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Romeo and Juliet, and Pride and Prejudice: Negative Perspective on Love

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One rather negative perspective on love is that the costs may outweigh the rewards

The play, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare and the novel, ‘Pride and Prejudice’,1813, by Jane Austen, both have the same concepts of love and that a rather negative perspective on love is that the costs may outweigh the rewards. In both texts, they demonstrate the limitations that prevent them from being together. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the idea of the opposing families, the pressures of society, the use of violent acts and language is ultimately what prevents the star-crossed lovers from being together is very similar. Both Shakespeare and Austen use a variety of literary techniques to convey the idea that the costs of love may outweigh the rewards.

There are many negative perspectives that can be taken from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that illustrate on the cost of love, in their case one of them is their parental disapproval for both Romeo and Juliet. In the text Shakespeare uses rhetorical questions, religious and visual imagery to explain the parental disapproval of both the Capulet and Montague family. Juliet’s own use of rhetorical questions, ‘What’s in a name?’, is an indication of her searching for a way to distance her love, Romeo, from the hatred of their conflicting and feuding families. Romeo uses of religious and visual imagery, ‘Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptised’, The use of visual imagery, ‘Had I it written, I would tear the word’, portrays the idea of the costs outweighing the rewards, he is willing to sacrifice family loyalty to secure his love with Juliet. For both Romeo and Juliet to be together they must pay the ultimate cost rather than a reward of celebrating their love with family.

One of the main costs that outweigh the rewards is that love in a climate of violence cannot be successful. In act 1, Romeo finds out that Juliet is a Capulet, his words repeat the prologue; ‘death-marked love/untimely death’. This also describes their love being ‘death-marked’ and leading to death in the end. Shakespeare uses violent language and reference to swords and death by Romeo in the marriage and balcony scene, which is an indication that love will not survive in a climate of violence; ‘There lies more peril in thine eye, than twenty of their swords!’. Romeo is suggesting that Juliet’s eyes are more dangerous him inside more than swords ever will. Another indication that love in a climate of violence cannot be successful is when both Juliet and Romeo after the death of Tybalt their marriage is surrounded by violence and seems almost impossible, ‘Poor ropes you are beguiled, both you and I, for Romeo is exiled’. Juliet uses personification to refer herself as being cheated, like the ropes; the ropes will not be used to bring Romeo to Juliet because of his banishment. This evidence shows that in a climate of violence love cannot be successful for Romeo and Juliet.

In Act 3 the costs of love in a negative perspective becomes apparent to Juliet as she must suffer the death of her cousin and her murderous husband’s banishment. Shakespeare uses oxymoron, imagery and hyperbole to illustrate Juliet’s many painful and conflicting emotions. When Juliet finds out that her husband has killed her beloved cousin, Tybalt, she makes excuses for Romeo because she still loves him despite the pain he has caused her. She uses the oxymoron, 'fiend angelical' to convey her conflicting emotions about Romeo. She feels that Romeo is both a devil and an angel at the same time reveal her painful and conflicting emotions. Juliet uses light and dark imagery, 'More light and light: more dark and dark our woes', to describe her pain about the death of Tybalt, as the day gets lighter and their sorrows get more painful. She uses imagery convey her conflicting feelings about her husband who killed her cousin, Tybalt. The hyperbole, 'banished/ that one word banished, hath slain ten thousand Tybalts', to describe her anguish and conflicting emotions, that she would rather ten thousand Tybalts die than her husband being banished. All of this shows Juliet's conflicting and painful feelings about Romeo and Tybalts death and shows one of many negative perspectives in the play about the costs outweighing the rewards of love.

The novel, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (1813)written by Jane Austen closely relates to the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Pride and Prejudice shows great resemblances to the text and does capture the essence of the price of love. In ‘Pride and Prejudice’ the price of love is overcoming the scruples and expectation by Mr Darcy that they each come from completely different social backgrounds, as ]it says in the book ‘his sense of her inferiority - of its being a degradation – of the family obstacles’. He struggled to repress his feelings because of these perceived obstacles. This closely resembles Romeo and Juliet when Romeo discovers that Juliet is a Capulet and he struggles to comprehend that they are both from two opposing and feuding families. In Romeo and Juliet the feuding families suggest that there would be a severe punishment if they ever found out about their secret love affair. Juliet is distraught as she says, ‘My grave is like to be my wedding bed’, which is an example violent imagery. In Juliet’s case the price of love is her death which in her use of violent words. Like Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice explores the technique of imagery, in the scene when Lady Catherine addresses Elizabeth and says, ‘Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?’, which demonstrates Lady Catherine’s violent opposition to the alliance. In Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s case the price of love would be being disowned by Lady Catherine. In Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet, it implies that the price of love is their social standing for both Darcy and Elizabeth and their families disapproval of the marriage.

In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’, they both convey the concepts of love being a cost that may outweigh the rewards for both Romeo and Juliet and Darcy and Elizabeth. Both authors use the language techniques to help convey the characters feelings and emotions about love and the costs of it. The opposing families come to the grips of the negative consequence of the long feud between the families which leads to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo’s willingness to sacrifice his family for his love, Juliet’s struggle of Tybalt’s death and their own deaths clearly display the negative perspective on love and the costs outweighing the rewards.

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