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How does Shakespeare show us Different Attitudes to Love, Sex and Marriage in Act 1 of Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare show us Different Attitudes to Love, Sex and Marriage in Act 1 of Romeo and Juliet? Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare, is a tragic love story that shows us various attitudes to love, sex and marriage. As this play was written around 1595, the views and traditions that related to love, sex and marriage in those times would have influenced his writing. In this essay I am going to illustrate how Shakespeare shows us different attitudes to love, sex and marriage. Right at the beginning of the play, we see Sampson remarking, "...women being the weaker vessels are ever to thrust to the wall: therefore I push Montague's men from the wall and thrust his maids to the wall." Here Sampson is claiming that women are inferior to men and are sex objects. We see him talking of sex in an ungracious manner and women as being subservient. These words show that the fight has taken over the hearts of these men, and no longer know the meaning of love. ...read more.

Middle

In the first scene, Romeo says, "Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes, Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears." Here, Romeo's speech shows us two sides of love - happiness and rejection. A princely lover like Romeo sees both sides of love, but rarely seems to see the happy side. He thinks that he's so in love that he has lost his identity. It's a traditional idea that love enters through the eye, thus when Romeo sees Juliet, he begins to speak of his love for Juliet. His speech and lines become shorter, showing that he's learning to speak of his true feelings for Juliet, "It is my lady. O it is my love! O that she knew we were!" Here, Romeo forgets Rosaline immediately when he sees Juliet. Parental love runs through the play especially in Act 1 when Capulet shows protective love for Juliet. He shows he cares for her feelings when he tells Paris that he will only agree to the marriage if Juliet agrees: "...and she agreed, within her scope of choice lies my consent and fair according voice." ...read more.

Conclusion

Lady Capulet describes marriage using images. She describes Paris as a book that lacks a cover (i.e. he hasn't got a wife): "...this unbound lover, to beautify him lacks only a cover." It seems as if love doesn't matter to Lady Capulet in marriage, whereas the Nurse thinks it does. Lady Capulet mentions about marriage and how women don't make themselves any less by marrying. The Nurse comments, "No less! Nay, bigger women grow by men." She is trying to say that women grow bigger when they become pregnant, and that marriage is fun and fulfilling. Marriages were usually fixed in those days. We can see in the play how Capulet and Lady Capulet have already chosen Paris for Juliet and are trying to persuade Juliet to marry him. However, when Paris asks to marry Juliet, Capulet thinks that she is still immature and young to marry and asks him to wait a couple of years. But then Paris says, "Younger than she are happy mothers", implying that many young girls are happy mothers. Paris' idea of marriage is sex, whereas Lady and Lord Capulet see it as a lifetime commitment, where love doesn't really matter. ...read more.

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