Discuss how the theme of love is presented in Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet

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Discuss how the theme of love is presented in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?

Throughout his tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare employs a variety of dramatic and language techniques to present the universal theme of love. Shakespeare portrays love as a powerful human emotion that transcends all prejudices and disputes, drawing on romantic ideas evident in the translated roman poem “The Tragical Historye of Romeus and Juliet,” by Arthur Brooke to create an Elizabethan Era play written in 1597 for an audience of all classes. He provides an insight to the power relations that existed in Elizabethan society, whose attitudes towards marriage were inclined towards an arrangement to increase the wealth and power of the family and less about love. Shakespeare deeply delves into the themes of adolescent/lustful, romantic and platonic love- representing and conveying them to the audience through interactions between key characters, development of dramatic imagery and language scripted in the Old English format. All of these themes are still relevant today, over four hundred years after the play was written. The play has long been recognized in western societies as the definition of a romantic text.

A key form of love presented in the early part of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is that of lust and desire, conveying the theme through the dialogue and emotions of the youthful adolescents in the play. Shakespeare’s initial presentation of Romeo’s desire for Rosaline positions the audience to perceive him as a passionate teen that believes he has fallen in love, becoming infatuated with the notion. As Romeo’s love for Rosaline is portrayed to be unrequited, he is shown to be miserable by this and states, “Out of her favour, where I am in love.” (1.1.168). He feels that he will never love another for he has found his true love- a common thought felt at some stage by most adolescents still yet to fully mature. Similarly, two adolescent members of the Capulet house, Gregory and Sampson, are depicted by Shakespeare to joke about their lust and desire as they wish to take the “maid of Montague’s”(1.1.11) and “thrust his maids to the wall.”(1.1.15) This mockery depicts their youthfulness and presents a variation of love that is not commonly associated with the theme.

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As the play progresses, Shakespeare alters the tone of the play so to present the romantic love festering between Juliet and her love, Romeo. He portrays the theme to the audience through the use of powerful dialogue and language, engaging audiences then and now in prominent displays between the “two star-cross’d lovers”(Prologue, line 6). This is evident in the balcony scene where both Romeo and Juliet confess their love for one another with Romeo stating, “It is my lady; O, it is my love,”(2.2.10) in reference to Juliet out on the balcony. This use of power and enlightenment in ...

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