Romeo sees Juliet and forgets Rosaline entirely; Juliet meets Romeo and falls just as deeply in love. The meeting of Romeo and Juliet dominates the scene, and, with extraordinary language that captures both the excitement and wonder that the two protagonists feel, Shakespeare proves equal to the expectations he has set up by delaying the meeting for an entire act.
The first conversation between Romeo and Juliet is an extended Christian metaphor. Using this metaphor, Romeo ingeniously manages to convince Juliet to let him kiss her. But the metaphor holds many further functions. The religious overtones of the conversation clearly imply that their love can be described only through the vocabulary of religion, that pure association with God. In this way, their love becomes associated with the purity and passion of the divine. But there is another side to this association of personal love and religion. In using religious language to describe their burgeoning feelings for each other, Romeo and Juliet tiptoe on the edge of blasphemy. Romeo compares Juliet to an image of a saint that should be revered, a role that Juliet is willing to play. Whereas the Catholic church held that reverence for saint’s images was acceptable, the Anglican church of Elizabethan times saw it as blasphemy, a kind of idol worship. Romeo’s statements about Juliet border on the heretical. Juliet commits an even more profound blasphemy in the next scene when she calls Romeo the “god of her idolatry,” effectively installing Romeo in God’s place in her personal religion (2.1.156). We have discussed already how Romeo and Juliet’s love seems always to be opposed by the social structures of family, honor, and the civil desire for order. Here it is also shown to have some conflict, at least theologically, with religion.
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