Comparing Romeo's Speeches in Act One Scene One and Act One Scene Five
What changes in Romeo’s language, feelings and opinion of love can be
noted and what conclusions can be reached about the nature of his love
for the two women?
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare was written around the 16th
century. Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is a love-tragedy about two
people who fall in love from two feuding families. The intended
audience was for Elizabethans who visited the theatre regularly.
An Elizabethan lover was very different to a typical lover nowadays.
An Elizabethan was a deeply pious person and was typically married at
a very young age. This can be illustrated by Juliet who is only 13 or
14 and yet she marries Romeo despite the fact that he is also quite
young. The lover would attract the opposite sex by the use of poetry
and various romantic words.
As well as different characteristics, a typical Elizabethan lover also
held different moral values. Society at that time believed strongly
in maintaining high moral values and trying to set good examples for
the rest of their community. For instance, if two people fell in love
with each other, but they were not married at the time, (or were from
two feuding families), it would be frowned upon by other members of
society for those two people to act upon their emotions & feelings of
love. Instead, people believed one should actually obtain permission
from their parents before subsequently formalising their love in the
sanctity of marriage.
The main characters in Act 1 scene 1 are: Romeo (Lord & Lady
Montague’s son), Benvolio (Romeo’s cousin); and in Act 1 scene 5:
Romeo, Juliet (Lord & Lady Capulet’s daughter).
Romeo is a hasty and indecisive character. He quickly changes his
mind over who he loves. First it was Rosaline, and then suddenly, his
feeling of love seemed to be for another woman, Juliet. Soon after
Juliet catches Romeo’s attention, he says to Benvolio: “Did my heart
love till now?” This shows that he changes his mind so rapidly that he
does not have time to even contemplate what love actually is. The
reader is likely to have further doubts as to the genuine nature of
Romeo’s love because he appears to have the propensity to change his
When Romeo talks about the women he supposedly loves, he contradicts
himself. When he says he loves Rosaline, he obviously does not. We
know this because very soon afterwards when he sneaks into the
Capulet’s ball to catch a glimpse of Rosaline, he spots Juliet and
seems to instantly fall in love with her. While he was talking to
Benvolio about how much he loves Rosaline, it means nothing as he
rapidly changes his mind about which one of the two women he actually
loves. From this we can discover that Romeo is not in love but that