Love is one of the predominant themes of Romeo and Juliet, we have but one word for love but the Greek language has four words, for four different types of love.
Eros is erotic love between lovers, which for one night is shared by Romeo and Juliet. Storge is family love, this is very important to the play; the love shown by the members of each family to their names is an excellent example of this type of love. Philia is the word for love between friends, the bond shown by Romeo and Benvolio is an example of this. Finally agape is spiritual love and is demonstrated by the constant references of most of the characters to god. Arguably Shakespeare himself was in love and at 18 was married to Anne Hathaway who was 26 at the time; together they had eight children and were married until 1616 when Shakespeare died.
The first introduction of love in the play is that shown by the servants to their families. “Gregory:The quarrel is between our masters and us their men.” This is a demonstration of agape; to such an extent that Gregory actually believes he is owned by his master lord Montague. This also brings up the point that love can make people act illogically, for instance we are not introduced to the reason for the feud between the families, and we are only told that both families are not willing to give in.
After the disagreement that escalated into a fight in Act I Scene 1 Lady Montague shows maternal love for Romeo, “Lady Montague: O, where is Romeo?-saw you him to-day?- Right...
glad I am he was not at this fray.” An alternate interpretation of this is that she is annoyed and wants to know where he is. In contrast to the fierce blind devotion to house shown by the participants in the fight, this maternal love is more caring and instinctive. The exclamation “O” could be interpreted in several ways; it could be seen as exasperation, woefulness, or just that she has only just realised Romeo isn’t there. However, in my opinion the “O” is an expression of concern for her son.
Benvolio appears to be concerned about Romeo and is more pro-active in finding out what’s wrong with him. “Benvolio: Madam, an hour before the worshipp’d sun Peer’d forth the golden window of the east, A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad; Where,–underneath the grove of sycamore That westward rooteth from the city’s side,– So early walking did I see your son:”This suggests that Benvolio is very concerned about Romeo and is even willing to get up early to go and find him. Shakespeare presents this type of love as noble because whereas family love has led to a feud that has divided the community, and Romeo’s erotic love for Rosaline has made him woeful to the benefit of no one, Benvolio’s brotherly love for Romeo has led to people trying to help Romeo. The word sycamore, makes the reader think of sick amour (amore being the French word for love) which is very apt considering Romeo’s love sickness.
appears to be more comfortable around Benvolio than his parents. “Benvolio: Good morrow, cousin. Romeo: Is the day so young? Benvolio: But new struck nine. Romeo: Ay me! sad hours seem long.
Was that my father that went hence so fast? Benvolio: It was.–What sadness lengthens Romeo’s hours? Romeo: Not having that which, having, makes them short.” Their use of rhyming couplets shows that they share a close bond with each other. Romeo appears to be literally driven to distraction, not aware of the time and so obsessed with Rosaline that he doesn’t care about anything else.
Nurse appears to have a deep love for Juliet.”Nurse: Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen. Susan and she ..
. well, Susan is with God; She was too good for me: … I remember it well.
‘Tis since the earthquake now eleven years; …For then she could stand alone; nay, by the rood She could have run and addled 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 thy face? Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit; Wilt thou not, Jule?’ and, by my holidame..
. I warrant, an I should live a thousand years, I never should forget it;”From this it appears that after her daughter and husband died Nurse shifted the attention she used to give to her family onto Juliet we can see this because she remembers some of Juliet’s first steps and says she shall not forget it for “a thousand years”. From this passage we can also see that Juliet is only fourteen whereas previously we are told that Romeo is in his late teens so is considerably older than Juliet, this difference in age makes the reader consider that Romeo may be taking advantage of Juliet.In Act 1 Scene 4 Mercutio describes love as acting out of character, “Mercutio – O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
… And in this state she gallops night by night Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love; .
.. True, I talk of dreams, Which are the children of an idle brain, Begot of nothing but vain fantasy; Which is as thin of substance as the air, And more inconstant than the wind, who wooes Even now the frozen bosom of the north, And, being anger’d, puffs away from thence, Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.” In this passage Mercutio uses Queen Mab as a metaphor for unusual deeds.
It also shows an uncommonly presented view of love at first sight, describing it as acting out of character and parallels it to priests wishing for more money. Instead of a joyful thing Mercutio believes that love is where two people hide their true personality. This shows the reader a slightly pessimistic side to Mercutio’s character.The meeting of Romeo and Juliet at the party is a classic example of stereotypical love at first sight. “Romeo: O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do: They pray, grant thou, lest
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