Romeo and Juliet Essay
One of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies is ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Romeo, the male protagonist, is a thoughtful, sensitive character who comes across as a very non-violent person. He behaves a little immaturely at times (usually under the influence of his cousins) but is generally a very serious person. At the beginning of the play, he seems to be love-sick as he has an unrequited love – better put as an infatuation – for Rosaline from the house of Capulet, but later, in Act 2 Scene 5, he meets Juliet, also from the house of Capulet, and immediately falls in love with her. It is rather like a paradox situation, as he is in love with his “enemy”. In this essay, I will be analysing and comparing Romeo’s feelings for Rosaline to his feelings for Juliet.
Near the opening of the play, Romeo describes his love for Rosaline to Benvolio. Shakespeare uses oxymorons to express Romeo’s feelings. “O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
I, i, 178-180
The use of oxymorons such as ‘heavy lightness’ and ‘sick health’ gives the impression that Romeo is confused; he doesn’t quite know whether he should feel happy or depressed about being in love. The oxymoron ‘bright smoke’ stands out particularly as the word ‘smoke’ is associated with clouded, gloomy thoughts, and the word ‘bright’ with more cheerful thoughts. The phrase ‘cold fire’ also makes the reader or listener imagine Rosaline – the “fire” – being “cold” towards Romeo. The consecutive oxymorons draw attention to this speech as it is important to understanding Romeo’s emotions.
An extended metaphor is also used to show how Romeo feels about being in love with Rosaline. “And, in strong proof of chastity well arm’d,
From love’s weak childish bow she lives unharm’d
She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes,”
I, i, 210-213
Romeo uses many words associated...
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