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

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Introduction

Views of love in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Contents 1. Introduction 1 2. Main part: Views of love in Romeo and Juliet 2 2.1. Romeo's and Juliet's view of love: Love as the reason for living 2 2.1.1. Romeo 2 2.1.2. Juliet 5 2.2. The domestics' and Mercutio's view of love: Love means sex 8 2.2.1. Sampson and Gregory, servants of the house of Capulet 8 2.2.2. The Nurse 9 2.2.3. Mercutio 10 2.3. Benvolio's view of love: Be happy, no matter if you are in love or not 12 2.4. Juliet's parents, the Prince and Paris: The Elizabethan attitude towards 12 love and sex 2.4.1.Capulet 13 2.4.2. Lady Capulet 14 2.4.2. Prince Escalus 15 2.4.3. Paris 16 2.5. Romeo's parents: A relationship full of love 17 2.5.1. Montague 17 2.5.2. Lady Montague 17 2.6. Friar Laurence' view of love: Violent delights have violent ends 18 3. Conclusion: In how far do the views of love presented in the play reflect 19 the attitude towards love the Elizabethan audience had? 1. Introduction William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has the "high profile as the love-tragedy everybody knows"1. Although it is regarded as the ideal of romantic love there are many other (quite unromantic) views represented in the play, too. In this term paper I will try to give a survey of the different views of love in Romeo and Juliet. First of all there are Romeo and Juliet, the "star-cross'd lovers" (Prologue) who "establish a quality of love, of life intensively lived, that becomes its own value"2. Apart from these two main characters and their view of love there are in general five other attitudes towards love: to the servants of the house of Capulet, the Nurse and Mercutio love means nothing else than sex, to Romeo's friend Benvolio the most important thing about love is not only sex but that love makes you happy, Juliet's parents Capulet and Lady Capulet together with the Prince and Paris share an Elizabethan view of love ...read more.

Middle

12 (II, v, 72-74) and she adds that "[Juliet] shall bear the burden soon at night." (II, v, 76) Although the Nurse knows about Juliet's secret marriage to Romeo, she praises Paris in highest tunes (cf. III, v, 218-221) when she learns of Capulet's wish of a marriage between Paris and Juliet. To her "Paris is the properer man" (II, iv, 202), to whom Romeo in comparison is nothing more than a "dishclout" (III, v, 219). She wants Juliet to get into a second match "For it excels your first; or, if not, Your first is dead, or 'twere as good he were As living here and you no use of him." (III, v, 223-225) All this clearly shows that the Nurse (due to her physical viewpoint of love) can neither understand the depth of Juliet's feelings for Romeo nor the "lovers' emotional and spiritual bond"13 and this leads to Juliet's decision not to tell her, who was her former most intimate friend, anything anymore (III, v, 235-240). 2.2.3. Mercutio "In some ways, he's like Juliet's nurse: he also sees love as primarily sexual."14 Mercutio is making bawdy remarks all the time - not only when he is among his friends but also when meeting strangers like the Nurse. One of his first lewd comments when meeting her is his vulgar answer when the Nurse asks what time it is: "[...] the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon." (II, iv, 111-112) The next thing Mercutio says about his female counterpart is that he takes her for a bawd. Sex seems to be the only content of Mercutio's thoughts, he does not take Romeo's love for Rosaline seriously but makes fun of his suffering friend by giving him sexual advice "And, to sink in it, should you burden love - Too great oppression for a tender thing." (I, iv, 23-24) ...read more.

Conclusion

3. Conclusion: In how far do the views of love presented in the play reflect the attitude towards love the Elizabethan audience had? To an Elizabethan audience the most tragic thing about Romeo and Juliet was not so much "their ill-starred romance but the way the lovers brought destruction upon themselves by violating the norms of the society in which they lived"25. The lovers' behaviour turns all norms upside down. Romeo and Juliet are the children of parents who live in a feud and normally there is a fight whenever two people from the different households meet. But between Romeo and Juliet this is different. "Bewitched by the charm of looks" (2nd Prologue) they fall in love with each other and misfortune takes its course. They withdraw more and more from the norms of society, they marry secretly and Juliet disregards her parents' will. Moreover "she gives her loyalty to Romeo over her family, even after he's killed her cousin"26. Besides, the lovers' understanding of their roles stands in strong contrast to that of the surrounding characters. Romeo as a man should normally be like Mercutio and Tybalt, always ready to fight and lose his live for the sake of the family honour. Instead he is suffering from his unrequited love for Rosaline, he is peaceful after the marriage with Juliet and doesn't want to fight which makes him womanish in Mercutio's eyes. Romeo even cries in Friar Laurence' cell which makes the Friar call him womanish (III, iii, 110 and 112), too. Juliet on the contrary appears very practical, preferring to find means to realize a love affair with Romeo instead of making flowery Petrarchan promises like Romeo does. In the end she kills herself with a dagger (which has a male connotation) whereas her lover takes poison (which has a female connotation). To an Elizabethan play-goer this is too much. Although "an Elizabethan courtier would be familiar enough with the bewitching passion of love to feel sympathy for the couple, [...] he would clearly see where duty lay"27 and act on this instead of acting the way Romeo and Juliet do. ...read more.

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