Tag Archives: Juliet

The Use of Opposites in “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

We all know the story about the “pair of star-crossed lovers.” It has almost become cliché, which was why I’ve been putting off reading it again. But since one of my goals is to cover all of Shakespeare’s work on this blog, I figured I might as well reread and write about this play.

As I was going through it and taking notes, a motif became apparent to me that seemed like an interesting topic to write about, and that is the use of opposites within the text.

Throughout the play, Shakespeare employs opposites to create tension in the language. These opposites also serve as metaphors symbolizing the contrary forces that are pulling at the characters in the play. And while these opposites are constantly at odds with each other, they are both necessary for maintaining a balance. Essentially, we need to learn how to deal with opposites in a constructive way if we want to maintain healthy relationships and a stable society.

So let’s look at some examples from the text.

During the first scene of the play, Romeo expresses the inner turmoil caused by his unrequited love for Rosaline by using a string of opposites.

Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.
Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O anything, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.

(Act I: scene i)

In Act II, Friar Laurence delivers a soliloquy regarding opposites in nature. One gets that sense that opposing forces are part of the divine order of things in the world, that you cannot have the glory of a sunrise without the darkness of night, or life without death, or growth without decay.

The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,
Chequering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,
And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels
From forth day’s path and Titan’s fiery wheels:
Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
The day to cheer and night’s dank dew to dry,
I must up-fill this osier cage of ours
With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers.
The earth that’s nature’s mother is her tomb;
What is her burying grave that is her womb,
And from her womb children of divers kind
We sucking on her natural bosom find,
Many for many virtues excellent,
None but for some and yet all different.
O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain’d from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometimes by action dignified.
Within the infant rind of this small flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power:
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.

(Act II: scene iii)

Finally, we see Juliet using opposites to describe her struggle with conflicting emotions regarding Romeo. On the one hand, she loves him as a husband and soul mate, but at the same time she has feelings of hate and anger at the fact that Romeo killed Tybalt.

O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
Dove-feather’d raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!
Despised substance of divinest show!
Just opposite to what thou justly seem’st,
A damned saint, an honourable villain!
O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell,
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In moral paradise of such sweet flesh?
Was ever book containing such vile matter
So fairly bound? O that deceit should dwell
In such a gorgeous palace!

(Act III: scene ii)

Our world seems much divided today. The Montagues and Capulets could symbolize any opposing groups: Democrats and Republicans, pro-life and pro-choice, for vaccines and against vaccines, the list could go on indefinitely. But what we need to learn from this play is that if we fail to reconcile our differences, then we will ultimately destroy ourselves, and people on both sides of the debates will suffer.

Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Haunted Horror Tribute #22

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I picked this up recently, figuring it would be fun to read and get me in the Halloween mood. It looked like something that was inspired by the old horror comics I read as a kid, but I was surprised to discover that it is actually a compilation of vignettes scanned and reprinted from the classic 1950’s horror comics. So this is NOT just an attempt to recapture the essence of the genre, this contains actual reprints of the original 1950’s tales. It’s all here—the vintage artwork, the cheesy narration, everything that I remember about these publications.

The collection is a nice size, containing eight tales of terror.

  • Robot Woman: The opening tale reminded me of “The Stepford Wives.” It explores the dark side of our culture’s obsession with physical beauty, while at the same time offering a critique of the 1950’s view of what a “perfect woman” is supposed to be.
  • Chef’s Delight: This is a story that addresses domestic violence, an issue that sadly still plagues our society today. In the end, though, the wife gets her revenge on her abusive husband.
  • Shadows of the Tomb: This is a story about a man who murders his wife to claim her inheritance. But in a twist reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, the wife is not really dead and exacts her revenge.
  • Guest of the Ghouls: This tale uses ghouls as a metaphor for individuals who violate the dead, who are like vultures feeding off the losses of the deceased. There is a great quote that warrants sharing: “We unburied the dead while we were living and stole what we wanted! You have robbed the dead of their only identity after death — their tombstones!”
  • I Killed Mary: Interesting vignette about a nerdy, dorky outcast. There was a scene about what was considered to be appropriate dinner table talk which I found to be a critique of the overly structured family life of the 50’s.
  • The Haunter: A piece about a greedy man who tries to scare his uncle to death in order to get his money.
  • The Choker: Probably my favorite in the collection. This is a very creative tale about a con job where a woman marries a man to get his money, then she and her lover kill the husband and stage it as a suicide. The brilliance of this piece is that it is written from the perspective of a necklace that the husband had given to the wife.
  • Night of Terror: The final story is about a man who stages a scenario intended to scare his wife so that he can prove himself to be brave in the face of danger, but as you can imagine, things go awry.

