How does Romeo express his feelings for Rosaline in Romeo and Juliet?  

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romeo expresses his love for Rosaline by crying, moping, and describing her poetically.

Romeo’s relationship with Rosaline is one of the great ironies of Romeo and Juliet.  When the play opens, poor Romeo is deeply in love with Rosaline, but she has decided to remain chaste.  This breaks the passionate Romeo’s heart.  He spends a lot of time moping around, and no one can talk to him.  His deep sense of depression does not lift until his friends convince him to go to the party and he sees Juliet.  Then his passions shift, and he can’t live without Juliet!

Romeo is seen crying many times.  Montague confides in Benvolio that she has seen him “with tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew” (Act 1, Scene 1, line 128, enotes etext pdf. p. 14) and sighing deeply.  He spends the rest of the time locked in his room with the curtains drawn, where “sad hours seem long.” (line 159)


When Benvolio presses Romeo, he begins to wax poetic about his loss.  He comments that his days are long because of “not having that, which, having, makes them short” (line 162).  He is out of love because he is “out of her favor” (line 166). 


Romeo describes Rosaline very poetically.  Although he must have talked directly to Rosaline about how he felt, we hear mostly about it secondhand.  Romeo says that she is “fair” (line 218), and compares her to a goddess.

She'll not be hit(210)

With Cupid's arrow. She hath Dian’s wit,

And, in strong proof of chastity well arm'd,

From Love's weak childish bow she lives unharm'd. (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 17).

Rosaline is stubborn, and refuses to be in love.  Though “she's rich in beauty” she wastes it because she has decided to remain chaste.

 She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste;(220)

For beauty, starv'd 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. (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 17).

Benvolio tells Romeo he knows just the thing to make him happy: look at other girls!

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Romeo and Juliet

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