To what extent does Shakespeare make you feel sympathy for Romeo and Juliet in Act 1 and Act 2? We are introduced to the play by a prologue which in this case is a sonnet. In this we are immediately told the fate of the two ‘star-crossed lovers’, building tension throughout the play. Shakespeare uses this to make us aware of what is going on during the play so we feel sympathy for Romeo and Juliet throughout the play. We are also informed of the hatred between two households, due to pathetic fallacy, who we then read on to find to be the Capulet and Montague families.
At first, I thought it was a bit strange to be told what was going to happen before even reading the play, but once I read the play I understood Shakespeare’s intentions. Act 1 opens with Sampson and Gregory, two Montagues, talking and fooling about, but as soon as Tybalt enters there is instant action, with Sampson biting his thumb and Tybalt, but also trying to$ keep the law on his side, ‘Is the law of out side if I say ‘Ay” . This occurs in a public place in Verona, where the play is set; we begin to see the true hatred between the two families in action.
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Shakespeare then brings the Price into the scene, who threatens the rioters with death if they disturb the streets again, making us believe the two families may try to get along, and not fight again. Romeo is first presented as being very emotional. Although he has loving family and friends, he loves a girl who does not love him back, unrequited love, ‘Well in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit with Cupid’s arrow. She hah Dian’s wit, And in strong proof of chastity well armed, From love’s weak childish bow she lives uncharmed’.
He is moping around, over a woman he claims to love called Rosaline. Shakespeare wants us to truly understand Romeos upset over Rosaline, so that when he meets Juliet and truly falls in love we realise the difference in him. We begin to feel sympathy for him due to the fact he is so distraught. Benvolio hates seeing his cousin so upset and tries to comfort him by informing him of all the other beautiful girls in Verona, but Romeo replies by saying he is blinded by love and can’t stop his thoughts, making us think Romeo is genuinely in love.
When Peter arrives with a party list for the Capulet’s ball, Romeo and Benvolio offer to help Peter read the guest list. Peter is grateful and asks them to come along, as long as they weren’t a Montague. Straight away Benvolio has an idea. Going to the party could help Romeo meet someone new and replace his love for Rosaline with love for another fair maiden, Romeo agrees to go. This makes us wonder if Romeo will find another love, making us almost excited for him. Whilst Romeo and Benvolio plan to attend the ball, Paris talks with Juliet’s father, Lord Capulet, to discuss marriage to Juliet.
Lord Capulet asks to wait until two summers pass, but Paris is anxious to marry Juliet. Juliet’s Mother thinks it to be a brilliant proposition, and with no hesitation asks Juliet her opinion. Juliet says she will meet him and see if she could grow to like him, ‘I’ll look to like, if looking like move. But no more deep will I endart mine eye than your consent gives strength to make it fly’. At this moment Shakespeare makes us think, what if she is forced to marry Paris? Will Romeo and Juliet fulfil their destiny together? It is at the Capulet’s ball where Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time.
Romeo sees Juliet from a distance and asks the serving men who she is, but they do not know, so Romeo is unaware she is his families enemy. After seeing Juliet Romeo immediately falls in love with her, our thoughts link back to the prologue where we first hear the two young lovers destiny, making us feel intense whenever Rome and Juliet are together, waiting to see where they go wrong. Benvolio previously said that he would make Rosaline seem a crow, ‘Compare her face with some that I shall show, And I will make thee think thy swan a crow’, Romeo now questions if he ever actually loved Rosaline.
When Tybalt sees Romeo at the Capulet ball he wants to start a fight there and then, but Lord Capulet refuses to let him cause a scene at his party, Tybalt agrees to leave it for tonight, but claims he will never forget it, as if he is panning revenge, ‘Patience perforce with wilful choler meeting makes my flesh tremble in their different greeting. I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall, Now seeming sweet, convert to bitterest gall. ‘ When Romeo and Juliet meet there is a connection, in which they are both in love, and Juliet tells Romeo he is a fantastic kisser.
After Romeo and Juliet fall in love we are filled with sympathy for them, as we know they can never be together, Shakespeare is gradually making us feel closer and closer to the young couple, so when they fulfil their fate, although we know it is going to happen, will still be very upset and sympathetic. When it is later on in the evening revealed to both Romeo and Juliet who each other are, it doesn’t stop their love for each other, producing deep compassion for the two ‘star-crossed lovers’.
Act two opens with a sonnet reminding us of the fate of Romeo and Juliet, reminding us Romeo and Juliet can never be together, and they are only just themselves realising this. Romeo and Juliet’s love for each other is true, and it would be torture to keep them apart, so they decide to marry at Friar Lawrence’s cell the morning after the party. Friar Lawrence takes persuading, as he is shocked by the news as he has seen the tears Romeo cried for Rosaline. He claims Romeos love for Rosaline wasn’t true, and she knew that, that’s why she didn’t return his love, this makes us think if Romeo is as true to Juliet as he makes out to be.
Overall I feel much more sympathy and compassion for Juliet than I do for Romeo, even though they both have the same fate. I believe Juliet’s love to be more pure than Romeos as he has claimed to have been in love before. Juliet was arranged to marry Paris and knows she cannot be with the man she truly loves. Romeo is a very emotional young man and is a victim of his emotions, and has never been lucky in love. I cannot help but feel a tremendous amount of sympathy and sadness for both characters.