Images in “Romeo and Juliet”
The tragic play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, is a love story between Romeo, the young successor of the Montagues, and Juliet, the only surviving child of your home of Capulet. This story of the young “star-crossed” enthusiasts is an extraordinary work in which Shakespeare uses a range of spoken images including; contrasts between sex and love with hate, conflict, and death, comparisons in between romantic and unromantic views of love, the correlative usage of light and dark polarity, and the connection of fate and fortune.
Using this kind of imagery, T. J. Spencer recommends, “at the best minute of the play Shakespeare subjects even the uncertainties of words to the sublimity and pathos of the situation” (43 ). As the play starts, Shakespeare right away introduces among the primary themes of the play, the paradoxical mixing of sex and love with hate, dispute, and death. This is very first shown in the bawdy quarrel between the servants’ of the two homes as they use referrals such as “tool” and “naked weapon,” together with repeated images of striking and thrusting.
Though Romeo and Juliet attempt to separate themselves from the “ancient animosity” and absurd combating between their families, the couple can not get away the effects of the feud, which eventually deals their love a deadly wound. Shakespeare consistently illustrates how closely the images of love and sex are linked with violence and death such as when Romeo first explains his ideas of love to Mercutio.
He describes love as a battlefield using military terms to highlight the ways in which he has actually utilized his eyes and words of love in a combined attack to win Rosaline’s love: “She will not stay the siege of loving terms,/ Nor bide th’ encounter of attacking eyes” (1. 1. 212-13). Juliet concisely reveals the connection between love and hate and marriage and death: “My only love, derived from my only hate!” (1. 5. 138). She also states instantly that if she can not marry Romeo, she would rather die: “If he be married,/ My grave resembles to be my wedding bed” (1. 134-35). The image of death as a groom for Juliet is duplicated throughout the play to maintain an environment of impending tragedy. The conflicting images of love and violence ominously anticipate the play’s conclusion where the deaths of Romeo and Juliet eventually bring an end to the fight between the two families. In addition to the contrast in between love and violence, Shakespeare uses “consistent and purposeful accidents in between romantic and unromantic views of love” (Spenser 11).
As the play starts, Romeo’s principle of love is very naive and artificial “creating poetical and pitiful phrases in honour of the chaste and unattainable Rosaline” (Spenser 11). Romeo is only able to explain his feelings for Rosaline with figurative language that he has gained from poetry books. Nevertheless, upon first sight of Juliet, all ideas of Rosaline vanish from his mind. Romeo finds that his feelings for Rosaline were artificial which his love had been blind; “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!/ For I ne’er saw real charm till this night” (1. 52-3). Romeo moves away from the inflated, overacted descriptions of his love for Rosaline and starts to show a move towards a more spiritual consideration of love. He starts to use spiritual images to describe his sensations of love, which highlights the marvel and spiritual purity of his newly found love. This is opposite from the way that Mercutio or the Nurse describe love. Mercutio is an anti-romantic, for him, love is a physical pursuit, which he emphasizes through his bawdy wordplay: “If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Puncture love for pricking, and you beat enjoy down” (1. 4. 27-8). The Nurse shares Mercutio’s bawdy funny bone about love and sees love purely as a physical relationship, practically a burden females just should bear. As the Nurse returns with news from Romeo pertaining to his and Juliet’s upcoming wedding event, the Nurse discuss the pleasures that await Juliet on her wedding event night with the pregnancy that will likely follow: “However you will bear the burden soon at night” (2. 5. 76). This remark shows the inverted life/death theme that runs throughout the play.
Although Juliet will die before she has the ability to give life by having a child, her death merges her and Romeo in spirit and fixes the fight in between their households, which are both a kind of giving life. Shakespeare likewise utilizes the contrasting pictures of light and dark to stress the state of mind and psychological insight into the characters. Light and darkness usually have really conclusive meanings in human psychology. Typically, light is considered great and dark is normally viewed as evil. Thus day and night, which are distinguished by the amount of light offered, have similar undertones.
However, while common ideas of light and dark do appear in Romeo and Juliet, day and night are reversed. Night ends up being excellent as it aids Romeo and Juliet, and day ends up being wicked as it brings death and destruction. Romeo uses the images of a source of light to describe Juliet, like a star, against the darkness: “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!/ It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night” (1. 5. 44-5). As the play continues, a cape of interwoven light and dark images is cast around the couple.
