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Comment on various sorts of love in the play ‘Romeo and Juliet. How does Shakespeare use language to reinforce these feelings? Romeo and Juliet, a tale of two ‘Star-crossed’ lovers, is similar to any modern-day, magazine featured love story. It features a typical teenage romance, which is destined for tragedy. Take West Side Story or even Grease; they all thrive around the same plot. William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet in the 16th Century. It is set in the 12th Century in the thriving city of Verona amongst the hate of two rival families; The Capulets and The Montagues.
The plot intertwines itself around different types of love and ends with an act of truelove. Only through the young lover’s death do the two feuding families finally shake hands in a sign of reconciliation. Throughout the play Romeo and Juliet depend on one another as a source of support and love. One prime example of this is of Juliet and her nurse. This type of love is also featured at the beginning of the play between Romeo and his cousin, Benvolio. Throughout the beginning of Act 1 Scene 1 both Lord and Lady Montague (Romeo’s parents) and Benvolio show concern toward how Romeo has been behaving.
They describe him as being ‘tearful’ and ‘unsociable’. Benvolio then shows himself as a close, sensitive friend to Romeo. He talks to Romeo sympathetically even though he has been pushed away by him. He displays care and support which could be classed as ‘brotherly love’. These actions between two people do not stop there as the same happens between Mercutio and Romeo in Act 2 Scene 4, Mercutio says to Romeo: ‘Why is not this better now than groaning for love, thou art sociable, thou art Romeo, for this drivelling love is like a great natural. ‘
In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Shakespeare used techniques such as light imagery to emphasise a mood or a particular speech. In Elizabethan times, when ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was written, the stage in which it would have been performed would have been very simple. Therefore, Shakespeare had to rely on the words spoken by the characters to create the imagery needed. By using light to denote love he could create the images he wanted and the audience could picture the mood as opposed to seeing it. An example of this is when Romeo describes Juliet, his love, as a light breaking through a dark window (Act 2 Scene 2) or a bright angel or the sun.
Juliet then goes on to describe the suddenness of their love like lightning: ‘It is too rash, too sudden, too like the lightning. ‘ (Act 2 Scene 2 line 118-119) This technique is so effective that Shakespeare uses it throughout ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Shakespeare was born and grew up during the Elizabethan times. Religion, money and wealth played a strong part in life in this era. In Shakespeare’s plays he reflects heavily on Elizabethan values in showing love and marriage to be the main focus of women’s life. Girls as young as 12 were encouraged to marry for Wealth and Status as opposed to love.
According to an Elizabethan text it says: ‘It is generally considered foolish to marry for love, although love may occur in marriage. ‘ Elizabethan Life- Throughout the Ages The idea of arranged marriages was very popular during this time and this topic is featured in Romeo and Juliet. Juliet’s parents, Lord and Lady Capulet, are approached by, Paris, a suitable husband for their daughter. Through looking at his background and status in wealth, Lord Capulet decides that the two should marry. However, it could be said that Shakespeare wasn’t in favour of these marriages because he made two main characters express concern about the age of their daughter being so young.
This is shown when Lord Capulet says to Paris: ‘My child is yet a stranger in the world, She hath not seen the change of fourteen years, Let two more summers wither in their pride, Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride. ‘ (Act 1 Scene 2) One of the most abnormal actions which would not normally fit in with Elizabethan life is when Romeo and Juliet marry because of pure love. When this play was written there was a small rising Elizabethan interest in marrying for love as apposed to status of wealth or family. By including this in the play he introduced his audience to what he thought should be accepted possibly in future life.
In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Shakespeare uses different types of language technique to create an emotion. A prime example of this is when the two lovers, Romeo and Juliet, meet for the very first time. They share a 14 line sonnet. In this sonnet there is religious imagery: Which mannerly devotion shows in this, For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch, And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss. (Act 1 Scene 5 lines 97-99) Here Romeo and Juliet use religious icons to express their love for each other and through mirroring the love between a pilgrim and a saint they are in reality talking about themselves.
One of the reasons why Shakespeare has used this sonnet in the first meeting, between Romeo and Juliet is to emphasise their mutual feeling of ‘love at first sight’. It brings both rhythm and elegance to the text. By including sonnets in his text, Shakespeare is able to enhance and beatify the emotion. Before the famous two lovers, Romeo and Juliet, meet each other for the first time we discover, in the opening scene, that Romeo is infatuated with a lady called Rosaline. In Act 1 Scene 1 Romeo declares ‘She is too fair, to wise, wisely too fair, To merit bliss by making me despair.
‘ Romeo is indeed in despair as Rosaline, the women he apparently loves, has sworn that he will remain a virgin for the rest of her life. Benvolio reminds Romeo by saying ‘Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste. ‘ Romeo partly in anger, starts using elaborate language to further describe his infatuation. He says: ‘Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs, Being purged, a fire sparkling in lover’s eyes. ‘ Romeo’s love for Rosaline echoes Petrach’s, a popular English poet, work. Petrarch used very heavy descriptive language in his poetry.
