How Does Shakespeare Present the Theme of Love in Act 1 Romeo and Juliet?

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“A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life” : by using these words in his Prologue and by describing Romeo and Juliet as being “star-cross’d” Shakespeare is alluding to destiny, the inevitability of the two characters’ paths crossing each other and suggests that the outcome is going to be fatal. The Prologue is written in sonnet form, a form of poetry which is usually used for love and by doing this Shakespeare is suggesting to his audience that that the play is concerned with love as well as tragedy: it brings a sense of heroism to the play and makes Romeo and Juliet the eponymous heroes that every play needs. Shakespeare shows their determination to be together despite the fact their stars are crossed rather than aligned: in the days of Shakespeare it was believed that the positions of the stars ruled over people’s fates and there was nothing they could do to fight it.

Shakespeare does not begin the play with the theme of love but rather the theme of hate “draw thy tool, here comes of the house of Montague’s”. The quote spoken by Gregory a servant of the house Capulet, is telling us how strongly he feels he must support the Capulet’s by hating the Montague servants. Gregory is a servant he has no reason to hate the Montague’s or even hurt them yet he still has anger towards them for no purpose other than they are his master’s enemies. Shakespeare does this, he starts the play with hatred, he embeds this violence and anger into the play between all these people just to show and help the audience understand what really goes on behind the scenes of love. Romeo and Juliet may be in love but Shakespeare tells us their friends, families and relations have an “ancient grudge” which breaks to “new mutiny”. The conflict of these two families only reinforces the aspects of love that we see; it tells the audience that if Romeo and Juliet are willing to ignore their families feud despite the consequences that they both would suffer theirs, must be true love and that is why Shakespeare starts off the play with the intertwining of love and hate. The first time Romeo is introduced in the play it is by Lady Montague who inquires of Benvolio (Romeo’s friend) about her son, “O where is Romeo? Saw you him today?” Shakespeare used these two short sentences to help the audience see the worry of a caring and loving mother, a perfect example of parental love. Shakespeare wants the audience to see Romeo’s parents are very “hands on” and involved in his life even knowing when he’s upset. Lord Montague tells us that when the sun, “begin to draw” Romeo “begin to draw the shady curtains from Aurora’s bed, away from light steals home my heavy son”. Aurora is the Greek god of dawn and Lord Montague is using classical allusion to elevate the idea that Romeo is so miserable he is shutting out the light and is “heavy” which means sad and depressed. The fact that Lord and Lady Montague are even aware of Romeo’s state shows just how openly they love him and shows their true parental love. Juliet’s parents, Lord and Lady Capulet, have a different approach to parental love and find it harder to express their love for Juliet. Lord Capulet is protective of his only remaining child “The hopeful lady of my earth” was how he described Juliet, Shakespeare shows a big contrast between Juliet’s parents behaviour by showing Lord Capulet’s open declaration of love for his daughter yet Lady Capulet cannot even speak to Juliet alone, she wants to speak to her daughter about the personal subject of marriage and sends the nurse away “Nurse give leave a while, We must talk in secret.” But then she says “Nurse come back again, I have remember’d me”; Lady Capulet needs the help of the Nurse to speak to Juliet: it seems as though she is afraid of her own daughter and wants the Nurse in with her to talk about this sensitive subject. The last type of “parental” love which Shakespeare explores is the love...
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