Discuss The Various Perceptions Of Love In Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

2039 words - 9 pages

Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' is a tragedy told in two language styles, prose and verse. Death, fate, disorder are all minor components of this classic story centred on a dangerous love that reaches across the barriers of family and convention. Some perceptions of love in this play are dutiful, passionate, sexual and so forth. Throughout this essay I will be exploring the different perceptions of love and how Shakespeare's use of language and structure further emphasises each perception.Sexual love is presented in the opening scene, and throughout the play additional references are made to it. We first encounter it through the coarse humour of the Capulet servants Sampson and Gregory, who ...view middle of the document...

He is delighted to find that Romeo is his old cheerful self again, after getting over the melancholy for Rosaline. A man, Mercutio believes, should not hide away '...groaning for love...' -[ii.iv.87-88] but rather laugh at women and at men who waste time chasing them.Aside from Mercutio, the nurse believes that life is all about having sex and making babies. She assures Juliet that if she cant have Romeo its not so bad, just move onto Paris, men come and go.Our first meeting with Romeo shows us a stylised conventional view of Love, sometimes called courtly love, unrequited love or Petrarchan love. Romeo is portrayed as the melancholy lover, self indulgent in his tears and groans for Rosaline, and more in love with love than anything else. It is plain that he just has a teenage crush on Rosaline; that he is simply infatuated with her. In act 1 scene 1 we are told that it is Romeo's habit to sit beneath a grove of sycamore trees before dawn (the sycamore tree was associated with sad and lonely lovers) where he sighs and weeps for Rosaline:' Many a morning hath he there been seen,With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew,Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs' -[i.i.131-133]After sunrise, Romeo steals home and:'Private in his chamber pens himself,Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,And makes himself an artificial night' -[i.i.138-140]The word 'artificial' is appropriate here, because Romeo's 'love' for Rosaline and the feelings he expresses about her are also artificial. His moping under the sycamore trees, his sulking in the darkened room and his sickly-sweet sentiments about love are just self-indulgence.Indeed when Romeo first appears in act 1 scene 1 he seems a pathetic young man. A violent brawl has just taken place, which most of Verona seem to know about, when in he wanders and whines ('ay me, sad hours seem long' -[i.i.161]). Romeo, we feel (more forcibly because of the juxtaposition of the fight and his attention-seeking entrance) is a pretty weak young man who is not living in the real world. These lines follow when he finds out about the civil brawl:'Here's much to do with hate, but more with loveWhy then, o brawling love, o loving hate,O anything of nothing first created!O heavy lightness, serious vanity,Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms,Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health...' -[i.i.175-183]Romeo's pose as the melancholy lover here is both comic and absurd. Shakespeare will show us the contrast of love and hate in this play and Romeo's use of oxymorons prepares us for this theme. The oxymoron's also show us how confused Romeo is, how tormented he is, and how artificial his 'love' for Rosaline is. An oxymoron is a figure of speech, which draws together two words of the opposite meanings e.g. loving hate. But Romeo's use of oxymorons in this speech is too excessive and too contrived, so that he sounds insincere.A third expression of love can be seen with Paris and his relationship with...

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