The Truth and Nature of Love in 'Shakespeare in Love'

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Describe an idea that interested you in a text you have studied. Explain why this idea interested you using visual/verbal techniques to support your answer.

John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love is a ‘romantic comedy’ set in the class-dominated society of Elizabethan England. The two protagonists and “Star-crossed lovers” of the film come from completely different ends of the class spectrum. Will Shakespeare is a “lowly player” with writer’s block searching for his muse and wealthy Viola De Lesseps who dreams of “love as there has never been in a play” are fortune’s fools as the viewer must come to realise that love cannot conquer all. Madden conveys the division between Will and Viola through use of dialogue, mis-en-scene, camera shots and costuming. It is through these techniques that as a twenty-first century viewer I became able to understand the harshness of “the truth and nature of love” in sixteenth century England and began to appreciate more the risks Will and Viola took to defy these truths.

The idea of the “truth and nature of love” in sixteenth century England defines marriage as a method of obtaining social or financial gain. This divides our unfortunate protagonists who are separated by their respective social standings. Maddens positions the viewer to see this separation through use of dialogue in Will and Viola’s conversations. Viola is quicker too see the consequences the two will face if she continues her romance with Will saying “it is too flattering sweet too be substantial.” Too good to be true. Will and Viola’s love is a brief exert from the realities of the time, a dream that can only last until Viola’s inevitable marriage to Lord Wessex. “Master Will, poet dearest to my heart, I beseech you, banish me from yours- I am to marry Lord Wessex- a daughter’s duty.” However Will and Viola continue to pursue their risky love coming to each other in disguise. Will gets caught up in the romance having finally found his muse and boasts to Viola...
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