From the Montagues' conversation with Benvolio, what ideas are being formed about Romeo by the reader?  William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In his lovelorn state, Romeo has secluded himself from his parents, Lord and Lady Montague.  And, while Lady Montague is relieved that Romeo has not been involved in the "fray" between the families, she asks Benvolio if he has seen their son.  Benvolio replies that the despondent Romeo has "gladly shunn'd who gladly fled from me."  Affirming this behavior, Lord Montague observes,

Many a morning hath he there been seen,
With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew,
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs;
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
Should in the farthest East begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora's bed,
Away from light steals home my heavy son
And private in his chamber pens himself,
Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out
And makes himself an artificial night.
Black and portentous must this humour prove
Unless good counsel may the cause remove (1.1.127-138)

Lord Montague's observation of Romeo's melancholy behavior not only introduces Shakespeare's use of light/dark imagery, but it also paves the way for Romeo's acceptance of Fate's role in his life. Further, Montague compares Romeo's silence to nature's mysteries, both of which are inscrutable:

But to himself so secret and so close,
So far from sounding and discovery,
As is the bud bit with an envious worm
Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air
Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.
Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow,
We would as willingly give cure as know. (1.1.145-151)

Non-combative, melancholic, unpredictable, Romeo, in love-with-love, is a complex character who will prove to be a foil to the bellicose Tybalt.  

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