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What do Romeo and Juliet reveal about their thoughts and feelings in their opening...

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yahhhh | Student, Grade 12 | Honors

Posted April 23, 2012 at 1:05 AM via web

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What do Romeo and Juliet reveal about their thoughts and feelings in their opening soliloquies in Act 2, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Rome and Juliet?

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

Posted April 23, 2012 at 9:44 PM (Answer #1)

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Both Romeo's and Juliet's opening soliloquies in Act II, Scene 2, demonstrate that both characters are dwelling on their sexual desires. Although, unlike Romeo, Juliet also makes it obvious that she is considering the problem of their romance, with respect to their families' feud.

Romeo's opening soliloquy dwells purely on Juliet's beauty and his own sexual desires. Romeo's first metaphor, comparing Juliet to the sun, a radiant, glowing object, serves to describe her beauty, as we see in the line, "It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!" (4). Diction also shows us that he is dwelling on her beauty, such as the repetition of the word "fair" three times in his opening soliloquy (3, 6, 15). We see his allusions to his sexual desires early on in the soliloquy, with his references to the moon. In these lines, Romeo uses the word "maid" to refer to Juliet as a servant of the moon. Juliet is the moon's servant because she is standing out at night, but also because sexual activity takes place at night, which pays homage to the moon. Even Juliet just standing out on the Balcony under the moonlight and being admired pays homage to the moon, as we see in the lines,

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou her maid art more fair than she. (4-6)

However, Romeo is also using the word "maid" to refer to Juliet's maidenhood, as we see in his next lines:

Be not her maid, since she is envious.
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off. (7-9)

Through the line, "Be not her maid," Romeo is telling Juliet to no longer be a maiden, or chaste servant to the moon. In the line, "Her vestal livery is but sick and green," the word "vestal" again refers to the moon's chastity, or virginity, while "livery" refers to clothing (eNotes). Hence, Romeo is calling Juliet a "fool" for remaining chaste under the moon and telling her to "cast if off," meaning take off her clothing. Hence we see through Romeo's soliloquy that he is thinking purely of beauty and sex.

Juliet, on the other hand, is pondering the problem that their family connections presents. In her imagination, she tells Romeo to cut himself off from his family through the line, "Deny thy father and refuse thy name!" (36). She also fantasizes about cutting herself off from her own family, as we see in the line, "I'll no longer be a Capulet" (38). However, Juliet is also thinking about Romeo in a sexual nature, as we see in the continuation of this soliloquy when Juliet begins listing body parts, finishing with the phrase "nor any other part belonging to a man" (43-44).

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