Discuss Romeo's overtures towards Rosaline in the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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What a great way to describe Romeo's words in the first scene as "overtures"!  That, my friend, is truly what they are.  They form a perfect precursor to Romeo's exposition and prove him to be incurably romantic in nature!  At first, Romeo deals so far into abstraction that any audience member should be a bit befuddled as to what he means:

O me!  What fray was here?-- / Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all. / 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!  (1.1.176-180)

Your guess is as good as mine.  Still, it isn't long before we get more specifics as Benvolio prods Romeo further.  We learn that Rosaline will "not be hit / With Cupid's arrow" (1.1.215-216).  In other words, Romeo is in love with Rosaline, but Rosaline is not in love with him.  In my opinion, there is also a bit of controversial tone when Romeo responds to Benvolio's question about whether Rosaline has vowed to "live chaste."

She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste; / For beauty, starved with her severity, / Cuts beauty off from all posterity. /She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair, / To merit bliss by making me despair. / She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow / Do I live dead that live to tell it now. (1.1.225-231)

Hmmmm, is Romeo talking about marriage here?  Or is he just talking about sex?  Ha!  I venture to say he's thinking of the latter.  I can't help thinking of Billy Joel's "Virginia" lyrics:  "Come out Virginia, don't let me wait.  Catholic girls start much too late.  Sooner or later, it comes down to fate.  I might as well be the one. . . ." 

In these "overtures," in my opinion, Romeo truly proves himself to be an adolescent in the purest sense of the word.  He shows no maturity whatsoever, but puts his whole heart and soul into the moment.  This does not change one iota, even to his death.  Further, these "overtures" sound so very similar to those which he croons at Juliet, it makes one long for further study to try and prove how Romeo's love for Juliet was greater.  Well, at least his actions spoke even louder than his words, eh?

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