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Discuss the various ideas of love in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

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Introduction

Daniel Roll´┐Ż Discuss the various ideas of love in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. There are many ideas of love expressed in Romeo and Juliet, and each of them shown through a different character. The plays enduring popularity stems from the fact that its main theme is love and the different variations can help the reader to relate to the play in some way. The first kind of love addressed in Romeo and Juliet is Petrarchan, or Courtly love, a stylised, conventional view of love, as shown by our first meeting with Romeo. Petrarch was an Italian poet who lived in the fifteenth century, and perfected was originally known as a sonnet, or a fourteen-line love poem. Shakespeare uses this type of poem in Romeo and Juliet, especially when Romeo is referring to Rosaline. Romeo is bound to Rosaline, his non-existent love interest and he shows all the Petrarchan-style emotions, such as a dreamy look upon his face and a melancholy demeanour. Benvolio tells of Romeos early morning walks where he consolidates his misery. He conveys his state of mind with such oxymorons as brawling love, and loving hate as well as heavy lightness and serious vanity. This shows how he is almost fighting against himself to control his mad passion for Rosaline. Romeo admires Rosaline not only for who she is, but also as an object of desire, which could include a sexual lust for her. ...read more.

Middle

Faced with this added complication it is not surprising that Juliet chooses death over life, O happy dagger...let me die. (Act V Scene III, line 169-71) The bawdy world of sex is very much a part of life on the streets of Verona and in private conversations of the Capulets. Against this is placed the unrivalled sexual 'awakening' of the inexperienced Romeo and Juliet- a relationship shrouded in innocence and intensity. Romeo and Juliet's relationship represents the third type of love: True love. True love could be defined as being 'in love with love.' As the critic, Jill Houghton puts it; this suggests being in love with a notion or concept rather than with a person with a person. She goes on to add that a more modern interpretation would see true love as unfulfilled sexual desire, devoid of any substance or actuality or an abstraction rather than a reality. Up until Romeo meets Juliet, he has been in love with Rosaline, and portrays the Petrarchan type of love. This all changes at the Capulet ball when he meets the only daughter of his gravest enemy, and the love of his life - Juliet. Once he meets her his idyllic view of love changes and he completely forgets Rosaline; showing Romeos immature, irrational behaviour. Now, for the first time, he is aware of the depth and passion that goes to make up true love. ...read more.

Conclusion

Formality does not compare with the raw emotions of a man driven to suicide by the death of his beloved wife. As with so much else in this 'play of contrasts', Paris' formal and romantic love is placed in sharp opposition with the reality of Romeo and Juliet's true love. The point that Shakespeare is trying to make is that it is true love that gives Romeo and Juliet a special and almost magical relationship, and in the end it is their intense longing to be together that makes them united in death. I feel the best kind of love is true love. As Romeo and Juliet's relationship shows, it is the only 'real' kind of love: Paris' formal and romantic love is the most false and the Sexual love, as shown by the Nurse and Mercutio, is too shallow. Romeo and Juliet's relationship is blessed by Friar Lawrence, showing it is holy. There relationship also shows that it should not matter who the person is or where they come from. The fact that the two lovers are meant to be enemies is irrelevant in their eyes, and this is how all love should be. The fact that both Romeo and Juliet were willing to give up their lives for one another symbolizes the pureness and deepness of their love I will kiss thy lips; Haply some poison yet doth hang on them, to make me die with a restorative. (Act V Scene III, line 164-66) ...read more.

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