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How Shakespeare Presents Different Types of Love in Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet is a famous play set in Verona, Italy. It was written by William Shakespeare in 1594-1596. This play is a story about a long feud between the Montague and Capulet families, and the two star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, whose never-ending love resulted in an inevitable tragedy. Thus, the whole play proves that love is not always easy, and can cause internal conflict within oneself. This essay will argue that although Shakespeare presents love as something that can be blissful and pleasurable it can also be dangerous and frustrating.

In the opening of the play, Shakespeare presents Romeo’s love as intense sorrow as he is in a sad or miserable state. He uses harsh and dramatic words like: “Such is loves transgression. Griefs of mine lie heavy in my breast”. The language used in this quotation suggests that Romeo is feeling downhearted. The noun “griefs” means intense sorrow, usually caused by someone’s death. Romeo is stating that he has his own sorrows. This can also mean that he mourns too much over the fact that Rosaline does not love him back. We can take breast to be a heart. The adjective used to describe “heavy-hearted” is “heavy”. This word choice indicates feeling depressed or melancholy, which informs us that Romeo’s heart feels intense dejection and will never see one’s beauty again; like he will be lonely forever. We call his love for Rosaline unrequited love.

However, Shakespeare also implies how confused Romeo is about love. He also indicated that although love can be passionate, it is threatening as well: “Love is a smoke raised with the fumes of sighs”. We can interpret that Romeo is grieving over the fact that Rosaline does not love him back. He is also stating the upsides and downsides of love through the chosen quotation. Romeo here understands love as both full of pain and full of joy: pain when love goes badly, joy when it goes well. When someone sighs, it usually indicates excessive disappointment of frustration. In addition to that, we can take smoke to disappear into thin air. Shakespeare uses the metaphor, “love is a smoke” to prove how love can come as quickly as it goes. That is when he then quickly introduces Juliet to prove how love forms a hypocritical behaviour, suddenly changing the whole view of it. Additionally, the lexical choice “fume” highlights the danger of love and that the consequences are different from what it is perceived as. This is effective because it advocates the contrast between positive and negative aspects of love, and reveals a deeper understanding of love and the effect it has. Shakespeare also uses the writing technique oxymorons: “O brawling love, O loving hate” to ensure that the audience can tell how confused Romeo is about his interpretation of love. Romeo’s feelings of passion and physical attraction towards Juliet, are clearly evident in his opening soliloquy. This is demonstrated through Shakespeare’s use of celestial imagery, “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon.” This quotation merely suggests the fact that Romeo thinks extremely highly of Juliet by comparing her to the sun. The sun represents a lot of things like new beginnings and beauty, which highlights that Romeo feels his love for Juliet is a new beginning for him and an image of beauty. This new beginning may be the fact that Romeo has forgotten Rosaline and moved forward. However, the sun may also be viewed as a symbol of power, growth, and passion. Some believe it is a representation of the higher self, while others see the sun as a god to be worshipped. We can explicate the fact that Romeo adores Juliet and ranks her extremely high. “Arise fair sun”. When the sun rises, it ‘kills’ the darkness of the night. “And kill the envious moon”. The moon is personified as being so envious of Juliet’s beauty that it is ‘sick and pale with grief’ that Juliet is ‘far more fair’ than the moon is. In other words, Romeo is saying that Juliet’s beauty is so powerful, that it causes other people pain. However, the quotation, “Arise fair sun,” hints that Romeo could’ve viewed Juliet to rise above him, which may have given him a sense of security, that Juliet was watching Romeo, and that he had a beauty to look up too. We also know that the sun gives light to the moon, which further suggests the growth and generosity of Juliet. This proves how passionate the love of Romeo and Juliet was.

Altogether, Shakespeare presents Romeo’s feelings about love through a very negative thought process, portraying pain and harsh emotions. This makes the audience feel pity for Romeo, however, some may judge him with annoyance or anger as he is exaggerating his depression through an idiotic way. Furthermore, Shakespeare brings in many types of love, to portray how powerful that one emotion is. He also shows us the positive and negative sides of various types of love, proving indeed how love can be pleasant and joyful, as well as risky and infuriating.

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How Shakespeare Presents Different Types of Love in Romeo and Juliet. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 22, 2021, from
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