Romeo’s impulsivity- an analysis

Romeo, the young and dashing hero of Shakespeare’s epic romantic drama, is known for his suddenness. He lacks in composure and is always undergoing some emotional waves. Romeo is introduced lamenting and being exaggeratingly depressed over his one-sided love. As he cannot have Rosalind, he hides from the glare of the sun and others,who cannot and will not understand his agony. Hence, he prefers roaming around alone.

Actually, his first meeting with Juliet is an example of how confused and indecisive he is. Romeo forgets Rosalind as soon as he lays his eyes on Juliet exclaiming at her beauty, calling her the most beauteous girl. The audience will consider his previous lamentations over Rosalind as being futile and deceitful. He forgets the latter, remembering only his new love for Juliet.

Impulsiveness is part and parcel of Romeo, who till the end of the play creates conflicts for himself and Juliet, due to his rash attitude. Benvolio forewarns him at being too emotional and not concentrating on the repercussions. For instance, when he roams aimlessly because of Rosalind, Benvolio accentuates on the vainness of his behaviour, which is not bringing peace nor satisfaction to anyone. On the contrary, his parents are concerned at how he is behaving, unaware of the cause. Moreover Romeo dramatises on his heartbreak and his eulogies of his faithfulness towards Rosalind, despite the latter’s refusal. He feigns loving her too much, to the extent of locking himself up for Rosalind. Such emotional exaggeration is also seen in the way he approaches Juliet. The way he is smitten, wanting a first kiss during the feast (which is held in his enemy’s house) and climbing over the wall to meet Juliet.

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The courage of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. O-Level/English Literature

In the Shakespearean era, women have been called the ‘weaker vessels’, who are as well the first victims of any feud. Shakespeare has innumerously shown how women,along with children, bear the brunt of uncallous and nefarious rulers. They violate the dignity of women to show their masculinity and oppress their enemies. Yet, with a young girl of 13, that is Juliet Capulet, Shakespeare demarcates beauty combined with rationality which result in an immeasurable courage to live her decisions. Indeed, Juliet highlights the rising generation of women who dare to present their views inspite of an inhospitable society. She does hesitate to speak nor rebel. She knows and understands what is good for her.

The audience is introduced to an audacious Juliet, who has clear opinions on marriage. She estimates that she will marry when the time is convenient for her and when she finds her ‘Mr Right’. Moreover,she does not agree with her mother nor Nurse’s beliefs that marriage will bring her security or ensure her future. She sees marriage as a lifelong commitment, that will solicit her fully as a woman and wife. Thus it cannot be a decision that can be rushed into.She shares the same thoughts with her father, who agrees that she is too young to get married. Yet she does cautiously agree to consider him as a husband.

Another illustration of her courage is her acceptance of Romeo, despite knowing that he is a Montague, the arch-enemy of the Capulet. She questions him over his intentions towards her, the degree of seriousness he shows and whether marriage is in order. Though she loves him, she ascertains herself of his character, before diving into forging a relationship with Romeo.

Is Juliet headstrong?

On several occasions, Juliet has revealed her iron spine. She is not the timid girl as decried when she first meets Romeo. Juliet demonstrate a sound understanding of the society and the vulnerability of women in general.

Indeed, she is the one who sets boundaries in her relationship with Romeo, questioning him about his ideals and intentions. Juliet also allows Romeo to kiss her when she feels that he can. She is the one who speaks about marriage, teaching to Romeo that the culmination of love is marriage, which is an amalgamation of social worth and reponsibilities, hence getting thr approval of one and all, ost importantly her family.

Despite knowing that her beloved ia from the enemy camp, she does not judge the latter,but rather decides to leave everything for him. All in all, it is Juliet who channels Romeo’s impulsivity into common sense. She imposes a moral conduct on the latter and they do get married on the following day of their meeting. Though she suffers when Romeo is banished, Juliet does not lose hope. She abides by the difficult advice of Friar Lawrence, whose scheme is as hazardous as it is uncertain. Moreover, she faces the wrath of Lord Capulet when the latter imposes on her Count Paris. Romeo leaves her alone to face the challenges of a chaotic macho society, where as a young girl she is categorised as a chattel, rather than an individual with rights and opinions.

Even her fellow women characters, that is Lady Capulet or the Nurse either let her down or judge her for being too untame and opiniated. Lord Capulet even tag her as being a ‘harlot’. Indeed, Juliet is headstrong as her determination gives her the impetus to confront the constant challenges thrown on her way. She knows that as she is already married, she cannot and will not marry again, inspite of threats and abuses. Her dignity matter to her. Her loyalty is the proof of her love.

