Act 1 Case Study Notes

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Act 1 Case Study Notes

Romeo Montague displays characteristics of an individual affected by bipolar disorder, as is evident in his period of sadness after Rosaline's rejection, followed by elation upon seeing Juliet's beauty. This dramatic contrast between two moods is proof of his phases of mania and depression, a symptom of bipolar disorder. His depression has been observed by others, as Lady Montague states: “Many a morning hath he there been seen, /with tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew, /adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs. /but all so soon as the all-cheering sun/should in the farthest east begin to draw/the shady curtains from Aurora’s bed, /away from light steals home my heavy son” (Shakespeare 1.1.134-140). Lady Montague’s statement has a somber, concerned tone, emphasized with words such as “tears”, “clouds”, “sighs”, “shady”, and “heavy”. It can be noted that Romeo is upset, since he is crying and sighing. Lady Capulet uses a simile, where she compares Romeo to night. When morning comes, the darkness of night is expelled, and from the simile, the dew is like the tears of the dark, and the clouds are the sighs of night. However, night and day can never meet, which is why Romeo goes home, without leaving his state of depression. This simile further illustrates Romeo’s melancholy state of mind that appears to be persistent. Later, Romeo’s mania phase occurs in the presence of Juliet. His judgement seems impaired and his self-esteem elevated, because he quickly moves to take her hand and seduces her, without having a conversation beforehand. He speaks quickly too, always having a reply in mind for each of Juliet’s statements. This increased energy is a sign of Romeo entering the mania stage. In Romeo’s depression episode, he demonstrates feelings that life has no meaning to him, but then transitions into an episode of mania, where he acts impulsively, providing symptoms that lead one to conclude that Romeo is a patient of rapid cycling bipolar disease.

Romeo Montague

Act 1 Case Study

Juliet Capulet displays signs of detachment towards her parents and caretakers, rendering her a patient of Reactive Detachment Disorder. Juliet’s mother was away for much of the time that Juliet was growing up, leaving her with only a nurse that she relied on throughout her childhood. However, as she grew older, it can be seen that Juliet’s bond with the nurse is not very strong either, though the nurse enjoys retelling stories of Juliet’s childhood. When the nurse goes into one such story that seemed to embarrass her, Juliet begs her to stop. This allows insight into Juliet’s opinion of her childhood, which is largely negative. Juliet cutting her nurse off is an example her not responding reciprocally to the nurse’s fondness, which a symptom of Reactive Detachment Disorder. Additionally, when asked about her take on marriage, Juliet does not express her emotions freely and is rather reserved. She says of Paris, “I’ll look to like if looking liking move. / But no more deep will I endart mine eye / Than your consent gives strength to make it fly”’ (Shakespeare 1.4.103-105). She keeps herself from expressly stating her opinion of Paris, making it appear that she often manages her own emotions, yet another symptom of Reactive Detachment Disorder. Her reticent tone shows she is not in complete agreement with her mother, but it is not provocative, either. By restraining her emotions, Juliet displays filial obedience, as she is expected to. However, this obedience and submission often causes a distance between parent and child that modern readers would find strange, but was typical in the Elizabethan Era. Thus, Juliet is can be diagnosed with Reactive Detachment Disorder due to her distanced compliancy, lack of reaction to comfort provided by her caretaker, and attempts to manager her emotions independently.

Juliet Capulet

Tybalt is greatly affected with Conduct Disorder, seen through his violent actions, disregard for the rights of others, and his willingness to fight. Tybalt is always ready to fight, even when he has just encountered the Montagues in the middle of the street. His blatant cruelty is an important symptom of his condition. Additionally, when Benvolio arrives, Tybalt refuses his offer of peace and says, “What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word,/ As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee/ Have at thee, coward” (Shakespeare 1.1.71-73). Tybalt speaks with provocative language, initiating the fight and saying that he hates peace, hell, and the Montagues. By grouping these three items together, Tybalt illustrates his character as a violent, destructive figure. He fights with no regard of the chaos and unrest he causes in the neighborhood, until the prince intercedes and puts it to a stop. This is not the only time that Tybalt provides evidence of threatening, intimidating, and provoking others. During the party at the Capulet’s, Tybalt wants to start a fight, even in the presence of women and other spectators. Even in the Elizabethan Era, this would not be condoned, showing that Tybalt is rude and disrespectful of others. This time, the head of the Capulets stops him before he can cause harm. This is evidence that Tybalt would be unable to restrain himself on his own. His constant bullying, initiation of fights, and use of weapons are all symptoms of Tybalt’s Conduct Disorder. This persistent pattern of disruptive behavior and violations of societal norms are symptoms that can be used to diagnose Tybalt with Conduct Disorder.


Mercutio’s peculiar beliefs and lack of relationships with others lead one to diagnose him with Schizotypal Personality Disorder. He speaks and acts in a way that is strange to those observing him and has “magical thinking”, such as his belief in Queen Mab. He uses elaborate and bombastic language when describing the miniscule Queen Mab, without letting others interrupt him. This odd, overelaborate speech is a symptom of Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Additionally, Mercutio says, “If love be rough with you, be rough with love./ Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down—“ (Shakespeare 1.4.27-28). Depicted here is his preference to physical love due to his inability to socialize and be patient, further arguing the case of his condition. Mercutio exhibits symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder, such as strangeness in cognitive processes and perception, use of unordinary language, and lack of close relationships, providing evidence that he has Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

What Is It Like to Have Bipolar Disorder?




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