Views of love in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet is a play about love and hate. During the course of the play Shakespeare conveys his views on different types of love portrayed by each of the different characters throughout the play. The types of love that Shakespeare explores are true love, fashionable love, practical love, bawdy love, unromantic love and moderate love. In this essay I am going to explain these different views of love that the characters have.

At the beginning of the play Romeo loves a woman named Rosaline. The love that Romeo feels for her is full of lust and longing. It seems as though Romeo is using Rosaline as an object of affection to satisfy his own longing for love. Romeo's interpretation of love is 'fashionable love'. Through this fashionable love Romeo has made himself believe that he is in true love with Rosaline and therefore lusts and longs for her. Romeo constantly talks about Rosaline being 'rich in beauty', 'fair', and being 'the all seeing sun' and says that that she 'ne'er saw her match since first the world began'(Act 1 scene 1 line 14) and refuses to believe that there is anybody 'fairer than [his] love'(Act 1 scene 2 line 94). Romeo's view of love is very shallow and lacks emotion. Romeo is in a confused state in act 1 scene 1 as he has been rejected by Rosaline 'out of her favor when I am in love', even though he has tried all of the conventional approaches to woo her. Shakespeare conveys Romeo's bewilderment and frustration to the reader by using oxymorons such as 'o brawling love, o loving hate', 'o heavy lightness', 'feather of lead', 'Mis-shapen chaos of well seeing forms' (Act 1 scene1 lines 176-9). It is ironic that Romeo complains about the harshness of love even though he is so eager to be in love. For example, Benvolio says that love is 'tyrannous' and 'rough in proof' and Romeo then says 'alas that love' in agreement. As Romeo wallows in his own self pity 'out of her favour when I am in love', neither Benvolio or Mercutio seem to take any notice of Romeo's complaints. This gives us the notion that it is usual for Romeo to go through these phases and that he is not really in love. This paragraph shows that Romeo's view of love is not very emotional. It gives the impression that Romeo believes that love is just a means of showing off, hence the idea of fashionable love.

Romeo is a petrarchian lover towards Rosaline. He loves Rosaline and believes that he lives only for her. Romeo uses conceits to show and describe his love. For example he calls Rosaline 'the all seeing sun'. Shakespeare use hyperbole phrases to show that Romeo is exaggerating and trying to dramatize the situation. Shakespeare often writes Romeo's line in verse to convey a similar feeling. Romeo believes that his love for Rosaline is like a religion and that anybody who does not believe that is a heretic; "When the devout religion of mine eye maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fires and these who often drowned could never die, transparent heretics, be burnt for liars. (Act 1 scene 2 lines 90-3). By saying this Romeo is trying to emphasize his love for Rosaline and show how much it means to him. As well as using conceits, Romeo's language is elaborate and Romeo tries to adopt a sophisticated tone;
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"For beauty starved with her severity, cuts beauty off from all posterity" (Act 1 scene 1 lines 218-9). Overall, the fact that Romeo acts like a petrarchian lover shows that he is eager to be in 'fashionable love'. We can make this assumption as it was fashionable in Shakespeare's time to use the kind of petrarchian language that Romeo uses.

Romeo's love for Juliet is very strong and intense, unlike his lust for Rosaline. When Romeo first sees Juliet he admits that his love for Rosaline was not true. "For did my heart love till now? ...

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