Romeo and Juliet: Themes

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  • Romeo and Juliet: Themes
    • Love
      • Courtly love
        • Romeo sighs at Rosaline's lack of interest in him.
          • 'she'll not be hit with Cupid's arrow' (A1, S1)
          • He risks attending the Capulet ball just to catch a glimpse of her, but ends up meeting Juliet.
          • 'Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health' (A1, S1)
            • Oxymorons - they are opposites, will never join together. Confusion - love causing grief not happiness.
      • The Nurse jokes that 'women grow by men' (A1, S3)
      • Juliet is against arranged marriages - does not accept Paris straight away.
        • 'I'll look to like, if looking liking move' (A1, S3)
      • Romeo and Juliet's love is true, a contrast to Romeo's for Rosaline (lust).
        • 'arise fair sun and kill the envious moon' (A2, S2)
          • Romeo's strength of love for Juliet 'kills' his love for Rosalline.
      • Romeo is passionate about avenging Mercutio's death.
        • 'Mercutio's soul is but a little way above our heads, staying for thine to keep him company. Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.' (A3, S1)
      • Juliet kills herself when she sees Romeo is dead.
        • 'O happy dagger!' (A5, S3)
          • Juliet is happy to die for love. The use of the exclamation mark illustrates her emotion - she is both elated and distraught - she cannot cope with life without Romeo.
    • Fate and free will
      • The prologue introduces us to 'a pair of star-crossed lovers' - preordained destiny.
        • When Romeo hears of Juliet's death, he says 'I defy you, stars! (A5, S1)
      • Both characters experience feelings of foreboding, but neither change their actions due to free will.
        • Romeo has worries about the ball: 'I fear too early, for my mind misgives/ Some consequence yet hanging in the stars' (A1, S4)
        • Challenging fate like Juliet challenges her father.
        • Juliet makes a chilling prediction of Romeo's death: 'Methinks I see thee now, thou art so low/As one dead in the bottom of a tomb.' (A3, S5)
    • Conflict
      • Benvolio wants to avoid conflict: 'we shall not 'scape a brawl' (A3, S1)
      • The prologue introduces the families' conflict: 'from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean'
      • Juliet has inner conflict when she discovers Romeo is a Montague: 'That I must love a loathed enemy.' (A1, S5)
      • Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel after he dishonours the Capulets: 'Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries that thou hast done me; therefore turn and draw.' (A3, S1)
      • Juliet conflicts with her father after she rejects Paris' hand in marriage: 'Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!' (A3, S5)
    • Family
      • Capulet is concerned that Juliet may be too young for marriage: 'My child is yet a stranger in the world.' (A1, S2)
      • Romeo's parents are concerned about his well-being: 'Black and portentous must this humour prove, Unless good counsel may the cause remove.' (A1, S1)
      • The prologue introduces the families' rancour: 'Two households, both alike in dignity'
      • The two families frequently brawl in the streets of Verona: 'By thee old Capulet, and Montague, have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets.' (A1, S1)
      • When they discover their children have died, they apologise and vow to uphold their memory in their hearts: 'O brother Montague, give me thy hand.' (A5, S3)

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