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Literature and Cinema Unit 2 Romeo And Juliet
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2. Discuss the central idea of the play.
Ans: Today, we say something is like Romeo and Juliet to describe a love that surpasses all boundaries, but a close reading of the play suggests the lovers’ feelings are more complicated than pure love. If we look, we can find plenty of evidence that Romeo and Juliet’s love for one another is, at least initially, immature. Romeo begins the play claiming to be passionately in love with another woman, Rosaline. When he sees Juliet, he abandons Rosaline before he has even spoken to his new love, which suggests that his feelings for both women are superficial. Juliet, me while, seems to be motivated by defying her parents. She is unenthusiastic about her parents’ choice of husband for her, and at the party where she is supposed to meet Paris, she instead kisses Romeo after exchanging just fourteen lines of dialogue with him. When Romeo returns to see Juliet, she is focused on marriage. For Juliet, part of the appeal of marriage is that it will free her from her parents: “I’ll no longer be a Capulet”. She compares Romeo to a tame falcon-a “tassel-gentle” – which suggests that she believes she can control him. Juliet’s love for Romeo seems at least in part to be a desire to be freed from her parents’ control by a husband who can’t control her either.
More experienced characters argue that sexual frustration, not enduring love, is the root cause of Romeo and Juliet’s passion for one another. Mercutio tells Romeo “this drivelling love is like a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole”. Every time Romeo tries to demonstrate the seriousness of his love, Mercutio undermines him with sexual jokes. When Romeo risks returning to the Capulets’ house to see Juliet again, Mercutio calls after him that he is just sexually frustrated: “O that she were / An open-arse, thou a poperin pear!” The Nurse points out the sexual element of Juliet’s love. When she returns from meeting Romeo for the first time, the Nurse describes him in physical terms: “for a hand and a foot and body, though they be not to be talked on, yet they are past compare”. Later, when Romeo is banished, the Nurse suggests that Juliet will be happier with Paris, because he is better lookin “An eagle, madam/Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye / As Paris hath”.
Yet, while the two characters may have initially fallen for each other due to a mixture of convenience and lust, Romeo and Juliet’s language shows their passion maturing into real love. In the opening scenes, Romeo makes Benvolio and Mercutio laugh with his clichés about love. When he sees Juliet, the clichés drop away, and he begins to describe his feelings in original terms. When they are together, Romeo and Juliet create a shared vocabulary. In their first meeting, they compose a sonnet together using the religious language of pilgrimage. They both start using astrological language to describe their love. As their relationship develops, they use less rhyme, which has the effect of making their language feel less artificial.
These changes in the lovers’ language show that they are growing together. In their final scene before they part for good, Romeo and Juliet are on the brink of talking about something other than their thwarted love before being prevented from having their first real conversation by Romeo’s banishment. The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is that the lovers never get the chance to see if their love will grow into a mature, enduring relationship.
3. Write about the antagonist and protagonist of the play.
Ans: The primary antagonists of the play include the Capulet and a Montague family, whose longstanding feud restrict Romeo and Juliet’s freedom and ultimately thwarts their love. Nearly every character in the play is complicit in this family feud, upholding it in some way or another. Even Prince Escalus, who declares no allegiance in the feud, sorrowfully admits to “winking at [the families’] discords”, meaning that he’s turned a blind eye and let the feud continue to rage unabated.
With nearly everyone either explicitly or implicitly acting against their interests, Romeo and Juliet find themselves caught between terrible choices. For instance, when Tybalt fatally injures Mercutio, Romeo faces an awful decision: does he let his close friend die unavenged, or does he take revenge on the cousin of his new wife? Either way Romeo will suffer, or this suffering will drive a wedge between him and Juliet, making their final union even less possible. The restrictions and suffering created by the feud eventually lead to Romeo and Juliet being driven apart forever through death. But the lovers’ deaths, though tragic, ultimately enable the play to end with Capulet and Montague having a change of heart and making amends.
In Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers share the role of the protagonist, and Romeo and Juliet’s desire to be together brings them into conflict with their feuding families. Both Romeo and Juliet begin the play feeling trapped. Romeo has a hopeless crush on a woman who has sworn to remain a virgin, and he rejects his friends’ suggestion that he seek another lover: “I am not for this ambling” (I.iv.9). Juliet, by contrast, has been ordered by her mother to think about marrying, even though she doesn’t feel ready: “It is an hour that I dream not of” (I.iii.68).
When Romeo and Juliet meet, they find their mutual desire freeing. However, given that the two lovers remain on opposite sides of their families’ feud, pursuing their desire for one another entails great risk. Things grow especially complicated after Romeo and Juliet secretly marry. For instance, when an enraged Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel, Romeo refuses to fight because he now considers Tybalt his kinsman. But Romeo finds himself in a quandary when Tybalt fatally wounds Mercutio. To avenge his friend, Romeo slays Tybalt, which results in his banishment from Verona.
At the end of the play, both characters openly defy the rules of their families and of society at large in order to pursue their love. Juliet, for instance, finds herself in a difficult situation after rebelling against her father and, by extension, against the patriarchal authority vested in him. Her act of rebellion involves a double betrayal. Not only does she refuse to marry the man her father’s preferred suitor, Paris, but she also marries the son of her father’s sworn enemy, Montague. After Romeo’s banishment, Juliet disobeys her father yet again by faking her own death, thereby evading marriage to Paris once and for all.
Romeo acts with similar defiance against the rule of law when he chooses to ignore his banishment order and illegally returns to Verona. Unfortunately, the lovers die before they achieve what they’ve struggled for, and their lives are cut short before they have a real chance to grow as characters. Nevertheless, Romeo and Juliet’s fortitude does create bigger picture change. Their love and their deaths reveal to their parents (and also to Verona) the cruelty and pointlessness of their feud, and so brings resolution to a longstanding conflict.
4. What are the symbols of the play?
Ans: The symbols of the play are:
(a) Poison: In his first appearance, in Act 2, scene 2, Friar Lawrence remarks that every plant, herb, and stone has its own special properties and that nothing exists in nature that cannot be put to both good and bad uses. Thus, poison is not intrinsically evil, but instead it’s a natural substance made lethal by human hands. Friar Lawrence’s words prove true over the course of the play. The sleeping potion he gives Juliet is concocted to cause the appearance of death, not death itself, but through circumstances beyond the Friar’s control, the potion does bring about a fatal result: Romeo’s suicide. As this example shows, human beings tend to cause death even without intending to.
Similarly, Romeo suggests that society is to blame for the apothecary’s criminal selling of poison because while there are laws prohibiting the Apothecary from selling poison, there are no laws that would help the apothecary make money. Poison symbolizes human society’s tendency to poison good things and make them fatal, just as the pointless Capulet-Montague feud turns Romeo and Juliet’s love to poison. After all, unlike many of the other tragedies, this play does not have an evil villain, but rather people whose good qualities are turned to poison by the world in which they live.
(b) Thumb-Biting: In Act 1, scene 1, the buffoonish Samson begins a brawl between the Montagues and Capulets by flicking his thumbnail from behind his upper teeth, an insulting gesture known as biting the thumb. He engages in this juvenile and vulgar display because he wants to get into a fight with the Montagues but doesn’t want to be accused of starting the fight by making an explicit insult. Because of his timidity, he settles for being annoying rather than challenging. The thumb – biting, as an essentially meaningless gesture, represents the foolishness of the entire Capulet/ Montague feud and the stupidity of violence in general.
(c) Queen Mab: In Act 1, scene 4, Mercutio delivers a dazzling speech about the fairy Queen Mab, who rides through the night on her tiny wagon bringing dreams to sleepers. One of the most noteworthy aspects of Queen Mab’s ride is that the dreams she brings generally do not bring out the best sides of the dreamers, but instead serve to confirm them in whatever vices they are addicted to-for example, greed, violence, or lust. Another important aspect of Mercutio’s description of Queen Mab is that it is complete nonsense, albeit vivid and highly colourful. Nobody believes in a fairy pulled about by “a small grey-coated gnat” whipped with a cricket’s bone (1.4.65). Finally, it is worth noting that the description of Mab and her carriage goes to extravagant lengths to emphasize how tiny and insubstantial she and her accouterments are. Queen Mab and her carriage do not merely symbolize the dreams of sleepers, they also symbolize the power of waking fantasies, daydreams, and desires. Through the Queen Mab imagery, Mercutio suggests that all desires and fantasies are as nonsensical and fragile as Mab and that they are basically corrupting. This point of view contrasts starkly with that of Romeo and Juliet, who see their love as real and ennobling.
