Romeo and Juliet

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Shakespeare’s 1597 play 'Romeo and Juliet” explores the protagonist’s change in attitude to love. This is done through the juxtaposition of Romeo’s infatuated love to Rosaline and the true love to Juliet. In Act 1 Scene 1 Shakespeare introduces us to Romeo’s passionate desire towards Rosaline through the use of binary opposition, soliloquy and vivid imagery. In contrast, in Act 2 Scene 2, when Romeo is addressing Juliet, his language shifts through the use of light, religious and mythological imagery to reflect his newly found romantic love to Juliet. At the centre of Act 1 Scene 1 Shakespeare explores the notion of an infatuated and unsettling love of Romeo towards Rosaline. Romeo talks about his new-found feeling ‘Alas that love, whose view is muffled still’, highlighting his sense of confusion. This notion is furthered through the use of binary opposition throughout Romeo’s soliloquy, ‘O brawling love, O loving hate’. This juxtaposition of strong contrasting images of love and hate in one sentence suggests that Romeo finds the intensity of his emotion towards Rosaline destabilising and his emotion is not one of serenity. Indeed, the deployment of oxymorons throughout Romeo’s speech such as ‘heavy lightness’ or ‘cold fire, sick health’ suggests that the protagonist is so overwhelmed by his feelings that he loses the sight of his common sense and spins into mad love towards Rosaline. Shakespeare further reinforces Romeo’s bewildered state of mind through fragmented syntax of the protagonist’s soliloquy. The repetition of ‘O’s’ gives a sense of Romeo’s disintegrated chain of thought – he does not structure his sentences in an ordinary fashion but rather he vents his stream of consciousness, intersected by ‘O’s’. Shakespeare further explores Romeo’s love to Rosaline through vivid imagery. The comparison of Rosaline to Diana reinforces the sense that the protagonist’s love is doomed from the start. For Romeo, Rosaline is unreachable, a goddess: ‘She’ll not be hit...
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