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What role does physical attraction play in Act 1, Scene 5 of Shakespeare's Romeo and...

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jivan3 | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:17 AM via web

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What role does physical attraction play in Act 1, Scene 5 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and which of the two characters is more fueled by physical attraction?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:14 PM (Answer #2)

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While it becomes evident in Act 2, Scene 2 that even Juliet feels strongly physically attracted to Romeo, the role which physical attraction plays on her admiration for Romeo isn't very apparent when she first meets him. Instead, Juliet seems to be drawn to Romeo due to an intellectual and spiritual exchange rather than just due to his looks alone. However, physical attraction plays a very dominant role in attracting Romeo to Juliet. We can therefore say that Romeo is more fueled by physical attraction.

The physical attraction Romeo feels for Juliet becomes apparent the very first lines he speaks at the very first moment he lays eyes on her. He can't stop praising her beauty. He compares her beauty to a brightly burning torch, to a bright jewel hanging against dark skin, and even to a "dove trooping with crows" (I.v.46-50). Not only that, it becomes very evident that he equates love with merely physical attraction, as we see when he asks himself, "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! / For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night" (54-55). Since Romeo's perception of love is obviously guided by beauty, we can say that Romeo is clearly the character who is more fueled by physical attraction.

Juliet, on the other hand, falls in love with Romeo after engaging in a witty, intellectual exchange with him, plus after he kisses her. The witty, intellectual exchange takes place when he calls her a "holy shrine," takes hold of her hand, and says that if he pollutes her as a shrine, he'll smooth away his polluting touch with a kiss (98-101). Juliet wittily responds by saying that, as a pilgrim, he is speaking wrongly of his hands and that saints touch hands, "palm to palm [in] holy palmers' kiss" (105). Their repartee concerning holy shrines, pilgrims, and saints eventually leads to him kissing her. As Juliet is a devout Catholic, their conversation is playing to both her intellectual and spiritual sides. She must be very intellectual and witty to be able to think of a response to Romeo's very unusual pick-up lines. Plus, since the conversation is all about shrines, holiness, and devout pilgrims, it is allowing Juliet to feel that she is not being taken advantage of, that she is still remaining a virtuous maiden, thereby resonating with her devoutly religious beliefs. While the kiss did more for Juliet than their conversation to make her feel she is in love with him due to the fact that it aroused her hormones, the conversation did not play an insignificant role in her attraction because it played to her intellectual and spiritual needs. Therefore it is evident that, while Juliet also felt physically attracted to Romeo as we see in the later scenes, Juliet felt more connected to Romeo on a mental and spiritual level, while Romeo was more fueled by physical attraction.

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ckharber | eNoter

Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:13 AM (Answer #1)

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In Act 1 Scene 5, Romeo is more fueled by physical attraction than Juliet. Early on in the scene, Romeo inquires about Juliet to a servingman, and talks about how beautiful she is. When Romeo sees her, he says that she has, "Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!" 

Later on, when Romeo and Juliet are alone, Romeo tells her that he wants to kiss her with the words, "My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand/ To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss." Juliet does not admit to being physically attracted to Romeo because she says that lips are best suited for praying. 

In this scene, the physical attraction that Romeo feels for Juliet makes him realize or believe that he is in love with her. Her beauty gets him in trouble with Tybalt. He professes his attraction to her.

In this scene, the two also share a kiss which is interrupted by Juliet's nurse who says Juliet's mother wants to speak with her. At this point, the physical attraction is mutual, although Romeo makes more of an effort to convince Juliet to kiss him.

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