Character Analysis of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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Character Analysis of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet


Of the many tragic heroes of Shakespeare, Romeo continues to exercise

a peculiar fascination over the minds of young men and women. He

stands out as the emblem of youthful love, its disappointment, and its

possibility for tragedy.

Romeo is the only son of Lord Montague, the head of a reputed and rich

family of Verona that is plagued by its long-standing feud with the

Capulet family. In the first scenes, Romeo appears indifferent to his

family's feud. His only concern is his love for Rosaline, a love,

which is overwhelming, but artificial. Romeo is really in love with

the idea of love. When he does not receive love in return, he grows

melancholy and brooding. Even his friend Benvolio cannot distract him.

At the Capulet dance, Romeo meets the beautiful Juliet. Rosaline is

quickly forgotten, and Romeo is transformed from a brooding youth that

talks about love to a young man who is capable of quick, decisive

action. In truth, "the gentle lamb" turns into a "passionate lover".

Romeo's deep feelings for Juliet, who ironically and tragically is a

Capulet, are very different from the shallow love he has felt for

other woman, including Rosaline. This genuine love makes him bold, and

he is prepared to take any risk for Juliet. He bravely goes into her

garden after the party, even though he chances being caught and

punished. His risk is repaid when he hears Juliet express her love for

him as well. They pledge themselves to one another and make plans to

marry the next day. Friar Lawrence performs the marriage ceremony for

the couple, hoping in so doing to unite their two families.

Romeo's love for Juliet softens him towards all Capulets. In fact,

when Tybalt insults him, Romeo keeps his cool and does not respond.

Instead, Mercutio is provoked to fight Tybalt and is killed. Romeo

feels he has no choice; his friend must be avenged. He fights Tybalt,

kills him, and flees to take refuge in the cell of Friar Lawrence.
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