Describe Romeo's Reaction When He First Sees Juliet

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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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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