Romeo And Juliet: Changes Of Romeo Character
Romeo and Juliet is set in Renaissance Verona during the Elizabethan era. The play is about two families, the Montague’s and the Capulet’s, who are in an ongoing feud over an “ancient grudge”. Throughout the play, Shakespeare shows how the Italians loved the Renaissance era, which brings together Romeo and Juliet, son and daughter of Montague and Capulet, who cannot understand the hatred of an older generation, and who choose to die together rather than live without each other. At the time Henry VIII had broken the Catholic Church in England and replaced it with the church of England; this is relevant to the play as Friar Lawrence, the local priest, is deliberately ambiguous and could be seen as the divine hand of God who plans the “star-crossed lovers” deaths to punish the families for their blood feud. During the Renaissance era, literacy rates were rising and high social classes were beginning to merge with those of a lower class and it is important to state that the play is primarily a social commentary on the blood feuds and civil disturbances, more so than a tragic love story.
Romeo is the son of Lord Montague and Lady Montague. He is about sixteen and is intelligent and sensitive. Although he is immature, his soft-way with words and his way with love makes him a very captivating character. He is not at all interested in violence. His only interest is love. At the beginning of the play he is madly in love with a woman named Rosaline, but once he gets turned down by her, he becomes very lovesick and distant and begins writing a lot of poetry about love. Shakespeare makes us question his love for Juliet as it happens so instantly and Romeo convinces himself and the audience that it’s real. The night at the party when Romeo falls in love with Juliet, he goes through extreme emotions and actions to prove his feelings. Though Romeo never shows this delicate side around his friends, but only displays his masculinity side so this is when the audience becomes to question whether he is really in love with Juliet. He would always stand up for his best friend Mercutio and be a loyal friend up until he meets Juliet, then he becomes more distant from him and doesn’t tell of their relationship and secret marriage.
The relationship between Romeo and Juliet can be defined as a passionate, first “love” of two naive teenagers. Juliet is 13 years old, but Romeo is much older, and while Juliet’s mother begins thinking very seriously about marriage, both her and Romeo are very inexperienced in romance. Romeo was first in love with Rosaline, who’s lack of feelings makes him more desperate and pitiful about love. “Did my heart love till now? For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” We can see from his hyperbolic use of ‘never’ that he says that he can see Juliet’s beauty and is in love with her as a person and not just for love. This shows the immaturity and pitiful side of Romeo and suggests that it was only the appearance and beauty of Juliet that he fell in love with. We see Romeo change when he falls in love with Juliet, as he becomes more sensitive and his romantic side really starts to show as he obviously cares about Juliet “The exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.” However, Juliet carries the relationship forward as she shows maturity more than Romeo for example when Juliet finds out about Romeo killing Tybalt she questions “Shall I speak ill
of him that is my husband?” We see that this was a maturing moment for Juliet because suddenly she realizes that she can be easily fooled and that love is not as wonderful as it at first appears to be, but can be difficult. She understands now that Romeo isn’t as straightforward as she originally thought. Juliet is direct and straightforward with Romeo and is not impressed with his poetry, therefore making Romeo more mature.
Friar Lawrence acts as a father figure to Romeo. The Friar makes the marriage between Romeo and Juliet happen and tries his best to help and protect them. Romeo shows himself as being immature and dependent on the Friar as he puts all his trust and his life into the hands of him, and the Friar hopes the relationship will lead to mending the quarrel between the two houses. This shows a bit of arrogance from the Friar as he is taking an opportunity to end Romeo’s families feud but not necessarily taking Romeo’s best interest into consideration which also emphasises Romeo’s naivety. The Friar tries to tell Romeo to slow down his relationship with Juliet, or it might too quickly be overusing the juxtaposing warning that “These violent delights have violent ends”. After Tybalt’s death, the Friar becomes frustrated with Romeo’s dramatic and emotionally negative behaviour, especially after Romeo complains about his banishment. Friar Lawrence’s efforts to help Romeo and Juliet be together doesn’t end well. In the end, the Friar is left with the guilt over their deaths. Romeo’s failed trust in Juliet to come back to him, but unfortunately, the affection that the Friar felt for Romeo made him oversee his common sense. This in many ways resembled that father and son relationship they had and reminds the audience how young and vulnerable Romeo was.
