“How oft when men are at the point…”
Romeo and Juliet is argued to be the greatest love story of all time although it inevitably ends in tragedy. Death always comes swiftly and never expected, which always makes it hard to understand and accept. Romeo says it best when he states, “How oft when men are at the point of death / Have they been merry,” (V.iii.88-89). This soliloquy seems to be nothing more than Romeo saying his last goodbyes to his still beautiful Juliet, but it is much more than that. “Have they been merry! Which their keepers call / A lightning before death.” (V.iii.89-90) There is an exclamation mark after the word “merry” and not a question mark, which shows that Romeo is feeling happy even though he is on the brink of death because of the beautiful state he has found his sweet Juliet. When he says, “O, how may I / Call this a lightning?” (V.iii.90-91), he quickly realizes that his love, Juliet, although beautiful and seemingly untouched by death, has perished and therefore it’s not reasonable for him to be merry. Romeo is confused because although he knows Juliet to be dead, she still looks very much alive to him. “Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, / And death’s pale flag is not advanced there.” (V.iii.95-96) It’s hard enough to say goodbye to our loved ones when we know it is nothing but their corpse lying in front of us but Romeo is having to say goodbye to the Juliet that he knows and remembers, rosy cheeks and all. “Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, / Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.” (V.iii.92-93) After Romeo has peered over Juliet’s body, he begins to realize that although death has taken Juliet away, it has not been able to conquer her beauty. Immediately after Romeo realizes that Juliet’s beauty is still present he states, “Thou art not conquered.” (V.iii.94). This one line completely backs up the idea that the love between Romeo and Juliet is nothing more than romantic love. Romeo only...
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