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

Topics: Romeo and Juliet, Love, Characters in Romeo and Juliet Pages: 7 (2529 words) Published: February 18, 2012
How Does Shakespeare Present The Theme Of Love in `Romeo And Juliet`?

In the play `Romeo and Juliet` the writer William Shakespeare uses the theme of love as a main feature to push the story along. Presented are a plethora of variations of love including family love, true love and courtly love. This essay aims to analyse these three types of love chosen.

Family love or loyalty is evident throughout the storyline. It is observed when Romeo discusses his depression with his cousin, Benvolio. Romeo describes love using the words `O loving hate… feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health [and] still-waking sleep`. Shakespeare uses the literary techniques of oxymoron’s to express Romeo’s confusion as he tries to elucidate what love is and convey that he is a man in pain, love-sick.

In reply to Romeo’s repetitions of descriptions of smoke Benvolio says `[when] one fire burns out another’s burning`, meaning that he wishes for Romeo to find another woman to love as there are many other possibilities of love available, one that is tangible or at least one that will distract him from the woman he suffers from. He suggests `some new infection` to discard `the rank poison of the old`. Hoping that Romeo will find a love more fair that will end the characteristics Romeo is displaying of courtly love. Romeo knows he is `out of her favour where [he is] in love` yet due to the fact that he is displaying courtly love it does not matter that Rosaline is unattainable he still ponders over her without listening to Benvolio`s advice and offers for example to be a `doctrine` that will cure him of love.

The care displayed by Benvolio is used by Shakespeare to show Romeo`s confusion and pain therefore leading the observer to feel for Romeo. It is also used to quicken the pace of the play, Benvolio`s advice starts Romeo`s recovery and the start of finding a new love.

Another example of family loyalty is Tybalt. He is a Capulet and therefore when he notices Romeo, and Montague at the Capulet ball he becomes angry and says that he would like to `strike him dead`. He finds the fact that Romeo has entered their home after the years of conflict between their families unbearable and horrific, therefore threatens him in order to defend his family. This shows that Tybalt, like Benvolio is loyal to his family, therefore is prepared to `kill for the honour of [his] kin`. This shows dramatic actions stemming from the love of a family contrasting with Benvolio`s actions of love that are more reasonable.

Another example of family loyalty is witnessed when Juliet is introduced in the play in act 1 scene 3. She appears completely restrained by her mother and father and an unusual love is evident. Lady Capulet, Juilet`s mother appears less concerned with being a caring mother and more involved in keeping the reputation of the family intact but also marrying off her daughter to a respectable and wealthy man. This leads to the observer holding the knowledge that it is unlikely that Juliet would be loyal to her mother when a situation arises. This becomes apparent when Juliet chooses to marry Romeo, an enemy of her mother, father and family. Knowing that the families reputation is important to them Juliet also chooses to commit suicide condemning her families reputation due to the sin she commits.

When it became popular knowledge that Tybalt was murdered by the hands of a Montague, Lady Capulet exclaimed, `for blood of ours, shed blood of a Montague.` Showing that she is more inclined to feel anger over the loss of the family rather than morn for Tybalt. This represents false family love, she feels for herself due to her loss rather than the death of Tybalt to a Montague. Projecting that she has loyalty to herself, to make sure her reputation remains unaffected and that she remains wealthy, rather than to her family.

This is contrasted with a more prominent parental figure of Juliet`s, the Nurse. The Nurse has...
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