Romeo and Juliet Eye Themes

PREREQUISITES: READ Acts I & II in Romeo and Juliet

OBJECTIVES: Recognize and interpret themes (repeated motifs) in the play. Learn to examine a theme from multiple perspectives, and be able to explain how particular passages help develop one of more of these perspectives. Improve close-reading skills.

MATERIALS: Internet access, word processor (or pen and notebook), copy of Romeo and Juliet

TASK: Interpret passages that reflect themes in R&J. ANSWERS below.

VOCABULARY: Tyrannous, rank, devout, transparent, heretic, forswear, lineament, content, obscured, margent, allude

Love is Blind

{Act I, Sc. 1, lines 174-177}
Benvolio: Alas, that love, so gentle in his view,

                   Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof.

Romeo:    Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still

                  Should without eyes see pathways to his will.

1)  IDENTIFY THE CONTRAST IN BENVOLIO’S STATEMENT and EXPLAIN THE TWO ASPECTS OF LOVE THAT HE CONTRASTS. EXPLAIN THE IRONY IN ROMEO’S REPLY.

{Act I, Sc. 1, lines 216-217}
Romeo: In that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit

              With Cupid’s arrow. She hath Dian’s wit.

2) EXPLAIN THE IRONY IN ROMEO’S STATEMENT “In that hit you miss.” HOW DOES “DIAN’S WIT” HELP ROSALINE EVADE CUPID’S ARROWS?NOTE: The line numbers may not correspond exactly to those in your edition of the play.{Act II, Sc. 2, lines 84-86}

Juliet:    By whose direction found’st thou out this place?

Romeo: By love, that first did prompt me to inquire.

               He lent me counsel, and I lent him eyes.

3) EXPLAIN ROMEO’S RESPONSE IN TERMS OF THE EYE THEMES.

LESSON

PART A – FIGHTING WORDS IN THE TRAGEDY – 20 Points, two points for each question

  1. What words trigger fights in Act I, Scene 1 & Act III, Scene 1? List them with their line numbers. How harmful do you consider these words? What are some words in modern English that might trigger fights? [Avoid swearing in your answer.] Why do words – which after all are only groups of sounds that have been joined together and had meanings attached to them – have such power to offend?
  2. What part of the mind do you think is susceptible to being wounded by words? Can that part of the brain be strengthened so that words cannot hurt it? If so, how?
  3. Notice that when the two Capulet servants are alone together before the brawl in Act I Scene 1, they compete and put each other down.

SAMPSON: I strike quickly, being moved.

GREGORY: But thou art not quickly moved to strike.

How can Gregory’s remark be viewed as a put-down?

  1. Explain the wordplay in the next exchange between Gregory and Sampson. How has Gregory insulted Sampson in his response?

SAMPSON: A dog of the house of Montague moves me.

GREGORY: To move is to stir, and to be valiant is to stand. Therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn’st away.

  1. This competitiveness in the Capulet servants’ natures becomes much more intense when it’s directed at their enemies. Compare and contrast the Sampson-Gregory competition to their rivalry with the Montague servants. Is there a psychological connection between the two forms of competition? If so, what is it?
  2. ALTERNATIVE REACTION: What could anyone of these feuding young men have said to cool hot tempers and reduce the competitiveness between the rival factions?
  3. Why are the young guys in the play so easily offended?
  4. Are the women as sensitive to verbal abuse as the men?
  5. Do any of the females in the play use words as weapons? Do the women’s words provoke fights?
  6. Are Lady Montague and Lady Capulet more or less prone to violence than their husbands? Support your answer with quotes from the play.
    (PROVIDE THE ACT, SCENE AND LINE NUMBERS).

Love at First Sight

ROMEO

{Act I, Sc. 1, lines 234-236}

Romeo:    Oh, teach me how I should forget to think?

Benvolio: By giving liberty unto thine eyes.

Examine other beauties.

4) WHY DOES ROMEO WANT TO “forget to think”?  IS BENVOLIO’S SOLUTION HELPFUL?  DOES IT REFLECT EITHER OF THE PLAY’S EYE THEMES?  IF SO, HOW?

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{Act I, Sc. 1, lines 239-245}

Romeo: These happy masks that kiss fair ladies’ brows,

Being black, puts us in mind they hide the fair.

He that is strucken blind cannot forget

The precious treasure of his eyesight lost.

Show me a mistress that is passing fair:

What doth her beauty serve but as a note

Where I may read who passed that passing fair?

5) EXPLAIN THE ABOVE LINES IN TERMS OF THE EYE THEMES.

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{Act I, Sc. 2, lines 51-52}

Benvolio: Take thou some new infection to thy eye

and the rank poison of the old will die.

6) IN THE ABOVE LINES, WHY DOES BENVOLIO CALL LOVE AN INFECTION OF THE EYE?  IS HE RIGHT?  CAN LOVE FEEL LIKE AN INFECTION OR SICKNESS? HOW DOES BENVOLIO RECOMMEND CURING THIS INFECTION? DO YOU THINK BENVOLIO GIVES ROMEO SOUND ADVICE?  EXPLAIN YOUR ANSWER.  CAN YOU THINK OF ANOTHER CURE?  IF SO, EXPLAIN IT.