5. Comment on the contrasting imagery in the poem. What purpose does it serve highlighting the intensity of love?
Ans: The poem is full of contrasting visual imagery. In the speeches of both Romeo and Juliet we see comparisons and contrasts. Romeo describes the beauty of Juliet like bright glittering jewel hanging on the cheek of night or in an Ethiopian’s ear. Thus, the contrast of dark and bright is brought forth beautifully. He also compares Juliet to a dove and the other women in the room to crows. Thus, we once again get to see a contrast of white and black Similarly Juliet, when remembering Romeo, talks about day and night, sun and stars. She calls Romeo ‘day in night’ and wants him to be turned into stars after he dies. She, ther, makes a contrast between the beautiful stars that Romeo would turn into which will be so lovely that the entire world will fall in love with them and the Gaudy bright Sun which no one will look at. Besides these expressions like ‘When I shall die’, ‘cut him in stars’ refer to immortality as well as death.
The playwright through these contrasts, here, has probably given a hint to the reader regarding the tragic end of the play. May be Juliet had a premonition of their impending death. Thus, the contrasting imagery by making the expression of love more passionate and dramatic for the reader highlights the intensity of love.
6. Between Romeo and Juliet, whose love do you think is more passionate and intense?
Ans: It is very clear between Romeo and Juliet, it is Juliet whose love is more passionate and intense. Romeo earlier, too, had felt love for Rosaline and it is well known that he had gone to Lord Capulet’s party to see Rosaline. When he sees Juliet for the first time, he is spellbound by her beauty. In his speech too; Romeo only talks about Juliet’s external beauty. He compares her to the jewel hanging on the cheek of night or in Ethiope’s ear. He calls her dove among crows. It is clear that he is captivated by her beauty. Nowhere does he talk about anything beyond her external beauty. In contrast to this when we read Juliet’s invocation of night, we can feel the intensity of her love.
She does not talk about the physical characteristics of Romeo. She goes much beyond that. In her invocation, we can feel the yearning of a lover. In her request to night to set Romeo as stars, we get to see her premonition of their impending death. It is her who talks about immortalizing their love in the form of stars. Also, she was the one who proposed marriage. Thus, clearly, Juliet’s love was much more passionate and intense than that of Romeo.
7. From what you get to read in the extracts draw a brief character sketch of Romeo.
Ans: 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. 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 towards him. 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.
She inspires 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 commit suicide upon hearing of Juliet’s death. Such extreme behaviour dominates Romeo’s character throughout the play and contributes to the ultimate tragedy that betal’s 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.
8. On the basis of what you read in the poem, describe Juliet’s development from a thirteen year old to a passionate woman of maturity and determination.
Ans: Having not quite reached her fourteenth birthday, Juliet is of an age that stands on the border between immaturity and maturity. At the play’s beginning, however, she seems merely an obedient, sheltered, native child, Juliet gives glimpses of her determination, strength and sober mindedness a and offers a preview of the woman she will become. Juliet’s first meeting with Romeo propels her full-force towards adulthood. Though profoundly in love with him, Juliet is able to see and criticize Romeo’s rash decisions and his tendency to romanticize things. We see, in Juliet, a woman who knows both her mind and her heart. She had the courage to propose marriage in spite of knowing about the enmity between the two families and also to go through fearlessly what she decided. The passion and intensity that is seen in Juliet’s invocation of night clearly depicts her transformation from a thirteen year old young girl to a lady yearning for her lover.
Juliet’s development from a wide-eyed girl into a self-assured, loyal and capable woman is one of Shakespeare’s early triumphs of characterization. It also marks one of his most confident and rounded treatments of a female character.