They are repeatedly related to the dark and night, which points to the secret nature of their love since this is when they can satisfy in security. Nevertheless, at the exact same time, the light that surrounds the fans in each other’s eyes grows brighter to the very end, when Romeo explains Juliet, whose charm makes the burial place “a feasting presence full of light” (5. 3. 86). Light and dark images play essential roles in producing state of mind, foreshadowing action, and providing fate a car by which to visit itself upon the characters in the play.
Juliet beckons the darkness due to the fact that it has been a sanctuary for the couple, “if love be blind,/ It best concurs with night” (3. 2. 9-10). She and Romeo fulfilled under the cover of night; they agreed to marry as they were shrouded in darkness and were required to part as dawn broke; they consummated their marriage in the evening; and ultimately die together under the cover of night. Northrop Frye mentions that “the bird of darkness, the nightingale, symbolizes the desire of the enthusiasts to remain with each other, and the bird of dawn, the lark, the requirement to maintain their safety” (60 ).
Their affinity for the darkness highlights their separation from the temporal, feuding world. Although external light has become their opponent, the fans have frequently offered light for each other. Juliet’s eyes resembled the stars, and she was Romeo’s sun in the balcony scene. Juliet feels that Romeo brings “day in night.” She pleads fate to “cut him out in little stars” (3. 2. 22), so that “all the world will be in love with night” (3. 2. 24). These star images represent both the classic quality of the couple’s love and their fate as “star-crossed fans” who will just genuinely be unified in death.
Caroline Spurgeon recommends that in the play, “the appeal and ardour of young love is seen by Shakespeare as the irradiating magnificence of sunlight and starlight in a dark world” (73 ). All at once, Shakespeare utilizes the undercurrent of uncertain fortune wrenches the characters into and out of satisfaction and discomfort as fate seemingly preempts each of their hopes with another tragic turn of occasions. Shakespeare utilizes dreams, premonitions, fate, fortune, and omens in Romeo and Juliet and all of these representatives contribute to the disaster.
Fate as a controling force appears from the very start of the play. The Chorus introduces the power of fortune in the opening beginning when we are informed that Romeo and Juliet are “star-crossed” and “death-marked,” and that their death will end their parents’ fight. Mercutio treats the subject of dreams, like the topic of love, with amusing apprehension, as he explains them both as “dream.” His significant speech about Queen Mab, touches on a variety of the play’s opposing themes such as love and hate, dream and reality, idealism and cynicism.
His dream speech consists of all the elements that will conspire to lower Romeo and Juliet’s starry-eyed dream of love to the depths of the burial place. A chance encounter with Capulet’s illiterate servant contributes to a sense of inevitability that Romeo and Juliet are destined to meet. As Romeo is ready to enter the Capulet’s celebrations, he anticipates his conference with Juliet and creates an environment of impending doom. He senses that he is going on a date with fate: I fear, too early. For my mind misgives Some repercussion, yet awaiting the stars,
Shall bitterly begin his afraid date With this night’s revels and end the regard to a disliked life, closed in my breast, By some vile surrender of untimely death (1. 4. 106-11). The cosmic imagery of this premonition echoes the beginning in which Romeo and Juliet are presented as “star-crossed lovers,” whose destinies are tragically interlinked. In “Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare’s use of spoken images makes it “more than a romance. Or perhaps it is the greatest of love stories because it is so much more. It is about hate as well as about many sort of love.
It informs of a family and its home along with a fight and a marriage” (Spencer 35). Bibliography Frye, Northrop. “Romeo and Juliet: More Than Conventions of Love.” Readings on the Catastrophes of William Shakespeare. Ed. Swisher, Clarice. Greenhaven Press, 1996. 55-63 Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. London: Penguin, 1996. Spenser, T. J. B. Intro. Romeo and Juliet. By William Shakespeare. London: Penguin, 1996. 7? 44. Spurgeon, Caroline F. E. “The Imagery of Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism. Ed. Leonard Fellows Dean. New York City: Oxford U P, 1967. 72-78.