What Attitudes To Love and Marriage does Shakespeare Show In "Romeo And Juliet"? "Romeo and Juliet" is the dramatic interpretation of a raging war between two families. Shakespeare portrays various attitudes towards love and marriage in his play which is full of different interpretations of these things. The play, based on this theme conveys the various moral issues which can affect the lives of two lovers, Romeo and Juliet.
Looking at the play, we can see contrasting attitudes and opinions towards the theme of love and marriage, from low-classed servants to high-classed families for which love and marriage mean different things. In this essay, I will examine the various attitudes to love and marriage that Shakespeare conveys in the play. In Act 1 Scene 1, the Capulet servants Sampson and Gregory converse about the Montague family. Here we see evidence of their attitudes towards love and marriage. For example we see the two servants boasting about their sexual prowess and turning everything into sexual jokes. quot;Stand", "thrust", "maidenheads", "tool", and "weapon" are some examples of the language they use.Order now
Their language clearly shows that servants attitudes love is childishly conveyed to be thoughtless. Shakespeare tries to portray that youth culture tends to be more interested in sex rather than romance, which is ironic if we consider that the play is about love and not sex. We see evidence that women were perceived as the weaker sex by these characters and many others in the play. "I will show myself a tyrant, I will be civil with the maids and cut of their heads".
From these quotes we can evidently conclude that men saw women as a naive, shallow beings as opposed to the strong, macho character they tend to aspire to. Tybalt is a clear example of a youth against peace "talk of peace? I hate the word" which helps us to understand how influenced these characters were by the feud of their families. Shakespeare conveys the idea that families presided over their children"s actions and perceptions. Shakespeare may have chosen to include such detail at the start of the play to highlight and criticize this negative influence families have on their children.
The use of this ironic beginning may also contribute to the tension and engagement of the audience at the beginning of the drama. In Act 1 Scene 1, line 155, Shakespeare introduces Romeo, the key character of the play who seems to be depressed due to the fact that his love for Rosaline is not returned by her. "Out of her favour when I am in love". Shakespeare tries to show that while many lower-class characters have a crude attitude towards love, higher class, literate characters like Romeo feel strongly about love.
This, helps to emphasize the importance of education and stature in Shakespearean England and indeed the importance of these in relation to love and particularly marriage. This introduction of Romeo show a lot about his character and attitude towards love. The use of oxymorons contradicting words in Romeo"s language tend to suggest his confusion in love itself rather than just obsession. "O brawling love, O loving hate" This clearly shows that Romeo, an emotionally driven character is affected by love but still naive and alien to the feelings experienced by love itself.
These feelings experienced by Romeo generates awareness of his naive, tender personality which differs from that of the servants. Here, Shakespeare tries to portray that higher class characters tend to think more deeply about love and treat it more maturely than illiterate characters such as the servants. Perhaps the use of oxymoron"s by Romeo in this early scene is Shakespeare"s skillful way of demonstrating Romeo"s confusion and frustration about love. The use of such deep character for Romeo also allows us to understand the differences in perception of love as opposed to todays younger generation.
Romeo"s attitude is very different to that of today, which helps us to empathize with Romeo and adapt a more empathetic engagement in the play. Romeo"s use of elaborate ways of speaking tend to suggest that his emotions may be "artificial" rather than coming from the heart. "She will not stay the siege of loving terms, nor bide th"encounter of assailing eyes nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold" are examples of this elaborate poetry used by Shakespeare. Perhaps this use of poetry may encourage us to believe the youth are "uneducated" about love and lack of experience in these matters.
