Romeo Character Traits

What are the character traits of Romeo?

What are the quotes from the book that can support the characters?

Expert Answers
sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would like to say that Romeo is a lover and not a fighter, but that just is not the case.  There are times when he tries to avoid fighting, but by the end of the play he has killed both Tybalt and Paris.  

Rome is definitely a lover though.  At the start of the play, audiences get to hear Romeo whine about how he is lovesick over Rosaline and the fact that she does not reciprocate his feelings.  

"Well, in that hit you miss. She'll not be hit
With Cupid's arrow. She hath Dian's wit,
And, in strong proof of chastity well armed,
From love's weak childish bow she lives unharmed.
She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
Nor bide th' encounter of assailing eyes,
Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold."

By the time that Romeo shows up at the Capulet party, it could be argued that Romeo is more in love with the idea of love and being in love than he is actually in love with a female.  That is probably why he so quickly discards his thoughts of Rosaline for Juliet.  Friar Laurence even points this out to Romeo in act 2. 

"Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!
Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,
So soon forsaken? Young men's love then lies
Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes."

While Romeo might be a lovesick fool to some people, he is also a brave and loyal friend.  I feel that becomes quite clear when he turns to fight Tybalt after Tybalt kills Mercutio.  Tybalt is no slouch with a sword.  It is well known that he is a very good fighter.  Despite knowing that, Romeo challenges Tybalt.  

Alive in triumph, and Mercutio slain!
Away to heaven, respective lenity,
And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now.— 
Now, Tybalt, take the 'villain' back again
That late thou gavest me, for Mercutio's soul
Is but a little way above our heads,
Staying for thine to keep him company.
Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.

Of course being loyal and brave does not necessarily make Romeo smart or patient either.  He is impetuous and emotional.  He does not think his actions through, nor does he give events time to unfold before acting.  His actions are guided entirely by his emotions.  He moves on from Rosaline to Juliet in the blink of an eye.  He is married to Juliet roughly 24 hours after meeting her.  He does not consult with the friar about his plans.  Instead, he goes to the apothecary.  He impulsively seeks vengeance against Tybalt without thinking about any of the consequences.  

azphstchr eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Romeo is more interested in love than he is in violence and the age-old feud between his family, the Montagues, and the family of his enemy, the Capulets. He states in Act 1.1, lines 185-189, "O me! What fray (fight) was here? - Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all. Here's much to do with hate, but more with love." Romeo goes on to talk about what is on his mind and what interests him most, the love he has for a woman who cannot be his (Rosaline).

2. Romeo is intelligent, clever, and quick witted in conversation. This can be seen in Act 1.4 in the witty banter between him and his good friend, Mercutio. Furthermore, in Act 1.5 during Romeo's first encounter with Juliet, he gives a clever comparison of his lips to pilgrims (palmers) who have traveled to visit a holy shrine, Juliet (lines 103-105).

3. Romeo is brave and unafraid of danger. He risks death to sneak into the Capulet garden to catch a glimpse of Juliet after the Capulet party. (Act 2.2)

4. Romeo is impulsive, loyal, and quick to anger. He is impulsive in his marriage to Juliet only hours after they meet, in killing Tybalt after Mercutio is slain, in attempting to kill himself after killing Tybalt, and in killing Paris before he takes his own life at the end of the play. He is loyal to Mercutio by avenging his death, and he acts out in anger by killing Tybalt without thinking of the consequences.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first character trait of Romeo, which perhaps stands out more than the rest, is that he is fickle and impulsive. Romeo claims to be in love with Rosaline but immediately upon meeting Juliet changes his mind and decides that he loves Juliet. He decides to marry her, in spite of the hostility between their families, almost immediately. This shows him to be impulsive and imprudent. Had he lived longer, the odds are he would have fallen in love with the next pretty face he saw. The swiftness with which he shifts his affections from Rosaline to Juliet is seen in act 1, scene 5, when on first seeing Juliet across the room, he says:

Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!

For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.

Next, Romeo is ruled by his emotions rather than his intellect. He is impatient and rather than taking time to think things through, acts on impulse, often harming himself and those around him. Additionally, he attacks with limited provocation and threatens to commit suicide (and eventually does) when encountering obstacles. In many ways he is very immature for his age. His threats toward Balthasar are an example of his wild and impulsive nature:

But if thou, jealous, dost return to pry

In what I further shall intend to do,

By heaven, I will tear thee joint by joint

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Romeo and Juliet

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