Love's Role in Romeo and Juliet

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I think that most people, even those who have not actually read the play, automatically consider Romeo and Juliet to be a love story. However, I think this is due to a frequent misreading of the work. I am not surprised that the romance sweeps up so many people, especially if they are not completely familiar with the play. A boy killing himself because he would rather die than live without a girl? A boy wooing a girl outside her window? Especially with Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Romeo + Juliet (1996), film adaptations that really amp up the romance, the story becomes an unreachable and fantastical standard of love for female readers. Personally, I think Romeo and Juliet is more about lust than love. Romeo, who is deeply in love with (and heartbroken by) Rosaline at the beginning of the play, completely forgets about her the second he lays his eyes on Juliet. Although social norms were almost completely different back in Shakespeare’s day, it does not change that the two are teenagers with fickle hearts; it is likely that their “love” was more infatuation than a lasting devotion. Throughout the course of the play, Romeo and Juliet really only know each other for a handful of days. This is similar with other relationships in the play; the love between Paris and Juliet, for example, is borne more out of custom and expectations from Juliet’s parents rather than from genuine affection. A few of the family relationships in the play also seemed rather unloving as well, namely between Juliet and her mother and father. The love itself, although dominant, does not seem completely central to Romeo and Juliet; it seems to serve as various plot devices to move the story along and generate the conflict. The love and passion present in the play are what continually advances the story to its climax. The ending of the play seems to show the irrationality, where Romeo kills himself almost immediately finding out that Juliet is “dead”, that love brings. The...
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