Romeo uses words like "siege", "assailing" and "armed", to compare his love for Rosalie to a war being fought, which contributes to the way Shakespeare tries to convey Romeo"s infatuation with Rosalie as a chaotic event. In Act 1 Scene 2, Act 1 Scene 3 and Act 2 Scene 5 we witness the dialogue engaged between Paris and Capulet. If we examine Paris"s character from the first line he says about marriage, we can clearly identify that he see marriage as a duty for girls at as early an age-as early as fourteen. quot;Younger than she are happy mothers made" explicitly shows this. Here Shakespeare tries to portray to the audience how Shakespearean in times, girls were married at and early age which is different to attitudes in Modern Britain. This appreciation of some of the customs and traditions of the Elizabethan age helps us to understand that for some social classed, marriage was more the result of reproductive and financial considerations than notions of romantic love. Capulet tends to adopt an identical outlook on marriage to that of his wife, which agrees with the fact that marriage should be at an early age.
However, he does not want Juliet to be rushed through at such an early stage because she is his only daughter remaining. "Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she. " Again, the portrayal of such attitudes by Shakespeare helps us to appreciate the traditional "arranged marriage", common amongst higher social classes in Shakespearean and which demonstrated how parents tended to take the emotional decisions for the child too. Shakespeare introduces the Nurse with line 2 of Act 1 Scene 3.
If we take a look at her character, we tend to see the typical emotional bonding adopted with a nurse of a child, which lays strong. But we also see a talkative character who tends to elaborate on explanations and who often turns the issues of love and marriage into a sexual joke. "bigger women grow by men". This shows that she sees the issue of love and marriage as a sexual, rather than emotional bonding between two people. This also shows how she perceives marriage as a reproductive process. "women grow by men".
References to the importance of stature "making yourself no less" and finance "share all that he doth posesses" shows that Lady Capulet thinks love and marriage is not based mainly on emotion but on money and power. We also see dominance interwoven into her character. She dominates Juliet"s opinions and seems to order her to marry " think of marriage now". We see that she merely echoes her husband"s wishes. This shows how parents tend to care the least for their child"s emotions but care extremely on the financial and social aspects of marriage.
This helps us to understand some aspects of Elizabethan culture and also the attitudes of parents towards marriage and love. We see an echo of Paris"s phrase in Lady Capulet"s lines "younger than you, here in Verona, ladies of esteem are made already mothers" which suggests similar attitudes to love and marriage held by those in higher ranking social classes. Shakespeare"s adaptation of fairly identical idealism in higher-class characters helps us to empathise with the attitudes of parents and the elderly towards love and marriage.
Looking at the first insight of Romeo"s character we see a confused and frustrated person who seems to lack the trust for love. Romeo sees love as a war which he must fight to win. This contrasts Romeo"s later use of language to express the love he feels for Juliet. Here, Romeo begins to explore the metaphorical power of language by complementing Juliet with hyperbole exaggeration such as: "O she doth teach the torches to burn bright". This shows that his feelings for Juliet are more genuine than those he held for Rosaline.
In this part of the play, Shakespeare tries to convey how love at first sight can be an electrifying experience for two strangers to it. Shakespeare introduces Mercutio into the play in Act 2 Scene 1, which begins with him mocking the subtle Romeo who seems very confused towards love at this point. Mercutio,a very comical character begins punning on words to mock Romeo"s love for Rosaline. He uses words like "circle" vagina, "spirit" semen and "mark" sexual intercourse to tease Romeo"s love for Rosaline.
This shows the lack of empathy Mercutio employs to love as well as his negative perception of love itself. It suggests that Mercutio treats love as a naive illness which is nothing but subject to shame. Mercutio takes every opportunity to make sexual puns, which shows that his interest in love is not towards it"s romantic side but it"s sexual side. Shakespeare may have used such a crude character in the play, so that the sexual jokes contrast with the true theme of love which "Romeo and Juliet" is based on.
He tries to highlight that true love is not just about sexual relationship but also emotional bonding. The language that Mercutio uses also tends to suggest that he treats women as objects, which echoes the first scene of the play involving the crude conversation between Sampson and Gregory. Shakespeare does this to reinforce the message that sexism was a big moral issue in Elizabethan times. Mercutio uses language like "this driveling love is like a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole" to create the effect that love is just an illness which only gullible, naive people fall for.
