Discuss Rosaline's character traits in "Romeo and Juliet."Shakespeare has "no heroes but only heroines". In this context, bring out the leading traits of the character of Rosaline.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, the audience never meets Rosaline. We know early on that Romeo is in love with her to no avail. His heart (he thinks) is breaking for this woman who does not love him.

Romeo's friend are tired of seeing Romeo so down, so they encourage him to get over Rosaline. Benvolio suggests (foreshadowing) that Romeo may meet a beautiful woman at the Capulet's party who will outshine Rosaline in his heart, and this is, in fact, what happens. When Romeo and his friends crash the Capulet party, Romeo decides to attend only because he knows the Rosaline will be in attendance. (Rosaline is Capulet's niece.) Her real importance is that when Romeo goes to the party to catch a glimpse of her, instead Romeo sees Juliet, and he is forever changed.

We find out that Rosaline does not wish to marry, but has chosen instead to join a convent to lead a chaste and pious life. What makes Rosaline a heroine is that she has chosen to give herself to God's work rather to flirt, dance and be wooed as most of the other young women around her. In a male-dominated society, and in the face of the young and handsome Romeo's pursuit, her commitment to join a convent remains firm. She cannot be swayed, but is dedicated to serve. This is honorable, and I would assume that her devotion is what makes her a heroine.

Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rosaline's character traits are only observable through what other characters say about her. She is the love interest of Romeo's that characterizes him for the audience as a romantic who is in love with love. Rosaline's significance in the play is that of a prop, which very nearly disqualifies her from the status of a heroine, emphasizing instead the heroine qualities of Juliet, a character the audience gets to know well.

Romeo's attachment to Rosaline is intense but brief; he forgets Rosaline rather quickly once Juliet enters the scene. Therefore, Rosaline's status in the play best serves Juliet, who is a living, breathing, opinionated young woman, who impresses Romeo so much and so quickly that he forgets his previous emotions practically immediately.

Though Rosaline's unspoken role is important, her significance is best described in terms of other characters, especially Juliet. Her main contribution to heroism is how she highlights the living heroism of another female character in the play.