Religious Language and Concepts in Romeo and Juliet

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Religious Language and Concepts in Romeo and Juliet

The epistle of Saint John unequivocally states, “Love comes from God” (1 John 4:7). This statement not only explains the source of love but it also provides a means to understand both love and God. If love is from God, then an understanding of love can be derived from knowing God. Thus, the converse, knowing love provides a level of knowledge concerning God, is true. In light of this conclusion, it only seems natural that the two should intersect when trying to describe one another. William Shakespeare employs Christian language and concepts in the play Romeo and Juliet to not only effectively conveys the gravity of love but also to provide metaphorical undertones to the play’s conclusion. It is apparent that Shakespeare intentionally used religious language and concepts in order to elicit the implications that are attached with the words. By glossing over these words as two-dimensional adjectives much of Shakespeare’s beauty and genius is lost and the intrinsic harmony connecting love and God is unknown to the reader. The play Romeo and Juliet is steeped in religious language and constructions. The possible examples are numerous and wide ranging, but some are used to convey love while others are used to drive the thematic plot. For organizational purposes, the usages of religious language that help convey the meaning of love will be addressed first followed by an explication of the thematic usages or religious language. An excellent example of how Shakespeare implements religious language and concepts in order to describe the transcendent emotion of Love is in Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting. While courting Juliet, Romeo says, “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand, To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.” (1:5:97-98) Prior to this statement Romeo had equated Juliet with a holy shrine and he then employs the religious concept of pilgrimage in the following lines. On a very surface level, this...
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