Through a close study of Shakespeare’s language, analyse how ideas of love and hate are linked in Romeo and Juliet.
William Shakespeare is undoubtedly one of the greatest playwrights and poets the world has ever seen. During his life he wrote around 40 plays, Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous and well-known one. The story is about two families “both alike in dignity” whose ancient feud has caused many problems in Verona for years, then two members of different families (Romeo and Juliet) fall in love and “take their life”.
From the outset of the play it is clear that there are going to be many occasions of love and hate on the play. The prologue states that the families have “an ancient grudge” which breaks to “new mutiny”. This is already telling the audience that the play is going be unhappy and have violence. The prologue then goes on to say that “a pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life”, signalling that people will die in the play, and that the play will be unhappy. This use of language by Shakespeare makes you want to read/watch on to see what will happen during the course of the play.
Act 1, Scene 1 starts with two servants of the Capulet household talking about the recent events between the two families. Sampson (one of the Capulet servants) states, “A dog of the house of the Montague moves me”. Sampson is talking about the Montague family as ‘scum’, this shows that not even blood related members of each family are still involved and have hatred for the other side. In this scene the first fight we see between the Montague’s and Capulet’s also happens, Benvolio also makes his first appearance, he is portrayed as a peace keeper in this scene as he tries to break up the fight by saying “Put up your swords! You know not what you do”.
The scene then continues with Tybalt (who is seen as somebody who likes to fight) saying, “I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues and thee”. When Tybalt makes this statement he is trying to attack Benvolio in a verbal way because he knows that Benvolio is not the type of guy that would fight him. The first ‘hate’ is also stressed, this shows that Shakespeare is trying to tell the audience that the word ‘hate’ is very strong and said very meaningfully.
Romeo’s name is not mentioned until the 110th line of the play. This is Shakespeare trying to create suspense. Once Romeo’s name has been mentioned, his love for Roseline is also spoken about. Romeo states that he is “out of her favour where I am in love”, stating that him love for Roseline is one sided, and she doesn’t have the feeling for him that he has for her. On line 170 Romeo says “O brawling love, O loving hate”, this is a paradox because the love is totally contradictory of the hate. On line 184 of this scene Shakespeare also uses imagery when Romeo says, “love is smoke made with fume of sighs”. This makes you imagine what love looks like inside.
Act 1, Scene 5 is one of the most significant scenes in the play. This is because Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time. When Romeo first sees Juliet he says “O, she doth teaches the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night. As a rich jewel on an Ethiop’s ear – beauty too rich for use, for earth too clear”. In this sonnet Romeo is describing his first thoughts of Juliet (love at first sight), he is saying that the glowing appearance she has ‘teaches’ a torch how to glow (a metaphor). Shakespeare also says that she glows like a “rich jewel on an Ethiop’s ear”, this is a type of imagery because if you imagine the contrast of a bright glowing jewel on a black persons ear there is a huge difference.
When Romeo first talks to Juliet he refers to her as a “holy shrine”, describing her hand as holy and pure, like a place of worship. This description portrays to you that Romeo has really fallen in love with Juliet at the first sight he ever has of her. As the scene goes on Romeo starts to talk to Juliet in a flirtatious way, this may make the audience think that he is used to being flirtatious and may be a womaniser or be falsely in love with her (as is shown with his ‘love’ for Roseline). Eventually Romeo kisses Juliet. After the kiss Romeo says, “my sin is purged”. He is trying to tell Juliet that the kiss has ‘purified’ him, because it was so beautiful and perfect.
The scene ends with Juliet saying to the nurse “my only love sprung from my only hate!” Juliet is telling us that she has fallen in lover with someone directly connected to her only hate (the Montague family). This is a use of the contrast of love and hate because Shakespeare has directly linked hate (the Montague family) and love (Romeo) in one sentence.
Following Romeo and Juliet meeting the next major even in the play is in Act 2, Scene 2, where Romeo has climbed over the fence into the Capulet household and he sees Juliet of the balcony. Juliet first realises that Romeo is below when she hears him talking about his lover for her. When Juliet hears Romeo she says “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father, and refuse thy name; or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet”. In this phrase Juliet is sating that she would rather love Romeo and not be a Capulet than live her life without him. Juliet then goes on to say “Tis but thy name that is my enemy”. In this sentence she is saying that he is not the thing keeping her from loving him, it is the name that is Juliet’s enemy. It is the name that is stopping her to love him fully. At the end of the scene Romeo and Juliet decide that they will marry in secret and the scene finishes with Romeo leaving to see his friend (Friar Lawrence) to arrange the marriage.
The next significant event in Romeo and Juliet occurs during Act 3, Scene 1. Mercutio and Benvolio come across Tybalt, who is looking for Romeo. Tybalt then finds Romeo and insults him, leaving Mercutio challenging Tybalt to a fight. The first round of the fight leaves Mercutio badly wounded (leading to his death).