The use of such language shows that Mercutio"s imagination tends to indulge deep into sexual punning, which shows how a typical comedian would joke in Elizabethan times. It also suggest that the lack of maturity towards sex in Elizabethan, as it was used as an icon for comical jokes. Shakespeare uses assonance in words to add an extra feel to the attitude of the character. We see this in the words "driveling" which really helps to create the effect that Mercutio really hates the idea of being in love.
Mercutio uses alliteration to reinforce his negative feelings about love. This is evident in the word "driveling where he tries to convey the sound of the word as negatively as he can. If we pay close attention to the layout of the scenes, we see that Shakespeare tends to alternate scenes with romance and sexual gestures consistently. This helps to show the different attitudes towards love that Shakespeare conveys in the play. It also reinforces the various contrasts of attitude in Elizabethan times.
If we pay close attention to the song that Mercutio sings, we clearly gather his attitude towards love. In the song, he plays a familiar game of language, seizing every opportunity for sexual punning. His "soho" line sets him off on a hunting metaphor "chasing the hare". He he intends to imply the same sounding pronunciation of the several words "stale", "hare" and "hair" which mean or sound like whore prostitute These lines clearly emphasise that Mercutio definitely disregards the meaning of love but considers it to be non-existent for women.
He portrays his general interpretation that "any old dish is good to eat when hungry, but if it goes mouldy, it"s not worth paying for" too much a scare. This shows that he considers love to be time-wasting, but also identifies that he thinks having sex with a younger women is pleasant and worthy unlike having sex with an old women. Here he tries to mock the nurse by suggesting that she is a prostitute. This sums up Mercutio"s character as disparaging towards any emotional or romantic connection between two people.
Shakespeare"s creative use of such powerful characters helps us to understand the contrast between a love-indulged character like Romeo and a love-detesting character like Mercutio. By examining Romeo"s relations with Juliet, we again encounter how indulged his feelings are for her. Romeo uses phrases like "bright angel", "winged messenger of heaven" and "dear saint" to compliment Juliet. These uplifting phrases show how Romeo thinks Juliet is conspicuous from other girls and that her beauty stands out.
He uses religious imagery in these phrases which shows his deep respect of her beauty as though it were precious or Godly. This dialogue shows us how intimately Romeo has developed his feelings for Juliet. The phrases sum up how such a love-driven character like Romeo can let his naivety rule himself. These feelings completely contradict with those of Mercutio who questions Romeo"s manliness for indulging himself in love to this extent. This helps us to understand some of the expectations men in Elizabethan times to be much more sexually rather than emotionally driven.
If we look at Juliet"s dialogue with Romeo, we see she is more cautious and more sincere. The language "fain would I dwell on form" suggests she would gladly stick to formality and ceremonial politeness. But her "fairwell" compliment shows her rejecting, stiff customary ways of behaving and speaking. Juliet tends to be scared of loving someone who her family would disapprove of, but nevertheless, she vows to follow Romeo wherever he goes if he is honourable. "All my fortunes at thy foot I lay", "and follow thee my lord throughout the world".
Here Shakespeare shows how love can have a detrimental effect family relationships. In this case, Romeo and Juliet reflect the wishes of their parents the customs of their society and pursue their own desires. Act 3 Scene 1 is the main turning point in the play because it is the scene where Shakespeare decides to "kill off" Mercutio and involve Romeo in a dramatic murder which contrasts with his peace-loving character we see at the start of the play. The scene begins with Benvolio using dramatic language like "the day is hot" and "these hot days, mad blood stirring" to create tension and suspense.
The scene is immediately after the romantic scene between Romeo and Juliet when they are married. This was done mainly to keep the attention of the audience as this is a vital for a play which lasts three hours long. The alternation of these scenes greatly contributes to the interest of the audience by engaging and sustaining it effectively. This method helps us to understand the use of fuxtaposition in successful Elizabethan dramas. In the scene, we witness Mercutio"s alertness to play with language.
