- Romeo kills Paris when he tries to stop him entering the tomb.
- To be with Juliet again, Romeo drinks the potion and dies.
- When the Friar arrives, Juliet wakes up. He tries to hustle her away, but she is determined to stay by Romeo and the Friar flees. Taking Romeo’s dagger, Juliet kills herself.
- The Prince, the Capulets and the Montagues find their children and Paris dead.
- The Friar explains what has happened and the two fathers make peace.
This scene can be compared to a number of the poems we have studied: Remember, Funeral Blues and Sonnet 18.
Particularly focusing on Romeo’s soliloquy, we could focus on Shakespeare’s repetition of the word ‘death’. Shakespeare’s use of the double suicide and focus on the word ‘death’ to represent the fulfilment of Romeo and Juliet’s love for each other – their love shall live on even in death. The use of ‘kiss’ is also significant – Romeo makes reference to it, as does Juliet when she tried to kill herself. Shakespeare’s use of this ‘symbol’ of love starts their relationship in Act 1 Scene 5 but also ends in – consider what Shakespeare could be suggesting about love. Here you can make reference to how suicide was viewed in Shakespeare’s time. Shakespeare uses his plays to penetrate the stigma of suicide – a stigma that we could argue still exists to this day. Several of his most notable characters died by their own hand – this would have been viewed as shameful or disgraceful. By using the characters of Romeo and Juliet, could Shakespeare be suggesting positives as with their deaths comes a truce and an end to bloodshed.
Similarly Remember by Christina Rossetti focuses on death and has a particularly morbid tone. Rossetti’s repetition of ‘remember’ suggesting that the love between the speaker and the unnamed lover lacks depth therefore unlike the characters in the play – the characters in the poem’s love isn’t strong enough to survive death.
In Funeral Blues, W.H. Auden could also be suggesting that with death comes an end to love. ‘For nothing now can ever come to any good.’ The use of time is significant in the Auden’s poem and can be linked to Romeo and Juliet – Early in the play, Romeo is painfully aware of the passage of time as he pines for Rosaline: “sad hours seem longer”.
Comparing Romeo and Juliet to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 we can focus on light as a symbol. Shakespeare is suggesting that Juliet’s beauty cannot be taken by death – ‘her beauty makes/This vault a feasting presence full of light.’ She shall forever remain beautiful to Romeo. Remember the numerous other references to light:
- “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!” (1.4.46)
- “It is the east and Juliet is the sun!” (2.2.3)
- “The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars/As daylight doth a lamp” (2.2.20-1)
The lightness of love disguises the darkness of night – think about their relationship and the need to hide their love. Romeo and Juliet can only declare their love for each other at night when they are hidden from everyone else. Link this to the 1600s and family loyalty, arranged marriages and the problems love causes. In Sonnet 18 light could also be seen as symbolic for the speaker’s love for his beloved. ‘The eye of heaven shines’ – the poet’s speaks about saving beauty by ensuring that his friend be forever in human memory, saved from the oblivion that accompanies death. The use of the metaphor “eye of heaven” can be linked to the use of “sun” in the play – consider why this is important given what we know about the 1600s. Also consider the significance of “heaven”.
Further links to help you: