• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine the different views of love in 'Romeo and Juliet'. In what way is the play about love in a richer sense than we may first suppose?

Extracts from this document...


Examine the different views of love in 'Romeo and Juliet'. In what way is the play about love in a richer sense than we may first suppose? Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet is generally thought to be a play solely about romantic love. This is partly true; the bulk of the play appears, on the surface, to be about the romantic love that exists between Romeo and Juliet. However, when studying the play closely it becomes clear that there are many different types of love that exist, between all of the characters. Romeo and Juliet is not just about romantic love, but about love in a richer sense. When the play was written at the end of the 16th century, Shakespeare's audience would have had very different ideas about love and marriage to the ones we hold today. The Elizabethans believed that love was not an essential part of marriage. Almost all marriages between the nobility were arranged, and were to the advantage of the families, although not necessarily to that of the children. Girls were married off very young, as soon as they were of childbearing age. Love was something that came after marriage, not before. Love is not the only driving element in Romeo and Juliet: hate and conflict also play a big part in the play. This underlying struggle between love and hate is particularly noticeable in the Prologue, which speaks of both love and conflict. It tells us that Romeo and Juliet's love is 'death-mark'd' and talks of them as 'star-cross'd lovers'. The contrast of words such as 'strife', 'foes' and 'mutiny' with the words 'love' and 'fair', show that the play is about the battle between love and hate; the battle of the love of Romeo and Juliet against the hate of their families. ...read more.


Sexual love between Romeo and Juliet is just another side of their existing love, part of their love in a richer sense. Shakespeare included the sexual element between Romeo and Juliet because it shows their natural progression from one part of love to the next. At the time the play was written it would have been believed that Romeo and Juliet were not actually married until they had physically consummated their marriage. This could be another reason why Shakespeare included sexual love in the play. There are many examples of friendship -or platonic love- in Romeo and Juliet. The main friendships exist between Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio. Benvolio in particular is a very good friend to Romeo: he is worried about him when he is moping about Rosaline (Act 1, Scene 1), and after Romeo kills Tybalt (Act 3, Scene 1) Benvolio knows that he is in danger and so tells him to 'away, be gone', in order to possibly save his friend's life. These are the actions of a true friend. Mercutio is a different type of friend to Romeo, constantly teasing him, and always on the lookout for conflict and trouble. It is Mercutio's hot-headedness that provides the spark for Romeo's banishment. However, Romeo obviously cares for him, because when Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo immediately kills Tybalt. This is ironic because earlier in the scene Romeo is considering his new found fraternal love for Tybalt: as he is now married to Juliet, he and Tybalt are kinsmen. Romeo is reluctant to fight with Tybalt at the beginning of the scene, but as soon as Mercutio is killed, Romeo forgets about the brotherly love he is supposed to have for Tybalt. ...read more.


In the 'Mourning for Juliet' scene (Act 4, Scene 5), Lady Capulet's exaggerated language, 'accurs'd, unhappy, wretched, hateful day', shows that her love for Juliet, like Romeo's courtly love for Rosaline earlier in the play, is possibly artificial. The Nurse, who is Juliet's friend and confidante, has the reaction of a mother: repetition of words ('O woe! O woeful, woeful, woeful day!') and inability to make sense. When this is compared to Lady Capulet's exaggerated reaction, it is plain that Lady Capulet is overrating her love for Juliet, and is using her death as an opportunity to publicly flaunt the "love" she has for her daughter. At the end of the play, the Montagues and the Capulets agree to put aside their differences, and heal the rift between them. They feel that this healing love is the least they can do for Romeo and Juliet, 'poor sacrifices of (their) enmity.' Shakespeare included this in the play to show that this is the best kind of love. Healing love cannot cause any problems between people, it soothes all of the problems that have arisen, and puts everything to rest. Although all types of love can be very good, healing love is love in its richest sense, spanning all divides, and creating peace and harmony. Love is central to Romeo and Juliet: the whole play revolves around the many different types of love that exist. The play shows us that while all love can be good, it can also have devastating effects in the wrong circumstances. It is important to understand that the term love does not just apply to romantic love, but to all different kinds of love, and this is what Shakespeare is trying to convey through this play. Romeo and Juliet is essentially about love in a richer sense. Zo� Plant ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Romeo and Juliet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Romeo and Juliet essays

  1. Discuss the different types of love shown in romeo and juliet.

    Benvolio says ' Why, Romeo, art thou mad?' When he hears about Romeos crush on Rosaline. Romeos love for Rosaline is not ideal and Benvolio thinks that Romeo is mad for loving Rosaline. Romeo is very moody and upset because of his love. This shows a darker more destructive side to love.

  2. Views of love in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

    Women have to play the passive and conceiving part in having sex (cf. I, iii, 95). The Nurse seems to be enthusiastic about little Juliet's 'willingness' to do so, because she tells the anecdote three times. Juliet's nurse obviously enjoys sex and talks about it very openly.

  1. Romeo and Juliet - What different types of love are represented in the play, ...

    All of which Romeo suffers during his infatuation with Rosaline. An example of Shakespeare drawing upon conventions of art is the painting "Bacchus and Ariadne" by Titian. The painting portrays the Greek myth of Ariadne walking on the sea shore with friends and Bacchus also walking on the sea shore.

  2. How Does Shakespeare Present Conflicting Views of Love?

    He does not bribe Juliet for her love or for sex, he speaks using religious terms, and shows Juliet great respect. "If I profane with my unworthiest hand. This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this" His love has matured over the course of a few days within the play

  1. To what extent are Conflict and Love inextricably linked in the play 'Romeo and ...

    Have at thee coward!", fighting breaks out between the pair. The battle immediately stops when Lord and Lady Montague, Lord and Lady Capulet, with some officers. Harsh words and insults are spoken between the Head-males of the two families before The Prince of the State enters and threatens all involved

  2. Discuss the different kinds of love presented by Shakespeare in "Romeo and Juliet"

    I do with all my heart. / And yet no man like he doth grieve my heart", and Shakespeare manages to put dramatic irony in her words to make them sound as if she is grieving for Tybalt's death, when she is actually lamenting for the separation of Romeo and herself.

  1. What different types of love are represented in the play, and how is Shakespeare ...

    The man like Romeo is suffering from love. His lace collar strings are hanging down. They should be tied up neatly. This is suggesting that because of suffering he has become careless and he is not caring anymore about his costume and the way he is dressed. There is another painting by Nicholas Hilliard, 'A burning lover'.

  2. Examine the different views of love presented in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, discussing the ...

    It is also worth noticing that most the descriptions he gives are describing love itself rather than Rosaline, which backs up the 'love of love' idea. Benvolio sees this straight away, and uses sarcastic phrases such as "No coz, I rather weep", to mock Romeo's self-indulgent attitude, but at the same time plays along a little with Romeo's 'game'.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work