Mercutio is very keen to start a fight with Tybalt and he shows this in his lines. "Couple it with something, make it a word and a blow" which clearly shows his attitude towards peace is alike to Tybalt"s. This portrayal of character helps us to understand the hostile attitudes of young men in Elizabethan times, which shows us how provocative their behaviour was, which helps us to conclude that the young men in Elizabethan times were fond of starting fights with each other, which reinforces the overall attitude of young men in Elizabethan times shown in the play.
It doesn"t necessarily mean that all young men were like this in Elizabethan times but that is the aspect of youth culture Shakespeare chose to convey in this play. Line 65 is an electric moment in the play when Romeo, now married to Juliet tries to make peace with Tybalt who is now his kinsman even though Tybalt has deeply insulted him "villain boy". This shows Romeo breaking with the expectations of the stereo-typical macho, provocative, aggressive character young men adopted in Elizabethan times. The controversial appeasement Romeo employs also perplexes the audience hence creates a dramatic reaction towards the play.
This technique not only helps Shakespeare to criticise the expectations of manliness in Elizabethan times, but also helps him to engage tension and suspense in the play. Mercutio, the anti-love character, reacts with hostility towards Romeo"s pacifist attitude towards Tybalt. "Dishonourable, vile submission" shows how Mercutio expects a man to oppose rather than pacify. This again, helps Shakespeare to show how young men approved violence over peace which conveys the lack of love and respect young men had for each other in Elizabethan times. In this scene, Mercutio is killed by Tybalt.
However, to increase tension, suspense and interest in the play, Shakespeare opts to leave this down to the interpretation of the audience. Some of the interpretations I concluded from his death include the unwelcomming of comical approaches to life, Shakespeare"s hostile attitude to characters not influenced by love and the lack of success appeasement has in Elizabethan society. After hearing the news of Mercutios"s death Romeo says "O sweet Juliet, thy beauty hath made me effeminate" which shows how love affected his attitude towards Tybalt.
The phrase helps us to understand that people perceived falling in love as an emotion which deduced manliness from a male, which is shown in the words "made me effeminate". Romeo fears that the evil outcomes "black fate" of the violent event that happened lie in the future "moe days", which shows that this is the point in the play when the tragedy really begins. Here, Shakespeare uses the language of "Revenge Tragedy" which was another tradition of plays popular in the 1590"s when Shakespeare wrote "Romeo and Juliet". The language used was high sounding and portentous.
This not only shows Shakespeare"s exploratory studies of literature, but also highlights that many plays in Elizabethan times had a trend of adopting the beliefs and expectations of the Elizabethan society as themes for dramatisation. Act 3 Scene 2 begins with a long speech from Juliet which helps us to understand her thoughts of the time. Juliet uses the case of PhlaÃƒÂ«ton to compare his fate with her understanding of Romeo. In Greek Mythology, PhlaÃƒÂ«ton was the son of Phoebus the Sun God who drove the horses pulling his father"s chariot the sun so recklessly, that Zeus, king of the gods, killed him with a thunderbolt.
This image of PhlaÃƒÂ«ton, Shakespeare portrays in Juliet"s speech helps us to foretell and understand Romeo and Juliet more effectively. The comparison of PhlaÃƒÂ«ton to Romeo show how deep love and blinding adolescent passion can lead to the fatal death of the lover which later happen in the play. Not only this, but the metaphor contributes to the dramatical effect of the play, which in turn help to revive interest in the audience. In line 16, Juliet says "think true love acted simple modesty" to show how she considers marriage to be love-driven.
However, this contradicts with the expectations and beliefs parents expected in Elizabethan times. Girls we expected to marry without emotion and feeling, which is expressed in Lady Capulet and the Nurse"s speeches in previous scenes. This controversial belief shows how conspicuous Romeo and Juliet"s love was in Elizabethan times. This line helps Shakespeare to show the contrast of this love from that of the stereo-type and criticise the expectations of the Elizabethan society.
