Romeo was born in one of the most respectable and wealthiest families in Verona around Middle Ages, when family feud and vendetta coloured many Italian cities’ society and culture. As the only son of Montague, I guess the family expected much from Romeo to continue their generations of feud with the Capulet. From the scenes in this play, it seems that quarrels that led to blood-shedding have almost become everyday’s story in the streets of Verona. So Romeo must have been very familiar with the atmosphere of violence within his family and friends.
From the beginning I could see that he was a young man with a tender heart who read many poetry books. Maybe his love to Rosaline is a way for Romeo to actualize his ideas of love from the books he read. Maybe he didn’t actually and truly love the girl, and that’s why her image slipped so quickly from his mind when he met Juliet. If his love to Rosaline was a puppy love, now his love Juliet was a true and much deeper one.
Romeo’s weakness was perhaps his impulsiveness and the lack of emotion control. It’s clearly showed from how his anger of Mercutio’s murder led him to take avenge to Tybalt. Either he was too young to make consideration or the violent culture where he has grown up led him to that sudden impulse. I believe if Romeo had considered the matter just a few minutes before killing Tybalt, he might remember his plan to make peace with the Capulets because he loved Juliet. Maybe his consideration would prevent the blood-shed. But I doubt whether that would mean much, as killing adversaries seemed to be ordinary business between the two feud Houses.
|Leonard Whiting in 1968 movie adaptation|
Romeo’s impulsive manner also appeared when he bravely sneaked into Juliet’s garden just to see his lover, while his presence—if detected—would mean death! In the last scene, when Romeo was very sad by the news that Juliet was dead, did not look for confirmation of the news, and just took it as a truth before killing himself. Here I think Romeo was a man who was controlled by his emotion, and when emotion compelled him, his mind would be numbed.
But if Romeo did not die young, I think he would live a very difficult life anyway. By that quality of sentimental heart, Romeo would be torn between family’s expectation and his conscience. Maybe Romeo should have been born as a female in that situation, rather than a male! :P
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