Thetheme of love is potent throughout the entirety of Romeo and Juliet.Many different forms of love are intertwined with one another throughout theplay and displayed through the relationships between characters and theirfeelings for one another. Romantic love between Romeo and Juliet iscontradicted by the love of violence in the play, while themes of familial loveand friendship are deliberated with regards to the unrequited love Romeo possessesfor Rosaline. The theme of unrequited andsuperficial love is firstly discussed through Romeo’s unreturned affections forRosaline.
In Act One Scene One, Romeo is shown to be depressed and in a stateof deep heartbreak because of the feelings he has for Rosaline. After being approachedby Benvolio to find out the cause of his grievances, Romeo reveals that he does“love a woman” but “she will not stay the siege of loving terms” and requitehis feelings. Romeo remains dejected until he meets Juliet, and not until thendoes Romeo recover from his deep heartbreak caused by Rosaline’s chastity andher devotion to it.
Another instance of unrequited love is the found within therelationship between Paris and Juliet. Paris has intense feelings for Julietand asks her to marry him. His love for her is similar to Romeo’s as it ispassionate and fast. However, the difference is that Juliet does not return thesame feelings to Paris. Juliet desperately asks Friar Lawrence to think of away to prevent her from marrying Paris and even comments, “O, bid me leap,rather than marry Paris”.
Paris felt deep emotion towards Juliet, to the extentof mourning for her after her apparent death and asking Romeo with his lastwords saying, “Oh, I am slain! If thou be merciful, open the tomb. Lay me withJuliet”. However, Juliet does not return his love and the feeling is notmutual. When Romeo and Juliet first meet theyfall in love at first sight. The destructive force of the infatuation thatRomeo and Juliet had developed with each other at first sight ultimately led tothe couple’s hasty marriage and premature deaths. When Romeo first noticesJuliet at the Capulet ball, he describes her as “a rich jewel in an Ethiope’sear” and likens her beauty to “a snowy dove trooping with crows.” Romeo alsoasks himself, “Did my heart love till now?” and calls his own eyes liars in theline, “forswear it, sight!” As well as this, in act one, scene 5, hestates, “I ne’er saw true beautytill this night”. In other words, corresponding with his previous loveRosaline, Romeo is equating feelings of love with lust, or an acknowledgementof beauty, and it is these lines that portray Romeo as falling in love at firstsight.
After being grasped by the dangerously misleading yet romanticallyappealing hold of love at first sight,Romeo and Juliet forget about all the consequences of their newfound and intenselove for each other. As time goes by the somewhat toxic love between the twostar-crossed lovers leads to the pair consummating their love physically. Further on in the play,Shakespeare presents romantic love as a natural force of nature. It is a forceso strong that it exceeds social normalities.
The love between Romeo and Julietis a principle example of romantic love. During the play, the young lovers aremoved by the strong power of their love for each other to defy their socialcustoms and rules. For example, Juliet asks Romeo to “Deny thy father andrefuse thy name, orif thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet”. Romeoalso deserts his friends, Mercutio and Benvolio, to sneak into Juliet’s garden.Towards the end of the play, Romeo even sneaks back into Verona after beinginformed of Juliet’s apparent death despite the death sentence that the princehad put in place if Romeo returned to Verona. The overriding feeling ofromantic love between the young lovers causes them to take drastic, andeventually fatal, measures in order to be together. The yoke of love feels sostrong and its power appears unparalleled. The seemingly eternal bond ofromantic love between the couple was so strong that they would rather die thanlive without the other.
This idea is recognised in the prologue of the playwhere Shakespeare writes, “A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.” This brings the idea ofill-fated love. Perhaps Romeo and Juliet’s love is fate. Their love isforbidden and unthinkable by both their families and the residents of “fairVerona.” Another type of love in Romeo and Juliet is the love of revenge and violence. A majorexample of this type of love is between the Capulets and the Montagues. In actone, scene one Lord Capulet and Lord Montague meet in the streets of Verona andwould have fought each other if their wives, Lady Capulet and Lady Montague,hadn’t stopped them. “Capulet: My sword, I say! Old Montague is come, and flourishes his blade in spite of me.
