Essay on William Shakespeare's Language in Romeo and Juliet

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William Shakespeare's Language in Romeo and Juliet

The language plays an important role in “Romeo and Juliet” as it defines and characterizes the characters in the play. It is used to display which social class they are in, signals the change in the characters and reflects their mood or feelings. The languages special importance lies in giving color to the love between Romeo and Juliet.

The importance and social status of a character can easily be identified by the way they speak. The more important characters, which all belong to the higher classes all speak in verse form and use much imagery. This verse is sometimes even in sonnet form. The imagery used gives color to the language and there
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“Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit” (Act 1, Scene 3) is what she says about Juliet becoming pregnant. Through the bawdy comments the audience is entertained and at the same time the characters are characterized.

The language is also used to express feelings of the characters. Juliet makes use of the language to express her real feelings but at the same time make it seem different for her mother, hiding a double meaning in her words. This is the only time she hides her feelings using the language. Other than that she expresses her feelings openly. Revealing the character’s feelings is a important part the language has to play.

Especially Romeo changes his language throughout the play, very much according to his mood. At the beginning of the play he is lost in his unrequited love for Rosaline. He uses much rather dark imagery to express his grief. He speaks of love being “a madness most discreet” (Act 1, Scene 1) and connects it with illness and death. However this changes as soon as he sees Juliet the first time. To describe her beauty he uses the imagery of light and darkness as in “Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear“(Act 2, Scene 5). As he is banished and his mood becomes worse again he compares his banishment with hell ad something much worse than death saying:”For exile hath more terror in his look, much more than death” (Act 3, Scene 3). Romeo varies his

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