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Romeo And Juliet By William Shakespeare

1768 words - 7 pages

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

How does Shakespeare present the themes of love and hate in Act 1
(focusing on Scene Five) of Romeo and Juliet?

The presentations of both love and hate reach their first climaxes in
Act 1, in the meeting of Romeo and Juliet, and in the hatred that
Romeo stirs in Tybalt during that meeting. The characters playing
major roles in this scene, Romeo, Juliet and Tybalt, are each seen to
experience both ends of the emotional spectrum, and the way
Shakespeare orders events highlights this contrast, and also helps
build dramatic irony.

Shakespeare's presentation of love and hate is defined in the
Prologue, where the Chorus recites a sonnet that informs the audience
of the conclusion of the entire drama, where “A pair of star-cross’d
lovers take their life”. It is here that Shakespeare destroys the
notion of free will inside his play, and the underlying theme of fate
in association with love and hate is announced. Also, with the
audience forewarned of the outcome, all that takes place is seen in a
new light, as now the audience care less about what happens, but how.
Romeo and Juliet’s sonnet later in the play contains echoes of the
opening one, further enhancing the idea that we are watching two
people being carried inexorably toward their destiny, an image that
epitomises the whole tragedy.

A different type of love is seen prior to Scene Five. It is the more
orthodox Petrarchan love, and Romeo seems to be trapped in the role of
stereotypical lover, talking in clichés and inert metaphors, and it
seems that Romeo is almost in love with the idea of being in love
rather than with the elusive Rosaline. This is a world away from the
love later shared by Romeo and Juliet, which is a far more equal and
tender love; and the contrast serves to make the play much more
effective.

The wait before scene five is also used to establish the personality
of Juliet; her meekness toward her parents is made evident, as well as
her relationship with the Nurse, in Scene Three of Act 1. Juliet's
impending marriage to Paris is also introduced, and by examining the
way it is discussed, we can deduce a lot about the attitudes toward
love and marriage held by Juliet, Lady Capulet and the Nurse, and
perhaps even Elizabethans in general. Juliet calls the marriage an
“honour” before even meeting her prospective husband, showing that
love was not considered important for marriage, and also giving her
eventual (informal) elopement an element of self-sacrifice. The Nurse
says “Women grow by men”, compounding this idea, and adding that
increased status was more an incentive for marriage than love, which
shows that Juliet's affair with Romeo would have been considered
atypical and rather risqué by an Elizabethan audience. Today however,
Juliet's actions would have been...

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