Juliet does not even once fails herself nor surrender to a beguiled destiny. Despite her many questions and fears, she drinks the potion, given by Friar Lawrence, as a test of her love for Romeo. She passes it but gives up her life on seeing the lifeless Romeo besides her in the vault. Her suicide is a testimony of her chastity and loyalty towards Romeo, whose foolhardiness condemns their togetherness and hope of living together.

In truth, Shakespeare, positively, portrays Juliet as the true hero of the play. Her characteristics set her above Romeo. She is different from the other feminine characters, defying the fetters of the society and condemning the aggressivity of the society towards women in general. Juliet is not a weakling. She deserves more recognition as being the backbone of her love-story with Romeo, for the latter only falls for the former’s beauty, but she gives a name to their relationship. She does not die a lover, but as a loyal wife. Her suicide is the final attestation of her courage.

Analysis ‘The road not taken’ – Robert Frost’s poems /A-Level

The poem:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Some thoughts:

A beautiful thought on how an individual faces choices in life, standing at a crossroad. This poem is about how difficult it is to be satisfied with how one lives.

The poet,indeed, draws the audience’s attention at how choices can be difficult to be accepted,as while deciding,one overlooks,or rather has to sacrifice the other option which can be more exquisite, but one will never know. Indeed, in the poem,the poet personna prefers the one less trodden as he doubts the one which has been much used. He presumes that the novelty of the road will ensure more success and delight.

The poem is, as well, anecdotal, hinting to the fact that it has inspired from a walk Robert Frost has had with his English-Welsh friend Edward Thomas. The latter complained about having a life-route which less satisfactorily flourishing. Thomas used to sigh at each of exclamations, which Frost found quixotic. Following which he would tease Thomas,saying that the latter would never enjoy his present as he would forever regret his decision,thus missing out the opportunities offered by his decision. A poet,in the real sense of the word, showcases the everyday realities. Here, we have Frost being concerned about his friend treats his decision, overlooking his life but distressing over the unknown.

The central theme of ‘The Road not Taken’ is how it is impossible to determine where a crucial decision can lead one and the repercussions. One,then, often wonders what the other option, the road not taken, will have led to. Then one indulges into emotional upheavals, even hypothetically, that the raod not taken may have been better or worse.

The structure:

The poem consists of four stanzas, or rather a quintrain (stanza having five lines each). The poem, which looks so simple,holds a traditional rhyme scheme of ABAAB.Yet, on a closer look, the poem is actually metaphorical in composition. It figuratively speaks about how the walker faces two roads and chooses the one that has been least taken. Many, in real life, face this fork of roads or choices, wherein a simple decision can change the course of life, usually forever.

If the tone is usually thoughtful, the poet keeps swinging, jumping from one track to the other. The tone highlights on the innuendos of life, which keep on haunting the decision-maker: ‘what if…’ One keeps on asking oneself as one is human. It is altogether natural for humans to be confounded, yet inquisitive; sure yet unsure; and always comparing the decisions/choices,if an ounce of doubts crops up.

Hence the tone becomes meditative. The poetic persona stands there questioning the two options, weighing the good and the bad, the certitudes versus the incertitudes in a rational way. He feels that missing a point or idea will drain any possibities of success. The unknown worries him. At the outset, the speaker opts for the road which is less travelled, as this is how he likes life to be: unburdened of unwanted details and he prizes his solitude. On ‘the road not taken’ , he believes that he will be undisturbed as he adores his solitude,that is his tranquility. Motivated by a selfish pursuit, he makes his decision. Then he questions himself, longing to know ‘what if…’

Then his mood becomes philosophical,when he grasps the gist of his decision: he has chosen the least used road. The kernel of his angst is not whether he may be right or wrong, but whether he will regret his decision. He suffers as he knows that ages after he will keep on asking himself ‘what if…’ Life decisions are troublesome when one faces the predicament of self-doubts.

Hence this suggests that the poem is quite light-hearted, but it is in truth a reflection of how mostly feel when facing life-choices. The decision-maker keeps on reminiscing on what he has missed and what he will have achieved if he had opted for the road not taken.

The essence of the poem is not the uniqueness presented by the fact that the road is not much used,but the quandary of choosing,which is very much nightmarish for any individual. The person,then, lives in the ‘what if…’ mode : what if the other choice was better?

Frost himself has had harsh decisions to face and he pens the heaviness which such choices may have on one’s life journeys. He,therefore, explores the feeling of angst when one continues to question the unknown,instead of relishing the known,that is the taken decisions.

