Romeo and Juliet

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Examine Shakespeare's treatment of relationships in Romeo and Juliet.

In this essay I will be examining William Shakespeare's treatment of relationships in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire and was alive during the Elizabethan era. He was an English poet and playwright widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language. He wrote at least thirty seven plays and also wrote poems. His plays were comedies, histories and tragedies and some of his most famous ones were Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. Relationships form the main theme in Shakespeare's tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet and there are many different ones, such as infatuation (Rosaline and Romeo), destiny (Romeo and Juliet), parental love (Lord Capulet and Juliet) and arranged marriages (Paris and Juliet). The action of the play Romeo and Juliet is instigated by two warring families who are brought together.

The first relationship I am going to analyse is that of Romeo and Rosaline. I have found that their relationship together is based on infatuation as Romeo is besotted with Rosaline but she is not returning the feelings. Romeo is in despair because Rosaline has sworn not to get married and in the days of Shakespeare you could not live with someone unless married, so their relationship is going no-where. Romeo's unrequited love for Rosaline is reflected by the use of oxymorons in the script. Oxymorons are words that contradict each other and generally show confusion, such as, ‘O heavy lightness,' and ‘feather of lead,' in the script. These are oxymorons because it is not possible to have something heavy and light and it is also not possible to have a feather that weighs as much as lead. This shows that Romeo is confused about his feelings for Rosaline and why Rosaline is not returning them. Another effect of writing Shakespeare uses in the script is the repetition of ‘O.' This is immature dramatics. The effect of this is to show Romeo's frustration at the fact that Rosaline is not returning his feelings and that he is self pitying and feeling sorry for himself. Shakespeare also makes sure that Romeo has many lines in the script. An example of this is on page 13 to 15 where Romeo has 26 lines whereas Benvoli only has 2. This makes Romeo come across as dramatic and desperate and he is also taking centre stage. The scene is all about Romeo and how he feels whereas Benvoli does not get much of a look in and so when Benvoli speaks he is very precise and to the point. Benvoli may also not talk much because he is listening to what Romeo has to say.

The second relationship, which can generally be seen as the main one in this play is between Romeo and Juliet. This relationship is completely different to the relationship between Romeo and Rosaline because with Juliet Romeo feels as if it's destiny and as if they belong together, whereas with Rosaline, Romeo was just infatuated. Also, Juliet returns the feelings Romeo has and Rosaline did not. The quote, ‘O she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night,' shows that when Romeo first saw Juliet he thought it was love at first sight. Also when Romeo first meets Juliet he starts to speak in rhyming couplets such as bright/night and ears/dears. The rhyming couplets show that Romeo is sincere and he is sure of what he is saying because his speech is balanced whereas when talking about Rosaline, Romeo uses oxymorons which show he is confused and uncertain about her. It shows a change in Romeo's behaviour. Shakespeare uses positive connotations to describe Juliet, such as, ‘rich jewel,' and ‘snowy dove.' The effects of these words are to show that Romeo thinks highly of Juliet. Romeo also uses religious words when talking to Juliet, such as ‘holy shrine,' ‘saint,' and ‘palmer.' When Romeo refers to Juliet as a palmer he is saying that he thinks she is a committed person because pilgrims show their faith by making long journeys...
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