9. How does Shakespeare glorify the intense love between Romeo and Juliet?
Ans: In ‘Romeo and Juliet, young Romeo and his lady love Juliet belong to two hostile families in Verona. When Romeo sees Juliet on the dance floor for the first time, he is attracted by her beauty. He falls in love with her. Shakespeare uses various images and comparisons to highlight the feelings of the passionate lovers. When he looks at Juliet, Romeo feels her beauty surpasses the brightness of light. She is like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear. When Juliet is among a group of young ladies, Romeo feels that she is as attractive and white as a snowy dove among crows. When the dance comes to a close, he wants to hold her hand and he tells that his rough hand will be blessed by the touch of her hand. He is so attracted by her loveliness that he says that he has never seen such a beautiful woman in his life. Juliet’s love for Romeo is as intense as his love. She eagerly waits for his visit in the garden at night. To her, he shines bright in the night.
She requests night to make him into little stars when she dies. He will make the sky shine so bright at night thus making people like night better than day. She is sure that people would forget to worship the Sun as they would enjoy Romeo’s presence in the sky as shining stars. Thus, Shakespeare uses similes and metaphors to describe the immortal love between Romeo and Juliet.
10. Give a brief analysis of the Romeo Character.
Ans: 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 Romeo first kisses 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 for Rosaline. The love she shares with Romeo is far deeper, more authentic, and unique than the clichéd puppy love 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 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 feelings of all kinds. Put another way, it is possible to describe Romeo as lacking the capacity for moderation.
Love compels Romeo to sneak into the garden of his enemy’s daughter, risking death simply to catch a glimpse of her. Anger compels Romeo to kill his wife’s cousin in a reckless duel to avenge the death of his friend. Despair compels Romeo to suicide upon hearing of Juliet’s death. Such extreme behaviour 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, if Romeo hadn’t 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.
11. Give a brief analysis of Juliet’s character.
Ans: Having not quite reached her fourteenth birthday, Juliet is of an age that stands on the border between immaturity and maturity. At the play’s beginning, however, she seems merely an obedient, sheltered, naive child. Though many girls her age-including her mother-get married, Juliet has not given the subject any thought. When Lady Capulet mentions Paris’s interest in marrying Juliet, dutifully responds that she will try to see if she can love him, a response that seems childish in its obedience and in its immature conception of love. Juliet seems to have no friends her own age, and she is not comfortable talking about sex (as seen in her discomfort when the Nurse goes on and on about a sexual joke at Juliet’s expense in Act 1, scene 3).
Juliet gives glimpses of her determination, strength, and sober – mindedness, in her earliest scenes, and offers a preview of the woman she will become during the four-day span of Romeo and Juliet. While Lady Capulet proves unable to quiet the Nurse, Juliet succeeds with one word (also in Act 1, scene 3). In addition, even in Juliet’s dutiful acquiescence to try to love Paris, there is some seed of steely determination. Juliet promises to consider Paris as a possible husband to the precise degree her mother desires. While an outward show of obedience, such a statement can also be read as a refusal through passivity. Juliet will accede to her mother’s wishes, but she will not go out of her way to fall in love with Paris.
Juliet’s first meeting with Romeo propels her full-force toward adulthood. Though profoundly in love with him, Juliet is able to see and criticize Romeo’s rash decisions and his tendency to romanticize things. After Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished, Juliet does not follow him blindly. She makes a logical and heartfelt decision that her loyalty and love for Romeo must be her guiding priorities. Essentially, Juliet cuts herself loose from her prior social moorings – her nurse, her parents, and her social position in Verona-in order to try to reunite with Romeo. When Juliet wakes in the tomb to find Romeo dead, she does not kill herself out of feminine weakness, but rather out of an intensity of love, just as Romeo did. Juliet’s suicide actually requires more nerve than Romeo’s: while he swallows poison, she stabs herself through the heart with a dagger.
Juliet’s development from a wide-eyed girl into a self-assured, loyal, an capable woman is one of Shakespeare’s early triumphs of characterization. It also marks one of his most confident and rounded treatments of a female character.
