Contrasts in Act One of Romeo and Juliet

Essay by michellechiu758Junior High, 8th grade April 2012

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Shakespeare used many different writing devices when he wrote his plays. In Act One, Shakespeare used contrasts to grasp the audience's interest and to emphasize or illustrate specific points he is trying to make. The contrasts are what make the play enjoyable for us today.

One of the main contrasts in Romeo and Juliet is that between love and hate. The love between Romeo and Juliet is forbidden because of the grudge between the Montagues and the Capulets. Juliet also makes reference to love and hate in her speech at the end of the feast: "my only love sprung from my only hate…" (act 1 scene 5 line 138-141). The loyalty and love between family members is what sprouted hatred towards the other family. The servants of the Montague and Capulet hate and fight with each other because of their loyalty towards their respective masters. Tybalt repeatedly wants to fight with the members of the Montague because he cares about his own family.

It shows how love in Romeo and Juliet often lead to hate, and hate is sometimes not far away from love.

Love and hate not only contrast against each other but also within themselves; different types of love and hate present themselves within different situations and within different characters. The loyalty and love between family is contrasted with the idea of physical love illustrated by Sampson "(cut off) the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads" (act 1 scene 1 line 22-26) and nurse "seek happy nights to happy days" (act 1 scene 3 line 105). The different types of love made the play more interesting and further highlighted the idea of true love between Romeo and Juliet.

To accompany this contrast is the contrast of light and dark, often in terms of night and day imagery.