Romeo talks of Juliet as his wife, not an excuse for his love-sickness, “…O my love, my wife.
“Romeo’s love for Juliet is shown to be true as he is willing to die for her,”Here’s to my love! [Drinks] O true apothecary!Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. [Dies]”Earlier in his marriage one would not expect Romeo to have been willing to die for her as he still had the attitude of a lovesick boy.In conclusion Romeo begins the play as an impatient lovesick boy. By the end of the play Romeo is a man, he no longer acts impatiently as he takes time to contemplate his actions.
Romeo finds true love, maybe as a result of circumstances, he also matures a great deal this is shown when he lays Paris next to Juliet. Shakespeare structured the play as he did to show the change in Romeo’s character from the beginning through to the end and highlight the ‘love-sick’ boy that remains in Romeo even when he is considered a man; when Romeo hears of his banishment he is very emotional.