Shakespeare foreshadows, in the prologue, that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is already destined to a harsh fate. Shakespeare implies the idea that because of the ‘continuance of their parents’ rage’ the death of both Rome and Juliet is necessary to bring their families feud to an end. And nothing else except their ‘children’s’ death ‘could remove’. Shakespeare has done this to hint the idea of their relationship is subjected to an undesirable outcome.
When Shakespeare says ‘A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life’ he may also be implying something else rather than just the idea that their fate is written in the stars to die. The word ‘Cross’d’ could have been a religious reference derived from Christianity and when Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross.
Different readers would gather the idea that because of the long-lasting ‘ancient grudge’ between the Capulet and Montagues, that something bad instinctively will happen to Romeo and Juliet. This links to the theme of love and relationships because the relationship between Romeo and Juliet has already been jinxed from the moment they were born.
In their first impressions, Shakespeare has used a metaphor to exaggerate on how much Romeo is infatuated by Juliet. ‘O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright’ gives the impression that Juliet is so bright that she even lightens up other light sources, and that she is Romeo’s light source. However, this poetic exaggeration is clearly wrong as torches can’t be taught how to ‘burn bright’. So Shakespeare could have done this to make you question whether Romeo’s love is genuine love-at-first-sight or just a result of short-term infatuation based on her physical looks.
This point also links to when Romeo questions his past love with Rosaline to his current ‘love’ with Juliet ‘did my heart love till now?’ The audience could react to this either thinking that this is genuine love-at-first-sight as its strong enough to overpower his last love for Rosaline. Or that this is just another example of where Romeo thought he was in love, like with Rosaline, but not genuinely in love. Shakespeare might have put this character Rosaline in the play before Juliet so you can see that Romeo’s love for Juliet may or may not be different.
In contrast to this, Shakespeare has given Juliet a completely different first impression to Romeo’s which is ‘My only love sprung from my only hate’. The juxtaposition between ‘love’ and ‘hate’ suggests that Juliet is more realistic and more future-planning than Romeo by having both emotions and potential outcomes in her head (even if she isn’t very well-planned herself).
The use of the world ‘Only’ also foreshadows the feeling that this could be her first and only relationship. Shakespeare may have done this to remind the audience that their relationship is destined for doom. This links to parts of the prologue which also evokes this idea.
Different readers could also be confused on which emotion is stronger, either the ‘love’ or the ‘hate’ part. Shakespeare may have done this to suggest the idea of weighing scales between the ‘love’ and ‘hate’ and which are both respectively in conflict with each other. This reminds the audience that because of the same conflict between the two families that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship doesn’t bode well.
When Romeo and Juliet first meet Shakespeare creates a lot of religious imagery between the two characters, linking them to the idea of sin and doing something wrong. Juliet instinctively knows that kissing would be a comparative to a sin as she implies that Romeo is a saint (a good person who obtains from the opposite sex) but needs to stay within his rights and not kiss her. Whereas Romeo insists upon it and says ‘let lips do what hands do’ so he can pray to her (his holy shrine) in the form of kissing. And if this doesn’t happen, his ‘faith’ will be left to ‘despair’.
Shakespeare has done this to present Romeo as someone who is impulsive and doesn’t consider things carefully whereas Juliet does. This also links to when Shakespeare uses the metaphor to compare Romeo’s personality with his palms and his ‘lips’ to ‘pilgrims’. Shakespeare presents Romeo here with piety but also of a lower class to Juliet ‘ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss’. Shakespeare may of done this to remind us that yet again, they aren’t compatible together because of their different ‘class’ and family background which hinders their relationship.
Different readers might think that Romeo’s and Juliet’s love here is true love-at-first-sight as both are willing to kiss despite of their social classing. Shakespeare has done this to show that their love could be something strong enough to overpower everything that stands against them. Also other readers may have noticed that Shakespeare has used a sonnet for their first interpretation which is also traditionally a ‘love’ poem. Shakespeare has clearly done to highlight their love-at-first-sight.
Shakespeare once again highlights this idea of true love and love-at-first-sight when Juliet says to Romeo ‘I’ll prove more true than those that have more cunning to be strange’. This shows Juliet knows it’s far too soon, however she’ll be more faithful and loving that anyone else who’d consider things longer. Shakespeare has clearly done this so show that Juliet’s already considered this and her love for Romeo is genuine love-at-first-sight.
The fact that she has already decided to marry him evokes the idea that their love is stronger than any other relationship which would consider things more carefully beforehand. However, Shakespeare might have also done this so different readers could start to question whether their love is down to love-at-first-sight or a merely a product of them both being impulsive and naïve. Shakespeare may have done this so the audience could start to pity them as they’re both young and foolish. And then later the audience could feel even sorrier for them as their young and foolishness caused them to die.
Shakespeare also presents Romeo to be less patient than Juliet ‘O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied’. This makes us question whether Romeo’s love yet again is as genuine as Juliet’s, or whether it’s more lust and desire from wanting something physical.
During the wedding Shakespeare foreshadows something very bad will happen as he states through Friar Laurence that ‘these violent delights have violent ends’. The use of ‘violent’ in this context is to portray the idea of something that is intense but quick and short-lasting. Shakespeare has clearly done this to evoke the idea that rushing into their relationship out of passion too soon will also finish quickly as well.
