“Romeo’s Conversation with Benvolio”, I.I.154-233


In Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare


Romeo confides in Benvolio, and in doing so, the reader realizes the emphasis Romeo places on love and relationships. It serves as an example of Romeo’s instability during relationships. The conversation exchanged between Romeo and Benvolio in the given passage is useful in revealing many aspects of Romeo’s character showing his priorities, and foreshadows his future in love.


Romeo admits to Benvolio he is desperately in love with a woman, later known to be Rosaline, and he is depressed that she does not return his love. Romeo states “Sad hours seem so long; Not having that which, having, makes them short.” (pg. 34, Shakespeare) He wishes that he had someone to love in his life and is hopeless in finding one who will love him back. His life will not be complete enough to move on in life unless fulfilled by love. Romeo states “This love feel I that feel no love in this.” (pg. 36, Shakespeare) He is disheartened that he loves Rosaline yet she does not return his feelings. He grieves and explains to Benvolio how he loves her and it seems that he needs love in his life to stay content. Romeo being in love with a woman who does not feel the same shows how he is depressed and how he has strong priorities about relationships.


Romeo reveals various facets of his character through his immature love with Rosaline with his strong feelings and longing to be in a secure relationship. As he says when talking about his love for Rosaline, “Feather of led, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health.” (pg. 36, Shakespeare) Romeo appears to be ready to love someone and be in a relationship, yet he does not truly love Rosaline. He is in a desirous love, and will love anyone who is beautiful and willing to love him. Romeo states “He who is strucken blind cannot the precious treasure of his eyesight lost” (pg. 40, Shakespeare) when he is referring to Benvolio’s advice of forgetting Rosaline. This depicts that Romeo is interested in her looks, therefore only wanting to be with her because she is beautiful. He does not understand the value of true love, unless it falls upon, like it will later in the play when he meets Juliet. Throughout the play, his perception may change during his love with Juliet, because it is so pure and simplistic, the origins of his love will not matter.


Certain character traits of Romeo’s love work against him, causing his fateful death, by his longing of true, mature love. Romeo states “Bid a sick man in sadness make his will?” (pg.38, Shakespeare) He dwells on the fact that she does not love him back, and therefore he can not look at his future. This prevents him from looking at other women and causes him severe sadness in the meantime. “She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow do I live dead, that live to tell it now”. (pg. 38, Shakespeare) Romeo feels he is dead without him loving a woman, and that love not being returned. This desperate outlook causes him much sadness and ‘internal death’ until he achieves love in his life. He is so hopeless in finding true love that he grieves on the one he cannot have causing him much distress.