Analysis of Act 1 Essay

A form of love expressed within ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is the “love at first sight” that Romeo feels upon seeing Juliet for the first time. In Shakespearean times, platonic love was prominent and this is clear in Romeo’s soliloquy. “Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear” implies Juliet is angelic, demonstrating Romeo’s instant affection for her. Angel is within the semantic field of religion, a very important factor in the time with which the play is set and therefore illustrates not only Romeo’s apparent need to shower her with praise and affection, but also how serious his feelings actually are.

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Religious imagery is used again in stating “and touching hers, make blessed my rude hand” yet again suggesting that Juliet is a saint and that by touching her Romeo would become “blessed”. This, however, portrays Romeo’s beliefs within love. As mentioned, platonic love was the general way in which relationships at the time were, so by Romeo stating that he should touch her shows his forwardness and his almost childlike, selfish tendencies proving his obsession with love.

Later within Act 1, Scene 5, however, Romeo and Juliet share a sonnet upon first meeting. The sonnet is the ultimate display of love and by speaking it together, Shakespeare allows the audience to understand that the two are not only seriously in love, but also share a very pure and unadulterated love- one that is beyond all other love. Shakespeare also displays how, now after seeing Juliet, Romeo has completely dismissed Rosaline, who he was irrevocably in love with not long before hand.

“Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight. For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” emphasises this by stating both the beauty of Juliet to be above all others and states that the beauty he believed Rosaline to have was not indeed so, quite ironically as four scenes previously he stated that she was “fair” and “exquisite”, yet again exposes Romeo’s fickle behaviour in terms of love. Romeo also declares “so shows a snowy dove trooping with crows” showing his dismissal of what he felt for Rosaline.

The sentence is antithesis, demonstrating Romeo’s opinion that Juliet is exemplary again, “crows” being opposed to doves but also connoting death, expressing the extremity of Romeo’s statement. Romeo’s love for Juliet does appear as though genuine. The first few lines of the soliloquy mostly contain monosyllabic words and are very simple in both style of speech and and the intelligence of the vocabulary.

This shows the sincerity of his love as it is completely opposed to when he was speaking of Rosaline. Where his speech then was organised and intentionally melancholy and philosophical, this is his first and genuine opinion of Juliet and her beauty. The soliloquy also consists of five rhyming couplets conveying the speech as romantic, as rhyming couplets are a poetic technique which in turn is considered romantic.

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