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

How does Shakespeare present love through Romeo and Juliet and a selection of his sonnets?

Extracts from this document...


Shakespeare presents love as a polarizing force through both Romeo and Juliet and a selection of his sonnets. Unrequited and courtly, it evokes feelings of great anguish yet when reciprocated and true, brings great joy, albeit in fleeting moments. Spiritual love can evolve into a pure entity, transcending physical attraction and even death – also allowing the protagonists of the play to transcend the bitter feud of their families. Shakespeare first presents the idea of unrequited love in Romeo and Juliet as being afflictive and filled with despair – Romeo is a typical Petrarchan, courtly lover in Act 1 Scene 1; his feelings of love have not been reciprocated by Rosaline, and this causes him to dwell on his emotional torment. Romeo shuts himself in his room and ‘makes himself an artificial night’, he isolates himself in complete darkness to represent his state of deep depression and suffering. He uses the exaggerated clichés of typical Petrarchan poetry to illustrate his suffering, for example “Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health”. Here, the lightness of the feather could represent the lightness one feels during love, contrasting with the heaviness of lead, to represent how unrequited love causes a heavy heart. Romeo uses these oxymorons to blend the joys of love with the emotional anguish of unrequited love and also to demonstrate his mixed emotions felt for Rosaline. These descriptions additionally show us that most of his understanding of love has been taken from the typical courtly/ Petrarchan love - they are filled with the feelings of great torment usually accompanied with this type of love. Courtly love is an idealized, infatuated form of love in which a courtier devotes himself to an unattainable woman (usually married). ...read more.


Some words of the sonnet are repeated, for example ?alter? and ?alteration, and ?remover? and ?remove?; these specific words again highlight that true love is spiritual as beauty may fade but this true love does not. However, these words also suggest that love is unchanging and eternal. The repetition emphasises that love has a sense of constancy (it is everlasting), which links to the end of Romeo and Juliet, where Romeo say?s ?Thus with a kiss I die? and Juliet mirrors with ?I will kiss thy lips; Haply, some poison yet doth hang on them?. Their love is perpetual - their love which birthed with a kiss now ends with one. Love outlasting death in both Sonnet 116 and Romeo and Juliet again presents love as being eternal and everlasting. For example, in Romeo and Juliet in Act 5 Scene 3, Romeo says ?Shall I believe that unsubstantial death is amorous?; he asks this bitterly, believing that Juliet is so beautiful that death has preserved her to be death's own lover, suggesting that Juliet ? along with her love for Romeo ? lives on after death. The audience is aware that Romeo is seeing the physical signs of Juliet's recovery from drug-induced sleep ? it is ironic that his attraction to her even in death encourages him to press onward with his own suicide, just as she is about to awaken. Throughout this scene, death becomes an act of love for Romeo, as he thinks that suicide will allow him to be reunited with Juliet. Shakespeare also demonstrates the true love having the ability to transcend death in Sonnet 116 through ?but bears it out to the edge of doom?, with ?doom? referring to doomsday. ...read more.


state?, however this line may also be referring to the speaker?s lips, which if were to be ?tickled? like those keys are, would gladly be transformed into wood and change places with the keys. The use of imagery to represent the male genitalia can further be linked back to Mercutio when he taunts Romeo about Rosaline in the quote ?Now will he sit under a medlar tree, and wish his mistress were that kind of fruit as maids call medlars?. A medlar is a small, round fruit with an apricot-like cleft that opens up when ripe and ready to eat; Mercutio equates this with the female genitalia, which remain closed until said lady is ready to ?open up?, further highlighting his crudeness and how he reduces love to sex. Mercutio says that Romeo wants to be around ?medlars? and that he wishes Rosaline was like a medlar (ripe and ready to ?open up?), demonstrating his ideas about love, in relation to them being purely sexual. Mercutio furthers the sexual imagery with "open et caetera" (in Shakespearian English this refers to the ?open? female genitalia), and ?poperin pear?, referring to the male genitalia, but also possibly sounding like ?pop her in?; Mercutio wants Romeo to engage in sexual relations with Rosaline. Structurally, this passage of speech highlights Romeo?s maturity and the difference in his perceptions of love, in comparison to Mercutio?s objectification of women. It features in Act 2 Scene 1, directly in between the scene in which Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love and the famous balcony scene, Act 2 Scene 2, in which their love is further developed. Mercutio?s use of crude language again emphasizes how lust in Romeo and Juliet is presented as being a form of infatuation, in comparison to a true, spiritual love. ...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. How Does Shakespeare Present Conflicting Views of Love?

    Romeo tries to explain his love for Rosaline through poetry. However, the way he portrays his love for Rosaline is by always talking in poetry, and trying to feel the way poets feel when in love. "Not I, believe me: you have dancing shoes.

  2. "Shakespeare's sonnets present a more cynical view of romantic love than Romeo and Juliet." ...

    This is also the case in Romeo and Juliet. Romeo refers to Juliet as the sun, "arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon". He also said something about her cheeks just like the sonnet, "her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night".

  1. By a study of both Romeo and Juliet and a selection of his sonnets ...

    However, there is a profound sadness as he describes how inevitable it is that time will bring old age, will ravage the fair lord's beauty and result in death. Nevertheless, the sonnet allows the speaker to heighten the love that he feels, as he morphs the youth into an 'eternal

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

    Friar Lawrence learns that Romeo hadn't received the letter and hurries to Juliet's tomb, hoping Romeo hadn't arrived first, but he was too late. Romeo had arrived before Friar Lawrence and had found Paris, in Juliet's tomb, praying. This caused the pair to fight, which results in Paris' death.

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

    This is apparent with Friar Lawrence's love of God. Friar Lawrence is a holy man who is very proper in his views and does not approve of Romeo's romantic affairs, but this does not stop him from helping them when they need him. For a man of the church he is very practical and very understanding of human nature.

  2. The concept of fate - Romeo and Juliet

    While Romeo babbled on about his life with Benvolio (his cousin) and kings men. Romeo bumped into this servant who asked him to read the list. Rosaline's name appeared, which got Romeo to agree to go the party. This sets everything up for the Romeo and Juliet.

  1. Explain How the Theme of Conflict is Explored in Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet'

    She would be left with nothing as her whole life was with the Capulets. She now tries to persuade Juliet to marry Paris but she is only thinking of herself. She contradicts what she advised Juliet do earlier in the play.

  2. Does Shakespeare present a positive view of love in the play Romeo and Juliet?

    Benvolio tries to convince Romeo that he must forget his feeling for Rosaline. At this point in the play Benvolio is portraying Romeo as a 'Petrarchan Lover'. The audience may have noticed that the language used in this play was similar to the words of the poet Petrach.

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