Consider How Different Characters Interpret the Meaning of Love Paper

Published: 2021-09-11 10:10:09
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Category: Romeo And Juliet

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Shakespeare presents love in many different ways, using many different styles and types of language. I intend to present these different types of love.
Romeo and Juliet represent Romantic Love in this play.
In the very beginning of the play, Shakespeare uses the phrase ‘star-crossed lovers’ (prologue, line 6). By using this one phrase, Shakespeare has already set apart the love of Romeo and Juliet, from the other types of love presented in the play. On one level, this phrase is suggesting that their love is fated. This is also true throughout the play. There are many words and sentences that serve as reminders of their tragic destiny.
‘Star-crossed lovers’ is also a clever play on words. There are numerous references to the way that their true love lights up the skies. For example:
‘It is too rash, too unadvis’d, too sudden;
Too like the lightening, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say “it lightens”‘
(Act 2, Scene 2).
Romeo’s first reaction to Juliet is that she
‘doth teach the torches to burn bright’
(Act 1, Scene 5).
When he catches sight of her in the orchard, she is the
‘light (breaking) through yonder window’
(Act 2, Scene 2).
Juliet shares this view of their love. Initially, she is suspicious of the suddenness of the feeling, fearing it is like lightening
‘which doth cease to be
Ere one can say, “it lightens”‘
(Act 2, Scene2),
yet by the wedding night she is making a comparison to the luminescent quality of Romeo’s love,
‘………… when I shall die
Take him and cut him out in to little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night.’
(Act 3, Scene 2).
Shakespeare has portrayed the two lovers in a way, which makes it seem as if the whole world stands still; and time stops when they are together. There is an atmosphere of peace and stillness. It is if they are in a world of love, unaffected by the physical concerns of the world around them. This is reinforced by the intrusions of the outside world that interrupt each of their encounters.
Shakespeare’s use of language brings to life the age-old ideal of true love – love at first sight. Revealing the turmoil of emotions experienced by Romeo and Juliet, evoking moods of violence, tenderness, mirth, passion and terror. The attraction of this type of romantic love lies mainly in the idea of love at first sight. Romeo attends the Capulet’s party uninvited and on his first sighting of Juliet, is ensnared in to a completely different world, where everything is silent, still. All thoughts of his past ‘love’ (Rosaline), which could be called no more than an infatuation, are forgotten.
One of the phrases that is most famous, is Romeo’s expression of the love he is feeling for Juliet
‘Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’
(Act 1, Scene 5).
In saying this, not only is Shakespeare presenting Romeo’s love for Juliet, but also his unrequited, artificial love for Rosaline.
At the beginning of the play we see Romeo as being clever, excelling at elaborate word play.
‘Not having that which, having, makes them short.’
(Act 1, Scene 1).
He uses witty puns when he jokes with his friends,
‘In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.’
(Act1, Scene 1).
He then uses elaborate, stylish poetry when he talks about love,
‘Well, in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit
With Cupid’s arrow:’
(Act 1, Scene 1).
He is infatuated with Rosaline and his language is clever but artificial. Later, when he falls in love with Juliet, his language becomes simpler and more sincere.
‘Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is
(Act 1, Scene 5).
At the beginning of the play Juliet is a dutiful daughter who does what her parents tell her to do. But after she meets Romeo she becomes more independent. On the first night that she and Romeo meet, she refuses to be impressed by Romeo’s clever, artificial love poetry,
‘O swear not by the moon.’
(Act 2, Scene 2).
She insists on Romeo speaking from the heart.
Juliet is brave, she will do anything in order to be with Romeo: she deceives her parents, lies to her nurse, swallows a dangerous drug and eventually kills herself.
Sexual Love is presented by many different characters in the play these characters include Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio, The Nurse, Juliet’s view of Paris.
When Romeo first lays eyes on Juliet his first words
‘What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?’
(Act 1, Scene 5),
reveal the immediate impact that seeing Juliet has upon him. The effect Juliet has upon him is much more astonishing given his previous strength of feeling for Rosaline. However, to call this feeling love is very misleading: infatuation is a much more apt description.
As we read Shakespeare’s play, we observe that when Romeo first meets Juliet he falls in love with her. We call this love at first sight. But love at first sight has been debated for many years. How can you fall in love with someone you know nothing about, just from looking at them? Therefore I would describe Romeo’s first feelings towards Juliet as lust at first sight. Thus I include it in Sexual Love. Romeo cannot love Juliet for he does not know her. But he can lust after her being.
