"Romeo and Juliet were never actually in love;
it was just infatuation."
How true do you consider this statement to be?

Act 1

1:1;125 - 134, 202 - 231

Romeo's behaviour and his language when describing Rosaline are typical of the courtly lover of poetry. Is Romeo really in love with the idea of love, the concept of himself as a lover? If so, is what he feels for Juliet any different? Look at his behaviour and language later, in relation to Juliet.

"Did my heart love till now? Forswear it sight,
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." (1:5;49 - 50 )

Romeo's idea of love is dependant on what he sees; he has no idea who Juliet is, what she is like as a person, but he "loves" her.

The chorus (Act 2) that they are "Alike bewitched by the charm of looks" and Friar Lawrence is later to complain that

"Young men's love then lies
Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes." (2:3;67 -68)

1:5;90 - 103

This is presented as a sonnet, the traditional form for a love poem. Do you think Shakespeare is making a statement about the truth of their love in this way, or do you think he is showing it to be a formalised, formulaic game?

"my life is my foe's debt" (1:5;115 )

"My only love ... loathed enemy." (1:5;134 - 137)

Here Romeo & Juliet each discover the truth about the other's identity. What do you make of their determination to press on with the relationship, despite this knowledge?

Act 2


Juliet is prepared to renounce her family for love of Romeo; Romeo is risking his life even being there for love of Juliet. Yet they barely know each other (Juliet admits that her "ears have not yet drunk a hundred words" of Romeo's) What do you make of this? Is it love at first sight or is it teenage excitement? Does the mention of marriage and the fact that they are both taking the idea seriously make a difference to how you judge their feelings?

2:3;85 - 87

Maybe there's a clue here; when defending himself against the Friar's charge of fickleness Romeo claims that the difference between Juliet & Rosaline is that

"her I love now
Doth grace for grace, and love for love allow.
The other did not so."

Can we argue that this love may be real, as it is reciprocal?

Friar Lawrence is still sceptical, accusing Romeo of loving from a manual -

"Thy love did read by rote, that could not spell." (2:4;88)

By the end of Act 2 they are married. Remember the timescale here; they met the previous night!

Act 3


Romeo refuses a challenge from Tybalt because of his relationship with Juliet, despite the fact that this makes him appear cowardly and unmanly. This was a big deal; Mercutio refers to it as "calm, dishonourable, vile submission" (3:1;69) This may indicate the nature and extent of his feelings for her.


We see two Juliets here; compare the way Juliet is speaking and behaving re. Romeo before she hears the news about Tybalt with how she speaks and behaves afterwards. Do you notice anything which might indicate the nature of her feelings? What do you make of her conclusion at the end of 3:2?


What does Romeo think is the worst thing about being banished? Is that helpful with regard to this essay?


Juliet rejects the Nurse's advice to marry Paris and pretend the whole Romeo thing never happened. She says she'd rather die than marry Paris and turns her back on her lifelong companion. Any help with your decision?

Act 4

1 - 3

Throughout these scenes Juliet is resolute in her decision to follow the Friar's route to Romeo, despite its terrifying possible consequences and her fears.

Act 5

Romeo is equally resolute on hearing of the "death" of Juliet. Ultimately each chooses death rather than life without the other. What does this tell you?

This should guide you through the key points of the text that are likely to be useful to you in your thinking. There isn't a right or wrong answer to this question; you will get the marks by presenting a clear, well argued case, well substantiated by textual reference and quotation. Your answer should be technically as well as factually accurate, so I'm looking for spelling, punctuation, grammar and PARAGRAPHING. Your answers will also benefit from sentence variety; check that you're not relying on the same constructions all the time, especially with sentence openings. Weaknesses in these areas WILL cost you marks!