Despite the fact that Romeo and Juliet only knew each other for three days and their lives and love could not have come full circle in years, it is clear to readers that they develop and mature throughout the play. As their death grows near, Romeo and Juliet’s relationship begins to develop in the sense that they think alike. They both have suicidal thoughts, “tell me, that I may sack the hateful mansion,” and use violent animal imagery; Juliet begs to be chained with “roaring bears” rather than marry Paris and Romeo compares his “savage-wild intents”, “I will rip thee joint by joint,” to “empty tigers” and the “roaring sea.” Romeo’s description of the tigers as “empty” links to the “hungry graveyard” and “detestable maw”. Through the imagery of being eaten, “I’ll cram thee with more food,” it is revealed that Romeo feels his love is overwhelming and consuming him, showing a complete lack of power. Tragically, the only way for Romeo to truly have power is to take his own life. The dark images this creates disconcert readers and highlights Romeo’s journey from a peaceful, love struck teenager, “did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight,” to a desperate and love consumed lover who has killed and will kill himself; his character has come full circle. Like Romeo, Juliet comes full circle as she begins and ends the play as “true and faithful”, first to her family and then, to Romeo, “to live an unstain’d wife to my true love.” They also come full circle physically and mentally. Juliet leaves her family to be with him (she has to feign death to do this, highlighting her dysfunctional family relationship) and Romeo complains of “world-weary flesh” and addresses Paris, several years his senior, as “good gentle youth” and “boy”, showing he has aged. Their relationship also comes full circle as they meet, fall in love, marry and die together. Furthermore, they had a proper marriage in that they consummated it again and made a home in their grave; Romeo “came to this vault to die and lie with Juliet.” As Romeo climbs into the vault, he says to Juliet, “with worms that are thy chambermaids; O here shall I set up my everlasting rest.” The noun “chambermaids”, from the semantic field of domesticity, links the themes of marriage and death, “my grave is like to be my wedding bed.” They were denied the chance to make a home in life, by fate and so did in death, proving their love. The Prince puns on the verb “lie” in the extract, “die and lie with Juliet,” meaning Romeo physically lying next to her and also having sexual intercourse with her in the sense that they killed themselves with a dagger, a phallic symbol, and a vial of poison, alluding to a female’s shape, and died with a “kiss”, “thus with a kiss I die.” They died as husband and wife, making the tragedy more acute for readers as they realise that Romeo and Juliet’s love was so strong that it couldn’t survive in the real world, but thrive and flourish in their own private world, the welcoming night, “come, come civil night,” and be nurtured in the eternal darkness of the tomb, the “womb of death.” For in death, their love has life, the light in the dark. Romeo and Juliet’s literal “jointure”, joining, rather than the wife’s settlement in marriage, “this is my daughter’s jointure,” comes full circle in that they overcome their restrictions: society, their families and the feud. In the play, they keep to themselves, in their bubble of love. When they met, other characters spoke violently around them, “fetch me my rapier, boy,” and Juliet kills herself just as she hears the Watchman, who perhaps symbolises society and the “civil” world, approaching. They overcome their restrictions by dying “in their triumph” as the Friar predicted. They escaped their feuding families and unaccepting society and immortalised their love in “everlasting rest”, symbolised by the golden statues erected in their honour. The adjective “everlasting”, like a circle, gives readers the impression of deathless, undying love, explaining why Romeo and Juliet’s story of “woe” is still told today; “go hence to have more talk of these sad things.” The idea of events coming full circle should be unsurprising, since this is a Shakespearean tragedy. Indeed, the phrase itself is used in his later work, King Lear. Edmund is mortally wounded by his half-brother, Edgar, and says, “the wheel is come full circle. I am here.” The wheel he refers to is the wheel of fortune, fate, which is one of the key things that come full circle in Romeo and Juliet. From the prologue, readers know that Romeo and Juliet will die to end their parents’ feud, so it is fitting that just after they die, the families “bury their strife”, “O brother Montague, give me thy hand,” tragically too late for them to save their children. “O brother Montague, give me thy hand” is an appropriate completion of events considering the fight at the start of the play, “turn thee Benvolio, look upon thy death,” and it marries the families symbolically after Romeo and Juliet’s death. The cruel irony in this is that their tragic death could have been averted if only Lord Capulet had said this in time to give away his daughter’s “hand” in marriage to Romeo days before.
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