When the play opens, Romeo is tortured by a woman whom he believes he loves because his feelings are not reciprocated.
Although the play is known as the great romance of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo truly believes himself in love with Rosaline as the play begins. He's heartbroken because she has sworn to live as a virgin rather than become romantically involved with Romeo. This certainly is a blow to his ego, and Romeo mopes around his friends, telling them that he is "whipped and tormented" (I.ii.59) by Rosaline's beauty. His friends try to convince him to notice the beauty of other girls around him, but Romeo is convinced that this would just make him "call [Rosaline] exquisite" (I.i.233). His feelings of love and grief are all convoluted into one raw emotion:
Here’s much to do with hate but more with love.
Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,
O anything of nothing first created!
O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! (I.i.175-179)
The juxtaposition of the...
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