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{Act I, Sc. 2, lines 92-100}

Benvolio:  Go thither [to Capulet’s party] and with unattainted eye

Compare her face with some that I shall show

And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.

Romeo:       When the devout religion of mine eye

Maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fires;

And these who, often drowned, could never die,

Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars.

One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun

Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.

7) WHAT IS AN “unattainted eye”?  WHAT EYE THEMES DO BENVOLIO’S WORDS IMPLY?

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(Question 7 cont.) “The devout religion of mine eye” REFERS TO ROMEO’S LOVE FOR ROSALINE. WHY DOES HE CALL HIS LOVE FOR A WOMAN A RELIGION?  WHO IS THE GOD OF ROMEO’S “religion” IN THIS METAPHOR, ROSALINE OR CUPID? EXPLAIN YOUR ANSWER. EXPLAIN THE DOUBLE MEANING OF “transparent heretics.” WHAT IS ROMEO ALLUDING TO WHEN HE SAYS “transparent heretics, be burnt for liars”?

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ACT I, sc. 5, lines 59-60}

Romeo: Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty

till this night.

{Act II, Sc. 3, lines 71-72}

Friar L: Young men’s love, then, lies

not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.

8) IS THERE A POSSIBLE DOUBLE MEANING IN THE LINE “Young men’s love, then, lies”? EXPLAIN FRIAR LAWRENCE’S STATEMENT.

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JULIET

{Act 1, Sc. 3, line 103-105}

Juliet:   I’ll look to like, if looking liking move

But no more deep will I endart mine eye

Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.

9) HOW DOES JULIET’S STATEMENT REFLECT EITHER OR BOTH OF THE EYE THEMES IN THE PLAY?  WHY IS THE WORD “endart” FITTING IN THIS LINE?

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{Act I, Sc. 3, lines 85-94}

  • Lady Capulet: What say you? Can you love the gentleman?
  • This night you shall behold him at our feast.
  • Read o’er the volume of young Paris’ face,
  • And find delight writ there with beauty’s pen;
  • Examine every married lineament,
  • And see how one another lends content;
  • And what obscured in this fair volume lies
  • Find written in the margent of his eyes.
  • This precious book of love, this unbound lover
  • To beautify him only lacks a cover.

10) DOES LADY CAPULET’S ADVICE TO HER DAUGHTER REFLECT EITHER OF THE EYE THEMES IN THE PLAY?  WHAT DOES LADY CAPULET MEAN BY “married lineament”?  WHY DOES SHE USE THE WORD “married” here?  HOW DO PARIS’S LINEAMENTS lend one another content?  LOOK UP THE WORDS “obscure” and “margent” THEN EXPLAIN LINES 7 & 8.

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TEACH SUPPORT MATERIAL FOR ASSIGNMENT ON LOVE THEMES

LOVE IS BLIND vs. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

TO ASSIST TEACHERS WITH QUESTION #2 OF THIS ASSIGNMENT, WE’VE LISTED OTHER LINES IN WHICH THESE THEMES APPEAR IN THE PLAY.

One of the goals of this exercise is to help students recognize themes and recurring motifs in all literary works. (Students can also learn to identify theme-and-variation patterns in music—see the chapter “Sounds & Rounds of the Renaissance” in the Romeo and Juliet and the Renaissance volume of NEXUS. For exercises in finding visual and musical theme-and-variation patterns see the Harlem Renaissance and The Grapes of Wrath and the American Dream volumes of NEXUS. For visual and literary theme-and-variation patterns see Macbeth and the Dark Ages, and The Grapes of Wrath and the American Dream supplement: “Repetition in Music and Literature.”)

LOVE IS BLIND

{Act II, Sc. 1}

Benvolio: Blind is his love and best befits the dark.

Mercutio: If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.

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{Act II, Sc. 4}

Mercutio: The very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy’s butt shaft.

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{Act III, Sc. 2}

Juliet:   Lovers can see to do their amorous rites,

And by their own beauties; or, if love be blind,

It best agrees with night.

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LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

{Act II, Prologue}

The fair for which love groaned for and would die,

With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.

Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,

Alike bewitched by the charm of looks.

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ANSWER KEY:

up to think and her new understanding.

  1. WRITE OUT OR COPY THE PASSAGE BELOW FROM YOUR TEXT, THEN HIGHLIGHT IN GREEN THE WORDS THAT SHOW JULIET’S NEW WAY OF THINKING AND HIGHLIGHT IN RED THE WORDS THAT REFLECT HER OLD WAY OF THINKING AND FEELING. AFTER HIGHLIGHTING THE PASSAGE, REWRITE IT IN MODERN ENGLISH. USE YOUR OWN WORDS WITHOUT REFERRING TO ONLINE MODERN ENGLISH VERSIONS (5 points for this section).

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name;

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Tis but thy name that is my enemy.

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What’s Montague? It is not hand, nor foot,

Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;

And for thy name, which is no part of thee,

Take all myself.

2) APPLY JULIET’S FAMOUS OBSERVATION – “That which we call a rose/By any other name, would smell as sweet” – TO FIVE CONTEMPORARY SITUATIONS INVOLVING REAL PEOPLE (but not classmates). BE SPECIFIC AND DETAILED, AND EXPLAIN HOW JULIET’S INSIGHT APPLIES (5 points)