Love in Romeo and Juliet

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Charles Quinn

Honors English

Love Essay

O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything of nothing first created!

        Widely regarded as the greatest writer and playwright of the English language, William Shakespeare expanded and changed the way people viewed literature drastically through his numerous books and plays. One of the most cherished and renowned pieces of his literature, Romeo and Juliet, is set in Verona, where two “star-cross’d lovers” encounter the powerful nature of love to its greatest extent (Prologue.6).  Shakespeare explores love and virtually all its aspects and depicts them numerously through the duration of the play. He harnesses the use of his characters to express these countless varieties seamlessly, and with it gains the ability to encompass several diverse themes of love in the novel. At first, Shakespeare is seen portraying an infatuating love through Romeo’s affection for Rosaline, later, as a romantic and genuine love represented through Romeo and Juliet, and finally, a bawdy and physical form through the views of Mercutio in order to show that although there are many different forms of love, they can all lead to misery, tragedy, and wrong.

        Shakespeare utilizes Romeo’s obsession with Rosaline in order to achieve the underlying message that all love can lead to unhappiness multiple times throughout Romeo and Juliet. At the opening of the play, we come across a depressed and miserable Romeo whose “sadness lengthens [his] hours” (1.1.156). Romeo pines for the love of Rosaline who he declares is the flawless model of a woman and who he describes as “rich in beauty” (1.1.209). Unfortunately, Rosaline “hath sworn that she will live chaste” (1.1.211). In other words, Rosaline has sworn to be a virgin and a nun. For this reason, Romeo “pens himself, shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out, and makes himself an artificial night” (1.1.131-133). These drastic events not only demonstrate the sheer extent of Romeo’s love for Rosaline, but also reveal his need for her love. As Rosaline continues to ignore Romeo and his affection, Romeo becomes undeniably depressed and struggles with the sufferings of routine activities. Thus, he masks himself from the sunlit day and yearns for Rosaline’s love. He obsesses over Rosaline and the dreamy idea of her loving him back. Since his infatuation with Rosaline is so strong, all he can focus on is her love and as a result isn’t his typical, lighthearted, content self. He doesn’t desire to go to the Capulet’s ball to dance because his “soul is made of lead” (1.4.16). As shown in this quote, Romeo is obviously affected significantly by the infatuating love and his great obsession. This also shows how this type of love has enough power to alter him into an entirely new person. Shakespeare uses Romeo and his great obsession with Rosaline to faultlessly demonstrate love leading to depression.

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        Additionally, Shakespeare uses the very passionate and prominent love between Romeo and Juliet in order to portray love leading to tragedy several times throughout the drama. Later in the play, the recently heart-broken Romeo halfheartedly enters the Capulet’s ball and encounters Juliet’s complete splendor for the first time. The moment Romeo lays eyes on Juliet he utters “I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” (1.5.50). This quote demonstrates how differently Romeo speaks of Juliet from Rosaline prior to the ball. He changed drastically from being exceedingly intense and gloomy to suddenly love-struck and blissful. This also proves Romeo’s feelings ...

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