Another approach to love is presented in the opening scene and throughout the play references are made to it. This might be called sexual love. We first encounter it in the coarse humour of the servants in Act 1 Scene 1.
‘Tis true; and therefore woman, being the weaker
vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore I will
push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his
maids to the wall.’
(Act 1, Scene 1).
This is a very crude view of love. It is based on a purely sexual and lustful type of love. It also demonstrates the feeling towards women at the time, which can later also be seen in Lord Montague’s conversations with the County Paris,
‘Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender
Of my child’s love. I think she will be rul’d
In all respects by me’.
(Act 3, Scene 4).
Men of the time viewed woman as their possessions. They believed they had the right to rule woman and make their decisions for them.
Our first meeting with the nurse also exhibits the coarse humour that could be called sexual love. She jokes
‘Women grow by men’
(Act 1, Scene 3).
But moments later she encourages Juliet to view Paris sympathetically and
‘Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days’
(Act 1, Scene 3).
Mercutio’s conversations frequently employ lewd references that indicate a broad view of relations between the sexes, though Shakespeare’s use of puns adds a little delicacy to the humour. His language often contains sexual double meanings.
‘I conjoure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes,
By her high forehead, and her scarlet lip,
By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh,
And the demesnes that there adjacent lie,
That in thy likeness thou appear to us!
(Act 2, Scene 1).
Mercutio is an attractive character thjroguhout the play. Mercutio looks down on love and views it as a weakness. His view of love is purely focused on the physical and he mocks Romeo’s romantic ideas, sometimes offending his friend.
Parental Love is shown in various forms by the following characters Lord and Lady Montague, Lord and Lady Capulet, Friar Laurence, the Nurse.
Lord and Lady Montague do not appear that often, but throughout the play there is the underlying theme of their parental love towards Romeo.
Lord Montague is a caring father towards Romeo. At the beginning of the play, he asks Benvolio to find out what is troubling his son,
‘Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow,
We would as willingly give cure as know’.
(Act 1, Scene 1).
After the fight with Tybalt, he pleads with the Prince not to punish Romeo.
‘Not Romeo, Prince, he was Mercutio’s friend;
His fault concludes but what the law should end,
The life of Tybalt.’
(Act 3, Scene 1).
Lady Montague says very little in the play but, like her husband, is motivated by concern for Romeo. After Romeo is exiled from Verona, Lady Montague dies of grief,
‘Alas my liege, my wife is dead tonight!
Grief of my son’s exile hath stopp’d her breath.’
(Act 5, Scene 3).
Shakespeare presents Lord Capulet as a wealthy, elderly man who is used to having his own way. We see from his words that he can be an affectionate father,
‘She is a hopeful lady of my earth.’
(Act 1, Scene 2).
But when crossed, his temper is quick and violent. When Juliet is an obedient daughter, he is kind and protective towards her. But when she refuses to obey him he explodes,
‘Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what, get thee to church o’ Thursday,
Or never after look me in the face.’
(Act 3, Scene 5).
Shakespeare has depicted him as a typical man of the times. He considers Juliet as his property to do with as he chooses.
‘And you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend.’
(Act 3, Scene 5).
On the other hand, Lady Capulet is much younger than her husband. This age gap is referred to several times in the play. Although Shakespeare doesn’t present the relationship between Lord and Lady Capulet clearly, there is a hint that she is scornful of his age. When he asks for his sword in the early stages of the play so as to join the riot, she suggests a crutch instead,
‘A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for your sword?’
(Act 1, Scene 1).
Despite this she usually gives in to her husband and agrees with his plans for Juliet to marry Paris.
‘Well think of marriage now.’
(Act 1, Scene 3).
‘The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.’
(Act 1, Scene 3).
She appears as a weak woman who cannot stand up for herself in the sight of others.
I believe this has an affect on her relationship with her daughter Juliet. Their relationship is formal and distant. She appears cold and unemotional throughout the play, not wishing to draw attention upon herself for fear of her husband’s heavy hand.
‘Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word.
Do as though wilt, for I have done with thee.’
(Act 3, Scene 5).
Later though when she hears of Juliet’s death, she shows genuine grief.
‘O me, O me! My child, my only life,
Revive, look up, or I will die with thee!
Help, help! Call help.’
(Act 4, Scene 5).
The nurse is only one out of two characters to present parental love nocturnally. Friar Laurence is the second of the two characters.
Friar Laurence is the only character in this play that everyone respects and goes to for help and guidance. I believe that Shakespeare incorporated the Friar in to the play because he was knowledgeable about plants and poisons. I also believe that he represents peace and embodiment throughout the play. He is a neutral figure, a person who only thinks about others and making peace between the rival families, rather than his own personal problems or gain.
