Characters are an integral element of a play. They are known to be dramatis personae. In addition to making a theatrical play vibrant, characters play a significant role in sustaining the momentum of a r drama. Various major and minor characters featured in the Shakespearean romantic tragedy entitled, “Romeo and Juliet”, effectively dramatize its multiple thematic concerns.
The inevitability of fate, the agony and innumerable challenges faced by the two lovers, insurmountable resistance from their respective families, and unchecked passion resulting in several violent deaths and suicides are some of the prevalent themes in “Romeo and Juliet.” The main vehicle for conveying these themes have been the characters’ dialogues and actions. Get to know some of the most prominent characters of this timeless tragedy:
Important Characters in Romeo and Juliet
It is an undeniable fact that in mainstream culture, Romeo’s name is synonymous to a young, passionate lover who is willing to risk anything for the sake of his beloved. Most of the action in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” revolves around the tragic protagonist named Romeo Montague.
Portrayed as a sensitive, witty and intelligent individual, Romeo’s tragic flaw is that his passion, at times, contributes to violent outbursts. Two of these outbursts result in the untimely and tragic deaths of Tybalt and Paris. However, Romeo’s authentic love for Juliet is his redeeming grace.
Aside from Romeo, Juliet Capulet is the most significant character of the romantic tragedy. Initially portrayed as a naïve, impressionable young girl, Juliet undergoes considerable evolution during the course of the play. In many ways, the depth of her love for Romeo, contributes to her newfound maturity and insight.
The most endearing trait in Juliet’s character is her fierce determination and unwavering loyalty to Romeo. Her determination is evident from the fact that despite her family’s insistent resistance, she pursues a secret courtship with Romeo and ultimately marries him.
He is introduced as Juliet’s cousin at the Capulet’s ball. Tybalt is a young, temperamental man with aggressive tendencies. He harbors prejudice and is not very rational in terms of decision making. The fact that Tybalt threatens Romeo at the ball merely because the latter is a Montague, highlights Tybalt’s lack of tolerance and unfounded hatred for the Montague clan.
Tybalt is an expert swordsman even if he has character flaws. Instead of making good use of his swordsmanship, Tybalt uses it senselessly to assassinate Mercutio during a street brawl. Due to his overwhelmingly vengeful nature, Tybalt’s character does not elicit any sympathy from the audience.
Benvolio is the only character who contributes to some semblance of peace and stability. He is Romeo’s cousin but he manifests none of the latter’s unbridled passion and impulsive tendencies.
Benvolio’s role as a mediator becomes evident in the famous street-brawl scene where he tries his best to desist Tybalt, Mercutio and Romeo from attacking and killing one another. Aside from being a well-intentioned voice of reason, Benvolio also consoles Romeo after he feels betrayed by Rosaline’s indifference.
Wit, charisma and courage are some of the hallmarks of Mercutio’s character. He is regarded as one of the most intriguing characters of the play. Romeo’s trusted friend and loyal cousin is him. In many ways, Mercutio serves as a foil to Romeo.
Mercutio’s pragmatic wisdom and his skeptical attitude toward romantic contrast with the idealistic and romantic view of love worshipped by Romeo. Mercutio’s tragic flaw is that he exhibits the characteristic Montague anger. This leads to his senseless brawl with Tybalt. As a result, this brawl ultimately costs Mercutio his life.
Lord Capulet is Juliet’s father. He is not portrayed as a domineering character in the play. However, Lord Capulet’s patriarchal inclinations become evident during his angry outburst over Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris. Lord Capulet’s traditional role as a patriarch is clear from the fact that he does not share a close bond with his daughter.
Juliet is not comfortable with confiding anything to her father. Lord Capulet shows irrational anger. This is evident from the first scene wherein he blames Lord Montague for the pointless feud between the servants. In the next scenes, Lord Capulet’s baseless assumption is proved wrong.
Juliet’s nurse is an essential character of the play. She serves as Juliet’s confidante and accomplice amidst Juliet’s various courtship episodes with Romeo. The nurse is the first individual to whom Juliet professes her love for Romeo.
The nurse assists the two young lovers during the famous balcony scene and later serves as a witness to their secret wedding ceremony, she disapproves of the young lover’s union. This is more prevalent after Romeo is exiled for assassinating Tybalt. The nurse’s love for Juliet is beyond reproach. However, the nurse lacks power in the Capulet household in decision-making matters and is helpless in terms of helping Juliet.
Friar Lawrence is the only character who gives his blessings to the young star-crossed lovers during their wedding ceremony. The friar’s main incentive in ordaining Romeo and Juliet’s marriage is to end the strife between the Capulets and the Montagues.
He offers seasoned pieces of advice to both lovers throughout the play. Friar Lawrence plays a pivotal role for reuniting the lovers. He did this by urging Juliet to drink the sleeping potion so that she may appear dead and later join Romeo on his return. Unfortunately, Friar Lawrence’s plan does not meet the desired outcome. Instead of uniting the two lovers in their lifetime, it tragically ends up uniting them in the hereafter.
Lord Montague is Romeo’s father and a significant member of the Montague household. He does not speak much in the play but he is one of the play’s central’s figures. Characters speak out his name throughout the play.
Lord Montague is the one who is the most affected by tragedy towards the end. He loses both his wife, Lady Montague, and his son, Romeo. Even more, Lord Montague’s decision to build a golden statue in honour of the deceased Juliet highlights the sympathetic aspect of his character.
Count Paris is an admirer of Juliet and wishes to marry her. Above all, Paris’ calculated, well-thought- out dialogues and his admission of love for Juliet lack the passionate intensity and urgency of Romeo’s authentic love.
Although Paris does care for Juliet, he exhibits a certain degree of ownership and possessiveness toward her and refers her as his lady and wife without paying any heed to Juliet’s obvious display emotions at the prospect of getting married to him. Moreover, the egoistic aspect of his love is evident from the fact that Juliet finds it extremely stifling.