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Romeo and Juliet: Lust vs. Love Essay

In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, by William Shakespeare, the two adolescents fall in love simultaneously and instantly, in other words experience love at first sight. This starts an intensely powerful, but brief relationship and marriage between the two. Often, love and lust can be confused as the same thing and, although they generally go hand in hand, they are not. This is shown through; Romeo’s love for Rosaline, which seemed to be around equal to that which he expresses for Juliet, vanishes as soon as he sees Juliet; the adolescents are brought together by lust, not love since they built their relationship on sexual attraction; and they got married after one day, which is not enough time to fall in love. As powerful and beautiful as their relationship was, Romeo and Juliet experienced lust, not love.

In the beginning of the play, Romeo confesses his love for a girl named Rosaline to his kinsman Benvolio. He describes this love to be very intense, and claims he can not love any other woman. The emotion that he has practically takes up his whole life because it is all he can think about, and he mopes around in woe of the fact that she didn’t love him back. Despite this fact, the only trait he speaks of when talking about Rosaline is her beauty, and not any characteristic of her personality, other than her refusal to be with him which is a negative trait if any.

After he goes on for several paragraphs about his unbreakable love for this girl, he sees Juliet and instantly forgets about Rosaline, claiming that he had never loved before he saw Juliet. How, then, can we say that Romeo was truly in love with Rosaline if her existence slipped her mind in one instant that he gazed upon another girl? If he had mistaken his feelings for Rosaline for love, he could have been mistaken in his emotions for Juliet as well. It is also difficult to accept his emotion of love considering that the only thing he spoke of was their beauty. An attraction based on beauty is better to be considered as lust.

Romeo sees Juliet before she sees him. As soon as he sees her, he goes into verses of her astounding beauty. After he approaches her, the two share a moment and Juliet as well is entranced by Romeo. The next day, they get married. Considering their young age, and the fact that they had little to no experience with relationships – they were both virgins – it would be easy to assume that the attraction they felt towards each other was not love but simply very intense lust driven by their young and raging hormones.

When something is new and unknown, it can be exaggerated. This is what happened to Romeo and Juliet. The amazingly strong connection they were having was blown out of proportion and led them to believe it was the strongest love, and they couldn’t live without each other. However, the moments in which they primarily fell in love involved them kissing twice, and speaking to each other about the others beauty. These are two things that have to do with lust, and the same interaction could have passed between two people who had no loving feelings towards each other at all, but only sexual attraction.

Nowadays, in Canada, one third of marriages end in divorce. This proves that love takes a long time to settle and see if it works out. Sometimes, after discovering enough about a person, you find out they were not right for you. Romeo and Juliet share two kisses before they fall in love, and only some conversation. None of this conversation allowed them to really get to know each other.

So, they got married without knowing anything of the other’s personality. Perhaps if the two adolescents hadn’t killed themselves so quickly, they would have seen that their relationship wouldn’t work out because their personalities may have not fit well together. Even people who know each other for years discover something new about each other all the time and Romeo and Juliet hardly new each other at all. Especially considering that in each of their minds, the other was perfect. When you have a perfect image of someone, it is even harder to accept when you learn of their flaws.

In conclusion, the emotion that Romeo and Juliet experienced in the tragic tale was more of a hormone-filled lust than true love. This is not to say that it wasn’t very intense, powerful and beautiful. It indeed was all these things, only love and lust are very different things. Love requires knowing and accepting one another, and they hardly knew each other at all seeing as they only met the day before they eloped.


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