Write About the Ways Love Is Explored in Two Soliloquies

10 October 2016

Shakespeare expresses the theme of death throughout Romeos soliloquy to enable the audience to empathise and feel pathos toward Juliet “Death that hath suck the honey of thy breath”. The word “breath” is ironic and is symbolic of how Romeo cannot bare to be without Juliet, so much so that he feels the sensation of suffocation. Dramatic irony is also apparent as the audience knows that Juliet is still alive; this sentiment provokes emotion as the audience is willing for Romeo to notice that she is not dead.

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Also the fact that love is blind plays an ironic almost humorous part here as Romeo is failing to see Juliet is still alive. The theme of death continues as Shakespeare personifies death throughout the soliloquy to present it as a more sinister force and rival for Juliet’s love: “shall I believe that unsubstantial death is amorous? And that the lean abhorred monster keeps thee here in the dark to be his paramour? ” The negative language negative language used to personify death, “lean abhorred monster”, illustrates Romeos sense of disgust but more importantly, the fear that death has taken Juliet from him.

Romeo’s fear is clearly expressed when Shakespeare writes: “For fear of that I still will stay here with thee/here i will remain”. The repetition of “here” conveys Romeos determination to stay with Juliet to the extent that he will take his own life. Therefore, the audience get the impression that Romeo feels he must kill himself to preserve their love, a trait which links with his hamatia. Furthermore, Shakespeare employs the ongoing lexical field of death to create a sense of foreboding and heighten the dramatic irony.

The main protagonist Romeo personifies death using a metaphor to express its severity. He explains how death has not “conquered” Juliet’s beauty “yet”. The word yet implies that death is inevitable which links to the phrase “star crossed lovers” that is delivered in the prologue. Elizabethan people were highly superstitious and believed heavily in fate which would have contributed to the many attributes that make Romeo a tragic hero. “And deaths pale flag is not advanced there. Shakespeare‘s use of nautical language is used to infer how Romeo has almost been “shipwrecked” (as he says later in the soliloquy) which highlights his solitude and his incomplete sensation he feels without Juliet present. In Addition, the audience so observes that Romeo’s obsessive and unconditional love for Juliet contributes to his fall from grace and greatly adheres to his hamartia. “Thee here in dark to be his paramour/here’s to my love”. Dramatic irony and a paradox of light is used her to show Romeo’s possessiveness and impetuousness.

The fact that he says “my” shows his obsessive naivety, as he almost loves Juliet too much so to speak. It is clear for the audience to see that Romeo is ruled by fate, doomed from the start. A contemporary audience would have profoundly disagreed to this ethos as in a modern way we believe that we choose or make our own “fate”. Contrastingly Shakespeare uses powerful repetition to emphasise the importance and severity of Othello’s opening line. The use of monosyllabic words creates tension, highlighting Othello’s chilling tone. It is the cause, it is the cause my soul “. Here Othello is addressing his soul and conscience, trying to justify the terrible act which he is about to commit; but in his mind he already has established the inevitability of his actions. The fact that Othello uses the word “It “shows he cannot bring himself to name the act that Desdemona has supposedly committed. Even this early in the soliloquy, the reader can clearly distinguish Othello’s hamartia (the traits that make a tragic hero).

We see his serious errors in judgment (believing Iago without proof) which later leads him to committing the dead (Taking Desdemona’s) that leads to his downfall. Additionally, Othello changes the address of his soliloquy from his inner self, to the “Chaste stars “. It is a commonly known fact that the Elizabethan era were very superstitious; so it is very understandable that they could empathise with Othello’s “cause “ and understand his alliance with the stars. “Let me not name it to you, chaste stars “.

This is reminiscent of the prologue in Romeo and Juliet, where it refers to “star crossed lovers “, the audience can now see a clear correlation between obsessive love and death, which is sad as in both plays the deceased lovers are “ innocent “. Here Othello is further trying to reassure himself that he is doing the just thing; that his actions are almost written in “alabaster “inevitable. Referring to the “chaste stars “ is also part of Othello’s hamartia; the idea of being doomed from the beginning .

Also his obsessive, overpowering love for Desdemona, distorts his perception of reality, which is why he failed to detect the lies being fed to him by Iago. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to highlight Desdemona’s innocence, the fact that Othello says “chaste “is almost humorous as the audience knows that Desdemona is completely innocent, never committing adultery in her extremely short life. Just as Romeo speaks of Juliet’s beauty, even in death, to emphasise his love for her, so too does Othello in acknowledging Desdemona’s outward perfection and beauty. “….. hiter skin than snow/And smooth as monumental alabaster….. ” Here Shakespeare uses and extended metaphor, which is ironic as Othello is comparing Desdemona to white snow, white being symbolic of innocence and purity which paradoxes the vile dead which he is about to commit. Shakespeare use of figurative language here powerfully reflects Othello’s intense love and adoration for Desdemona. The fact that Othello elevates Desdemona to a position of “Monumental” perfection shows that he is savouring her beauty before confirming his resolve that “she must die”.

Furthermore, Shakespeare’s clever use of dramatic irony and ability to control the audiences’ emotions through powerful imperative verbs is shown in this part of the soliloquy. “Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men”. Othello’s resolve is highlighted by a break in the flow of the verse, emphasised by a colon. This break represents his sorrow, regret and anguish. The fact that Othello is a “Moore” means he suffered both outwardly (isolation and alienation attacks) and inwardly (tortured conscience). Unfortunately the finality of this statement conveys to the audience the harsh reality that Othello is going carry out this injustice.

Also this particular line said by Othello links with what Brabantio (desdamona’s father) says in the beginning of the play “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: She has deceived her father, and may thee”. This here is very ironic, as Othello is going to murder Desdemona for the exact thing her father warned him about, except she has not committed the act. We the audience feel pathos toward Desdemona as even her father had a false predicament and made an extreme error in judging his own daughters character.

Unsurprisingly this links with Romeo and Juliet’s struggle to be together as a result of the “family feud”. Love is portrayed to be a hardship in both plays, which may be one of the reasons the love is so obsessive and unhealthy. To conclude, I believe that the theme of love is convayed very effectively in both Romeos and Othello’s soliloquy. Both invoked a variety of emotions and allow the audience to really connect with the characters. A great amount of dramatic irony and tension is delivered at pivotal points in both plays where obsessive leads to the suicide of Juliet and contrastingly the murder of Desdemona.

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