College papers academic writing service


Light and dark motifs within romeo and juliet

Themes and Motifs in Romeo and Juliet Although Romeo and Juliet is classified as a tragedy, it more closely resembles Shakespeare's comedies than his other tragedies. The lovers thread their way through obstacles set up by middle aged vanity and impercipience.

  • The imagery not only gives us a vivid picture of dawn's mixture of light and dark, but it reminds us of the lovers' situation;
  • Why else does slippery Fortune change So much, and punishment more fit For crime oppress the innocent?
  • I must be gone and live, or stay and die;
  • Throughout the play Fate's role is reaffirmed as the lovers sense its interference;
  • The imagery not only gives us a vivid picture of dawn's mixture of light and dark, but it reminds us of the lovers' situation;
  • As with Shakespeare's manipulation of the theme of light, it can be said that his reliance on time as an increasingly menacing force against the lovers is immature and artificial.

Parents are stupid and do not know what it best for their children or themselves. Indeed, one could view Romeo and Juliet as a transitional play in which Shakespeare merges the comedic elements perfected in his earlier work with tragic elements he would later perfect in the great tragedies -- Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear. This mixture of styles ultimately hurts Romeo and Juliet, exposing the immaturity of the playwright.

  • Mercutio is the first to address the problem of "wasted time", and after his complaint, a sudden shift occurs and time quickens to rapid movement;
  • The Chorus tells us that the lovers are "star-cross'd", and thus hindered by the influence of malignant planets note that Renaissance astrologers used the planets to predict plagues and other such calamities, in addition to predicting the outcome and quality of individual's lives.

The heroes of the play must contend with external forces that impede their relationship, but, unlike the great tragic heroes, they are devoid of the inner struggle that makes for great tragedy. The influential Shakespearean scholar, A. Bradley, went so far as to neglect the play entirely in his well-known collection of lectures on the great tragedies, Shakespearean Tragedy. While no one can deny the merits of Shakespeare's powerful, inspired verse, the themes Shakespeare stresses in Romeo and Juliet also seem to reflect his immaturity as a writer.

To understand properly who this is so, we must examine each pervasive motif in the play.

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Light When Romeo initially sees Juliet, he compares her immediately to the brilliant light of the torches and tapers that illuminate Capulet's great hall: Juliet is the light that frees him from the darkness of his perpetual melancholia. In the famous balcony scene Romeo associates Juliet with sunlight, "It is the east and Juliet is the sun! In turn, Juliet compares their new-found love to lightening 2. Here, the heralds of love that will bring comforting news about her darling are compared to the magical and reassuring rays of sun that drive away unwanted shadows.

  1. Capulet laments that the years are passing too fast, and Juliet cautions that her love for Romeo is "too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden...
  2. Throughout the play Fate's role is reaffirmed as the lovers sense its interference. When the angel appears, people "fall back," arching their backs, turning their faces to the sky, and casting their eyes upward so that the whites of their eyes show.
  3. Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol.

Juliet also equates Romeo and the bond that they share with radiant light. Having no fear of the darkness, Juliet proclaims that night can Take [Romeo] and cut him out into little stars, And he will make the face of heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night And pay no worship to the garrish sun.

However, despite all the aforementioned positive references to light in the play, it ultimately takes on a negative role, forcing the lovers to part at dawn: It was the lark, the herald of the morn, No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.

Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty mountaintops. I must be gone and live, or stay and die. And, as Peter Quennell writes, ". The final indication that darkness has triumphed over light comes from The Prince: There are several other examples one could cite, and, despite Shakespeare's masterful poetic styling, many critics argue that these continual references to light are overkill, illustrative of Shakespeare at his most immature stage of writing.

Time Early in the play, Romeo is painfully aware of the passage of time as he pines for Rosaline: Mercutio is the first to address the problem of "wasted time", and after his complaint, a sudden shift occurs and time quickens to rapid movement.

