Romeo and Juliet


Points to Ponder

Is it meaningful that Romeo is in love with another woman, Rosaline, at the beginning of the play?

While the play is the story of the love between Romeo and Juliet, when it opens, Romeo is in love with Rosaline. His feelings for Rosaline are meaningful for many reasons. First, Romeo’s love for Rosaline is very immature. He is fascinated by Rosaline’s appearance and focuses on her superficial attributes when describing his affection for her. In contrast, when Romeo falls in love with Juliet, he does not focus solely on her physical attributes. Instead, his love for her seems to be based on her character, though he does not seem to have had adequate time to really judge her character, given that they only spoke for a brief period of time. Furthermore, he falls in love with her upon seeing her, which suggests that his basis for loving Juliet is as superficial as his basis for loving Rosaline, even if he characterizes it otherwise. This factor should remind the audience that Romeo’s emotions, while seemingly deep and true, may be far more transient than one would expect given the events that unfold during the play. Second, Romeo’s love for Rosaline is unrequited. She does not share his feelings and intends to enter a convent. In contrast, Juliet falls instantly in love with Romeo, just as he falls in love with her. Juliet is also not chaste; while Rosaline hopes to enter a convent, Juliet begins to eagerly anticipate her wedding night. The two relationships also help develop Romeo’s character in the play: He seems to grow up and come into his own as the play progresses, and this maturity is reflected in his approach to the two women whom he loves.

Does the fact that the entire plot of the play occurs within a four-day period enhance the play or detract from it?

One of the things that makes Romeo and Juliet seem so unbelievable is that all of the action occurs within a four-day time period. It is difficult to imagine that characters could fall in love, much less the type of love in...

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Essays About Romeo and Juliet