Romeo and Juliet, one of William Shakespeare’s arguably most renowned plays, heavily relies on the theme of love. Although, one must explore what types of love this refers to. Romantic love is probably most obvious, this love is communicated between the two main characters throughout majority of the play. Platonic and familial love is also predominantly displayed amongst a few of the main characters in the play. Shakespeare plays around with the idea of love throughout the whole play and makes the viewer contemplate about love in a richer sense. Shakespeare’s audience also would have had very different perspectives of love and marriage compared to the ones we have today.
The lust between Romeo and Juliet can easily be mistaken for love. The contrast between love and lust can be very drastic. Lust is superficial when only the appearance in considered, this could be called “love at first sight”. The first clue of Romeo’s feelings towards Juliet is in the first act, scene five so it’s somewhat close to the beginning of the play. “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” This implies that Romeo’s temporary obsession with Rosaline was nothing in comparison to the emotions he was feeling for Juliet. Although these feelings were rushed, they were extremely strong. Perhaps Romeo and Juliet’s love is fate and their love was due to the stars. This could mean that Shakespeare suggests that the universe played a significant role in the establishment of their love. Despite their love being forbid by the Capulet and Montague families, they find themselves drawn to each other regardless. All in all, Shakespeare puts forth romantic love as a force of nature, so strong that it surpasses familial customs and life itself due to their united act of suicide at the end of the play.
Romeo and Juliet is usually thought to be a play solely about romantic love. This is partially true but many of the background characters experience love that is platonic. This form of love is demonstrated by best friends Romeo and Mercutio. I believe that Shakespeare intentionally added Mercutio into the play to balance out the naïve and fickle personality of Romeo. While Romeo has an idealistic perspective of love, Mercutio almost acts as his conscience. We can also identify the love Romeo feels for Mercutio the moment he became so furious that Tybalt killed him and wanted revenge. The significance of Romeo’s feelings of revenge is that just a few lines ago he was refusing to fight Tybalt since Romeo knew that they were family through his marriage with Juliet. However, Romeo’s feelings of love towards Mercutio and the rage he was experiencing over his death became so strong that he momentarily forgot about his relationship with Juliet. This proves that Romeo would go to great lengths to manifest his love for Mercutio. This dialogue spoken by Romeo, “fire-eye’d fury be my conduct now” resonates with Romeo’s feelings of fury and also well portrays his love for Mercutio. Shakespeare did a great job of showcasing the platonic love between Romeo and Mercutio by his well thought out choice of character backgrounds and sequence of events.
During the Elizabethan times, most people believed that love wasn’t an essential part of marriage. Almost all marriages of the upper class were arranged. Love was something that came after marriage, rather than before. Similarly, Paris’ love for Juliet was the result of following tradition, not passion. He thought she was good contender for a wife and consulted her father to arrange their marriage. This shows his shallow, unpassionate approach towards love. He even admits to Friar Laurence that in his hustle to rush the wedding, he hadn’t discussed anything love related with Juliet. “Immoderately she weeps for Tybalt’s death, and therefore have I little talked of love.” This is a form of trivial love that Shakespeare decided to portray in this play. Several metaphors that Shakespeare used helped illustrate this. In Act V, Scene 3, Paris went to the tomb to mourn Juliet and says, “Sweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strew.” Paris compares Juliet to a flower and her tomb to a bridal bed. This could show a slight sign of remorse on Paris’ side for not talking to her in advance due to the use of the word “strew”. Overall, Paris’ love for Juliet was unrequited and transitory.
In conclusion, Romeo and Juliet portrays different aspects and types of love in many ways. Shakespeare’s idea of the concept of love is definitely very intricate and multifaceted. Through the many different characters and relationships in the play, he depicts some of the various types of love and the different ways it can proclaim. These relationships can be romantic, platonic, familial, shallow, trivial or fate.
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