Love Obedience Duty - Themes in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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The themes love, obedience and duty do not only run strongly throughout Romeo and Juliet, they are the main themes of the play and are essential motives for the many of the events that occur in the course of this play. These themes are of highly significant importance to the events that unfold in the play, the development of characters and the general ideas and values Shakespeare presents to the audience.

The theme love is undoubtedly one of the most important, possibly most, themes in the play. It is because Romeo and Juliet fall in love with each other that most of the subsequent events occur. In Act II Scene II, the balcony scene, the two lovers express their romantic feelings for each other leading to their engagement (Lines 143-148: "If that thy bent of love be honourable...And follow thee my lord throughout the world"). Through this love the audience is able to see the hardships of love that the two unexperienced lovers go through, separation and ultimately death. The two characters are infatuated with each other and this drives them to become hasty with decisions.

The development of both Romeo and Juliet's characters links to the romantic love that they share. Romeo, at the beginning of the play feels he will never love again as Rosalind does not return his love (Act I Scene I Lines 221-222: "She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow Do I live dead that live to tell it now") although this changes when he see Juliet. Juliet appears to be obedient and loyal to her family, promising to give Paris a chance (Act I Scene III Lines 97-99: "I'll look to like...Than your consent gives strength to make it fly."), until her love of Romeo tears her loyalties apart.

It is not only this type of love (romantic) that this play explores. Loves such as dutiful love is displayed through Paris, who loves Juliet dutifully while Juliet is expected to do so to Paris (Paris shows this in Act V Scene III, bringing flowers to Juliet's grave). Conditional love is shows...
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