12. Write a short note on Friar Lawrence.
Ans: Friar Lawrence occupies a strange position in Romeo and Juliet. He is a kindhearted cleric who helps Romeo and Juliet throughout the play. He performs their marriage and gives generally good advice, especially in regard to the need for moderation. He is the sole figure of religion in the play. But Friar Lawrence is also the most scheming and political of characters in the play: he marries Romeo and Juliet as part of a plan to end the civil strife in Verona; he spirits Romeo into Juliet’s room and then out of Verona; he devises the plan to reunite Romeo and Juliet through the deceptive ruse of a sleeping potion that seems to arise from almost mystic knowledge. This mystical knowledge seems out of place for a Catholic friar; why does he have such knowledge and what could such knowledge mean? The answers are not clear. In addition, though Friar Lawrence’s plans all seem well conceived and well intentioned, they serve as the main mechanisms through which the fated tragedy of the play occurs. Readers should recognize that the Friar is not only subject to the fate that dominates the play-in many ways, he brings that fate about.
13. Write a short note on Mercutio.
Ans: With a lightning-quick wit and a clever mind, Mercutio is a scene stealer and one of the most memorable characters in all of Shakespeare’s works. Though he constantly puns, jokes, and teases sometimes in fun, sometimes with bitterness – Mercutio is not a mere jester or prankster. With his wild words, Mercutio punctures the romantic sentiments and blind self – love that exist within the play. He mocks Romeo’s self indulgence just as he ridicules Tybalt’s hauteur and adherence to fashion. The critic Stephen Greenblatt describes Mercutio as a force within the play that functions to deflate the possibility of romantic love and the power of tragic fate. Unlike the other characters who blame their deaths on fate, Mercutio dies cursing all Montagues and Capulets. Mercutio believes that specific people are responsible for his death rather than some external impersonal force.
14. What did Shakespeare’s audience know about Italy?
Ans: Romeo and Juliet is one of seven plays Shakespeare set in Renaissance Italy, a setting he used to present a freer society than Elizabethan England. In fact, Shakespeare set only one play (The Merry Wives of Windsor) in contemporary England. While England was a single kingdom with a hereditary monarch, Italy was a patchwork of city-states, each with a different political system. Italian social hierarchy was less rigid than England’s. By setting his plays in Italy, Shakespeare also gave himself the opportunity to criticize his society while seeming to criticize a foreign society. In Romeo and Juliet, the freedom of the noblemen Montague and Capulet to ignore the Prince’s orders reflects the complex political situation of an Italian city-state. At the same time, the play shows that this situation ends in disaster, which serves as a warning to English aristocrats who might try to undermine the Queen’s power.
Romeo and Juliet is critical of the Italian influence on English culture. When Mercutio describes Tybalt’s fighting style, he uses Italian technical terms for sword-fighting manoeuvres: “the immortal passado, the punto reverso, the hay!” Shakespeare learned these terms from a book by Vincentio Saviolo, an Italian fencing master who had become famous in London. Saviolo had helped increase the popularity in England of the Italian tradition of duelling, in which men fought over points of honour. Duelling was a common cause of death in Shakespeare’s England. Romeo and Juliet illustrates how dangerous and absurd the culture of duelling is. Mercutio and Tybalt both know Saviolo’s terminology, and the result is that both men die in pointless fights. Romeo and Juliet also mocks the influence of Italian love poets like Petrarch on the English vocabulary of romance. Romeo describes his love for Rosaline in the language of Petrarch’s poetry and does a comically bad job, causing Benvolio and Mercutio to make fun of him. Shakespeare draws on contemporary stereotypes about Italy to create the world of Romeo and Juliet.
Due to the influence of Petrarch and other Italian writers, Italy was believed to be a country where romance was valued very highly. The “tragedy of love” was a theatrical genre created by Italian playwrights, and both of Shakespeare’s love tragedies, Romeo and Juliet and Othello, are set in Italy. Juliet’s openness about sex also reflects English stereotypes about Italian women, who were believed to be less chaste than their English counterparts. The poison Romeo uses to kill himself is another example of local Italian color: Italians were believed to favor poison as a method of assassination. Friar Lawrence’s willingness to meddle in the Montague – Capulet feud reflects an English paranoia about Catholic priests. It was widely feared that the Catholic Church interfered in European politics in a way that could prove disastrous for Protestant England.