Mercutio is the nephew of the Prince of Verona and Romeo’s best friend. He is not a Montague nor a Capulet. The character of Mercutio in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ plays an important role in providing humour. Romeo and Mercutio are very close friends though many critics suggest they also have an undercurrent of a sexual attraction, suggesting that Mercutio is Gay or Bisexual which in this era was unacceptable. Mercutio is witty and has an upbeat attitude that often teases Romeo, especially concerning his love interests, and often makes sexual jokes. When Romeo is with Mercutio, Shakespeare portrays him in a way that shows Romeos attempts to adapt to Mercutio’s personality and tries to acts more boisterous and masculine by saying disrespectful sex innuendos much like Mercutio, “Why, then is my pump well flowered”. Romeo doesn’t act in the same bawdy manner when Mercutio isn’t around which suggests that Romeo is more self-centered and self-absorbed and the fact that he appears to fall in love easily suggests that he is also fickle. Romeo and Mercutio care about each other and have a strong relationship, but towards the end of the play, we can see that Mercutio needs and depends on Romeo more than Romeo needs him. Mercutio’s death turned Romeo into the stereotypical version of an ‘angered’ man, who lost his sense of fun and became rash and reckless. He went from mourning and writing poems to use violence to end up killing Tybalt.
Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin. He is known as one of the best swordsmen in Verona. Tybalt first sees Romeo when they crash the Capulet party. When Lord Capulet sees Tybalt, he can tell that Tybalt is agitated. Lord Capulet and Tybalt are close and know each other well. Tybalt does not hesitate to tell his uncle the problem: he has seen Romeo, a Montague, at their party. Tybalt expects his uncle to react as he did, with violent and anger but instead, he disregards it. Tybalt then holds a grudge against Romeo and seeks to get revenge. Here Shakespeare uses dramatic irony as we know Tybalt will react, but Romeo doesn’t. When Tybalt wants to challenge Romeo, he just approaches Mercutio and mocks him using the euphemistic verb ‘Mercutio, thou consort’st with Romeo” insulting their masculinity. Tybalt and Mercutio begin to fight but Romeo tries to hold Mercutio back, “And so, good Capulet, which name I tender as dearly as my own, be satisfied,” Romeo says this as a way to tell Tybalt that they are now family and he doesn’t want to fight. Romeo stands in the way of Mercutio whilst Tybalt draws his sword straight for Mercutio. This shows once again how Romeo always put himself and his feelings before Mercutio as he thought that as a result of his secret marriage with Juliet, it would instantly solve his relationship with Tybalt and the Capulets but he hadn’t told his own friends about his marriage, which shows him being self-centered. After Tybalt killed Mercutio, Romeo moves to attack him, insisting that one of them must join Mercutio on his way to heaven. Losing Mercutio changes Romeo. He became more angered and grief-stricken which led him to become violent, rash and physical.
Romeo’s character changes from a love-sick, pitiful boy who is dazed and distant, caught up in writing love poetry to fall in love within one night with Juliet, a Capulet with no desire to marry, who falls in love with Romeo and plan to have a secret marriage. Romeo changes from a brooding, sulking character into an impulsive and romantic one. Throughout the play, Juliet changes Romeo making him mature and disciplined, but Romeo remains naïve to everybody around him. During the scene with Tybalt and Mercutio, Romeo’s gentle nature is shown when he refuses to fight “the reason I have to love thee” but Tybalt is unaware that Romeo married Juliet so he tells Tybalt that he loves him because he is now part of Tybalt’s family and related to him through marriage. From the beginning, Shakespeare portrays Romeo as a very self-absorbed character and this is displayed during the fight with Tybalt. When Mercutio is killed, this changes Romeo to become raged and out for revenge on Tybalt. In the end scene, we see Romeo was willing to give anything to see Juliet and his abundant love for her gave him the choice to end his own life just to be with her and this shows how he was vulnerable and always led by his emotions.