I really enjoyed this collection, and I am seriously considering getting more issues in the future. It is more than just a nostalgia piece; it’s a preservation of an artistic and literary genre that was a reflection of the anxiety, fear, and growing social tension that would later erupt into revolution in the 1960s. Highly recommended, even if you are not a horror buff.

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“Romeo and Juliet” by Richard Brautigan

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As Valentine’s Day draws nearer, I thought it would be appropriate to share this poem by Richard Brautigan which was originally published in Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt.

If you will die for me,
I will die for you

and our graves will
be like two lovers washing
their clothes together
in a laundromat.

If you will bring the soap,
I will bring the bleach.

I like this poem. It is beautiful in its simplicity. Brautigan uses dirty laundry as a symbol for the cynicism that soils our souls throughout our lives. Upon death, our souls are cleansed, much like clothes in the wash. I envision the souls of the two star-crossed lovers, caught up and spinning in the celestial gyre as they rise toward the heavens. Finally, after being cleansed of the jaded ideals of love, the two are able to share in the true beauty of love.

One other thing I would like to point out regarding this poem. The two lovers do not have to go through physical death to attain this state. The death can certainly be symbolic of letting go of personal baggage, thereby allowing a sort of rebirth and spiritual cleansing.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a blessed day.

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Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night – Issue #1

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I was very excited when I found out that a new Kill Shakespeare series was being published. I read the first series and loved it. Unfortunately, when I went to the local comic store to buy a copy of the first issue, it was already sold out. I placed an order and thankfully was able to get a copy last week.

The blurb on the cover states: “This comic features sex, pirates, swordfights, poetry, AND people puking. It’s basically classic Shakespeare?” And yes, this comic has all that.

The story begins with Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, and Shakespeare aboard a vessel that is attacked by the pirate Cesario, who is accompanied by his first mate and lover, Viola. The four had escaped the destruction of Prospero’s island, but are plagued with daggers of the mind and seem to lapse into moments of anger and delusion. Still, Cesario recognizes the value of these captives, especially Juliet. His ultimate plan is not made known, but the stage is set for what is to unfold in the upcoming issues.

I have issue #2 already, but I have a lot of other stuff to read, so I suspect it will be a little while before I get to it. But rest assured, I will peruse these glossy pages and share with thee my thoughts.

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Review of “Kill Shakespeare: Issue #8”

KillShakespeare_08As I finished reading this issue, I could not help but wonder if this will end a tragedy or a comedy. With Shakespearean drama, tragedies end in death and comedies end in marriage. Right now, I cannot sense how this will conclude, which is a good thing. It adds to the anticipation.

In my review of issue #7, I predicted that this issue would include two acts from the “play within a play.” Alas, I was mistaken. So in all fairness I feel compelled to point out that this is a flaw in the comic. There should have been five acts, in my humble opinion. But, in the grand scheme, it is a minor flaw and one that I can easily overlook.

This installment of the tale has a great role reversal. Hamlet is on a balcony in the evening and it is Juliet who comes to him, climbing the lattice to join Hamlet on the balcony in an amorous embrace. The scene works really well, especially the way the panels switch back and forth between the faces of the two lovers, adding intensity and passion which culminates in a beautiful full-page illustration.

There is a great passage, spoken by Othello, which is worth quoting:

Look at the people who have traveled here, prepared to risk their lives because of their belief in what Shakespeare represents. The Spirit of Shakespeare. It matters not what you find, but that you went to support that spirit.

I love this quote. For me, Shakespeare represents the paragon to which humanity should strive. The spirit of Shakespeare is the spirit of humanity. It is the ideal that we all must keep in mind. I firmly believe that if every person took the time to read Shakespeare’s works and see them performed, that our world would be a better place. Everyone will find something different in a Shakespeare play; what matters is that people experience them.

Anyway, in classic comic-book fashion, this issue ends with a cliffhanger. Hamlet, Iago, and Falstaff have set out on the final part of the journey to find Shakespeare. As they near their destination, they are confronted by men in armor, one of whom identifies himself as none other than Romeo Montague. I foresee a tangled love triangle unfolding.

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