15. Why are there sonnets in Romeo and Juliet?
Ans: Romeo and Juliet contains several sonnets, a traditional form of poetry comprised of fourteen rhyming lines, usually about love. Shakespeare himself wrote sonnets, as did most of the major poets of his day. These English sonneteers were inspired by Italian writers, and above all by a poet known as Petrarch who wrote during the Italian Renaissance. Petrarch established that sonnets should be about romantic love that is also a pure and perfected spiritual love. His poems famously compared love to religious pilgrimage, as Romeo and Juliet do when they first meet. Petrarch also played with impossible contradictions, like Romeo’s “loving hate” (1.1.), to emphasize the philosophical complexity of love. Petrarch often made extreme and unlikely comparisons, and he liked to describe each part of his beloved’s body in isolation. Both these devices work to make love seem impossibly wonderful and pure. Romeo is imitating them when he describes Juliet’s eyes as “Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven”.
Shakespeare uses the language of Petrarch’s sonnets to show Romeo’s growing maturity as a lover. When we first meet Romeo, he is trying to describe his love using unlikely comparisons, in the style of Petrarch: “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs” He is doing a bad job. Lovers” “sighs” feature often in Petrarch’s sonnets, and by Shakespeare’s day these sighs were a cliché. On top of that, comparing “smoke” with “sighs” isn’t very striking, because smoke and sighs are both intangible. When Romeo sees Juliet for the first time, however, he begins to make original and striking comparisons: “she hangs upon the cheek of night / As a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear”.Nothing in this line is a cliché, and the comparison of Juliet to an earring is quite unlikely.
Romeo has also punned on Juliet’s name, because “Jule,” pronounced “Jewel,” was a common short form of Juliet at the time. Petrarch frequently punned on the name of his beloved, Laura. Love has made Romeo a better poet, which helps us to believe that his love for Juliet is real.
Romeo and Juliet ultimately suggests that Petrarch’s vision of a pure and perfected love is both impossible and a bit silly. Mercutio parodies Romeo’s use of Petrarch’s style: “Romeo…Appear thou in likeness of a sigh”. When the Nurse tells Juliet her impression of Romeo, she combines two typical features of Petrarch’s sonnets: impossible contradictions and a list of body parts. The resulting speech is comic nonsense: “Though his face be better than any man’s, yet his leg excels all men’s”. Shakespeare directly parodied Petrarch’s idealized love poetry in his own sonnets. Sonnet 130 begins with the lines, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” poking fun at Petrarch’s tendency to compare all women’s eyes to the sun. The poem goes on to say that although the speaker’s mistress has “black wire” for hair, reeking breath, and a grating voice, he loves her more than any idealized woman unrealistically described in traditional love sonnets. Similarly, in Romeo and Juliet, Romeo evolves from describing his idealized version of Rosaline, who he doesn’t even know, to using more specific, original language for Juliet, who he comes to know as a person, not an ideal.
In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare doesn’t just use sonnets to mock traditional love poetry. He also updates the form, by having the lovers share a sonnet when they first meet. Instead of Romeo delivering the fourteen lines of the poem himself, elaborately describing Juliet’s beaut while she listens, the lovers share the poem. Rather than being an object of adoration, Juliet is a co-creator of the sonnet and active participant in the relationship. As Romeo and Juliet progresses, the lovers gradually abandon the spiritual language of Petrarch and become more concerned with the practical business of being together in spite of the social forces keeping them apart. Petrarch never takes action either to consummate his relationship with his beloved or to end it. Instead, Petrarch imagines eventually meeting his beloved in heaven, when both of them will be beyond desire or action of any kind. Romeo and Juliet ultimately prefer actions to words: they rebel against the impossibility of being together by killing themselves.
