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Explore the different approaches to the theme of love presented in Acts 1 and 2 of Romeo and Juliet.

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Introduction

English coursework February, 2004 Explore the different approaches to the theme of love presented in Acts 1 and 2 of Romeo and Juliet. Love is an important theme in "Romeo and Juliet" and is interpreted in many ways by the many different characters. After the prologue, which is filled with hints of the ending for the "star-crossed lovers", the play opens with a scene between Sampson and Gregory who are two servants of the Capulet family. They are vulgar and crude, making many sexual references and innuendoes. They do not see love as involving emotions or desires, but as a purely physical thing, sexual not emotional. Sampson refers to women as "weaker vessels" and tells of how he will rape the maids of the Montague household. Neither of them appears to have ever experienced true love. They talk in a rude and coarse manner and objectify women. The opening helps the audience to contrast this vulgar image of love shown in a humorous context, to Romeo and Juliet's sincere love for each other. This perception of love is also shared by the nurse and Mercutio, both who are comical characters. ...read more.

Middle

Benvolio does not have a lot of belief in true love but merely in loving the beauty of women. In this scene, the audience see Romeo for the first time and they are exposed to a pathetic, depressed, miserable boy, who does not take pleasure in love, "...ay me sad hours seem long..." However the fact Shakespeare never reveals Rosaline to the audience adds mystery to Romeo's obsession. This kind of "love" he feels for Rosaline did not tend to lead towards marriage, which was something else. Marriage often had nothing to do with love; it was arranged between families and was generally all to do with legal contracts, family, pride and wealth. This is shown by Juliet's parents; Capulet is much older than Lady Capulet, who married when she was very young. Her mother learnt to love him after they married. This is also depicted in the scene when Paris asks Capulet for Juliet's hand in marriage before he has even met her. Although Juliet is very young, Capulet still gives Juliet a choice of if she wants to be married and by this shows his affection for her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Their dialogue seems very formal and polite, "Madam, I am here. What is your will?" This depicts the distance between Juliet and her mother; instead of saying "mother," she says "madam." However, this gap between them is filled by the nurse. The nurse effectively acts as Juliet's substitute mother and it is her, who Juliet confides in and trusts. When Romeo first meets Juliet, the insincerity of his "love" for Rosaline is exposed and he suddenly realises it, "Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." He speaks of how his love for Rosaline was not true and pure, like the love he now feels for Juliet. His attitude towards love changes as suddenly as his change of heart. Romeo's feelings sound more genuine in speeches about Juliet than of Rosaline which was much more exaggerated. He wants to be with Juliet all the time, and he is continually comparing her to a saint and the light that can brighten up anything. "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! ...O, then, dear saint, ...O, speak again, bright angel!" In the sonnet shared by Romeo and Juliet, the interpretation of love is shown as religion. ...read more.

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