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We see immediately that Romeo is romantic and moody. As the play begins, he is sad and depressed that Rosalind has rejected him; this may make us think he is fickle when he later sees Juliet and falls in love with her at first sight (immediately forgetting Rosalind), but it also tells us that Romeo is very much in love with the idea of being in love. We see that he is not only lovesick but also impulsive, a trait that leads to significant developments later on. Another way to look at Romeo’s early love for Rosalind is to see that he is eager to be in love and to learn what real love is like; he is an especially sensitive young man; before going to the ball with his friends, he looks to the stars and contemplates his fate. Later in Act I, when Romeo meets and falls in love with Juliet, he discards his moody temperament and becomes elated and joyful because his love is returned. Whether he’s withdrawn and depressed or joyful and fun-loving, Romeo is always moved by love.
At the beginning of Act 1, Romeo is mourning the fact that Rosaline, a girl he is in love with, does not want to marry him. Shakespeare conveys the turmoil which love causes and the state of Romeo’s mind, with the use of oxymoron’s such as ‘Oh loving hate’ in Act 1 scene 1. This imagery is used throughout the act by Romeo in his attempt to describe his love for Rosaline and it works very effectively as it takes the audience or reader back and forth with Romeo’s love for Rosaline and his despair that she does not love him back thus conveying the confusion that Romeo feels.
You also realise throughout scene 1, that Romeo is obsessed with the idea of being in love, instead of actually being in love, which comes to light when he first sees Juliet and then he realises what true love is. His immediate love for Juliet shows Romeo as fickle and insincere as soon as he sees Juliet he asks ‘Did my heart love till now?’ suggesting that he forgets about Rosaline instantly. This shows that he changes his mind extremely quickly from being eternally in love with one girl one moment to a different girl not long after. However, you realise that his love for Juliet goes much deeper than that of his love for Rosaline and this is shown when Romeo recites a sonnet Juliet conveying his immediate love for her.
Romeo also uses a lot of hyperbolic language and imagery while describing his love for Rosaline, suggesting that she is ‘killing him’ as she has sworn not to marry. This theme is used throughout the act, especially when he first meets Juliet, as although he has only just met her he compares her to a ‘saint’ and a ‘shrine’. This hyperbolic language helps to show Romeo’s passionate character as he exaggerates his love to such an extent and it conveys how deeply Romeo is affected by love and by what surrounds him suggesting that beneath his impulsive, some what shallow and over the top exterior he is extremely sensitive and younger than he is perceived.
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