Romeo and Juliet created a new form of love literature, which combined the spiritual longings of Petrarch’s sonnets with the belief that love sex can be a force for rebellion and freedom. After Romeo and Juliet, love poetry often combined both these elements. John Donne created some of the most popular love poems in English by following this formula. His poem ‘To His Mistress Going To Bed’ is full of unlikely comparisons that express a spiritual longing, but it’s also explicitly sexual and in its own time it was shocking: ‘Licence my roving hands, and let them go, / Before, behind, between, above, below. / O my America! my new – foundland, / My kingdom, safeliest when with one man mann’d.’ This formula for expressing romantic love is still going strong. For example, the Twilight series insists on both the spiritual and the rebellious force of young love. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Shakespeare invented young love as we know it.
16. Mention the movie adaptations of Romeo and Juliet.
Ans: Romeo and Juliet have been adapted more than thirty times for film and television, in many languages and with varying degrees of faithfulness to the original text. Three English-language versions that use Shakespeare’s text are widely available:
(a) Romeo and Juliet, 1936
Director: George Cukor
Notable cast: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard: Despite receiving four Academy Award nominations, critics and audiences had a mixed response to this film. Many filmgoers praised the adaptation for its lavish production value, and others celebrated the faithful treatment of the original text, despite the fact that Cukor cut nearly half of Shakespeare’s text. Others, however, found the film overlong and lacking imagination. More recently the film scholar Stephen Orgel has pointed out that the lead actors are too old for their roles.
(b) Romeo and Juliet, 1968
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Notable cast: Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting: 2 ffirelli cut nearly two-thirds of Shakespeare’s lines, but many critics feit this film was a sensitive adaptation of the text. The film won two Academy Awards and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. With its very young leads and Whiting’s long hairstyle, the movie was seen in its time as a Romeo and Juliet for the teenage set. That said, the filin has aged well, and some still regard it as the best film adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.
(c) Romeo + Juliet, 1996
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Notable cast: Claire Danes, Leonardo di Caprio: Unlike Cukor and Zeffirelli, who both set their adaptations in mediaeval Italy, Luhrmann moved the action of Shakespeare’s play to America in the twentieth century. Verona, therefore, becomes “Verona Beach,” home to warring gangs and a police chief called “Prince.” Luhrmann’s adaptation is probably the most faithful of the three, in the sense that it retains more of the original language than either Cukor’s or Zeffirelli’s versions. Romeo + Juliet was nominated for an Academy Award and won several other major awards. It is highly regarded by film critics and students of Shakespeare’s plays alike.
17. Comment on the imagery of ‘night-day, black-white’ in the poem. What purpose do they serve in highlighting the intensity of love?
Ans: This is from the extracts of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the most popular romantic tragedy written by William Shakespeare, an English playwright and poet, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English Language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is well-known to the world through his timeless characters that are universal in their appeal. The themes that he deals with also touch the human lives across the globe. Love is the most recurring theme in his works. Here, in this poem, he presents Romeo and Juliet as the epitome of true love emanating from eternal beauty. The poem is replete with a series of imagery. The contrasting imagery of night-day and black-white underline the poetic techniques employed by William Shakespeare to portray the unparalleled beauty of Juliet against the charming presence of Romeo.
The Night with its darkness is imposing throughout the poem. The contexts of Romeo’s meeting with Juliet at a supper party and Juliet’s appointment with Romeo at her orchard at night signify the prominence of night. For example, Romeo discovers the best beauties comparable to night: cheek of night, rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear. The night-day imagery is more vibrant in Juliet’s words as she compares Romeo’s charm to the day against night’s evident darkness. She further heightens the importance of night when she wishes that the night sky be bedecked with the images of Romeo in a constellation, thus reducing the day’s brilliance with the Sun.
The black-white imagery is elaborate in the words of Romeo and Juliet. The beauty of Juliet is glorified as she hangs like a bright jewel on the cheek of night. This contrasting description continues with reference to snowy dove in the company of crows. Even in the eyes of Juliet, Romeo appears like a new snow on a raven’s back. The imagery not only highlights the charm and beauty of Romeo and Juliet but also culminate in an intense love.
18. Between Romeo and Juliet, whose love, do you think, is more passionate and intense?
Ans: This is from the extracts of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the most popular romantic tragedy written by William Shakespeare, an English playwright and poet, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English Language and the world’s pre – eminent dramatist. He is well-known to the world through his timeless and universal characters. The themes that he deals with also touch human lives across the globe. Love is the most recurring theme in his works. Here, in this poem, he presents Romeo and Juliet as the epitome of true love emanating from eternal beauty.
