Discuss how the theme of love is presented in Romeo & Juliet.

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Discuss how the theme of love is presented in Romeo & Juliet.

“Romeo and Juliet” is one of the most famous love stories ever. Love is the important theme in this tale. There are many different types of love inside the play and these all play a huge part in this tale.

Sexual Love, takes many forms, in this play it takes the form of lust. We see this in Gregory and Sampson’s initial feuding. Here we see love represented in crude, sexual innuendoes that portray it as a physical thing, with no emotion. This is shown in the scene between the two “Women being the weaker vessels are ever thrust to a wall.” What they are implying subtle and show to us the sheer superiority that these people showed towards women… “I will push Montague’s men from the wall and thrust his maids to the wall.” That is Sampson showing both his hatred and lack of respect for the Montague’s by implying that he will rape all of their women.

There are also many crude references made in a humorous way, most of these supplied by the nurse who sees no need for subtleties on the issue “And yet, I warrant, it had upon it brow a bump as big as a young cockerel’s stone.” These references are often recurring during the course of the play and they represent a type of “bawdy” humour, bawdy being the Elizabethan word for a “whore.” The nurse obviously enjoys this and has a common partner in Mercutio: - “Mercutio: ‘tis no less, I tell you; for the bawdy hand of the dial is not upon the prick of noon.
Nurse: Out upon you! What a man you are!” She pretends to be embarrassed but is clearly very amused by these comments.

We hear Mercutio’s crudities on many occasions e.g. ”This is the hag when maids lie on their backs, that presses them and leaves them to bear, making them women of good carriage.” Romeo then shows his disapproval to which Mercutio replies”True, I talk of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain.” Here Mercutio describes his enjoyment of bawdy humour, the fact that he has nothing better to do. I believe that this love is portrayed in the story to contrast with the “perfect love” that is experienced between both Romeo and Juliet, with their love being fuelled by their emotions and feelings towards each other, but Sexual Love being fuelled by both Sexual Attraction and a sheer lack of respect for the opposite gender.

Unrequited love is when a person does not return the love of another; this is also predominating throughout the story of “Romeo and Juliet”. This love is perhaps more obsession in the story as we see evidence of Romeo’s unrequited love for Rosaline early on in the play as he converses with Benvolio, “What sadness lengthens Romeo’s hours?” to which Romeo gives the reply “In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman” but this love remains unrequited “She will not stay the siege of loving terms.” Romeo often shows his “feeling of love” towards her “She is rich in beauty, only poor, that, when she dies, with beauty dies her store”…”Out of her favour where I am in love” she doesn’t return his love and therefore he resorts to self pity and depression “What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall and a preserving sweet” He also suffers an identity crisis, perhaps lost in thought of Rosaline “This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.” With regards to the “relationship” between Romeo and Rosaline, the idea could be gathered that Romeo is in love with the idea of being in Love, i.e. he wants to be in love so that he can “romanticize” it and create a perfect love, which in a sense, he succeeds in doing.

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Throughout the Elizabethan era sprung up the idea of “courtly love,” this being when the two parties would go “through the motions” of romance whilst neither felt any emotion toward the other. It is hereby that the relationship between Juliet and Paris can be applied. To the parents of Juliet, Paris is the perfect “catch,” he has the money, power and influence that is so important to the Upper Class Parent (in fact it is pretty ironic that had it not been for the feud between the Montague’s and Capulet’s Romeo’s relationship with Juliet would have been perfect).


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