What is Romeo's reaction when he first sees Juliet in Romeo and Juliet?

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Romeo meets Juliet for the first time at a huge party thrown by the Capulets. He's instantly smitten by this beautiful young lady the moment he first lays eyes on her. He thought that Rosaline was the girl for him, but he now realizes that that was just a boyish infatuation; Juliet is the real thing. In fact, Romeo had seriously considered not going to the party because he was still pining over Rosaline and didn't want to bump into her. But that's all ancient history now. Rosaline is the past, and Juliet is the present and future.

When he sees Juliet for the first time, Romeo suddenly realizes that he'd never really known what beauty was until this moment:

Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night. (act 1, scene 5)

Nor love, for that matter. Romeo genuinely believed he was in love with Rosaline, but he now knows that that wasn't really the case at all—the feelings he has for Juliet are completely different from anything he's ever experienced before. As he puts it himself, his heart had never loved until now.

Romeo goes on to describe Juliet's extraordinary beauty, likening it to a light that shines more brightly than a torch. He also compares it to a rich jewel shining in an Ethiopian's ear. There's clearly something very powerful and exotic about the emotions that Juliet's beauty has kindled in Romeo's lovestruck soul.

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In act 1, scene 5, Romeo beholds Juliet for the first time at the party hosted by the Capulets. In a room crowded with people and with much hoopla around him, Romeo notices his soon-to-be wife and is entranced. (He also immediately forgets his pining for Rosaline; he had considered skipping this celebration entirely because he was so upset over her.) These lines perfectly capture his initial impression of Juliet:

Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night. (I.v.55-56)

From the moment he sees Juliet, Romeo is totally infatuated. He says that her beauty is too good for this world. As soon as possible, Romeo makes his way to this captivating beauty and takes her by the hand. He offers his apologies if he offends her but says that his lips stand ready to make amends. This playful banter is well-received by Juliet, and it is clear that an instant spark has been lit between the couple.

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I think that one of the best ways to describe Romeo when he first sees Juliet is that he is smitten with her.  Simply put, Romeo experiences love at first sight when he sees Juliet.  He is taken aback by her physical beauty. The language he employs reflects this captivation with her physical beauty.  Romeo opens with "she doth teach the torches to burn bright!"  After this, he uses language such as "Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;" and "Did my heart love till now?" and "I ne'er saw true beauty till this night."  Romeo is completely consumed with the sight of Juliet.  He is incapable of seeing anything else.  

At the same time, it is evident at this moment that Romeo has forgotten his past experiences.  He opens the drama in a very moody and melancholic state because of Rosaline and his inability to find happiness. As a result, Romeo is meandering and wandering.  However, his reaction when he first sees Juliet indicates that all of this is in the past.  He is taken with Juliet and recognizes that this will be the focus of his energies.  It is Shakespeare's genius to force the viewer to examine what love really is.  Romeo believes that he is in love when he sees Juliet for the first time.  While he very well might be, Shakespeare asks us to examine whether there is a difference between infatuation and love, as the two terms might converge in Romeo being smitten with Juliet upon seeing her for the first time.

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Romeo believes that Juliet "teaches the torches to burn bright" when he first sees her across the room at Capulet's party in Act I, Scene 5 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. He further comments that "she hangs upon the cheek of night/As a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear—" Her "Beauty is too rich for use" and she is a "snowy dove trooping with crows" as she participates in a dance. Obviously then, Romeo is very much smitten with Juliet's appearance. He uses images which compare her to bright, shiny things because he looks at her as a new light in his life that had so recently been turned to darkness by his unrequited love for Rosaline. Once he glimpses her he vows that once the dancing is over he will go stand next to her and attempt to touch her hand. This scene has been staged in various ways. In the excellent 1968 film by Franco Zeffirelli, Romeo grabs Juliet's hand through a curtain, but once she sees him, she too is quite infatuated. He then speaks to her, comparing himself to a pilgrim worshipping at the shrine which is her hand. The first dialogue between the two is written in a 14 line sonnet and ends with a kiss.   

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