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What different types of love are represented in the play, and how is Shakespeare and drawing on historical, social and cultural features of Medieval and Elizabethan England in the ways that he represents these types of love?

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James Clark December 22, 2001 GCSE English / English Literature Band Z set 1 2001-2003 Pre-1914 Drama Coursework: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare What different types of love are represented in the play, and how is Shakespeare and drawing on historical, social and cultural features of Medieval and Elizabethan England in the ways that he represents these types of love? The theme of Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet is love. The main love in the play is between Romeo and Juliet who belong to families that are feuding. There are many different types of love in the play including unrequited love, love in friendship, parental love and tragic love. At the beginning of the play the most obvious love is unrequited love. This is Romeo's unreturned infatuation for Rosaline. He is suffering from depression and is cutting himself off from friends and family. Benvolio records: "So early walking did I see your son /towards him I made, but he was ware of me, / and stole into the covert of the wood" (Act 1 scene 1) and Romeo's father agrees that Romeo is reclusive: "Away from light steals home my heavy son, / shuts up his windows locks fair daylight out" (Act 1 scene 1). When he makes Romeo behave like this Shakespeare is using a popular convention where love was thought to be an illness or a sudden attack of sickness. In the middle Ages knights were meant to pine for the love of a lady they beyond their reach and this is the idea that Chaucer uses in the knights tale. There are two knights called Palamon and Archita in prison. Through the bars of their prison cell they can see a Rose garden and one day Palamon sees a lady doing her embroidery in the Rose garden. Her name is Emilia. Palamon reacts by looking ill: "As though he had been stabbed and to the heart". ...read more.


Romeo exclaims aloud to himself how beautiful she is: "As a rich jewel in Ethiop's ear:/Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear:" (Act 1 scene 5). Romeo also describes her beauty by using metaphors. He describes her as jewels or being like a dove: "So shows a snowy dove" (Act 1 scene 5). Romeo says: "And touching hers, make blessed my rude hand" (Act 1 scene 5). Romeo uses the word 'blessed'. This makes her sound holy and saintly as if she were holy. After Juliet has stopped dancing with her partner Romeo crosses the room to speak to her. With all the people dancing around them and the loud music playing they still manage to have an intimate conversation and Romeo eventually kisses her. The conversation is very sexual and they talk about touching and kissing. Romeo says: "My lips two plushing pilgrims ready stand, / To smooth the rough touch with a gentle kiss" (Act 1 scene 5). Romeo and Juliet seem to be overwhelmed by each other; there seems to be instant, intense passion between them. Romeo again picks up the fact that Juliet is holy and like a saint: "Have not saints lips and holy palmers too?" (Act 1 scene 5). Juliet then carries on to say: "Ay pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer" (Act 1 scene 5). If an image is mentioned and then developed in a piece of literature it is called a motif. The saints and the pilgrims are the topics being developed. Romeo reaches out to touch Juliet's hand and describes himself as a sinner: "If I profane with my unworthiest hand, / This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this" (Act 1 scene 5). This makes Juliet sound like she has the power to cleanse and bless him through the power of touch. In the middle ages, people believed the king's touch could cure evil and that touching saints hands would cure illnesses. ...read more.


Romeo has also been banished so Paris tries to make a citizens arrest: "Obey and go with me, for thou must die" (Act 5 scene 3). A fight then breaks out between them and Romeo kills Paris. Before he dies he says: "O I am slain, if thou merciful, / open the tomb, lay me with Juliet" (Act 5 scene 3). This is a sad subplot Paris does not deserve any of the disappointment or grief he receives but it is the way that fate has led from problem to problem. The final type of love is love for family honour. This love is probably the most tragic of all the loves because it causes the most trouble. The feud between the Capulet and Montague families was quite blatantly, pointless. No one can remember how the feud began but neither side wants to lose face and so the quarrel results in many deaths from both sides and it's the death of Romeo and Juliet that results in bringing the two families together. In act 1 scene 1 Tybalt is fighting for the Capulet's in the street: "I hate hell, all Montague and thee" (Act 1 scene1). In Act 2 scene 1 Tybalt kills Romeo's friend, mercutio because he, Benvolio and Romeo attended the Capulet family party in Act 1 scene 5. Mercutio is not even a member of the Montague family but is happy to fight for their honour. In a revenge attack Romeo kills Tybalt. Benvolio says: "There lies that Tybalt" (Act 3 scene 1). It is all because of pride that these tragic events occur and the majority of the young people die because of their love for family honour either directly like Mercutio or Tybalt or indirectly like Romeo and Juliet. There are many different forms of love presented in the play, and in the ways he represents the types of love, Shakespeare is drawing on the social culture of the time in which he lived, and the ideas and themes of popular art, poetry and literature in Medieval and Elizabethan England. 1 ...read more.

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