Romeo and Juliet Compared to Pride and Prejudice

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Although Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ are two completely different texts, as one is a play- only able to use dialogue to portray feelings of love-and the other is a novel- where descriptions of characters moods and feelings can be used- they both demonstrate a variety of techniques to portray strong feelings of love. Right from the beginning Shakespeare introduces the ideas of strong love using a prologue-this prologue is a sonnet in iambic pentameter. From the phrase ‘star crossed lovers’ Shakespeare is using the idea of fate so that the reader already knows that there will be strong love between two of the characters. It also indicates that the characters have no choice in who they will love as it has already been planned out. This sets the atmosphere for play and presents the idea that this type of love will be powerful and intense. In contrast Austen uses a satirical epigram to create humour. However the point about being ‘in want of a wife’ straight away gives the idea that marriage will be a key theme in this book and therefore, most likely, feelings of love, although in the 19th century marriage did not always involve being in love as matches were sometimes made more for convenience. Both of the female characters in both texts live in a patriarchal society but they are each determined to make their own decisions. Both women refuse to conform to the expectations of society in their individual times and marry conventional partners who their parent/s want/s them to marry. Elizabeth refuses Mr Collins in favour of waiting for someone who she actually loves. She tells him that to accept his proposals ‘is absolutely impossible’ as her ‘feelings in every respect forbid it’. Clearly she is not afraid to go against what her mother wants and what is expected of her in society. Her harsh language and use of the word ‘forbid’ emphasises the force of her rejection. Although this does not necessarily indicate strong feelings of love Austen has given the impression that it would take a strong, powerful love to make Elizabeth willing to marry, in turn this may suggest to the readers that by Elizabeth refusing Mr Collins, she is still free to experience actual feelings of love later on in the novel. In comparison, Juliet is already in love with Romeo and has already married him. Already this shows that she must be very sure about her feelings for Romeo as considering the ‘ancient grudge’ between their families it is a very risky thing to do. She displays similar qualities to Elizabeth as when asked to marry Parris she stands up to her mother and father by refusing, although her reasons for doing so are different to Elizabeth’s. Before Lady Capulet tells Juliet about her marriage to Paris she openly expresses her hatred of Romeo for killing Tybalt. Here Shakespeare employs multiple plays on words so that Juliet is appearing to agree with her mother when actually she is expressing her love for Romeo. Juliet states ‘indeed I never shall be satisfied with Romeo, till I behold him-dead-‘. Juliet’s mother takes it to mean that Juliet wants Romeo dead when really she is saying how much she misses him and that her heart longs for him so much that it is dead. This is a powerful metaphor which, like many others, indicates that either one without the other feels dead, this shows the depth of Romeo and Juliet’s love and how it is like they have become one rather than two separate beings. Juliet is determined not to marry Paris and remains strong even when her father loses his temper and threatens her she still refuses. This in itself shows strong feelings as Juliet is expected to obey her parents yet she is disregarding what they because of her love for Romeo. Both Shakespeare and Austen cause their male characters to experience unrequited love. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Romeo is rejected by Rosaline and he proclaims ‘O brawling love, O loving hate.’ The O creates and aural sound that shows his misery and...
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