Romeo and Juliet is a love story with more hostility and bloodshed than most of today’s common television series. The play begins with an insurrection of the civilian people, ends with a double suicide, and in between this hostility and bloodshed, there is an act of three murders. All of this takes place for the duration of four petite days. In the love story of Romeo and Juliet, it is frequent for love to turn to hate from one line to another. This indistinctness is reflected throughout Romeo and Juliet, whose language is riddled with oxymorons. “O brawling love, O loving hate,” Romeo cries in the play’s very first scene, using a figure of speech and setting up a theme of love and hate that is played out during the five acts.
In act one, scene five, Romeo lays eyes on Juliet for the first time; he is stunned by her exquisiteness and describes her beauty using the language of a sonnet. The imagery used by Romeo to describe Juliet gives central insight into their relationship. Romeo firstly describes Juliet as a source of light, like a star, against the darkness: “she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night.” As the play progresses, a cloak of interwoven light and dark metaphors is emitted around the pair. The lovers are repetitively associated with the dark, an association that points to the undisclosed nature of their love. During this confrontation, it is the only time they can meet in safety. During Romeo and Juliet’s confrontation, the light that surrounds the lovers in each other’s eyes grows brighter to the very end, when Juliet’s beauty even illuminates the darkness of the tomb.
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The association of both Romeo and Juliet with the stars also continually reminds the audience that the two lovers’ fates are “star-crossed.” Romeo believes that he can now differentiate between the disingenuousness of his love for Rosaline and the indisputable feelings that Juliet inspires. Romeo acknowledges his love was blind, “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight / For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” Romeo begins to use religious imagery from this point on in the play. He begins by describing Juliet as a holy shrine. Romeo begins to move towards a more spiritual contemplation of love as he moves away from the overblown, overacted imagery of his love for Rosaline. Such otherworldly moments of the expression of true love never last long within this feuding society. The threat of violence instantaneously interrupts the romantic atmosphere created by Romeo’s sonnet when Tybalt recognizes Romeo’s voice and wants to eradicate him then and there.
Although forced to accept Capulet’s judgment as head of the family to allow Romeo to stay, Tybalt utters a threat that indicates he will take no notice of Capulet’s command. Act two, scene six, Romeo and Juliet seal their love for each other by getting married. Romeo and Friar Laurence wait for Juliet. Friar Laurence warns Romeo about the impulsiveness of his decision to marry. Romeo agrees but gallantly challenges “love-devouring death” to destroy his joy. Friar Laurence then warns, “These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss, consume.” This warning from Friar Laurence is an example of foreshadowing. Friar Laurence is describing their fate if they decide to proceed with this marriage. Foreshadowing is a common use of language used throughout the play to give the audience an idea of what to expect. When Juliet arrives, Friar Laurence takes the two of them into the church to be wedded.
Again the unearthly moment’s true love doesn’t last during the heat of the day; Benvolio and Mercutio are loitering on the streets of Verona when Tybalt arrives looking for Romeo. Benvolio desires to avoid a confrontation with the Capulets; however, Mercutio is intentionally offensive and tries to portray Tybalt into a dispute so that they can brawl. Romeo enters the scene, and Tybalt insults him, hoping he will react to the challenge, but Romeo refuses because he is now related to Tybalt through his marriage to Juliet. Mercutio, appalled by Romeo’s disinclination to fight, answers Tybalt’s insults on Romeo’s behalf. Tybalt and Mercutio draw their swords and fight. To halt the battle, Romeo steps among them, and Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm. Mercutio’s wound is fatal, and he dies crying, “A plague o’ both your houses!” Mercutio can punctuate his remarks with thrusts and gestures that accentuate his meaning. Since Mercutio is a favourite out of the characters, audiences easily adopt his Mercutio’s of their ancient resentment.
Blinded by rage over Mercutio’s death, Romeo attacks and kills Tybalt. Mercutio is a vital element that disappears from the play. It is the climax of the play. With Mercutio dead, the fun and games are gone from the play. With the comedian of the characters dead, the tale cannot possibly have a blissful ending. Mercutio’s death is the beginning of the tragic ending for all these characters. From this point forward, the tragedy sets off into high gear. Act five, scene three, the last scene, is theatrical in tragic crises. The atmosphere play portrays ghastliness. The scene is set at night in a cemetery. The three recent deaths of Tybalt, Mercutio, and Paris cause a sense of total obscurity, desolation, and despair. Fate, once again, has played its cruel hand in the death scene. Father Lawrence does not arrive to save Romeo, and Juliet does not awake in time to save him.
This scene is filled with irony and the contrasts of love and hate. Romeo meets Juliet’s fiance Paris in the tomb of the woman that they both love. Romeo has come to say his farewells to “the dearest morsel of the earth” and kill himself beside his love. Paris, who has been hiding, watches as Romeo pries open the tomb. Because Romeo is trying to do some villainous shame to Juliet’s body, Paris challenges the determined Romeo. Romeo wounds Paris fatally. Again the contrast of love and hate flows through the play. Romeo is determined to reunite with Juliet in death and promises, “I will lie with thee tonight.” Before consuming his toxin, he bids his eyes to take their last look, his arms to take their last embrace, and his lips to seal hers with a kiss. He describes her beauty to illuminate the darkness of the tomb. Again the language compares the light of Juliet’s beauty to the darkness of the tomb. As Romeo dies by her side, Juliet begins to revive. The irony of Romeo’s action is obvious. If Romeo hadn’t jumped the gun on drinking the toxin, the lovers would have been united in life rather than in death.
Friar Lawrence enters the tomb and discovers the bodies of Paris and Romeo; he exclaims, “O sour misfortune!” At his words, Juliet seems to wake; she immediately asks for her Romeo. The Friar tells her that a greater power than this has thwarted their interests. He suggests taking her to a sisterhood of nuns, but Juliet refuses, for death is on her mind. She kisses Romeo’s hoping the poison on his lips will kill her. Upon hearing some noise, she instead grabs her husband’s dagger, kills herself, and falls upon Romeo. The star-crossed lovers become united eternally in death, and the two families of Capulet and Montague resolve over the dead bodies of the lovers, fulfilling the dream of Prince Escalus and Friar Lawrence. Throughout the play, the contrasts of love and hate are intertwined; the use of an oxymoron shows this contrast. Early in the play, Romeo calls, “O brawling love, O loving hate.” Juliet later speaks his words by saying, “My only love sprung from my only hate.”
This inconsistency expresses a conflict that is often found in civilization. The hatred between the Capulet and Montague families forced Romeo and Juliet into concealment and eventually caused their deaths. Romeo and Juliet’s love caused hatred to be put aside amongst the families at a terrible price. As luck would have it, their brightness shines through in death to disband the darkness of the families’ hatred. Only through death can Romeo and Juliet preserve their love, and their love is so profound that they are willing to end their lives in its defences. In the play, love emerges as an unethical thing, leading as much to devastation as contentment. But in its extreme passion, the love that Romeo and Juliet’s experience also appears so delicately beautiful that few would want. Romeo and Juliet do not make any specific moral statement about the relationships between love and hate and family; rather, it portrays the chaos and passion of love. The play combines images of love, violence, death, and family in an impressionistic rush leading to the play’s tragic conclusion.
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