Love In Romeo and Juliet

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“Romeo & Juliet” is a play about love, but this word means different things to different characters in the play, and for some, like Romeo, its meaning changes as the play progresses. Discuss the theme of love in “Romeo & Juliet” and examine the different attitudes towards love that the characters have.

Shakespeare’s play “Romeo & Juliet” centres on many themes such as fate and death. But the theme of love takes centre stage as we see many different forms of love develop morph and blossom during the play. All the different characters have their own views and attitudes towards love and we see these ideas conflict, contrast and mature.

Set in “fair Verona” where we see this exotic, romantic love flourish in which impetuous passion shown by all the characters leads to a swift and sharp pace throughout the play. Elizabethan audiences would have loved the bawdy and violent nature of this play and would have revelled in the poetic, stellar language used by these two “star-crossed” lovers during the play. In this play we see a variety of attitudes towards love such as Romeo’s poetic, romantic, melancholy view, which contrasts greatly with the attitudes of Mercutio and the nurse for example, who have an extremely physical and superficial view of love.

Upon examining Romeo’s attitude towards love I have discovered a young, fiery, passionate and poetic man. From the very first time we meet him he believes he is in love with Rosaline and uses extremely poetic language to describe this, phrases such as “love is a smoke made with the fire of sighs”. I get two impressions from this quote. One is that he almost enjoys the melancholy involved with unrequited love, due to the use of  “sighs” and the second is that this love is merely created to fix his need for melancholy. This gives him an outlet into which he likes to play intellectually with words and likes to test his own literary skills, often he uses oxy-morons to further these literary skills such as “brawling love” and “loving hate”. When asked whether he loves her by Benvolio, he begins to talk “O she is rich in beauty” this again gives us the impression of lust or infatuation rather than love and is merely a subject of his word fencing. Romeo seems to almost enjoy the intellectual challenge of being in this constant melancholy state. As at every opportunity possible he begins to talk poetically and plays with words as soon as love is mentioned, “under love’s heavy burden do I sink” this constant mood of melancholy suggests hurt self-esteem, maybe the rejection by Rosaline was the cause of this, we do not know.

His melancholy state continues right up until the moment he first sees Juliet in which we see his whole mood and state disappear. A new man appears he accepts his love for Rosaline was not real, “For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night”. The self-wallowing and pity seems to disappear, a fiery passionate man erupts from within. His poetic romantic nature still is extremely evident when he first talks to Juliet as he plays on words concerning pilgrims and saints this is shown when he says “My lips two blushing pilgrims ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss”. Within the space of one night we see a young man whose “doting” love is unrequited placing him in a position of weak and lonely melancholy. He stops “brooding” and “groaning” for love, and actually goes out of his way to make sure this love works and that it is not unrequited, his friends notice the difference as Mercutio comments “now art though sociable, now art though Romeo”. It seems as if this new love has given him a purpose, as before he would wander the streets of “fair Verona” and would lock himself away in his room. This love is definite as we see his description of Rosaline was “O she is rich in beauty,” however his description of Juliet is “O it is my love”. We see that although her beauty stuns Romeo, he know knows love and not infatuation due to beauty.

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The rest of the city sees Romeo as a “portly” “well governed” and “virtuous” youth. What they don’t mention is the most potent of his characteristics, his pure and undying passion. “Passion lends them power” this statement shows us how Romeo’s pure passion for Juliet portrays this powerful, fiery young man that we see develop from a sulky boy who would lock himself away.

His attitude of love seems to only develop after he has met Juliet. Beforehand, his love for Rosaline “did read by rote but could not spell” which means that Romeo had learnt to ...

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