romeo and juliet

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Explore how Shakespeare explores the theme of love in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous love stories throughout the world. In the play many different types of love are explored. The title is named after the two lead characters; Romeo and Juliet. The play was written in Elizabethan times.  The strength of the play is shown by the fact it still exists in the present day. This play does not only explore romantic love as it is often associated with, it has different types of love.  There are several variations of love within the play; these are courtly, romantic, fraternal and familial love. There are various other themes in the play. Shakespeare originally intended for this play to be a tragedy, not a love story. One of the types of love explored by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet is courtly love.  

One of the lead characters, Romeo, experiences courtly love early on in the play.  Courtly love is an incredibly old type of love. This form of love was common in Elizabethan times. Shakespeare’s audience would understand the concept of this love. Today’s society no longer experiences this style of love. Courtly love is associated with arranged marriages. Arranged marriages no longer occur on a regular basis in the present day. Courtly love is shown at the beginning of the play between Rosaline and Romeo. It could be described as a fake love that does not last. Shakespeare has used words that are opposite together to convey the courtly love. These are known as oxymorons:

        “Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health”

 This has the effect of showing Romeo’s confusion towards love; “O loving hate”. It makes the audience aware that Romeo finds courtly love confusing, contrasting, and painful.  It reflects that this might not be a true type of love.

There is also romantic love in the play. The romantic love is between Romeo and Juliet. Romantic love is a more true type of love. It is a longer more significant type of love in comparison to courtly love.  When Romeo talks about Rosaline it is different to when he is talking about Juliet; Shakespeare uses different types of imagery. When he talks about Rosaline he is talking about the way she looks:

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        “O, she is rich in beauty, only poor

        That when she dies, with beauty dies her store”

This shows that Romeo does not love Rosaline in a romantic way, instead has feelings of courtly love towards her. Romeo talks about Juliet in a different way:

        “ This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this,

My lips, are two blushing pilgrims, ready stand

        To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss”

Romeo talks about Juliet in a very different way to Rosaline. When Romeo is talking about Rosaline it is mainly about the way she looks. In ...

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