Romeo and Juliet


An Analysis of Major Characters


Romeo is the titular romantic lead of the play. In fact, that he is in love defines Romeo. When the play opens, Romeo is in love with a woman named Rosaline. Rosaline does not return his feelings, and Romeo pines for her. His pining for Rosaline is very dramatic, causing his father to worry about him. Meanwhile, Romeo alternately worries and bores his friends, who seem willing to do almost anything to get Romeo to quit talking about Rosaline. This alerts the audience to the fact that Romeo not only falls in love easily, but also falls in love dramatically and hard. Therefore, when he sees Juliet and falls deeply in love with her, the audience has a reason to question the true depth of his feelings.

However, it would be unfair to suggest that Romeo’s feelings about Juliet are insincere. When he begins to court her, he does so in a stereotypical way that reminds one of how he spoke about Rosaline. He does appear to have very genuine feelings for Juliet, even if those feelings seem to have come on inexplicably rapidly. When he believes that she is dead, he does not just talk about it being impossible to live without her; he plots to take his own life. Not only that, but when he encounters Paris at Juliet’s tomb, acting like a grieving beloved, Romeo kills him. These are not the actions of a man who believes his feelings to be superficial or temporary. However, whether they are the actions of a man truly in love with a woman whom he hardly knew or a man in love with the idea of being in love and acting like he believed a true lover would act is something each member of the audience must decide on his own.

Romeo’s emotional intensity is not limited to the area of romantic love. Instead, Romeo appears to do all things with some intensity. For example, when Tybalt challenged him to a duel after he married Juliet, he objected to the duel very strenuously because he did not want to injure someone who was now his kinsman. His friend Mercutio stepped in to fight in his place, and got killed in the process. Any objective...

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