It is unsurprising that Romeo and Juliet share some of the same personality traits. Both have a youthful passion and vigour about them; both are romantic individuals, though Romeo is more poetic; and both seem to have intense feelings for the other.
But there are differences too. Romeo’s impulsive nature is more immediate than Juliet’s, he is led by his emotions more powerfully. It is a clever device of Shakespeare’s to first present Romeo in the pits of misery over another woman. It ensures that the audience casts an eye of doubt over his meeting with Juliet, retaining a degree of scepticism, and making his character more layered. You also cannot deny that Romeo is violent. He is the character with the most blood on his hands by the end of the play.
With Juliet the relationship is intense. He appears to be consumed by her, and cannot imagine living his life without her. Her beauty overwhelms him, and it is clear that his feelings for her are genuine and true. But overwhelmed is an insightful word for Romeo’s character. Mercutio’s death overwhelms him and__ he does not think of the consequences __when killing Tybalt, his wife’s cousin. Only at the end of the play does he seem resolute in his decision to take his own life.
Mercutio acts as a nice contrast to Romeo. Where Romeo is bemoaning his loss of Rosaline, Mercutio is playful and witty. He highlights Romeo’s youth and naivety when it comes to matters of the heart. Their closeness is shown by Romeo’s decisive act of revenge after Mercutio’s death.
Friar Laurence offers guidance to Romeo. It is quickly learnt from the introduction to Romeo that, whilst Montague cares for his son, he has no idea how to address his issues, and sends Benvolio to speak to him. Romeo uses Friar Laurence like a father: he goes to him to ask to marry Juliet; he is openly petulant and rebukes the Friar, like a teenage boy, when he discovers he is banished; but ultimately he trusts him to take care of things.
Whereas Juliet remains more consistent through the play, Romeo goes through some major shifts.
He begins the play bereft at not being with Rosaline, genuinely miserable and lamenting his situation. And yet, upon meeting Juliet, this evaporates entirely. Whilst that could show a fickleness in Romeo, it might also highlight the strength and immediacy of his feelings for Juliet.
Here he shows his passion, desperate to kiss her and then to profess his love to her. After their marriage, Romeo presents a more balanced front, trying to reason with Tybalt rather than fight him; it doesn’t last long. After the death of Mercutio, his angry and violent nature is plain for all to see (always remember: it isn’t normal for people to just kill each other at that time. What Romeo does is incredibly serious).
Next we see his petulance, ungrateful for banishment for the murder, despite the fact that he should face death. Again this is a two-pronged attack: to show his voracious love for Juliet but also his childishness.
And finally we see a Romeo who appears to reach a state of resolution. Upon hearing of Juliet’s death he does not hesitate in getting poison and returning to her side. So intent is he to die with Juliet that he kills Paris, but this time__ not in a fit of rage, and demonstrates his awareness of the situation by granting Paris his wish to be in the tomb with Juliet.__
And then he takes his own life. Blimey! He doesn’t half go on a journey…
Lord Montague on Romeo’s sadness: “To himself so secret and so close.” (Act I, Sc i)
Mercutio to Romeo: “You are a lover; borrow Cupid’s wings/ And soar with them above a common bound.” (Act I, Sc iv)
Lord Capulet on Romeo: “He bears him like a portly gentleman(…), Verona brags of him/ To be a virtuous and well covern’d youth.”_ (Act I, Sc v)_
Friar Laurence: “Young men’s love then lies/ Not truly in their hearts but in their eyes.” (Act II, Sc iii)
Mercutio on Romeo’s cowardice: “calm, dishonourable, vile submission.” (Act III, Sc i)
On Juliet: “Thy beauty hath made me effeminate/ And in my temper soften’d valour’s steel.” (Act III, Sc i)
Romeo on avenging Mercutio’s death: “Fire ey’d fury be my conduct now!” (Act III, Sc i)
Juliet on Romeo murdering Tybalt: “O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face.”_ (Act III, Sc ii)_
“Banishment! Be merciful, say death!”_ (Act III, Sc iii)_
Friar Laurence on Romeo: “I see that madmen have no ears.” (Act III, Sc iii)
Juliet’s tomb: “I enforce thy rotten jaws to open.” (Act V, Sc iii)