“Romeo and Juliet” is an Elizabethan play of tragedy, written by William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet is about two “star-crossed” lovers, of feuding households, who die for the ultimate price of love, and each other. Shakespeare communicates the underlying main idea of love through contrasting the many different forms of love which appear through the play. Various characters in the play talk of love from many different points of view. We are shown that not everyone’s view of love is the same, and this can create conflict when communicating honestly about the sensitive subject. We learn that deep, passionate, and romantic love is the purest of all the various forms, and can be more powerful than genuine hatred, and even death.
Intellectual, or fake, love is a common form of love in today’s society. It is where a person is in love with the idea of being in love, and not the actual person they may be with at the time. Romeo experiences this before he meets Juliet, and currently with Rosaline. Because of this he didn’t know of true love. This point is proven when Juliet says to Romeo that he “kiss[es] by the book”. This shows he knows of no passion or emotion. Romeo knows no other way because he has never been in true love such as his love for Juliet. When Romeo first sees Juliet, he says “did my heart love till now?” This quote shows us that he was questioning if in fact he has ever been in true love before; which he wasn’t, only in love with the idea of being in love. We learn the common fault of teenage love; that it is predominantly intellectual love. We also learn how fast we can fall out of intellectual love; proving passionate love is the purest form.
Another common form of love is physical or earthy love, where the relationship is built on physical attraction and sex only. Both Mercutio and the Nurse see love in this bawdy way. As Romeo jumps over the orchard wall to Juliet, Mercutio says “I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes, by her high forehead and her scarlet lip”. Mercutio thinks Romeo is going to see Rosaline and mocks Romeo for his view on romantic love; speaking of Rosaline in a very physical, emotionless, and demeaning way. Mercutio believes Romeo views love the same way as him, while in reality they are virtually opposites.
The Nurse, like Mercutio, sees love as sex or producing children, and views love in the same crude way. The Nurse advises Juliet that “Romeo’s a disclout to [Paris]” and that Paris “excels your first”. The Nurse is only trying to comfort Juliet, by sharing her own views and thoughts, and stating that Paris would be a better provider, or father, because of his status and power. Nevertheless the Nurse fails, as nobody understands Romeo and Juliet’s passionate love. We learn that it is often hard for people with different views of love to communicate openly and honestly about love, without others being hurt or misunderstood.
A not so common view of love today is financial love; where people see marriage as a financial transaction to secure their future social and economic advancement. Lord and Lady Capulet plan to marry Juliet off to Paris, for the social and monetary advantages in being linked to the Prince, through Paris. The Lord and Lady view love as just an optional extra to marriage. Lord Capulet spells out Juliet’s situation to Paris, “within her scope of choice lies my consent and fair according voice”. Juliet is an heiress, and her father does not intend to enrich any, but a husband of his choosing. Although, when Juliet refuses to marry Paris, her parents are furious.
Lady Capulet states that she has “done with thee”, and not to talk to her, for she will “not speak a word”. Lord Capulet is outraged and threatens Juliet that “get thee to church on Thursday or never after look me in the face”. Since the Lord and the Lady, and Juliet don’t have the same views on love, the Lady and the Lord finds Juliet’s rejection as an insult to their hard work finding a suitable husband, to both their likings and a groom who will advance them in that day’s social hierarchy. Also, there is no or little love between Juliet and her parents, as they see her as an economic asset for their personal gain. Again, Romeo and Juliet are isolated as no one understands their love. We learn through tough times, passionate and romantic love prevails above the disappointment, contrasting views, and lack of love from those we look up to, our parents.
The final form of love, the most important, passionate and romantic love is the contrast of all other views and forms of love. Romeo’s and Juliet’s love is separated from the other characters; as it is shown as eternal and pure. Their love for each other is overpowering; it controls them, and will soon lead them to their tragedy. Romeo and Juliet’s love is expressed in many metaphors and similes. Romeo compares Juliet to “rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear”, and Juliet speaks that you could cut him out in little stars, and he “will make the face of heaven so fine that the world will be in love with night”. This expresses their rich, true, intense, and passionate love. Their love for each other supersedes all other emotions, loyalties, and values. As Mercutio is at his death bed he wishes “a plague on both your houses”. Romeo and Juliet’s all-consuming love breaks the strong friendship between Romeo and Mercutio. We learn that passionate and romantic love is more pure and true than any other view of love. Although we are shown that this love can destroy other good love, such as friends, family, and rulers.
Love is proved stronger than hatred, stronger even than death, the play is almost as much about hatred as it is about love. It seems to be an important message in the play than love is even stronger than the power of fate; love has taught society a lesson. The audience knew from the start of the play that the two lovers would die, but their deaths hold hopes for the future. Love has changed the world of Verona. We learn that the power of true, passionate, and romantic love overcomes all different forms of love, hatred, death, and fate.