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The theme of love is evidently explored with Shakespeare’s play of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, using his abilities, the author manages to introduce many obstacles or other influencing elements that has a great impact on the development of love between the two young lovers. There are two basic levels in the play, the behaviour of society within Verona and the private, love orientated interaction between Romeo and Juliet. The social culture of Verona has stood as an uncontrollable influence upon the relationship of Romeo and Juliet, especially concerning the feud between the two families of the Capulets and the Montagues.
The existence of this feud is not the immediate reason for the destruction of the lovers, yet it is one of many characteristics within the plot that together is considered an influence that hindered the relationship. Increasing the scale of this element’s impact on the relationship, is the fact that it doesn’t simply involve the two immediate families as even the servants take part in the feud, clearly proven within the first scene. The conflict appears to be one that is inflicted upon the whole public of Verona as represented by an unnecessary quarrel between the servants of the households within the first scene.
This scene’s constant references and implications of physical action and the actual deed being undertaken show the unprompted and impetuous behaviour of the people. “GREGORY: The quarrel is between our masters and us their men SAMPSON: ‘Tis all one… ” (Act I, Scene I) Their world of hate and inexplicable grudges introduces the high level of intolerance and ignorance of the destructive society of Verona to the audience at the beginning of the play, aiding hindrance to the relationship between the “star-cross’d lovers.
However, once the play has initiated, the speed of the action accelerates further and further, thus the people behaving more unreasonable and with further impulsiveness. It is this factor that increases the impact of the occurrence in the plot, therefore emphasizing their impacts on Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare has also involved a ‘love triangle’, between Romeo and Juliet. As he involves a wealthy prince named Paris, whom is arranged, by her parents, to marry Juliet despite her devoted feelings to Romeo.
However, Paris appears as a wooer to Juliet and not an emotional and individual lover, and Shakespeare clearly shows this within the initial two lines of Paris, that he is not a lover as true as Romeo – “of honourable reckoning are you both”. Despite these obvious obstacles that Shakespeare has emphasized before introducing the lovers to the audience, love is still found between the two. Within act one, scene five, the language and form of the dialogue shared between the two supposed enemies changes, and becomes poetic and flattering, showing that their private interactions are totally different from the public life.
Romeo and Juliet’s first conversation is composed of a sonnet. Shakespeare has successfully managed to use this poetic approach to explore matters beyond a dramatic performance and involve the audience emotionally, enabling them to imagine themselves as the recipients of the poem. The language used additionally creates an intimate perspective of love between them. When Romeo first sees Juliet, his plans are of a physical nature, “I’ll watch her place of stand/ And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand” (Act I, Scene IV). The acting of touching Juliet’s hand is a linguistic representation of touch, a tactile sign.
Further emphasized within the pilgrim sonnet, using a semantic use of words, attention is brought to reference of touch once again – “Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is prug’d”. The use of a formal convention of a sonnet and the emphasis of contact and physical intimacy create a new atmosphere. The next time the lovers meet is on Juliet’s balcony, where Romeo has trespassed on Capulet ground potentially causing a lot of danger, of which is Juliet is highly aware of – “If they do see thee, they will murder thee” (Act II, Scene II).
Romeo attempts to console Juliet’s fears through declaration of their being stronger than the physical power of Capulet’s kinsmen – “there lies more peril in thine eye than twenty of there swords”. Romeo tries to prove his love to Juliet by using a vow, again a conventional form of speech, yet Juliet immediately interrupt him and explains that no any convention but his “gracious self” can guarantee his true love. Romeo’s use of conventional language to Juliet arouses skepticism in the audience – is this really true love, or just a sign of immaturity?
“JULIET: O swear not by the moon, th’inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable” (Act II, Scene II) Romeo and Juliet’s characters are quite contradictive. Romeo, a more experienced lover, so overwhelmed with supposed love yet shows passivity and immaturity; though Juliet, completely inexperienced with love, behaves more skillfully and cautiously – constantly aware of the danger that accompanies their love. This simple contradiction may possibly have stood as a hindrance to the development of love.
Additionally within this scene, one must realize that Romeo displays his ignorance of the situation and fails to consider such as part of reality – “with love’s light wings did I o’erperach these walls”. Romeo’s inability to distinguish reality from that of a surrealist perspective corresponds to the contrast between night and day. The time of day influences the relationship greatly, as I believe both Romeo and Juliet recognize. During the day while light is still shone upon the grounds, the feelings are running high, but night is possibly considered the time of calmness and ease, where love may take place.
After the fateful quarrel occurring in act three, scene one, Juliet longs for the night, possibly relating such a time of day to satisfaction of feelings, especially in terms of Romeo – “Come night – come Romeo – come thou day in night” (Act III, Scene II). I believe this is further emphasized after realizing that the lovers’ last meeting was the wedding-night before Romeo was exiled; their parting shows that to them, day is a foe to their love acting as a significant hindrance to the development of their love. “JULIET: O now be gone, more light and light it grows
ROMEO: More light and light: more dark and dark our woes” (Act III, Scene V) Another addition to night’s seemingly appearance to uphold peace and love, acting as obstacle of relationship’s development, is Romeo’s brief display of skepticism. As previously stated Romeo’s inability to distinguish reality from that of a surrealist perspective corresponds to the contrast between night and day as explained in the previous paragraph, as he feels that his love to Juliet is isolated away from ordinary life – “I am afeard, being in night, all this is but a dream”.
The use of language through the poetical conventions and the action of the first half of the play, clearly show that the plot rides upon two contrary levels. The concept of love is again questioned, if there is a love concept within this play surely it represents a rival idea to the ordinary aristocratic life of Verona, thus making the concept of love plainly a rival to the real world. Yet confusion is introduced when thinking that the intimate interaction and representation of love between Romeo and Juliet, seemingly being the rival of the real world, actually occurs within this real world.
The two supposed rivals of love and society regularly alternate and this happens without a change of place. Thus the two rivals of love and society remain incompatible with exception of being unified in the individuals Romeo and Juliet and in time and place of setting – but is their really a unification within Romeo and Juliet? I don’t believe these two rivalling themes of love and society can neither coexist or be unified as they are incompatible, nonetheless can not be separated as they take place in one physical world.
Therefore, if both levels are absolutely incompatible, a solution must be inevitable – hence the tragic death of the “star cross’d lovers”. Yet their deaths may have been this seemingly inevitable solution, as Romeo realizes after hearing of Juliet’s apparent death that the real world does not provide any room for the realization of their love. Therefore death is regarded the only place of reconciliation – and it was in all ways. I don’t think Shakespeare wished to provide a didactic message to the audience, yet wished to show how the conflict between love and society lead to Romeo and Juliet’s death.
I believe the point of the play was not how love arose out of hatred and then triumph over it in death, but that it does. The plot shows that society and death are powers or forces that influenced the lives of Romeo and Juliet. Love was the basis upon the significant decisions made within the play; therefore power of love additionally belongs to these forces. In terms of the two rivalling themes, society regarded their love as a failure; yet the lovers’ defiance of society proved to be a great success in terms of the power of love.