Use of Time in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Use of Time in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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Shakespeare uses time to show that all things are meant to happen at their own time and place. People tend to consider time as stationary. In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the characters are constantly trying to rush time in their urgency. This movement of time results in tragic ends, in which we learn that time and fate go hand in hand: neither one is meant to be tampered with.

 

In act I, Romeo and Juliet meet at a feast where they immediately fall in love without hesitation. This feast is held by Lord Capulet's feast. Capulet, Juliet's father, announces, "This night I hold an old accustom'd feast (1/2/20)." This hastily made decision is the beginning of Romeo and Juliet's tragic end.

 

In act II, things begin to take flight for Romeo and Juliet. Romeo visits Juliet at her balcony, where the two immediately confess their love for one another. At first Juliet is not blinded by her love. She can see that things are progressing way too fast. She proclaims, "O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, / that monthly changes in her

 

Circled orb, / lest that thy prove likewise variable (2/2/113-115)." The moon is often used to symbolize illusion. Shakespeare may have used this term to show that although Romeo is fond of Juliet, he needs to give himself more time to understand the significance of love. Romeo does not realize this and takes fate into his own hands. Thus, making arrangements for the new couple to be married by Friar Laurence the next day.

 

In act III, fate takes its first victim. Mercutio, Romeo's best friend and companion, avenges Romeo by fighting Tybalt, Romeo's enemy who is also Juliet's cousin. Mercutio is slain and foreshadows Romeo's future; "Ask for me to-morrow, and you shall / find me a grave man (3/1/89-90)." Romeo is extremely grave afterwards. He kills Tybalt and is banished from Verona forever. He realizes that to love an enemy can lead to devastating events, if one does not take enough time to deal with the situation at hand.

 

Friar Laurence is one of the only characters that truly understands Shakespeare's message. When Lord Capulet plans Juliet's marriage to young and eligible Paris, the friar does not approve: "On Thursday, sir?

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The time is very short (4/1/1)" The friar takes the time to step back and view the situation at hand. He chooses not to tamper with fate, though. He knows that things, good or bad cannot always be prevented.

 

Juliet does not want to take the time and openly deal with her problems. Instead, she plans to fake her death and to run away with Romeo. This does not happen as planned, and Romeo does not find out in time. He kills himself and offers Juliet this condolence, "Well Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night (5/1/36)." He will never know the happiness he may have acquired, had he not acted so hastily.

 

Time is meant to be kept stationary. Romeo and Juliet knew this, yet they were selfish. They rushed to their end. Never to awaken and never to give fate one last chance.

 
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