Dark and Light, Romeo and Juliet
The Bible states “God saw light was good, and he separated the light from darkness.” Though light and dark are separated in Romeo in Juliet, they have entirely different connotations. The presence of light turns the characters belligerent, while darkness pacifies them.
Light imagery indicates aggressiveness, impatience, and danger. For example, when Friar Lawrence speaks on Romeo and Juliet’s love, he advises, “These violent delights have violent ends / And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, / Which, as they kiss, consume” (2.6.9-10). Fire, a form of light imagery, personifies the amorous passion that Romeo and Juliet mutually share. Just as fire and gunpowder combust when mixed, the irrational feelings of the lovers reach new plateaus whenever they kiss. Friar Lawrence believes that this type of love is particularly dangerous, as it is neither stable nor particularly successful in the long run. In addition, impatiently waiting for the sun to set, Juliet proclaims, “Gallop apace, you fiery footed steeds, / Towards Phoebus lodging! Such a wagoner / As Phaeton would whip you to the west” (3.2.1-3). Fiery-footed steeds, Phoebus, and Phaeton all refer to the common Greek myth in which every day, Phaeton, the god of the sun, would ride his chariot of flaming horses from one end of the sky to the other. The quote epitomizes Juliet’s impatience for day to end, as she implores Phaeton to whip his horses faster so that the sun can set more quickly. Juliet despises the heat and loneliness she feels during the day, and recognizes that she only feels true happiness in the presence of night. Furthermore, after sleeping with Juliet, right before leaving in the morning, Romeo states ominously, “More light and light – more dark and dark our woes!” (3.5.36). In daytime, Romeo and Juliet are incapable of uniting, leaving each of them feeling grim. Light imagery characterizes the danger that could result in their meeting. The word “dark,” used figuratively, foreshadows a sinister ending to Romeo and Juliet’s love story. Various symbols of light represent intense emotion within the characters, and it is the corresponding actions to these impulses which allow the plot to twist so frequently throughout the play.
Darkness provides the lovers with comfort, intimacy, and love. Further, aptly speaking about Romeo’s love after the Capulet party, Benvolio asserts, “To be consorted with the humorous night. / Blind is his love and best befits the dark.” (2.1.33-34). Romeo’s heedless love to Rosaline best fits the night because it is only in the all-covering envelope of darkness that he can express his true love without fear of repercussion. The dark, symbolizing comfort, allows Romeo to find solace within him and emancipate the anxiety and stress he has carried throughout his love affair with Rosaline. Moreover, as Juliet anticipates Romeo’s arrival at night, she imagines, “Spread thy close curtain, love performing night, / That runaway eyes may wink, and Romeo / Leap to these arms untalk’d of and unseen” (3.2.5-7). Romeo and Juliet, both runaways in their own right, can only show their true nature and make love after dark. Closing the curtain from the outside world brings anonymity, and removes them from the melancholy of the day. This allows Romeo and Juliet to perform consummation on their wedding night to signify the start of what they ironically believe will become a long, prosperous marriage. Furthermore, in the same soliloquy, Juliet adds, “Come civil night, / Thou sober-suited matron, all in black, / And learn me how to lose a winning match” (3.2.11-13). Ironically, Juliet requests the night, depicted as a widow dressed in black, to teach her how to lose her virginity. Dark imagery is evident in her description of the maiden of night but also in the tone of her voice; Juliet speaks to it as if it is her friend. Darkness, often misunderstood as an omen of death, is actually a boon for Romeo and Juliet, as it is only in the moon’s presence that an ordinary teenage crush spawns into a burning passion.
In Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, the trauma and anguish experienced by these teenagers cause them to make brash, suicidal decisions. Though God separated good from bad when distinguishing light from darkness, those same divisions are not present in this story. Without them, another potent, celestial force leads to the ultimate fate of these star-crossed lovers. Like Romeo and Juliet, each aspect of Shakespeare’s symbolism is merely a puppet to the cruel and unforgiving hand of fate.
Throughout The Poisonwood Bible, author Barbara Kingsolver uses Nathan Price as a representation of the dangers of the combination of religious fervor and power in the wrong hands. This is […]
The donning of her [dancing] dress has brought about the turning point of her life.-Barbara Fass LeavyDress and outward appearance have historically played a significant role in the plot development […]
In The God of Small Things, Roy’s main characters Estha and Rahel Eapen face many tragedies during their youth. The non-linear plot of Roy’s novel causes readers to piece together […]
In Henry V, Shakespeare presents the king as a man who is exceptionally deft with his use of language and politics. Henry conquers France in a relatively short amount of […]
The Roles of Family in Wieland and The Last of the Mohicans”There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels […]
Twentieth-century scholars of slavery have both slavery’s effects on the slave mentality and the development of culture (or lack thereof) and the existence of paternalism among the slave-holding class. However, […]
Every culture has certain historical events that alter the way that culture functions and appears. For much of the world, the world wars were this historical influence. Many countries had […]
Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path” is a heartwarming and inspiring narrative. Welty takes readers on a dangerous, vulnerable, slightly thrilling, and heartening journey that works to remind people of the […]
A complete structural study of a novel demands preoccupation with structure as both organizational and temporal; in the case of Wuthering Heights especially, the two are inextricably linked. The novel […]
The Bible states “God saw light was good, and he separated the light from darkness.” Though light and dark are separated in Romeo in Juliet, they have entirely different connotations. […]