Search Menu

Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare



    

Romeo

Romeo

The name Romeo, in popular culture, has become nearly synonymous with “lover.” Romeo, in Romeo and Juliet, does indeed experience a love of such purity and passion that he kills himself when he believes that the object of his love, Juliet, has died. The power of Romeo’s love, however, often obscures a clear vision of Romeo’s character, which is far more complex.

Even Romeo’s relation to love is not so simple. At the beginning of the play, Romeo pines for Rosaline, proclaiming her the paragon of women and despairing at her indifference toward him. Taken together, Romeo’s Rosaline-induced histrionics seem rather juvenile. Romeo is a great reader of love poetry, and the portrayal of his love for Rosaline suggests he is trying to re-create the feelings that he has read about. After first kissing Juliet, she tells him “you kiss by th’ book,” meaning that he kisses according to the rules, and implying that while proficient, his kissing lacks originality (1.5.107). In reference to Rosaline, it seems, Romeo loves by the book. Rosaline, of course, slips from Romeo’s mind at first sight of Juliet. But Juliet is no mere replacement. The love she shares with Romeo is far deeper, more authentic and unique than the clichéd puppy love Romeo felt for Rosaline. Romeo’s love matures over the course of the play from the shallow desire to be in love to a profound and intense passion. One must ascribe Romeo’s development at least in part to Juliet. Her level-headed observations, such as the one about Romeo’s kissing, seem just the thing to snap Romeo from his superficial idea of love and to inspire him to begin to speak some of the most beautiful and intense love poetry ever written.

Yet Romeo’s deep capacity for love is merely a part of his larger capacity for intense feeling of all kinds. Put another way, it is possible to describe Romeo as lacking the capacity for moderation. Love compels him to sneak into the garden of his enemy’s daughter, risking death simply to catch a glimpse of her. Anger compels him to kill his wife’s cousin in a reckless duel to avenge the death of his friend. Despair compels him to suicide upon hearing of Juliet’s death. Such extreme behavior dominates Romeo’s character throughout the play and contributes to the ultimate tragedy that befalls the lovers. Had Romeo restrained himself from killing Tybalt, or waited even one day before killing himself after hearing the news of Juliet’s death, matters might have ended happily. Of course, though, had Romeo not had such depths of feeling, the love he shared with Juliet would never have existed in the first place.

Among his friends, especially while bantering with Mercutio, Romeo shows glimpses of his social persona. He is intelligent, quick-witted, fond of verbal jousting (particularly about sex), loyal, and unafraid of danger.

Shakespeare's tips for breaking up with someone

Test Your Understanding with the Romeo Quiz

TAKE THE QUIZ
+
#

ROMEO QUIZ

Which subject does the Nurse talk about that makes Juliet uncomfortable
Love
Sex
Test Your Understanding with the Romeo Quiz
TAKE THE QUIZ

Romeo QUIZ

+
Test Your Understanding with the Romeo Quiz
TAKE THE QUIZ
Wrong!!!!!!!!

by ConorD98, February 18, 2013

In act 2 scene 5 Nurse appears to be tired and sore and tell Romeo the news NOT in act 2 scene 4 as sparknotes have written down.

10 Comments

63 out of 184 people found this helpful

Thanks :)

by SingitforJesus, April 09, 2013

We are reading Romeo and Juliet in my class and it is so confusing because of the way they talked back then. Sparknotes has been a great help.

1 Comments

22 out of 35 people found this helpful

Petrarch... Balcony Scene.

by marnie94, April 13, 2013

http://www.happy2016diwali.com/2013/04/13/romeo-and-juliet-is-the-balcony-scene-bull/

This essay (written in my first year at uni) focuses on the balcony scene but should help with thinking about the development of the characters and their relationship. If you're talking about Petrarchan conceit, this should help a lot.

Good luck!! Please follow.

1 Comments

17 out of 36 people found this helpful

See all 87 readers' notes   →

                              1. 601891322 2018-01-18
                              2. 6226621321 2018-01-18
                              3. 4638591320 2018-01-18
                              4. 3313981319 2018-01-18
                              5. 1002861318 2018-01-18
                              6. 4956941317 2018-01-18
                              7. 7955341316 2018-01-18
                              8. 1876491315 2018-01-18
                              9. 511921314 2018-01-18
                              10. 6191871313 2018-01-18
                              11. 2982471312 2018-01-18
                              12. 3467541311 2018-01-18
                              13. 8775241310 2018-01-18
                              14. 675031309 2018-01-18
                              15. 5171641308 2018-01-18
                              16. 8554391307 2018-01-18
                              17. 9162081306 2018-01-18
                              18. 5356531305 2018-01-18
                              19. 200441304 2018-01-17
                              20. 3505261303 2018-01-17