Explore the dramatic presentation of love in Romeo and Juliet(TM)

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Explore the dramatic presentation of love in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Rachel Hooper

In the Prologue of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ we are immediately introduced to the theme of love that runs throughout the play. “Two star-crossed lovers”. Shakespeare introduces us to various types of love, portrayed through different character relationships. For instance, we see conventional love through Romeo and Rosaline and the idea of the Patrachan lover, romantic and sexual love, which is seen between Romeo and Juliet and, finally, parental love, portrayed in Capulet and Lady Capulet and Juliet. We also see love from a more cynical view, through Mercutio.

In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ two characters primarily link love and sex. They are the Nurse and Mercutio. At the mentioning of love these two people always talk about sex. This can be seen mainly in Act 1 Scene 4, and how Mercutio thinks about love. At this point in the play Romeo is very distant and unhappy, Mercutio uses this as an opportunity to try and humour Romeo, using wit, sexual innuendo and imagery. “O’er ladies lips, whos straight on kisses dream”. He uses more sexual innuendo throughout the play when the subject of love is mentioned. This is also seen when discussing Rosaline outside Capulet’s mansion. He uses sexual images, for example, “Quivering thigh”. This suggests a cynical attitude towards love, as he is never heard to mention non-sexual attributes when talking about a woman.

The Nurse also links love and sex throughout the play. This is more marked when she finds out Juliet is to marry Romeo. We can see how excited she is about the physical opportunity for Juliet because she comments immediately on Romeo’s physical traits. “…His face be better than any man’s”. This has links with Mercutio when he talks about Rosaline.

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Although both Mercutio and the Nurse refer to the sexual act, the Nurse’s language is crude and lacks the refinement of Mercutio’s wit. Here Shakespeare presents to us a member of the lower classes, deprived from a formal education.

The play links death with love and sex on numerous occasions. For example Capulet on discovering his ‘dead’ daughter exclaims “Death has deflowered my daughter”. Juliet later even compares Romeo to death in an erotic manner. One example of this is when Juliet is committing suicide, and when clutching the dagger says “O happy dagger/…This is thy sheath/there rust and let ...

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There are some good points made in this essay that could be developed to further link different parts of the play. Useful textual references are identified but at times they could be explained in more detail, particularly when making comparisons between characters. 4 Stars