Juliet’s love is undoubtedly more intense for the following reasons. For Romeo, Rosaline was his first love before he saw Juliet on the dance floor at the supper whereas Juliet felt prodigious birth of love for a man whom she saw for the first time. In her soliloquy she admires the young and charming Romeo through striking comparisons. She invites night and Romeo, for he is like day in night. He seems to ride the wings of night. He looks whiter than new snow on a raven’s back. Juliet entreats night to arrive soon so that she can chance to see her Romeo. “Give me my Romeo, and when I shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars.” These words of Juliet show her intense love for Romeo. She further states that Romeo will beautify the night’s sky with his images across the expanse of the sky. Juliet is so much filled with strong emotions that she declares that once Romeo occupies the night’s sky, the world will be in love with night. No one will admire the sun any longer. These words add to her glorification of Romeo’s charm. Thus Juliet proves to be very intense in her true love for Romeo.
19. Write down the movie review of Romeo + Juliet.
Ans: The desperation with which it tries to “update” the play and make it “relevant” is greatly depressing. In one grand but doomed gesture, writer-director Baz Luhrmann has made a film that (a) will dismay any lover of Shakespeare, and (b) bore anyone lured into the theatre by promise of gang wars, MTV-style. This production was a very bad idea.
It begins with a TV anchor reporting on the deaths of Romeo and Juliet while the logo “Star Crossed Lovers” floats above her shoulder. We see newspaper headlines (the local paper is named “Verona Today”). There is a fast montage identifying the leading characters, and showing the city of Verona Beach dominated by two towering skyscrapers, topped with neon signs reading “Montague” and “Capulet.” And then we’re plunged into a turf battle between the Montague Boys (one has “Montague” tattooed across the back of his scalp) and the Capulet Boys. When, in an early line of dialog, the word “swords” is used, we get a closeup of a Sword – brand handgun.
If the whole movie had been done in the breakneck, in – your – face style of the opening scenes, it wouldn’t be Shakespeare, but at least it would have been something. But the movie lacks the nerve to cut entirely adrift from its literary roots, and grows badly confused as a result. The music is a clue. The sound track has rock, Latin and punk music, a children’s choir, and a production number, but the balcony scene and a lot of the later stuff is scored for lush strings (and not scored well, either; this is Mantovani – land, a dim contrast to Nino Rota’s great music for the Zeffirelli “Romeo and Juliet” in 1968).
Much of the dialogue is shouted unintelligibly, while the rest is recited dutifully, as in a high school production. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes are talented and appealing young actors, but they’re in over their heads here. There is a way to speak Shakespeare’s language so that it can be heard and understood, and they have not mastered it.
The only actors in the film who seem completely at home, indeed, are Pete Postlethwaite, as Father Laurence, and Miriam Margolyes, as the Nurse. They know the words and the rhythm, the meaning and the music, and when they say something, we know what they’ve said. The other actors seem clueless, and Shakespeare’s lines are either screamed or get all inushy. (Brian Dennehy, as Romeo’s father “Ted Montague,” would have been able to handle Shakespeare, but as nearly as I can recall he speaks not a single word in the entire movie-a victim, perhaps, of trims in post-production.) Not that there is much Shakespeare to be declaimed.
The movie takes a “Shakespeare’s greatest hits” approach, giving us about as much of the original as we’d find in “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.” And even then it gets nervous and tarts things up. What can we make of a balcony scene that immediately leads to Romeo and Juliet falling into a swimming pool and reciting their best lines while treading water? I think back to the tender passion of the 1968 version, and I want to shout: “Romeo! Quick! Poison yourself!” The film’s climactic scenes are more impressed by action-movie cliches than by the alleged source. Romeo pumps Tybalt full of lead while shouting incomprehensible lines. He tenderly undresses Juliet and they spend the night together. Shakespeare’s death scene in the tomb lacked a dramatic payoff for Luhrmann, who has Juliet regain consciousness just as Romeo poisons himself, so that she can use her sweet alases while he can still hear them.