Application of contrasts in Shakespeare’s play Romeo & Juliet

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In the play Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare utilizes a variety of contrasts.

The most relevant, making the greatest impact on the content of the play, are namely light versus dark, love versus hate, high versus low, etc.

An example of love versus hate occurs through the relationship Romeo and Juliet and the hate between their families. The love that Romeo and Juliet share completely opposes the deep roots of anger and hate between their parents. The quote from the Chorus beest states this.

“Chorus: Two houses, both alike in dignity . From ancient grudge break to new mutiny . A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life: Whose misadventured piteous overthrows, Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife. “

The sincere and strong love of Romeo and Juliet contrasts with the extreme, petty grudges held by their parents.

Another example of controversy towards love is stated in the scene, where Romeo contmplates about paradoxes describing love, or even the kind of love he iss experiencing, which we would call a hopeless crush. It is both love and hate at the same time.

“Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.

Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.

Why, then, O br

rawling love! O loving hate!

O any thing, of nothing first create!

O heavy lightness! serious vanity! (1.1.178)”

For Romeo love seems to be something that can take many forms, be anything, but created out of nothing. It is a sad happiness and a serious foolishness. It is a “Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms” (1.1.179), a phrase which evokes the lover’s experience of fantasizing about his beloved, but in such a jumbled way, that it’s more frustrating than enjoyable.

Romeo gives some more paradoxes about love:”This love feel I, that feel no love in this” (1.1.182-183), which means that he feels love, but is not in love with being in love. He says love is the smoke made of sighs, and when the smoke is clleared away, it’s a fire in a lover’s eyes. It’s a stormy sea of tears:

“Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;

Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;

Being vex’d a sea nourish’d with lovers’ tears:

What is it else? a madness most discreet,

A choking gall and a preserving sweet.” (1.1.194)

From the first scene to the last, the play is filled with contrasts of light and dark.

The quarrel in the first scene, that takes place in broad daylight un
ndermines the security that is supposed to exist during the day.

Later, when Benvolio is asked by Lady Montague if, he’s seen Romeo, he describes how he noticed Romeo in a grove of sycamore, and how Romeo, when he caught sight of Benvolio, retreated further into the woods. Montague, worried about his son, says Romeo has gotten in the habit of avoiding the light:

“Many a morning hath he there been seen,

With tears augmenting the fresh morning dew,

Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs;

But all so soon as the all-cheering sun

Should in the furthest east begin to draw

The shady curtains from Aurora’s bed,

Away from the light steals home my heavy son,

And private in his chamber pens himself,

Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out

And makes himself an artificial night:

Black and portentous must this humor prove,

Unless good counsel may the cause remove.” (1.1.131-142)

Both Benvolio and Montague speak of sunlight as holy and healthful, and both consider Romeo’s preference for the dark a dangerous sign of depression.

At the other scene, where, inviting Paris to his feast, Capulet says, “At my poor house look to behold this night / Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light” (1.2.24-25). The “Earth-treading stars” are the beautiful ladies who wi
ill shine so brightly that they will light up the night sky.

The idea that feminine beauty shines brightly is repeated at the end of the scene. Benvolio is trying to persuade Romeo to get over Rosaline by comparing her beauty to that of other ladies. He says, “Compare her face with some that I shall show, / And I will make thee think thy swan a crow” (1.2.86-87). Romeo answers that “The all-seeing sun / Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun” (1.2.92-93), but Benvolio replies that at Capulet’s feast he “will show you shining ” (1.2.98) maids that will make Romeo consider Rosaline just ordinary. Not persuaded, Romeo declares that he will go to the feast, “no such sight to be shown, / But to rejoice in splendor of mine own” (1.2.101). “Splendor” is a word for great beauty, but its primary meaning is “great light.”

Before Capulet’s door, as his friends are ready to go in to the feast, Romeo announces that he’s not really in the mood. He says,

“Give me a torch: I am not for this ambling;

Being but heavy, I will bear the light” (1.4.11-12).

As a torch-bearer, he wouldn’t wear a mask or do a

. . .

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