One Step Closer to the Fire
Just like a lion, ready to create, fight, and even burn in fire for his queen, the dynamic character of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo, at first a little boy, not being able to identify what love is, grows to be a young man who understands the meaning of true love. During this process, he experiences both many falls and uplifts, but his strong character’s traits guide him through the way. Romeo’s emotional way of expressing his feelings leads him to a big disappointment, which later in the play is replaced with a powerful love, for which he has the courage to fight his biggest enemy, and prove his loyalty by facing man’s biggest fear: death.
First of all, Romeo’s believes that his emotional way of loving will reward him with finding true love. As Romeo’s two best friends, Mercutio and Benvolio, are searching for him after the party at Capulet’s residence, Mercutio calls him, “Romeo! Humours, madman, passion, lover!” (2.1.7). The two friends are making fun of what Romeo does in the name of finding the kind of love, he’s searching for. Romeo changes his mind and falls in love very easily, believing that it’s worth doing even the craziest thing for such new love. He’s ready to give all his passion for a single person, who he believes is the only one who’ll ever love. Because of Romeo’s way of loving, he gets disappointed, more specifically, struggles to get out of depression over his first love, Rosaline, who unfortunately doesn’t love him back. “I am too sore enpiercèd with his shaft…/ Under love’s heavy burden do I sink” (1.4.19–23). Romeo shows how crushed he’s from the fact that he gives all his emotion and passion, believing that that’ll build a strong relationship, but eventually doesn’t get the love he expects in return. There’s paradox between what love really is and the way the desperate Romeo describes it at this moment. Love is a unique uplifting feeling, but in the case of Romeo, it’s described as a big trouble that brings misery. Even though Romeo’s ready to give all his heart in the name of love, the love he’s looking for is still nowhere to be found.
Second, Romeo is a courageous young man showing that no obstacle can hold love out. When Romeo sneaks inside Capulet’s residence during night to see the girl that has taken over his mind and soon other actions determine she’s his only love: Juliet, he explains to her how he’s managed to get there, “With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls,/ For stony limits cannot hold love out,”(2.2.66/67). The wings are a metaphor for Romeo’s courage, which helps him overcome the difficulties he faces while getting inside Capulet’s residence. The stony limits symbolize Romeo and Juliet’s families conflict, that has turned them into rivalries. Romeo’s not afraid of what might happen to him if he gets captured as long as he’s doing it in the name of love. When he’s talking with Juliet in the garden he tells her, “Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye/ Than twenty of their swords”(2.2.71–72). He compares the evil look in Juliet’s eyes to twenty of her relatives with swords. For Romeo, it would be worse if Juliet is mad at him than having twenty of her family members being against him. Not only does he not fear the Capulets, but also doesn’t pay much attention to them because the only thing that matters to him is love. With his courageous actions, Romeo proves that love is stronger than hate.
Lastly, Romeo stays loyal to Juliet until the very end. When he finds out that she’s dead, he goes to her tomb during the night in order to kill himself and die next to her. Before he commits suicide he has a soliloquy, in which he points out to death, “Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death,/ Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open,/ And in despite I’ll cram thee with more food!”(5.3.51–54). Romeo uses personification and a huge collection of offensive words to describe death as a horrible monster that has eaten his love. The fact that death has ruined the two lovers’ happiness both upsets and angers Romeo. He can’t imagine his life without Juliet and he tells death that he’s going to kill himself and be its victim even if that’s not its will. Before he ends his life, he speaks to Juliet in her tomb. “For fear of that, I still will stay with thee…/ Here, here will I remain/ Will I set up my everlasting rest” (5.3.115–119). Romeo doesn’t want to leave Juliet alone in the frightening tomb. He tells her that he’s going to stay with her forever no matter the cost. The repetition of “I will” show that he’s certain about his actions. He’s not scared to die and remain in the tomb as long as he’s with his love. Romeo demonstrates that nothing can destroy love as long as the lovers stay loyal to each other until the end.
In conclusion, during the play, we observe Romeo’s character growth as he determines the key concepts of the feeling that no definition has been found for: love. He learns that not every time you give your whole heart and emotion to a certain person, you’ll be rewarded with experiencing real love. He also understands that in order to get what you want you have to fight for it, and for the sake of saving love, you have to keep your promises until the end. During his transformation from a little kitten to a powerful lion, Romeo takes brave steps getting closer to the fire and discovering what it feels like, what is needed to keep the flame alive, and that even when the flame goes out, it’ll leave a smoldering fire, that’ll eventually leave a mark on the ground that’ll stay forever.