Montague: Thou villain Capulet! Hold me not. Let me go.” However, the mostobvious example of violence and revenge in the play is the fight betweenMercutio, Tybalt and Romeo.
At the start of the brawl, Mercutio and Tybalt justwanted an excuse to fight each other. This suggests that they may even enjoy fightingno despite the great dangers involved. However, after Tybalt kills Mercutio,Romeo in filled with anger and wants revenge. This sudden urge for revengecauses Romeo to chase and kill Tybalt for what he had done. This example of theabrupt desire for revenge may encouragethe reader to feel empathetic towards Romeo. Perhaps the rapidity of Romeo’sfeelings may have led him to makemisjudged decisions, ultimately leading to Tybalt’s death and his ownbanishment from Verona.
The love to fight betweenthe two families is a force that has even gripped their servants. They, theservants, cannot wait for their enemies to bait them toward violence. Anexample of this can be found in act one, scene one of the play where Sampsonand Gregory, who are Capulet servants, pick a fight with Abram, a Montagueservant. The love of violence between both households has engulfed everyone thatis part of the family as well as those that are strongly bound to the family.Even when Benvolio tries to stop the servants from fighting, Tybalt shows upand starts to fight with Benvolio. Even though Benvolio is only a friend of theMontagues, he is still entangled in their dispute with the Capulets. Parental love in Romeoand Juliet found in many forms between many different characters. Anexample of this is the love Lord and Lady Capulet share for their daughter Juliet.
They love their child because ofthe parental instincts that all parents have. This is also magnified becauseJuliet is the last remaining child of the Capulets and Lord Capulet would wanthis family name to carry on in the generations to come. The love for Juliet isshown by Lord Capulet when he refuses to marry away Juliet because he believesthat it would make her unhappy.
He makes this decision even though he wouldwant Juliet to carry on the family name. A similar type of parental love ispractised by Lord and Lady Montague for Romeo. Lady Montague shows her parentallove for Romeo when she is worried about the presence of Romeo and relievedwhen she finds that he was not in the families’ feud.
In the play, Juliet’snurse also seems to have a parent-like relationship with Juliet. Despite notbeing her parent, the nurse has loved Juliet from her birth and has taken careof her for all of her life. The nurse wants to protect Juliet in the same way aparent would want to protect their child. Romeo and Mercutio have aclose platonic relationship. They are always very playful and constantly jokingwith each other. Throughout the play, Mercutio frequently jokes with Romeoabout his love and love-sickness. Although he often mocks Romeo, Mercutio stillmanages to give him some advice on his problems. For example, “Prick love forpricking, and love beat you down.
” Towards the beginning of the play, Mercutiourges Romeo to be rough with love when it is rough with him. Mercutio is considereda neutral in the Montague and Capulet feud, this is because he is a kinsman forPrince Escalus. However, this does not affect his relationship with Romeo,shown by the way he steps in to fight Tybalt. When he is stabbed by Tybalt inAct 3, Scene 1, Mercutio blames the two houses of Montague and Capulet for hisdeath calling a “plague o’both yourhouses!” Although in his dying speech, he still manages to keep his humour andalways look on the positive side of things.
In conclusion, there arenumerous types of love in Romeo andJuliet and there are many different examples of love throughout the play.Shakespeare uses the feeling of love to highlight the traits of certaincharacters as well as the feelings between pairs and groups of characters. Thetypes of love a character in the play possesses seemto reflect their character and personality.
Perhaps this is one of thetechniques Shakespeare uses to portray the characters’ traits to the audience. Romeo and Juliet is arguably the most famous English love storyand the use of different types of love between almost every character is highlyeffective and very captivating.