Romeo and Juliet Themes

“Then I defy you, stars!” – Romeo Theme of fate – ironic due to Romeo’s following actions actually playing into the hands of fate
“My only love sprung from my only hate” – Juliet The close relationship between love and hate
“O, I am fortune’s fool!” – Romeo Characterisation expressing idea of fate – Romeo thinks he is a victim of fate, even though he has just impulsively killed Tybalt
“MERCUTIO And to sink in it should you burden love— Too great oppression for a tender thing.ROMEO Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,Too rude, too boist’rous, and it pricks like thorn.MERCUTIO If love be rough with you, be rough with love.Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.” Love described using imagery associated with pain and violence – also has sexual innuendo
“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! / It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night / Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear” – Romeo Light and dark imagery to express Juliet’s beauty – simile
“My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready standTo smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.” Religious imagery to describe the pure love between Romeo and Juliet – makes up a dually composed Sonnet
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Metaphor and light/celestial imagery describe Juliet’s beauty – alludes to the fate of the ‘star cross’d lovers’
“It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be/Ere one can say ‘It lightens.” – Juliet light imagery – a violent example of their hasty love – the explosiveness in its passion
“These violent delights have violent ends/ which in their triumph die like fire and powder” Friar uses light/fire imagery – example of their hasty love – the explosiveness in its passion which leads to destruction
In an act of love, Romeo tries to stop Tybalt and Mercutio from fighting – but, he ends up causing more hate and violence by doing this. This is an example of irony
Benvolio suggests Romeo should take “some new infection to his eye/And the rank poison of the old will die” poison and hateful imagery associated with love
“Within the infant rind of this small flower/Poison hath residence and medicine power” – Friar Laurence Imagery – love has the power for poison and medicine – love can ‘heal’ but also be destructive in the play.
Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies/Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes. The Friar exposes the fickle nature of Romeo’s ‘love’ for Rosaline
Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? …For this driveling love is like a great natural, that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole. Mercutio’s cynical attitude towards love – he thinks it’s all a bit ridiculous
Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate Romeo’s use of oxymorons to describe the feud connects the ideas of love and hate – they are similar in their extremes of passion
O calm, dishonorable, vile submission! – Mercutio Romeo refuses to fight Tybalt, Mercutio thinks Romeo’s being a sissy—which makes the tragedy much more about honour, pride and masculinity than about a dumb feud.
I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes,By her high forehead, and her scarlet lip,By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh, And the demesnes that there adjacent lie Mercutio uses bodily sexual imagery to mock Romeo’s ‘love’ for Rosaline which he knows is lust
But Montague is bound as well as I,In penalty alike, and ’tis not hard, I think,For men so old as we to keep the peace. Capulet says how their old age is not conducive to violence
Had she affections and warm youthful blood, /She would be as swift in motion as a ball; / But old folks, many feign as they were dead, / Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead Juliet complains about the Nurse which contrasts the slowness of old age with the passion and restlessness of youth
Thou canst not speak of that thou dost not feel. /Wert thou as young as I, Juliet thy love… Romeo contrasts youth and old age
“I fear, too early, for my mind misgivesSome consequence yet hanging in the stars…By some vile forfeit of untimely death.” Romeo nicely foreshadows his own death using the celestial imagery associated with fate
A greater power than we can contradictHath thwarted our intents. The Friar suggests that a higher power such as ‘fate’ has ruined their plan (which was kind of his fault tho..)
Our instruments to melancholy bells,Our wedding cheer to a sad burial feast,Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse, Lord Capulet’s imagery which connects the wedding to a funeral relates to the relationship between love and hate in the play
Sweet, so would I.Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing. Juliet’s intensity of her love for Romeo is so great it has the potential to be destructive.
“A plague o’ both your houses!..They have made worms meat of me” Mercutio doesn’t blame fate for his death – but curses the feuding families and explicitly blames their hate for his demise
O, happy dagger,This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die. These lines can be interpreted as a sexual innuendo – the ‘dagger’ and ‘sheath’ have connections to sexual organs. Sex, love and death meet here.
Tis true; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Relates to theme of gender and women as the ‘weaker sex’
CAPULET My child is yet a stranger in the world.She hath not seen the change of fourteen years,Let two more summers wither in their prideEre we may think her ripe to be a bride.PARIS Younger than she are happy mothers made Juliet is at the mercy of men in terms of her personal relationships – she has no voice or say
O sweet Juliet,Thy beauty hath made me effeminateAnd in my temper softened valor’s steel! Romeo talks about the stereotypes of gender, thinking his love for Juliet has emasculated him
Alive in triumph, and Mercutio slain!Away to heaven, respective lenity,And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now.— Romeo submits to impulsive revenge – can be seen as an attempt to reassert his masculinity by killing Tybalt

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