Capulet laments that the years are passing too fast, and Juliet cautions that her love for Romeo is "too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden. Soon time begins to aid in the destruction of the lovers. Capulet rushes ahead the marriage date, insisting Juliet wed Paris a day early, and thus forcing her into swift and, ultimately, fatal action. As with Shakespeare's manipulation of the theme of light, it can be said that his reliance on time as an increasingly menacing force against the lovers is immature and artificial.

Destiny As critic Bertrand Evans points out: Participants in the action, some of them in parts that are minor and seem insignificant, contribute one by one the indispensable stitches which make the pattern, and contribute them not knowing; that is to say, they act when they do not know the truth of the situation in which they act, this truth being known, however, to us who are spectators.

  • Capulet laments that the years are passing too fast, and Juliet cautions that her love for Romeo is "too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden;;;
  • But now the fiery wheels of the sun-god's chariot are chasing away the night and bringing the light of day, with its relentless realities;
  • He disowns responsibility and throws it on Destiny, Fate;
  • Look down on all earth's wretchedness; Of this great work is man so mean A part, by Fortune to be tossed?
  • Look, love, what envious streaks Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.

Those writers of the medieval world incorporated the goddess Fortune into Christianity and made her God's servant, responsible for adding challenges to our lives so that we would see the importance of giving up our tumultuous earthly lives to God.

The most influential treatise on the theme of Fate was The Consolation of Philosophy, written by the scholar Boethius A. Written while he awaited execution, it is a dialogue between himself and his guide 'Philosophy', who explores with him the true nature of happiness and fate, and leads him to hope and enlightenment. The following is an excerpt from Book IV: To human acts alone denied Thy fit control as Lord of all.

Why else does slippery Fortune change So much, and punishment more fit For crime oppress the innocent? Corrupted men sit throned on high; By strange reversal evilness Downtreads the necks of holy men. Bright virtue lies in dark eclipse By clouds obscured, and unjust men Heap condemnation on the just.

Look down on all earth's wretchedness; Of this great work is man so mean A part, by Fortune to be tossed? Make stable all the land's of the earth.

Romeo and Juliet

Book IV Boethius' work, specifically his concept of "Fortune's wheel", made an enormous impact on the work of Chaucer and Dante and, less directly, Shakespeare. Fate's impact on Romeo and Juliet is made clear from the outset of the play. The Chorus tells us that the lovers are "star-cross'd", and thus hindered by the influence of malignant planets note that Renaissance astrologers used the planets to predict plagues and other such calamities, in addition to predicting the outcome and quality of individual's lives.

Throughout the play Fate's role is reaffirmed as the lovers sense its interference. Romeo, just before he attends Capulet's ball, has a premonition: My mind misgives Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, Shall bitterly begin thisd fearful date With this night's revels, and expire the term Of a dispised life, clos'd in my breast, By some vile forfeit of untimely death: But he that hath the steerage of my course Direct my sail!

Moreover, their predictions extend into their dreams, as Romeo says "I dreamt my lady came and found me dead" 5.

So in keeping with tradition set down by the likes of Seneca and Boethius, Fate controls Shakespeare's doomed lovers. And "[t]he intent of this emphasis is clear.

The tale will end with the death of two ravishingly attractive young folk; and the dramatist must exonerate himself from all complicity in their murder, lest he be found guilty of pandering to a liking for a human shambles.

He disowns responsibility and throws it on Destiny, Fate. This reliance on the motif of Fate in the play is the most representative of Shakespeare's dramatic deficiency. It is not the lovers' flaws that lead them to ruin; the tragedy does not spring from their own weaknesses. As a result, there is little growth of character and no profound analysis of the complexity of human nature.

Light and Dark

Thus, despite the lyrical beauty of the play and the endearing qualities of Romeo and his Juliet, which have secured its place as one of the great dramasit fails to rise to the level of Shakespeare's other tragedies that explore the inner failings of humankind. How to cite this article: Themes and Motifs in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare Online References Charlton, H. The Brevity of Friar Laurence.

Hill and Wang, 1970. Shakespeare and the Tragic Pattern. Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. Oxford University Press, 1958. Imitations of Celebrated Authors.