In Romeo and Juliet, what are the differences and similarities between the characters of Romeo and Juliet?
Romeo and Juliet have many similarities and differences. Let's begin with their similiarities.
- Emotional/Dramatic: We find Romeo a depressed wreck in the beginning, then upon meeting Juliet he's a lovesick schoolboy. Juliet is anxious about her relationship with Romeo and pesters the nurse with good humor to find out about her new love.
- Persistent: As stated above, Juliet's patience for the nurse's return was just about more than she could handle. She prodded to get the news about her Romeo. Later in the story, she is willing to go to any length not to marry Paris. Romeo, likewise, pushed this engagement through with all of his power. He went immediately to the Friar and got the marriage sealed that afternoon.
- Impulsive: I find Romeo a little more impulsive than Juliet, but they both rushed into this secret relationship and they both rushed into death when they thought the other was dead.
Differences: These are a little bit harder to come by. Remember, these guys are teenagers. There is no other time in life that conformity is so huge. Plus, they are all struggling with hormones that affect the teenage body and soul.
- Romeo - changeable; Juliet - steady: Romeo changed his opinion about Rosaline on a dime, how do we know when a prettier girl comes along that he isn't going to go for her? Juliet remained consistent throughout the play regarding her ideas about Paris. She said she'd, "look to like if looking liking move" but she wasn't going to just decide to be with him without checking him out. Once she saw him, she wasn't interested.
- Dealing with parents: Juliet speaks with them, and she remains truthful until she feels they try to hurt her. Then she lies. Romeo just doesn't really even talk to his parents.
I'm sure you'll get plenty of responses to this question, as there is so much information in the play that can lead audiences to compare the two characters. Foremost, they are both young, from families that are "both alike in dignity," and they are both capable of selfless love.
In Act 2, scene 2 (the balcony scene), we see evidence of a difference between the two. Here, Juliet is a little more level-headed than Romeo, who is easily carried away by his poetic and idealistic views on romance. When Romeo starts to make a promise to Juliet ("Lady, by yonder blessed moon I vow..."), she chides him:
O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.
Essentially, Juliet recognizes that while it might sound like a good idea to swear by the moon, the moon is changing and inconstant. So, Juliet tells Romeo not to swear by the moon unless his love will change like the moon does.
When Romeo persists, Juliet tells him that she is wary of the relationship:
Although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract tonight.
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say it lightens.
Again, these lines show a difference between Romeo and Juliet; she is a little more cautious than he is at this point in the play.
In terms of how they use language, they are very different too. A good example of this is the way we first meet both of them. Romeo is lovesick and spends many words in his opening scene with Benvolio describing love and how "lovesick" he is. He says:
Love is a smoke made with the fumes of sighs;
Being purg'd, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes;
Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with lovers tears;
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.
In contrast, in her opening scene, Juliet has only two lines, one of which is in response to her mother's and the Nurse's invitation to check out the very eligible bachelor, Paris, whom she will meet at that night's party. She doesn't seem interested in Paris or falling head over heels for him. She says:
I'll look to like, if looking liking move,
But no more deep will I endart mine eye
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.
So, while Romeo is consumed by love, its highs and lows, and going on and on about it with Benvolio, Juliet is much less talkative and seems (before she meets Romeo) not at all interested in love.