Small Island- Prejudice as the bottom line…

Prejudice is the omnipresent theme, or rather the lurking evil that poisons the everyday efforts of the main protagonists. Andrea Levy displays the many forms of prejudice,playing with the obvious and the hidden ones. The readers are made conscious that unfairness does not only reside in racial discrimation, but it is about how an individual is treated.

Each character suffers from bigotry as their world is threatened opportunistic individuals and norms who harm their concept of how the society runs. Their image of the community is bookish and fairy-tale like. None of the canons of the scriptures or institutions are adhered to. Actually,they are ignored as per the conveninces.

Indeed prejudice hurts Hortense most. While growing, she enjoys her golden-skin supremacy, judging her contemporaries to be lesser than she is. She criticises the others for their

  • education
  • ability to speak English,as they communicate in patois
  • way of dressing
  • sense of humour,considering it to be defiling

However, while applying for a job in the grand school at Kingston, Jamaica, and in England, she goes through various levels of shaming. She is tagged for her

  • birth- the illigetimate child of Lovell Roberts (an affluent governmental bureaucrat) and Alberta ( a maid).
  • golden skin tone: it is tinted,not the pristine tone of the white
  • her accent: it tells of her background and education. She does not pronounce the words correctly as the whites will.
  • her education: she attends the school of non-whites,thus fails in being like them,despite all.

She gloats before Gilbert, believing that she is better,but she is shocked on knowing that she is below her husband, as she is the fruit of lust and shame, not respectable marriage.

Gilbert Joseph is a happy-go-lucky character until he is confronted to his identity of being a Jamaican,not a British. His motherland is Great Britain, but only on paper. In truth,he belongs to Jamaica and will always be set apart. The British consider Jamaica as one of their colonies,where the people are savages and muggers. Gilbert joins the RAF to fight for his country and its dignity because he feels that he is a British Citizen. His patriotism is kicked endlessly into vanishing as a disillusion.

Soon Gilbert gets to know and fully digest the principle of the society- he is and will be discriminated for his birth and skin complexion, despite his citizenship. He tries to inculcate this erratic and harmful ideology of the British to Hortense, but she learns by herself.

Queenie meets prejudice at the Empire’s Exhibition when she finds an educated black African tribal chief exhibited as an artefact. Meritocracy is dead. The African chief demonstrates a poise which even her father does not possess. Actually, her father is crude,as the others living on the farm. Even Queenie is,because her laughter is a like a pig’s grunt.

Queenie is also attacked for letting rooms to blacks. She is accused of soiling the so far unsoiled respectability of her white neighbourhood. Such is the prejudice that those who shift from the locality, cite Queenie as the reason.

Indeed the manifold representations of Prejudice in Small Island emphasises on the simmering hatred that prevails. Unity is mere sham. Prejudice is not racial nor based on birth, it is more centred on the doctrines of the society.

Small Island- Queenie…a queen in the making.

Life is uncertain and most tend to escape their nightmares. Queenie is no different. Her worse nightmare: to live in the farm,making porc pies.

Queenie Bligh, née Buxton, is a friendly British woman. She has no qualms at being friends with a non-white. She is neither judgemental nor callous in her approach. In fact Queenie knows her own weaknesses and lives combatting the repercussions of these on her. There have been many landmarks in Queenie’s life. She

  • has been named Queenie, after the Queen.
  • as a child, has visited the Exhibition of the British Empire and been fazed by the aptitudes of those considered as lower than and below a white.
  • is uneducated and has been condemned by her dominating father to carry this social scar.
  • runs away from farmlife and accepts a job in her Aunt Dorothy’s shop as a means of survival. This survival is vital as she knows that this job will give her the desired escape from the muddy and piggy overtones of farmlife.
  • sees marriage as a solution to never return to the farm. Yet marriage is also a shackle and Bernard Bligh is not her prince charming.
  • accepts Bernard Bligh with his handicap- his mentally disturbed father Arthur.
  • handles the house, Arthur and herself after Bernard leaves for the war. The strength of her character and the way she pursues her duties are both laudable and admirable. She knows how to deal with Arthur who gets lost most of the times.
  • befriends Gilbert Joseph, who reminds her of someone(he left her in a lurch) and who is a black. She appreciates the lightheartedness, helpfulness and gallantry of Gilbert. The latter always respects Queenie and does not at any point betray her trust.
  • keeps the non-whites as her tenants,much to the disapprobation of her neighbours. They accuse her of staining the pristine reputation of the ‘white’ neighbourhood. Yet, she ignores them. Her husband has disappeared and she needs to run the house. Moreover,now she is alone as Arthur as well is dead. Queenie reacts as an independent woman and abides by what she thinks does good to and for her.
  • has an affair with Micheal Roberts,out of which a bi-racial baby is born. The baby is adopted by the Josephs (Gilbert and Hortense) whom she trusts implicitly. The baby is both her shame yet symbol of loving joy she experiences once in her life with Micheal.With the latter,her moments have neither been calculating nor unemotional.
  • bears herself with dignity,accepting each hurdle of life.
  • lives like a queen in her palace(her house on Nevern Street) and tending as well as protecting it with all her might. The house is her independence and resistance to going back to the farm,which has always offered bleak options to Queenie. The farm is the realm of her father- a butcher- who butchers Queenie’s aspirations with his chauvinistic mindset.

