How is Love Presented in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is a Shakespearean play written in 1595 set in a town called Verona in Italy. The theme of love is the main for this play and it's interesting to examine how is love presented in Romeo and Juliet. So this essay defines how the concept and feeling of love is portrayed in Shakespeare's poem. 

The two ‘star crossed lovers’ are a part of different families, the Capulets and Montagues who hate each other over a blood feud caused by their ancestors, generations before the play takes place. Romeo and Juliet meet at a party thrown by Juliet’s father, Capulet, and instantly fall in love with each other. However Romeo is banished after killing Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt after murdering his relative and friend, Mercutio. It has the vocabulary and style of 1500 work including the belief that it was based of the poem Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke.

In Romeo and Juliet, love is portrayed as unrequited through some of the main characters. You can see this is the line said by Romeo, ‘well, in that hit you miss, she’ll not be hit with Cupid’s arrow.’ This quote, from Act 1 scene 1 is talking about how cupids’ arrow had missed Rosaline's heart, admitting that Rosaline does not love Romeo back, which makes his love unrequited. Also, Cupid’s arrow missing Rosaline's heart and just hitting her emphasizes how Romeo's love for Rosaline is hurting his family and friends, making them concerned, for instance, when Montague talks to Benvolio about seeing Romeo crying and wondering off from time to time. In the Elizabethan Era, Greek mythology was seen as a popular topic and was widely used in poetry and other plays written by Shakespeare and other righters. Unrequited love can also be seen through Juliet not wishing to marry Paris.

You can see this when Juliet says, ‘This is an honour I dream not of.’ This quote, from Act 1 scene 3 shows unrequited love since it tells us how the love that Paris is trying to give to Juliet is not given back or appreciated by Juliet. In the Elizabethan Era it was expected that the daughter should put family first over their own personal feelings, however, Juliet not obeying her mother and father emphasizes how Juliet really does not want to marry Paris and will even go against her family wishes. Finally, Juliet still calling it ‘an honour’ tells us that she does still understand why it is important to her family to marry Paris, so the Capulets can have higher status than the Montagues. However even if Juliet wanted to marry Paris she could not since she is already married to Romeo, and the Catholic Church, which is the main religion in Verona, does not recognize remarriage even after divorce, which they do not accept either. This means she will wither have to go against her religion, Romeo, or her family. Women in the Elizabethan Era were seen as property to their father, then husbands, and that is why arranged marriage was common since it bought two family's resources together. Therefore, we can see how unrequited love is a popular theme for the play since it effects both the main characters in some way.

Love is also presented by Shakespeare by the parental characters Lady Capulet and Capulet. This can be shown in Act 1 scene 3 where Juliet and a servant address Lady Capulet as’ Madam.’ This is significant since it shows how formal their relationship is as mother and daughter. Also, the servants calling her ‘madam’ shows how Juliet also has to address her as her mistress and how she is her parents’ property and a second-class citizen. This shows us the nurse is more if a mother to Juliet and her mother is more just biological than fitting into the role of a mother, unlike the Nurse. In the Elizabethan Era, wet nurses were quite common in wealthy families and would normally have a better relationship with the child than the mother since the nurse would have looked after them from birth. So even though to modern day people we would see her mother as a bad one and how it was odd that the nurse was a better motherly figure; in those times their relationship would have been seen as quite normal. The line, ’Juliet is the sun,’ which is said in Act 2 Scene 2, shows us how important Juliet is to him. Humans need the sun to survive, emphasising how without Juliet he cannot survive, foreshadowing their deaths after he find Juliet and kills himslef. This also tells us that without Juliet, the world is dark and lonely for Romeo, just like how it turns night when the sun sets. Finally Romeo describing Juliet as the sun emphasises how her beauty is blinding, which tells us him being in love with her is damaging himslef. The Heliocentric view of the earth was a widespread belief in the Elizabethan Era. It says that the sun was the centre of the universe, which can be linked to how Romeo sees Juliet as the centre of his thoughts and tells us how his life revolves around her. Therefore we can see that Romeo sees Juliet as the most important thing in the universe and that Juliet loves him more than her family, shown in act 3 scene 2 where she compares him dying to ‘is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet’ as being ‘slain’.

In conclusion, we can see that love in Romeo and Juliet is presented as unrequited, through their parents and Romeo and Juliet’s love towards each other. Even though we do not ever see Rosaline she plays an important role in the first Act and is one of our main focuses. Lady Capulet does not have the motherly love that we are used too. For instance, her maidnurse is left to look after her while the parents don’t do anything to do with her and leave the nurse to do the caring for them. And finally, Romeo’s and Juliet’s love for each other is probably as much as a main character as they are and is emphasised throughout the play, from when they first met to the end of the play even after their death.

11 February 2023
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