What theme is being developed in Act 1, Scene 2 of Romeo & Juliet?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this scene of act I, in contrast to the previous scene of violence and impulsive actions, Shakespeare employs the theme of Impulsiveness vs. Caution.

As Lord Capulet speaks with Paris, who pressures Lord Capulet for an answer about his "suit," Capulet argues that his daughter is just a child who "hath not seen the change of fourteen years," and he asks Paris to wait for two summers to pass.

Then, as Benvolio and Romeo enter, and they continue their conversation about the need to consider love's options before making a pledge of oneself, they underscore this theme of caution. Benvolio tells Romeo,

Tut, man one fire burns out another's burning.
One pain is lessn'd by another's anguish;
Turn giddy, and be holp by backward turning;
Take thou some new infection to thy eye, 
And the rank poison of the old will die.(1.2.46-50)

In other words, Benvolio suggests that Romeo look at a new woman as a means of forgetting Rosaline; in other words, there are other women and other amusements.

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user5464956 | (Level 1) eNoter

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1. Capulet says he'll give Juliet the chance to accept or refuse Paris' marriage suit. Yet this generosity from Capulet suggests a deeper truth: if Capulet can give Juliet this power, he can also take it away.

2. The illiterate servant Peter is treated as a second-class citizen. First, he's given a task by his master that he can't accomplish, then he's tricked by Romeo and Benvolio. It's funny, but also shows how powerless Peter is.

3.Again, the audience knows Romeo is wrong, and has probably already realized that Romeo will meet Juliet at the party. The audience has a fate's-eye view of the play.
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user5464956's profile pic

user5464956 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

1. Capulet says he'll give Juliet the chance to accept or refuse Paris' marriage suit. Yet this generosity from Capulet suggests a deeper truth: if Capulet can give Juliet this power, he can also take it away.

2. The illiterate servant Peter is treated as a second-class citizen. First, he's given a task by his master that he can't accomplish, then he's tricked by Romeo and Benvolio. It's funny, but also shows how powerless Peter is.

3.Again, the audience knows Romeo is wrong, and has probably already realized that Romeo will meet Juliet at the party. The audience has a fate's-eye view of the play.

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