Unable to live in the farm, Queenie prefers her lonesome life in London.At least she is not suffocated by the stagnancy of daily life, being surrounded by pigs and pies. Yet, she suffers as Bernard turns out to be burdensomely boring. Queenie grows day by day into a woman who strengthens herself and her morale as she faces each hurdle.

Yet she gives in to Bernard’s demand of moving out to a more acceptable suburb. Her black tenants,also depicted as her aides and friends,prick Bernard,the snob. Queenie does not go against her husband,though she disapproves of his attitude. Giving up her baby (black and born out of an affair with a Jamaican) is the cross she will carry.

Queenie is truly a queen at heart as she fends for herself diligently. Levy showcases a woman advocating the significance of life,rather than society. Though uneducated, Queenie teaches to the priggish Hortense the worth of feelings and the comfort of accepting those tormenting feelings.

Small Island by Andrea Levy – a glimpse of Hortense

A small islander suffers as he loses his own identity,trying to chase dreams and ambitions, motivated by a dreamy and étiquettes-laced force. Levy portrays such agonies in Hortense.

Who is Hortense?

  1. A love child, (born out of wedlock) who is given to be adopted by her mother into a family that thrives on orthodox education and abides by biblical discipline. Her father Lovell Roberts is a powerful and respected governmental officer whereas her mother Alberta is a maid. Her father shuns her though he ensures that she is given a education, through his cold and antagonistic cousins Philips and Martha Roberts.
  2. A grand-daughter who is adored by her grandmother (Alberta’s mother) but Hortense overlooks it. Actually she does not even remember her mother Alberta because the latter is a shame to her. She feels that Alberta will have given her ‘bare black skipping feet over stones’.
  3. A naive girl who feels that success and recognition comes from academic supremacy and étiquettes. She has been raised by the Roberts who see the world as such. They esteem that the social worth and respectability attained by a person is more important than emotions and ethics.
  4. A lost girl who weighs relationships on the scale of how much she may gain; who does not know the essence of being a friend, daughter, sister, lover nor wife ;and finds herself lonely most of the time.
  5. A child who grows into a strayed woman. She confuses relationships. Though she grows as a sister figure for Micheal Roberts, Hortense falls in love with him, so much that she remains obssessed with finding him, after the latter’s disappearance during military service.
  6. A ungrateful friend who shows least consideration for friendship. She does not blink before betraying Celia -her mentor and only friend- to marry the man Celia loves.
  7. A wannabe teacher who expects her students to be well-mannered and when she is unable to discipline them, she accuses her pupils’ background.
  8. An ambitious Jamaican who sees England as her veritable homeland.
  9. A black woman who negates her origins because she is the daughter of Lovell Roberts, a light-skinned bureaucrat,who is respected. She flaunts her light-skinned complexion whenever she can, more than often elevating herself over others.
  10. An egoistic woman for whom emotions must be only for those who match her standards. She constantly judges all those she meets: Celia- her mother; Gilberts – his uncouth behaviour; her pupils -their background;Mrs Riders- her Americanness;Queenie- the state of her house ;and her grandmother- for being a servant.

Hortense goes through a whole transition when she reaches England. Though she has been alone all her life, she lives her experiences with a pinch of salt as she truly believes that she is made for grander lifestyle. Her hold on manners and high nose force her to believe that she will be easily accepted by the respectable British. She forgets her birth and skin colour.

Gilbert Joseph gives her a breather in life, brightening her future with hope and scope in England. Yet, she launches the idea of them getting married only for:

  1. Gilbert will help her find accomodation in London,as he knows the city and its ways.
  2. It is proper for woman to get married and then travel alone. A single woman travelling abroad alone is seen as indecorous.

Hortense builds a fortress of expectations around her. To be at peace and eventually make a home for herself, she has to eschew the mannerisms and education of the Roberts. Her conception of

  1. her father
  2. proper society
  3. proper education
  4. qualities of a husband
  5. reputation

must be diffused, then she will assimilate the realities of life and the people around her. She will moreover find herself and actually enjoy her dreamlife.