Love in Romeo and Juliet and Sonnets 18, 29 and 130.

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Shakespeare is reputed to be one of the most eloquent and influential writer, poet, actor and playwright in English Literature. Born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon to John and Mary Shakespeare, Shakespeare was part of a successful middle class family. He grew up in a time where poetry and acting was at an all-time high which helped towards him leading a very successful profession. Throughout his career, he wrote 36 plays and 154 sonnets, four of which will be delved into in this essay. These four are his play “Romeo and Juliet” and sonnets “18, 29 and 130”. These works of art are a few examples of how Shakespeare uses his clever wit, brilliant mind and his deep understanding of human emotions to show the feelings of romantic love, requited and unrequited. These texts also portray Shakespeare's mastery over the English language, successfully stirring deep emotions within the reader through his subtle manipulation of language, grammar and structure.  This essay will delve into how romantic love is presented throughout the four writings and will compare how it is presented to the reader.

Firstly, Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, is one of the most famous romantic tragedy stories in English Literature. A story with love being the most influential and imperative theme, a force of nature that supersedes all other values and emotions. The plot revolves around to “star-cross’d lovers” who fall in love at first sight. Love is first expressed at the beginning of the play through the prologue of Act 1. Here, Shakespeare includes the phrase “star-cross’d lovers” referring to two couples that are the centre point characters of the play. He is using a metaphor to get across the fact that the two lovers will have a relationship that will be thwarted by outside forces. The chances of their relationship growing into something fruitful are unlikely and in turn empower the affair the two fall in to. These forces are the two families the duo belongs to, who are locked in a struggle that stems from an “ancient grudge” which only breaks after their death. This phrase can also be interpreted as that the two characters were destined to meet and cross paths and not necessarily refer to the tragic end that befalls the two stars.

Metaphors are also used in the sonnets. Similarly to the aforementioned point, in sonnet 18, metaphor is used to show love and romantic attraction. It is used to flatter the lover with buttery and flowery description. It is represented when Shakespeare says “thy eternal summer shall never fade”. Here, he is trying to say that his lover’s beauty will not diminish with time and she will remain forever young. This shows love as he is saying that she is so beautiful that she will stand the test of time. The love between the poet and the beloved is so powerful that it transcends nature and even death cannot stop it. Shakespeare expresses this in the last two lines, where he says that her beauty and youth will be preserved through the sonnet itself. He is saying that their love will live on through many generations. It can also be interpreted as the poet’s lover and love itself will become a part of nature as the line embodies summer as a comparison to their love.

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In stark contrast, metaphor in sonnet 130 is used to a completely different effect. Instead of using it to exaggerate the beauty of his love with dubious and implausible comparisons, he uses it to undermine his lover and to some extent insult her. The sonnet is full of apparent insults, which was an absurd use of the sonnet form in the Elizabethan times, where   In the fourth line, Shakespeare says that “black wires grow” on his lovers head. If the metaphor was used to show love in this sonnet, the poet would not have said something that would ...

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