Shakespeare's Use of Imagery and Symbolism to Create Dramatic Tension in Romeo and Juliet
William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet is set in 16th Century
Verona. It concerns two main characters, Romeo and Juliet, and their
fight to keep their love and themselves alive. Romeo and Juliet are
the only children of two feuding aristocratic families, the Capulet's
and the Montague's. At a party held by Lord Capulet, the two meet and
instantaneously fall in love.
Throughout the rest of the play we follow their journey of accelerated
adolescence until they meet their tragic death. Some people argue that
Romeo and Juliet epitomises the true essence of love, because it is so
tragic; Romeo and Juliet die for each other, without any hesitation.
Shakespeare uses linguistic and poetic devices to create dramatic
tension for the reader. Through these carefully structured phrases and
sentences, we the reader can know and understand the feelings which
Romeo and Juliet are experiencing.
Act One Scene Five
This scene begins at Capulets house. He is getting ready for a feast
to be held at his mansion. He is in a jovial mood, reminiscing of his
youth, 'I have seen the dayâ€¦and could tell a whispering tale in a fair
lady's ear.' The use of the past tense shows us that he is reflecting
on his life. Romeo enters the party and sees Juliet. As soon as he
sees her, he launches into a speech of rhyming couplets. In this
sonnet, Shakespeare uses the first of many references to light, 'she
doth teach the torches to burn bright.' The use of light imagery is so
powerful because we see light as something pure and cleansing as
opposed to its antithesis, dark, which would symbolise evil and
Line 51 'did my heart love till now' is ironic because Romeo had been
transfixed in love with Rosaline at the beginning of the play, 'In
sadness cousin, I do love a woman.' We can only assume that what Romeo
is feeling towards Rosaline is lust, for when he sees Juliet, he falls
deeply in love and his heart knows its, 'for I never saw true beauty
till this night.' Romeo is almost in disbelief when he first sees
Juliet and her overwhelming beauty, 'forswear it, sight!' The use of
the word 'foreswear' (deny) shows that he is amazed by Juliet's
staggering beauty, a quality that Roasline obviously did not have.
Tybalt overhears Romeo speaking, and goes to tell Lord Capulet that
there is a Montague at their banquet. Capulet, still in his buoyant
mood dismisses Tybalt and tells him to 'let him alone.' Tybalt is
still enraged that his uncle will not rise to his enemy's bait and he
tell Capulet that he will not endure Romeo at this party. Capulet then
get angry with Tybalt for trying to make a 'mutiny among his guests.'
This is the second demonstration of hatred we see...