English Literature » Notes » Romeo and Juliet: Characterization

Romeo and Juliet: Characterization

Alternate question: Shakespeare’s Characterization in Romeo and Juliet.

In the very first Act of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, we meet Romeo, Mercutio, and Tybalt. Right away, we get an idea of who these characters are and what kind of role they will play throughout the story. Romeo, Mercutio, and Tybalt share many distinctive characteristics and personalities in the story. We learn that Romeo is the romantic and handsome son of the Montagues. In the beginning of the story, he was depressed, but his mood quickly changed as the story went on. We also learn that Mercutio is Romeo’s closest and good friend who tries to make Romeo forget about his first love, Rosaline.

He is a great entertainer and he’s very sarcastic too. Instantly, we learn that Tybalt is a Capulet and Juliet’s cousin. He is very hot-headed, aggressive, and violent. He loathes the Montagues very much. Finally, in Act One of William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, we meet three characters, Romeo, Mercutio, and Tybalt and we directly get an idea of what the characters are like. In the beginning of the story, we find out that Romeo is very depressed, but towards the end, he starts changing to be romantic. In the beginning of the story, the Montagues ask Benvolio of Romeo’s whereabouts.

Benvolio answers that Romeo has seemed troubled about something since the morning. Montague quotes, “Away from 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”(I, i, 138-141). He’s talking about how Romeo looks so sad that it seems as if he doesn’t want to come home and he rather be locked up in a room with shut windows blocking daylight in or out. This makes Montague think that it sounds like Romeo is making himself live in an imaginary, not existing, fake world all by his lonesome self.

When Benvolio and Romeo meet, they talk about what is bothering Romeo. This is when we learn that Romeo is depressed by the rejection of his love, Rosaline, who believes in chastity. Also, Rosaline won’t return the love that Romeo is waiting impatiently for. So this is why Romeo is heart-broken. But later, Romeo relieves his depressed feelings and he soon becomes romantic when he meets his new love, Juliet. When Romeo first sees Juliet at the Capulet ball, he completely forgets about Rosaline and falls in love with Juliet at first sight.

When he meets her, Romeo quotes, “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss” (I, iv, 97-98). By this line, Romeo is discussing how each of his lips is ready to kiss Juliet. Romeo is so much in love with Juliet that he becomes very romantic forgetting all about Rosaline. Finally, Romeo’s attitude changes from being depressed in the beginning to being romantic with Juliet at the end of Act One. In Act One of Romeo and Juliet, we discover that Mercutio is a good and close friend to Romeo and he’s a very sarcastic person born to entertain people too.

When Romeo is melancholy and lovesick for Rosaline, Mercutio, remembering Romeo is his close friend, tries to cheer him up. He tries to bring the old Romeo back by bringing courage to him. He gives Romeo advice about forgetting Rosaline and moving on. He says, “If love be rough with you, be rough with love; prick love for pricking, and you beat love down”(I, iv, 27-28). In other words, Mercutio says if love is not gentle or unpleasant with Romeo, then he must learn to fight back and he must be unpleasant and not gentle back to love.

If Romeo keeps fighting, then surely he’ll win. Mercutio is also very sarcastic and a born entertainer. Before going to the Capulet ball, Mercutio delivers a dazzling speech about the fairy Queen Mab, who rides through the night on her tiny wagon bringing dreams to sleepers. One of the most important aspects of Queen Mab’s ride is that the dreams she brings generally do not bring out the best sides of the dreamers, but instead provide to prove them in whatever vices they are obsessed to? for example, greed, violence, or lust.

Another important aspect of Mercutio’s description of Queen Mab is that it is complete nonsense, although vivid and highly colorful. The speech starts off like this: “O, then I see Queen Mab has been with you. She is the fairies’ midwife? “(I, iv, 53-54). This speech shows that Mercutio is very sarcastic and he is good at entertaining people. Lastly, those are the ways of how we notice that Mercutio is a good, close, sarcastic, and entertaining friend to Romeo. Automatically, we get an idea that Tybalt plays the role of a hot-headed, aggressive, and violent person.

When we first meet Tybalt, he sounds all tempered up. In the beginning of Act One, the Montague and Capulet servants start a quarrel. Then Benvolio (Montague) shows up to end the fight, while Tybalt (Capulet), the opposite is ready to fight any Montague. Tybalt says to Benvolio, “What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee (I, i, 72-73). Tybalt sounds very aggressive and violent when he says this. In other words, he’s saying, that peace is a nonsense thing; he hates peace just like he hates hell, Montagues, including Benvolio.

Mercutio is very hot-headed at the Capulet ball too. When he hears Romeo’s voice, he’s all fired up. He would never expect a Montague at a Capulet party. He wants to start a fight right there, but Capulet refuses to let him ruin the party. Tybalt says, “This by voice should be a Montague. Fetch me my rapier, boy. What! Dares a slave come hither, covered with an antic face, to fleer and scorn at our solemnity? Now, by the stock and honor of my kin, to strike him dead I hold it not a sin”(I, v, 56-61).

He’s discussing how he recognizes a Montague’s voice (Romeo). So he’s ready to fight with his sword out. He says how dare his enemy come with a masked face just to be worthless at their dignity. He doesn’t call it a sin to kill a Montague right there. This shows that he’s hot-headed against Montagues. To sum it all up, Tybalt is a very aggressive, violent, and hot-headed person. In conclusion, three main characters, Romeo, Mercutio, and Tybalt are met in Act One of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet.

We immediately got an idea of each character’s personality as we read the story. We figure out that Romeo is a depressed young man at the beginning of Act One, but slowly, he develops into a dynamic character changing into a romantic person. We also figure out that Mercutio is a good and close friend to Romeo. He definitely knows how to be sarcastic and entertain others. Last but not least, we figure out that Tybalt is a hot-headed, violent, and aggressive man. Finally, we instantly characterize the three main characters throughout the story.

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