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From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross d lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents strife,
The fearful passage of their death-mark d love,
And the continuance of their parents rage,
Which, but their children s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
(Romeo and Juliet, Prologue, ll. 1-14)
Love is a juxtaposed emotion that makes life uniquely human. It is an experience that brings out an ecstasy of emotions taking two lovers on an unforgettable thrill ride. Love plays an important role in ours lives and influences the choices we make and the things that we value in life. It is a well-rounded, intense emotion that once it has been experienced is impossible to forget. Prior to experiencing love, one cannot get enough of it. One needs it and it becomes essential to our lives, sometimes resulting in heartbreaking events. Its ambivalence makes us ecstatic one minute and depressed the next. The play focuses on both the ecstatic and depressing sides of love. In the Shakespearian play Romeo and Juliet, courtly love, passionate love and parental love are made noticeably apparent.
Courtly love is unrequited by one of the parties involved. Courtly love is evident in Romeo s struggle for Rosaline. Depressed about his love for Rosaline, Romeo states
Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,
Should without eyes, see pathways to his will!
Where shall we dine? O me! What fray was here?
Yet tell me not, for I have hear it all.
Here s much to do with hate, but more with love.
Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O anything, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
Still-walking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love fell I, that feel no love in this.
Dost thou not laugh?
(Romeo and Juliet,I, i , ll.174-179)
Romeo uses oxymorons to help to show how he is torn and confused. He loves Rosaline yet she is a Capulet. Romeo experiences many characteristics of courtly love. He feels depressed, helpless, bewildered and often sighed and moaned. Romeo s love for Rosaline is unrequited. Romeo wishes to love Rosaline endlessly while she wishes to live chaste. Romeo talks to Benvolio about his love for Rosaline stating,
Well, in that hit you miss: she ll not be hit.
With Cupid s arrow; she hath Dian s with;
And, in strong proof of chastity well arm d.
From love s weak childish bow she lives unharm d.
She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
Nor bid the encounter of assailing eyes,
Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold:
O, she is rich in beauty, only poor,
That when she dies with beauty dies her store.
(Romeo and Juliet, I, i , ll. 222-230)
Romeo is frustrated with the way he feels and does not understand Rosaline s unrequited love. When Romeo describes his love for Rosaline he talks about love in general terms. He is in love with the abstract idea of love and does not display passionate emotions towards Rosaline. The theme of courtly love brings much sorrow to the character of Romeo and further advances the plot of the play.
Passionate love is present when two people s feelings for one another are genuine. Passionate love is shared between Romeo and Juliet. When Romeo first lays eyes on Juliet, he states
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheeks of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope s ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,
As yonder lady o er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I ll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Foreswear it, sight!
For I ne er saw true beauty till this night.
(Romeo and Juliet, I, v, ll. 46-54)
When Romeo first sees Juliet he talks about her beauty and the love he feels for her. He does not use artificial language as he did when talking about Rosaline. Romeo loves Juliet from the moment he lays eyes on her. Religious references are used to explain Romeo s true love for Juliet.
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers kiss.
(Romeo and Juliet, I, v, ll. 98-104)
Romeo sees Juliet as being as pure and beautiful as a saint. Romeo wants to show his devotion for Juliet by doing what pilgrims hands do with his lips, kissing. His use of words suggests that Romeo and Juliet s love is virtuous and sacred, coming from the spirit. The purity of Romeo s love for Juliet is extremely obvious. The passionate love shared between Romeo and Juliet inevitably leads to the two lovers taking their own lives. Passionate love in the play brings out much happiness and well as grief.
Parental love is made evident in a parent s or guardian s love for their child. Capulet displays parental love for Juliet. While talking to Paris about his daughter Juliet, he states
And too soon marr d are those so early made.
The earth hath swallow d all my hopes but she,
She is the hopeful lady of my earth:
But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart,
My will to her consent is but a part;
An she agree, within her scope of choice.
Lies my consent and fair according voice.
(Romeo and Juliet, I, ii, ll.14-20)
When Capulet talks to Paris about his daughter he tells him that he wants her to be happy and wants to leave the choice of marriage to her, all this being a result of the parental love that he posses for her. He is also concerned with the fact that Juliet is young and inexperienced and he does not want her to make the wrong choices in life. The nurse also loves Juliet like her own child. She talks about Juliet as a mother would about her own child.
Tis since the earthquake now eleven years;
And she was wean d I never shall forget it, –
Of all the days of the year, upon that day:
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,
Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall;
My lord and you were then at Mantua: –
Nay, I do bear a brain: — but, as I said,
When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple
Of my dug and felt it better, pretty fool,
To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!
Shake quoth the dove-house: twas no need, I trow,
To bid me trudge:
And since that time it is eleven years;
For then she could stand alone; nay, by the rood,
She could have run and waddled all about;
For even the day before, she broke her brow:
And then my husband — God be with his soul!
A was a merry man — took up the child:
Yea, quoth he, dost thou fall upon they face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;
Wilt thou not, Jule? And, by my holidame,
The pretty wretch left crying and said Ay
To see, now, how a jest shall come about!
I warrant, an I should live a thousand years,
I never should forget it: Wilt thou not, Jule? quoth he,
And, pretty fool, it stinted and said Ay.
(Romeo and Juliet, I, iii, ll. 28-53)
The nurse represents a mother figure for Juliet due to the fact that she took care of her all of her life. She is very close to Juliet and cares about her as she would about her own child. Parental figures in this play display much love and concern for their children.
The theme of love in Romeo and Juliet provide the reader with an interesting and intriguing storyline. Courtly love, passionate love and parental love are all found in the Shakespearian play Romeo and Juliet. Courtly love is presented by Romeo, who struggles with his feelings for the beautiful Rosaline. Passionate love is shared between Romeo and Juliet as they advance with their struggle to stay together. Parental love is most evident in Capulet and the nurses care for Juliet . Shakespeare incorporates a romantic story with tragedy as well as comedy making the play one for all to enjoy.