Shakespeare has also used this dramatic irony as the audience can know guess that something very bad will happen despite Romeo and Juliet still being ignorant to the future events. This piece of text relates back to the prologue where it originally states a ‘pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life’ which implies that their love is destined for doom. This also links to the theme of love and relationships as Shakespeare presents their love as transient and destructive.
After the death of Tybalt Shakespeare starts to show how there may be faults within Romeo and Juliet’s relationship. Shakespeare uses a series of oxymoron’s such as ‘a damned saint, an honourable villain’ to describe how Juliet is in confusion whether she still likes him or not. The oxymoron shows that the two contrasting feelings about Romeo are still in her mind and that she cannot currently decide whether to forgive him or not. Shakespeare has done this to undermine the faults within their relationship and to remind the audience that things will go wrong.
The use of ‘honourable’ with ‘villain’ suggests how Romeo is a good person who she still respects, but at the same time has done a terrible thing. Shakespeare then uses a series of hyperbolic phrases such as ‘that one word banished, hath slain ten thousand Tybalts’ to show how really confused she is. Different readers could think that this is far to exaggerated and now the first fault in their relationship has been discovered, it shows how naïve and foolish Juliet really was. However, she still doesn’t realise this because out of ‘love’ she still chooses to forgive him for Tybalt’s death. Shakespeare again presents her as someone who considers things carefully as later on she realises if Romeo is banished he won’t be able to take her virginity and she’ll die widowed with her marriage meaning nothing. Throughout everything that has happened so far, Shakespeare is still presenting their love as genuine true-love because she’s still willing to forgive him even after murdering her cousin.
During Juliet’s soliloquy, Shakespeare once again highlights where Juliet could start to question her love for Romeo as she starts considering the what ifs if something goes wrong. She says to the audience ‘I have faint cold fear thrills through my veins what If this mixture do not work at all?’ By this she starts to question just how far she’s willing to go for Romeo. Shakespeare has done this to remind the audience again that it is Juliet who considers things more carefully but Romeo who acts without thinking.
However, it’s perfectly normal to consider the ‘what ifs’ with something as scary as this, because Juliet also knows that it would be easier for Friar Laurence to kill her. Rather than go against his religion to remarry her with pairs later on. Different readers might think she is questioning her love for Romeo here, but as she still ends up taking the potion we know that she’s still willing to dedicate everything she has for him. Shakespeare wants us to realise the lengths that both of them are willing to take just to be together, so their love has to be truelove.
In the final scene, Shakespeare wants us to see how much Romeo is still infatuated by Juliet’s physical appearances regardless of her personality even when she’s dead. He thinks that even death can’t take away her beauty noticing there is still ‘crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks’. Shakespeare has done this to remind us that even now, Romeo first notices her physical attractions before he realises he realises that he has possibly lost her.
The use of ‘crimson’ tells us that her crimson lips and cheeks are more apparent to him than anything else yet. Shakespeare is suggesting to us that even though they’re nearing the end of their relationship, both Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is based on physical attractions and not personality. This also links to after Tybalt’s death when Juliet first sentence to describe him is ‘O, serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!’ Throughout these lines of both Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare continuously highlights the main factors of why their love was really so strong, which was because of their appearances.
In comparison to Romeo’s final speech, Shakespeare has presented Juliet’s as much shorter and that she partially wishes to kill herself because her Romeo is gone ‘O, churl! Drunk all, and left no friendly drop to help me after?’ Shakespeare has used poetic devices here almost personifying and using an oxymoron to describe what Juliet thinks about the items of their death e.g. ‘friendly drop’ and ‘O happy dagger!’ Shakespeare has used these oxymorons to show how Romeo and Juliet’s love was always doomed because of the contrasting factors involved. A dagger can’t possibly be ‘happy’ but to Juliet it is, as it’ll reunite her with her husband. However, this could be interpreted differently. As she sacrificed her life to be with her Romeo again, but without her realising this also links back to the prologue. That is the idea that without their deaths neither the Montagues nor Capulets could ever make peace. So Shakespeare may have done this to remind the audience again about their deaths being necessary.
Differently readers would now be at the climax of their thoughts about Romeo and Juliet’s relationship with either pity or admiration. Some would pity them as they were young, foolish and naïve which has ultimately brought them to death. But on the contrary, even admiration as their ‘love’ may have been so powerful it was strong enough for them to both willingly sacrifice themselves for each other. Through these ends scenes Shakespeare presents their love and relationship as something which was traumatic, transient and very sad.
At the end of the play, Shakespeare reminds us how unhappy and unfortunate Romeo and Juliet’s relationship was destined for. Shakespeare uses poetic devices such as rhyming to finish it off ‘for never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo’ which leaves the audience with that for their last thoughts about the play. Shakespeare has done this to leave the audience thinking that despite everything about their relationship that may have been impulsive, foolish or naïve it’s still a very tragic unfortunate end for them. This also relates back to the initial prologue ‘death mark’d love’ when it foreshadowed about their death, which reminds us how tragic it is for Romeo and Juliet’s fates is to die.