Act I - Scene.v
This is set in the great hall of the Capulet house
where the feast is in full flow with servants working hard providing food and drink for the guests.
Romeo sees Juliet, and immediately falls in love with her beauty, and any
thoughts for Rosaline disappear. Romeo declares that he has never been in love until this moment.
Tybalt hears Romeo’s voice and realizes that there are Montague’s present
and he tells a servant to bring his sword.
Capulet overhears Tybalt, telling him that Romeo is well regarded in Verona
and that he is not to be harmed at his feast. Tybalt agrees to keep the peace, but vows that he will not let this insult pass.
Romeo has made it across the room to Juliet’s side and they engage in a
dialogue that is full of religious metaphors indicating that Juliet is a saint, and Romeo is the pilgrim who needs to have his sins absolved. He tries to convince her to kiss him so that his sins can be
forgiven. Thus, in terms of their conversation she takes his sins from him, but as she now has Romeo’s sin on her lips they must kiss again for it to be removed.
The nurse breaks up the conversation saying that Juliet’s mother wants to
see her. When Romeo finds out that Juliet’s mother is Lady Capulet, he is devastated.
Benvolio leads Romeo from the feast and Juliet wonders who the mystery man
is that kissed her. She needs to find out Romeo’s identity and so she cleverly asks the nurse to identify a serious of young men, and eventually realizes that Romeo is a Montague and she is distraught.
We are nearly at the end of the first Act, and at last
our two heroes meet and immediately fall deeply in love with each other.
The language used by Shakespeare here eloquently describes the deep passion
that they feel for one another, and the audience are well rewarded for their patience in waiting for the two lovers to meet.
Romeo is shown to be an ingenious lover, convincing Juliet to kiss him after
only a few sentences. He uses religion in order to persuade Juliet to kiss him. He says that their love can only be described in religious terms, as it is associated with the purity and passion of
god-like beings. In doing so, they are flirting with a blasphemous idea in that Romeo sees Juliet as a Saint that should be worshipped, which in Elizabethan times was idolatry and, therefore, blasphemy.
Juliet freely engages in this type of conversation by describing Romeo as
the ‘god of her idolatry’, thereby replacing God with Romeo.
However, Shakespeare ensures that the audience is not totally lost in the
couple’s lovemaking, by inserting the knowledge that Tybalt has discovered Romeo’s identity. Capulet stops Tybalt taking immediate action, but he has vowed to take the matter further.
The scene between Romeo and Juliet provides an indication of the roles that
each will play in the relationship.
It is clear that Romeo is the more dominant partner, using great skill to seduce Juliet. She is a young girl and during the first kiss remains motionless. Although she is greatly attracted to Romeo, she allows him to make the first move, but during the second kiss, she is much more aggressive, using her logic to ensure that Romeo kisses her again in order to take back the sin that he has placed on her lips. Juliet during this conversation starts to mature from a timid young girl to a mature woman. She makes an interesting comment, ‘You kiss by th’ book,’ which can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, it emphasizes Juliet’s naivety, and in many productions the line is said with a degree of wonder so that the audience thinks she is saying what a great kisser Romeo is. Secondly, the line can be said in a matter of fact manner indicating that Romeo kisses by the book, meaning that he is proficient, but unoriginal. What did Shakespeare intend? However, it is clear that Juliet is impressed with Romeo and ends up encouraging him to pursue their love.