A Comparative Study of the Theme of Love in Romeo and Juliet and the Taming of the Shrew.
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28th April, 03 A Comparative Study of the Theme of Love in Romeo and Juliet and the Taming of the Shrew Romeo and Juliet and the Taming of the Shrew are the famous plays written by William Shakespeare in the 16th Century. In the two plays, Shakespeare tried to explore many aspects in human life and the theme of love is one of the common themes in the two plays. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, love refers to the affectionate devotion that exists between a relationship. There are many different kinds of love within a relationship. In this paper, I am going to focus my discussion on the kind of love between men and women. What I am going to do is to compare and contrast the theme of love in the two plays by answering two questions. Those questions are: what is the theme of love in the plays and how is it presented. First of all, let's discuss what is the theme of love in both plays. There are three couples in the plays, they are Romeo and Juliet; Lucentio and Bianca; Katherina and Petruchio. In both plays, Romeo and Juliet and Lucentio and Bianca are young couples. The idea of love at first sight can be applied to their relationship. For example, when Romeo and Juliet first meet, they naturally fall in love with each other and it seems there is no reason behind their love. Everything just happens so naturally and directly.
For Lucentio and Bianca's plot, the love between them appears to be something naturally happens. Young Lucentio sees beautiful Bianca and he decides to court her. After acquiring more mutual understanding, Bianca starts to love him back. This is something very natural and common to happen in our daily life, so we can say love does not appear too radical in the play, rather, it is quite moderate. Besides, love between Romeo and Juliet seems to be more sacred than the love between Lucentio and Bianca, and Katherina and Petruchio. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo totally has two lovers, they are Rosaline and Juliet. For Rosaline, Romeo just tries to conquer her and satisfy his sexual desire by showing the image of attacking her: "she will not stay the siege of loving terms/ Nor bide th'encounter of assailing eyes" (I.i.210-11). However, with Juliet, Romeo speaks more of wanting to touch her than to conquer her: "O that I were a glove upon that hand, /That I might touch that cheek..../I would I were thy bird" (II.ii.24-25,183). As Novy states "with Juliet he gives up images of himself as violent aggressor" (361). Another reason for me to perceive that the love between Romeo and Juliet is so sacred is that their love is not initiated by worldly reason ( e.g.not because of their wealth and social status), but just their inner passion. However, the love between Katherina and Petruchio is more materialistic. Ironically, their so-called love (before their marriage)
for thee, and for thy maintenance commits his body to painful labor, and craves no other tribute at thy hands, but love, fair looks so great a debt. (IV.ii.105-12) Some people argue Katherina may not truly mean what she says, it may be she learns to play the game or adapt to the game that initiated by Petruchio. But for me, Katherina does truly mean what she says because I think if she just plays the game and pretends to be loyal in order to get her freedom as some critics state, there is no need for her to give such a speech. Instead, she only has to listens to what her husband tells her to do, she can still get her freedom and in this way the speech itself is somehow redundant. But now she really gives the speech and I think she does truly mean that. Though love is presented differently in both plays, one is more radical, extreme, one is more practical and mild, in both plays, love also represents kind of obligation and duty no matter how mad or sick it is. To conclude, though love in the Taming of the Shrew appears to be not as perfect and pure as that in Romeo and Juliet, it is more real and more similar to the love we experience in our daily life. The love between Romeo and Juliet though seems to be more sacred and pure, it is something more likely to happen in a fairy tale world than our human world because it is too good and perfect to be true.
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