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Critical Lens Romeo and Juliet

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Writing critic Duff Brenna once said, "All Literature shows us the power of emotion. It is emotion not reason that motivates characters in literature." She is saying that characters are driven to act in the moment by emotions. Emotions overcome them and they act before thinking the situation through. Whether it's love, hate, anger or revenge that motivates characters, they act before considering the consequences of their actions. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, Lord Capulet is furious at Juliet for challenging his authority and refusing to marry County Paris, which ultimately leads him to lash out and scream at her. Another example is in The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne, when Roger Chillingworth makes Arthur Dimmesdale feel ashamed for not confessing his sin, out of a feeling of hatred towards him and a desire for revenge. In both Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter Lord Capulet and Roger Chillingworth are motivated by their emotions to act without thinking about the consequences.

In Romeo and Juliet, Lord Capulet, Juliet's father is a character whose anger causes him to act harshly towards his daughter without thinking through the possible outcomes. In this scene, Lord Capulet is outraged when his daughter Juliet tells him that she will not partake in her arranged marriage to County Paris. He is overcome with anger because children are not supposed to disobey their parents in such a manner, and Juliet had never done anything like this before. Shakespeare uses this scene to help paint an image of the strict social code in medieval Italy, and to show how the change is disrupting the balance of power between father and daughter. It is clear that Shakespeare characterizes Lord Capulet as an out spoken, quick tempered individual who had no patience for disobedience when Lord Capulet says, "Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!" to Juliet. He continues to say, "... get thee to church a Thursday or never after look me in the face." He is telling Juliet that she will wed Paris on Thursday or to never look Lord Capulet in the face again. He is illustrating his anger with her and her refusal to do as he says by giving her an ultimatum. This shows how Lord Capulet's words are spoken from rage, before they were thought through. Lord Capulet would be extremely sad if he disowns and never looked his beautiful and only daughter in the face again. He spoke in the moment and was motivated by his anger when he said such harsh things to his child. William Shakespeare characterizes Lord Capulet in such a way to show how quick tempered he was and how he lashed out at Juliet before thinking the situation through. He tells Juliet, "An you be not, hang beg, starve, die in the streets, for, by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee." Lord Capulet tells Juliet that if she does not do what he says and marry County Paris, that he will not even acknowledge her existence. He says that she could die in the streets and that he wouldn't even care. This is an excellent example of how Lord Capulet is speaking out of anger towards his daughter because a parent as loving as he, would never wish death upon their child. He is simply infuriated that she dare disobey him and therefore is saying such harsh things to his young daughter. Overall, Lord Capulet is a caring father who only wanted the best for Juliet but his anger at her disobedience caused him to scream at her and say hurtful things. He speaks without thinking and says very unkind things to her, even though he may not mean them. Lord Capulet is a character who is motivated to act based on emotions rather than reason.

In The Scarlet Letter, Roger Chillingworth is a character whose desire for revenge and anger cause him to act deviously towards Arthur Dimmesdale in hopes of making him confess his sin. Chillingworth is characterized as a loyal kind scholarly man who is also a doctor. However, when he spends more and more time with Dimmesdale trying to get him to confess his sin he turns into a scary man with a crazed and obsessed look in his eye. This shows how Chillingworth's obsession has caused him to change from his normal self into a frightening creature fueled by desire for revenge. In this scene Dimmesdale and Chillingworth are discussing sins and the burden of hidden sin. Chillingworth keeps hinting at Dimmesdale to confess anything if need be. Chillingworth is frustrated because he wants Dimmesdale to come clean and get publicly convicted of his sin. He says to Dimmesdale, "Who, be her demerits what they may, hath none of the mystery of hidden sinfulness which



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