Romeo was almost obsessed with Rosaline but she rejected his advances. This type of infatuation is called Petrarchan love. Romeo’s love for Rosaline is classed as unrequited’ love or almost courtly love. Shakespeare wrote Romeo’s melodramatic speech about Rosaline to seem almost unconvincing. It was as if Shakespeare didn’t want the audience to believe that Romeo’s feelings were genuine. He uses oxymoron’s to persuade us that in fact Romeo’s love for Rosaline is false. An example of this is when Romeo says: ‘O brawling love, loving Hate, O heavy lightness, serious vanity.
‘ By including such techniques as this, it almost overdresses the text and enhances the fake- ness. Although the audience recognise that this love Romeo has is fake Shakespeare reinforces the audience’s suspicions by making one of his characters realise this too. Throughout the play Shakespeare uses the language to create and encourage dramatic tension. A good example of this is when the Friar Lawrence repeats the word ‘come’, in Act 5 Scene 3, four times within a short speech. By using repetition it builds up not only the pace but tension too.
It is the Friar Laurence who comments on Romeo’s lack of genuine love. He believes that Romeo’s love for Rosaline is indeed false and is classed a doting rather than true love. He describes how this is common in young men by saying ‘Young men’s love then lies, Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes. ‘ Act 2 Scene 2. Friar Laurence then goes on to quote Romeo’s love again, he says: ‘Thy love did read by rote, that could not spell. ‘ Act 2 Scene 3. He believes that Romeo’s love is more like a recitation memorised from a book, and that he has no true understanding of it.
When Romeo approaches Friar Laurence, after attending the Capulet party, his attitude has changed. He has indeed fallen in love with a Capulet; the Montague’s opposition. The language Romeo uses is livelier which is apposed to the dull yet heavily decorated speech he earlier used. When Romeo claimed to be in love with Rosaline, the friar became fed up with Romeo’s speech being too flowery. He says ‘Be plain good son, and homely in thy drift’. (Act 2 Scene 3 Lines 55). In Act 2 Scene 3 Friar Laurence is suspicious of Romeo’s new found love and tells him not to be too hasty. Romeo seems to be convinced about his new love.
Friar Laurence says that he will support him: ‘In one respect I’ll thy assistant be’. Although through Friar Laurence’s speech and reactions towards Romeo he is wary, the Friar sees this as an opportunity to bring the two contrasting families together: ‘For this alliance may so happy prove, to turn your household’s rumour to pure love. At the beginning of the play it features Sampson and Gregory, two Montague Servants. They start to boast to each about their sexual experiences. They talk about women losing their virginity and men’s erections and their lust for such things.
This could be classed as Crude or Sexual love. Another place in the play where it happens is in Act 2 Scene 5 line 75. This is when the nurse behaves in a crude manner. She says jokingly, while sending Juliet of to her marriage with Romeo, ‘But you shall bear the burden soon at night. ‘ One of the most obvious types of love portrayed in Romeo and Juliet is true love. This is displayed between the two ‘Star-crossed’ lovers Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the play they show ‘true love’ for each other. One prime example of this is in the balcony scene in Act 2 Scene 2.
Both through indirect and direct speech to one another they express their feelings for one another. Juliet says to Romeo: ‘Ere one can say ‘It lightens’. Sweet, good night, this bud of love, by summers ripening breath. My love is deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have. ‘ In Romeo and Juliet one type of love which is portrayed between Juliet her parents is paternal Love. Both her father and mother express concern over Juliet and her welfare. Her father mainly shows this when The County Paris asks to marry Juliet within the next couple of days. He replies:’ Monday ha, ha!
Wednesday is too soon, A’ Thursday let it be’. The language used by Lord Capulet reinforces his love for Juliet by appearing strong yet making a joke out of the suddenness of the marriage. By saying ‘ha, ha! ‘ in response to Paris wanting the marriage to be on Monday it appears as if he has everything sorted out. Yet, in the real sense he doesn’t want to let his daughter go so soon. Throughout his next speech he appears to of thought he is doing the right thing by marrying Juliet to Paris. He makes sure that Paris is a worthy Gentleman therefore portraying affection and love for his daughter.
One character who is not related to Juliet yet shows parental-like love towards her is her nurse. We know that previous to when the play is set that the nurse has lost her child. Although that Juliet’s Nurse does not believe in ‘true love’ she expresses love for Juliet.
She lets Juliet and her lover, an enemy of the family, meet. In Act 1 Scene 3 line 60-63 she shows affection towards Juliet after conveying messages to from one lover to another: ‘Peace, I have done. God mark thee to his grace, Thou wast the prettiest babe that e’er I nursed. And I might live to see thee married once, I have my wish. ‘
The language used by the nurse is very affectionate and personal. This helps to reinforce the Nurse’s Parental love for Juliet. The play ends with a triumph of true love over a dutiful love, the marriage between Juliet and Paris, and the hate between the two families. Romeo and Juliet perform the ultimate act of true love by dying for each other in order to be together.
The two feuding families of Verona finally shake hands and are united through this tragedy. In shaking hands they are formalising Romeo and Juliet’s love. Capulet says: O brother Montague, give me thy hand. This is my daughter’s jointure, for no more can I demand. ‘