Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Song Analysis

fan zhang. September 2013. "Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 5, Wedding". http://www.wsd2013.com/wp-content/uploads/gravity_forms/3-799e347713bcded6eb29273b86d688c6/2013/03/wedding-scene.jpg. May 6, 2015.

Zhang, Fan. September 2013. “Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 5, Wedding Scene”. Online Image. http://www.wsd2013.com/wp-content/uploads/gravity_forms/3-799e347713bcded6eb29273b86d688c6/2013/03/wedding-scene.jpg. May 6, 2015.

Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet is the happiest act in the play. This act only focuses on the love that Romeo and Juliet have for each other as there are no aspects of tragedy in this act, unlike the later acts of the play. The act includes the famous balcony scene that allow Romeo and Juliet to express their true love to each other which makes them decide to get married together, against their parents wishes.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid since she is envious.
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off.
It is my lady. O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
(2.2.2-11)

In the later scenes, Romeo meets with Friar Lawrence to discuss the wedding between Romeo and Juliet. At the end of the discussion, Friar Lawrence agrees to marry them together the next day. Romeo and Juliet meet the next day with Friar Lawrence and leave a married couple.

O, she knew well
Thy love did read by rote, that could not spell.
But come, young waverer, come, go with me.
In one respect I’ll thy assistant be,
For this alliance may so happy prove
To turn your households’ rancor to pure love.
(2.3.94-99)

 

This summarizes Act 2 fairly well. Now let’s compare two modern-day songs, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift and “Closer” by Ne-Yo, to it to see which is a better representation of Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet.

Love Story

To start off, let’s compare “Love Story”, by Taylor Swift. The song clearly has elements inspired by Romeo and Juliet since the song lyrics clearly reference Romeo and Juliet and many of the scenes from the play, which seem to be mostly sung in a first-person perspective by Juliet then changing to Romeo’s perspective for a couple lines. On another note, the music video is mostly of a teenage girl’s imagination of a ball where everyone is wearing cloths that have an Elizabethan resemblance, such as Romeo and Juliet, changing into falling in love with another boy.

The lyrics[1] have an unnoticeable connection to Romeo and Juliet:

See the lights, see the party, the ball gowns
See you make your way through the crowd
And say hello

Little did I know
That you were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles
And my daddy said, “Stay away from Juliet”
And I was crying on the staircase
Begging you, please, don’t go

This first verse is most likely a reference to the ball at the Capulet House in Act 1. The music video also provides clips of a ball where many people are dancing together, similar to the dance at the ball in Act 1 where many people were also dancing together, such as Juliet. The second verse does not have a reference to the play itself but includes the names of Romeo and Juliet which shows that there was indeed a bit of influence from the play in this song.

So I sneak out to the garden to see you
We keep quiet ’cause we’re dead if they knew
So close your eyes, escape this town for a little while

The first line in this verse is most likely a reference to the balcony scene in Act 2, Scene 1 which takes place at the garden in the back of the Capulet House, which is a dangerous place for Romeo as he could killed if he was found, similar to the second line.The last line could be a reference to a later incident in the play, when Romeo is banished from Verona for killing Tybalt, but it’s most likely not.

“How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my kinsmen find thee here.”
(2.2.67-70)
Another reference to Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet was in the last verse of the song:

He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said
“Marry me, Juliet, you’ll never have to be alone
I love you and that’s all I really know
I talked to your dad, go pick out a white dress
It’s a love story, baby just say yes”

This verse is referencing Romeo and Juliet deciding to marry each other in the play. Romeo doesn’t actually kneel and pull out a ring, but that is how modern-day engagements work. The last 4 lines are said from Romeo’s perspective so it is most likely a connection to the letter that Romeo gives the Nurse to send to Juliet about their wedding the day before.

Now that we have compared Act 2 to “Love Story”, by Taylor Swift. Let’s compare it to “Closer”, by Ne-Yo.

Closer

The music video is very bland with no setting or meaning at all. It begins with the artist, Ne-Yo, pushing a motorcycle which has no meaning at all to the song and is forgotten about later in the video. Also, most of the music video is just a white or black background and a couple flashing lights with the artist and some other woman standing in front of it, with people dancing around them. Furthermore, there are few instances in the video where the lyrics are shown in the video which try to emphasize the lyrics as they are sung, but they fail to do so. Onto the lyrics, most of it has no similarity to the actual play, Romeo and Juliet. Most of it is repeated multiple times such as the chorus:

“Oh I just can’t pull myself away
Under her spell I can’t break
I just can’t stop
I just can’t stop
I just can’t stop
I just can’t stop
And I just can’t break myself no way
But I don’t want to escape
I just can’t stop
I just can’t stop
I just can’t stop
I just can’t stop
I just can’t stop”

This chorus is about 80% of the song. It pretty much talks about how much “he” can’t stop being with “her”. This could be a connection to the feelings that Romeo has for Juliet, where he “can’t pull himself away.” Most of the lyrics are also more sexual rather than romantic, such as:

“I can feel her on my skin
I can taste her on my tongue
She’s the sweetest taste of sin
The more I get the more I want”

And

“Telling me
That she wants to own me
To control me”

The video adds upon these lyrics with sexual imagery in this relationship. This makes it seem that the woman in the video/relationship “owns” him and “controls” him, which is completely opposite to the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, where neither of them control the other.

Conclusion

To conclude, “Love Story”, by Taylor Swift, includes several direct connections to Romeo and Juliet and understands the love that Romeo and Juliet have through the use of imagery in the song and video. On the other hand, “Closer”, by Ne-Yo, discusses sexual and possessive traits in a relationship which are not in the relationship between Romeo and Juliet. This is why I believe that Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” provides a better representation of Act 2 in Romeo and Juliet.

References

[1] “Love Story Lyrics.” Lyricsfreak.com. Web. 6 May 2015. <http://www.lyricsfreak.com/t/taylor+swift/love+story_20757542.html>.

[2] “Closer Lyrics.” Lyricsfreak.com. Web. 6 May 2015. <http://www.lyricsfreak.com/n/ne+yo/closer_20740842.html>.