Romeo and Juliet- Themes and Quotes Analysis

Act 1Prologue, Chorus:Two households, both alike in dignity,In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;Whose misadventured piteous overthrows,Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,And the continuance of their parents’ rage,Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;The which if you with patient ears attend,What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend. The main themes behind this quote are fate and dramatic irony. The theme fate is most prominent here as it is clearly discussing what happens in the play but in a vague sense so that not everything is revealed. The prologue is not told by any character of importance from the play, creating the impression that it is told by an omniscient being, or that it is a prophecy made long before the play is set. This idea can be supported by the quote ‘star-cross’d lovers’ and ‘death-mark’d love’, suggesting that their love was written in the stars and that they were destined to be together and have an unhappy end. The playwright decided to write this prologue to create dramatic irony, where the audience knows what’s going to happen to the characters but the characters themselves don’t, making the theme of fate and destiny very strong as it shows how stuck and helpless they are and that their actions only help to ensure their deaths.
Act 1, scene 5, Romeo:Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!It seems she hangs upon the cheek of nightLike a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear,Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.So shows a snowy dove trooping with crowsAs yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night. Key themes behind this quote are love, language and dramatic irony too. Love and language mix together as Romeo uses language to express his love for Juliet, using techniques like similes to describe her, for example she is “like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear.” To be described as a jewel implies that Juliet is not even human, she is the epitome of beauty, a royal jewel too beautiful to touch. The fact that he claims that he “ne’er saw true beauty till this night” proves to the audience how passionately he feels for her, however it can also be seen as not genuine love as he only went to the party to get over his previous love Rosaline. It seems as though his feelings for Juliet are stirred from his emotional, lovesick nature. Irony is also evident as the audience knows that the person Romeo feels so strongly for is the daughter of his enemy, creating an almost comical but sad feel.
Act 1, scene 5, Juliet:My only love sprung from my only hate!Too early seen unknown, and known too late! This is an important quote as it captures Juliet’s realisation of Romeo’s true identity. The themes associated with this are forbidden love and language. Again, love and language mix together as a way of expressing her emotions, a technique that may be intended by Shakespeare to show how similar Romeo and Juliet are, emphasising the idea that they were destined for each other. The audience also feels sympathy for Juliet as she says the line “my only love sprung from my only hate.”, meaning that her only love was unfortunately her only enemy.
Act 2, Scene 2, JulietO Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?Deny thy father and refuse thy name;Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,And I’ll no longer be a Capulet….’Tis but thy name that is my enemy; —Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,Nor arm, nor face, nor any other partBelonging to a man. O, be some other name!What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,By any other word would smell as sweet;So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,Retain that dear perfection which he owesWithout that title: — Romeo, doff thy name;And for thy name, which is no part of thee,Take all myself. Forbidden love, language and individual vs society are strong themes in this quote. Juliet expresses through the use of language on how she can only love Romeo in secret solely because of his name alone. She talks about how a name doesn’t define a person- “we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” This also touches upon individual vs society, the idea of marrying for love and not name, unlike many did in that time.
Act 2, Scene 2, JulietGood-night, good-night! Parting is such sweet sorrowThat I shall say good-night till it be morrow. The theme behind this is day vs night. It is clear that Romeo and Juliet prefer night than day in the line “I shall say good-night till it be morrow”, meaning that they want the day to be over and for the night to come. In the play, night is portrayed to be a private and secretive refuge for Romeo and Juliet to meet, where they can express their love more freely without society watching them.
Act 3, Scene 1: Romeo & MercutioRomeo: Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.Mercutio: No, ’tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but ’tis enough, ’twill serve: ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man. Themes in this quote are death and language, used to indicate Mercutio’s death and that his wound is not outrageously massive or deep, but it’s enough to kill him. We know this is his end when he says ‘tomorrow you shall find me a grave man,’. Mercutio’s character is still seen even on his last legs. Although he is usually witty and tends to play on words, here he says that he is serious and about to die which is unusual behaviour for his character.
Act 3, Scene 2: RomeoO, I am fortune’s fool! Here the theme is language and fate, as Romeo calls himself a fool for slaying Tybalt but also reminding the audience of the prologue and his fate.
Act 3, Scene 2: JulietCome, gentle night, — come, loving black brow’d night,Give me my Romeo; and when he shall die,Take him and cut him out in little stars,And he will make the face of Heaven so fineThat all the world will be in love with night,And pay no worship to the garish sun. The main theme here is day vs night and love, as Juliet prefers night over day since that was the only time they could see each other, calling it “gentle” and “loving black brow’d night.” The line “pay no worship to the garish sun” also reinforces this, the sun being used to show that she means the day.
Act 4Or bid me go into a new-made grave, And hide me with a dead man in his shroudthings that, to hear them told, hve made me trembleAnd I will do it without fear or doubtTo live an unstain’d wife to my sweet love Themes here are death, fate and forbidden love, Romeo has done something sinful and is now as good as dead. If he was to ever return to be greeted to a ‘new-made grave’, he also feels bad because he cannot see Juliet and consummate their marriage referring to her as ‘unstain’d’ meaning they still haven’t had sex and she is still a virgin.
Act 5Act 5, Scene 1: RomeoThen I defy you, stars! The themes presented in this quote are fate and rebellion. The word “stars” symbolise fate, and the fact that he is defying them associates with rebellion and suggests that he is trying to go against destiny, which the audience knows is not possible in his case due to the prologue.
Act 5, Scene 3: RomeoO true apothecary! The drugs are quick. – Thus with a kiss I die. The themes shown here are death, dramatic irony and passionate love, since Romeo is more willing to die than live a life without Juliet. The final kiss before he dies is Romeo’s last act of love towards her as she is “dead”, but the audience knows better (as we are aware that Juliet is not dead) due to the dramatic irony in this scene, which is one of the most intense parts in the whole play.
Act 5, Scene 3: JulietYea, noise, then I’ll be brief;O, happy dagger!This is thy sheath, there rest, and let me die. Themes here are irony and death. At this point, Romeo is dead and she no longer has the will to live, proven by the fact that she calls a dagger ‘happy’, showing that she welcomes death.

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