‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare is a tragic play that explores many different forms of the theme of love. From the elevated pure love that Romeo and Juliet portray; to the bawdy physical love that the Nurse and Mercrutio personify. “Romeo and Juliet” follows the story of two young star-crossed lovers from feuding households to their tragic death.
Sampson & Gregory
Sampson & Gregory
Sampson & Gregory introduce first reference of love. It is purely physical.
“ ’Tis true, and therefore women being of the weaker vessels are ever thrust to the wall”
Highly disrespectful, derogative, purely physical, no consideration for the emotions or feelings of others, never known real love/romance, immaturity towards love.
Romeo is obsessed with the idea of love, and pines for it but he has not experienced real love yet. He believes that he knows what real love is and goes on to describe his feelings
“Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like a thorn”
Romeo is describing love to what he believes it to be, what he longs to feel. He is overcome by this false reality and fantasy. Romeo speaks in common place antithetical language of contemporary love poetry. This suggests Romeo’s love is artificial- this highlights his further confused emotional state.
Romeo’s best friend and confidant Mercrutio has a very immature and unrealistic view of love.
“prick love for pricking”
He feels that love is something to be fought against. He feels that love is just a petty form of desire. He feels that Romeo’s love for Rosaline is just him pining for physical love.
“If love be blind, it cannot hit the mark.”
This may mean that Mercrutio does not believe in love or that love could never find him as he has such an obsession with prefection.
The Nurse portrays a more physical perception of love. She sees marriage as just another part of life. She also makes jokes about Juliet's future sex life.
“Dost thou fall upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit”
The Nurse always talks about love and sex as the same thing but always talks about her husband with affection. Showing that she loved the man that she married.
The nurse and Juliet have a very close relationship. The nurse sees Juliet as her own child and this is some of the only affection Juliet has ever experienced.
Romeo and Juliet both had people close to them (the nurse and Mercutio) who have a very physical view of love. Which contrasts with their very deep and loving connection.
Lady Capulet does not believe that love and marriage are the same thing. She feels that Juliet should marry for status and wealth.
As far as we know, Lady Capulet is very inexperienced in real love as she married very young for social standing.
Paris : “Younger than she are happy mothers made.”
Lord Capulet: “And too soon marr’d are those so early made”
This shows that Capulet, who is significantly older than his wife, understands that having a young bride does not lead to a fulfilling life.
She is a flighty and ineffectual mother to Juliet. When she wishes to speak alone with Juliet she dismisses the nurse but realises she cannot speak to Juliet alone. This emphasizes her lack of understanding with her own daughter.
This proves Romeo and Juliet’s love is unconditional but in reality it is unrealistic due to it’s ferocity and circumstances.
The love between the two has many reoccurring motifs throughout the play.
Romeo: “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright.”
This comparison of Juliet to light emphasizes his blinding passion as he says she burns brighter than any light he has seen.
Their love is never explained but is unquestionable.
Romeo also describes Juliet as a “Bright angel” this celestial imagery continues the light motif and shows how spiritual their love is.
Romeo & Juliet's love is very different from the other characters as it is purely about instant affection.
Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet” portrays many different aspects of love through many various characters and their views. The theme of love is introduced as very physical and bawdy but in contrast the main love story is very pure and elevated. Shakespeare effectively creates a tragic ending through the death of Romeo and Juliet as their love is ultimately their downfall. This makes it more tragic as they are purer people and their relationship are truer to their real feelings.