I think he is very much a father figure to Romeo. For Romeo, the friar is someone to whom he can turn to, someone who understands him. Romeo doesn’t have to fear the repercussions of his speech or actions when with the Friar. The Friar is someone who will give an impartial view on current situations.
‘Hence from Verona art thou banished.
Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.’
(Act 3, Scene 3).
In many senses, the Friar is a breath of fresh air from all the other characters Shakespeare has written. All the other characters are caught up in this tragic romance, in the feud and hatred between the houses. The Friar only wishes to see the fighting and killing stopped, to bring peace back to Verona. He cares for all. Therefore I see him as a father figure for all that wish for his guidance and help.
The nurse is somewhat similar to Friar Laurence. She doesn’t care for the feud, all she cares about is the happiness and well being of Juliet. Her own daughter Susan died when Juliet was born. In some ways I believe that the Nurse treats Juliet as her own child, having lost Susan.
The nurse only wants what is best for Juliet. Either in Juliet’s own happiness.
‘I anger her sometimes
and tell her Paris is the properer man; but, I’ll
warrant you, when I say so, she looks as pale as any
clout in the versal world. Doth not rosemary and
Romeo begin both with a letter.’
(Act 2, Scene 4),
or in Juliet’s best interests.
‘Then, since the case so stands as now it doth,
I think it best you married with the county.’
(Act 3, Scene 5).
Before this point Juliet looked upon her nurse as her confidant. Unfortunately this makes Juliet feel her nurse, for the rest of the play has betrayed her. Indicating the reason with which the nurse had no knowledge of Juliet’s plans towards the end of the play. We can see this is true by the genuine grief displayed when the nurse discovers Juliet dead,
‘O woe! O woeful, woeful, woeful day!
Most lamentable day, most woeful day,
That ever, ever, I did yet behold!’
(Act 4, Scene 5).
Brotherly Love can be seen in the form of Romeo and Benvolio, Romeo and Mercutio.
In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Shakespeare shows us that brotherly love is not just confined to actual blood brothers. It can be between individuals who have spent time together, have become the closest of friends; and through this become more like brothers than friends.
Benvolio, for example, is Romeo’s cousin. He is a peaceful man who always manages to be at the centre of conflict whether he likes it or not. When Lord and Lady Montague wish to help their son, Benvolio volunteers to find out what troubles him.
‘See where he comes! So please you, step aside;
I’ll know his grievance, or be much denied.’
(Act 1, Scene 1).
He resembles the Friar in many ways. He also wishes for peace upon Verona. He takes little joy in fighting the Capulets.
He looks out for Romeo, tries to ‘cover his back’ so to speak. When he recounts the tale of what took place between Tybalt, Mercutio and Romeo, he tries to make the Prince understand that Romeo wanted no quarrel.
‘Tybalt, here slain, whom Romeo’s hand did slay.
Romeo, that spoke him fair, bade him bethink
How nice the quarrel was, and urg’d withal
Your high displeasure.’
(Act 3, Scene 1).
Mercutio, on the other hand is lively, noisy and rude. He cares for Romeo more than he would like to allow show. His quick temper gets him in to trouble when he fights Tybalt on behalf of Romeo. He does not wish Romeo to be viewed as a coward and to be mocked as such. He cannot stand to see Tybalt mocking Romeo; and Romeo doing nothing more than pleading with Tybalt to stop. He is quick to lash out to protect Romeo, in honour, dignity and physically.
‘O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!
Alla stoccata carries it away.
Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?’
(Act 3, Scene 1).
Conventional love is explained briefly in the character of Juliet towards the County Paris.
I believe that when Juliet agrees to marry the County Paris she is involving herself with a love of convenience. She consents to marry the County only to appease her father until such time as she is able to act on the plan earlier concocted by Friar Laurence, a plan to help her escape her fate.
She does as the Friar tells her, for she can see no other way out.
‘Hold, then. Go home, be merry, give consent
To marry Paris.’
(Act 4, Scene 1).
In conclusion I can see that Shakespeare presents love in many different forms throughout the play. Romantic and Parental Love being the most prominent types. Shakespeare has taken the most widely known types of love and incorporated them all in this one play. I think that this in part is what makes ‘Romeo and Juliet’ one of the most successful love stories in the history of England. People can relate to ‘Rome and Juliet’, as at one point in most people lives they have experienced at least one of the types of love from Romeo and Juliet.
I received an A for this piece of coursework, if anyone needs anymore help my email address is [email protected] . I hope this helps

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