If we examine the long speech of Juliet, it is evident that the language used was found embarrassingly sexual in Elizabethan times. This use of language by Shakespeare, which is different to the expected language shows how women in Elizabethan times were not very good at expressing their feelings. It also portrays how women hid their feelings from others, which explains the isolation of women in Elizabethan times. In lines 45-52, we see punning of language which Elizabethans enjoyed doing frequently not only when joking, but also in tragic situations as well.
Here the Nurse and Juliet make much of one vowel sound "I". This use of language helps us to understand the types of dialogues reformed between characters in Elizabethan times involved punning of words. Other strange uses of language are evident in line 60 where Juliet wishes that her body be buried, ending her life. "To earth resign end motion here". The language helps to create a mood for the scene and emphasise death or disaster, which will happen later in the play. It is also a build up of tension and suspense towards the tragic scene which is later to come.
After Juliet hears of Tybalts death, she uses oxymorons to show that a beautiful appearance can hide an evil reality. Romeo has previously used oxymorons as well. This consistent uses of oxymorons by Shakespeare shows how both characters are alike in their confusion over appearance and reality of love. This portrayal show how Elizabethan people were unfamiliar with love and infatuation, but treated them both alike. These oxymorons also help Shakespeare to reinforce the theme that many things are not always what they appear to be. "Beautiful tyrant, damned saint". In lines 85-87, we see various attitudes of the Nurse towards men. quot;No trust", "no faith", "no honesty" etc; We can evidently tell that the Nurse has had previous unsatisfactory experiences with men, which has led her to perceive negatively of them. These negative attitudes help us to see the contrast of attitudes of young and older women towards their opposite sex, with the young, naive women thinking positively, while the older and experienced women thinking negatively of men. This shows how men may have been deceitful towards women after they married, which may imply how women were treated as objects in Elizabethan times.
In lines 73-85, we see Juliet switching very abruptly from harsh criticism of Romeo to high praise. This again shows the naivety of young lovers with their attitude towards love being unconvincing and artificial. In Act 3 Scene 5, we witness the final dialogue between the two lovers, which is full of apprehension lines 55-59. These lines contribute to the dramatic effect of the play on the audience which helps to sustain interest effectively. In lines 60-64, Juliet personifies fortune. "O fortune, Fortune, and men call thee fickle" to show how she believed fortune played a great role in her love for Romeo.
This helps us to understand the different belief Elizabethan people used to reason their lives. Fortune, took a great priority along with fate in Elizabethan times which was seen as an explanation for events that could not be overcome. This helps us to see the contrasts in philosophy employed between Elizabethan times and today. In lines 68-102, Juliet replies to her mother with double meanings. Examples of some are: "madam I am not well" because I have just parted from my husband and my heart is full of sorrow.
This greatly contributes to the dramatic irony in the play where Lady and Lord Capulet think Juliet"s unhappiness is due to the death of her cousin, Tybalt. It also helps to sustain tension and suspense in the play. When Juliet refuses to marry Paris, Lady and Lord Capulet are extremely surprised and angry. This is mainly due to the fact that daughters in this social group were expected to accept an arranged marriage without question. Juliet"s rebellious replies to Capulet fell out of the stereo-typical expectations in Elizabethan society, hence fell as a shock to the Capulet"s.
In lines 142-145 and 175-195, Capulet begins raging about the refusal of his wishes by his daughter. This is mainly due to the promise that he gave to Paris that Juliet will marry him. Capulet, being a man who has earned great respect and pride, doesn"t want this to be compromised as a result of Juliet"s refusal to marry. The such attitude Capulet portrays shows us how important pride and reputation was for families in Elizabethan times. Capulet"s and Lady Capulet"s attitude show little sympathy for Juliet as they think that marrying Juliet will help her overcome her problems.
In line 175-195, Capulet treats Juliet as an item which must obey the wishes of himself. His language towards her is brutal "chop"t logic", "tallow-face". However, unexpectedly, Juliet replies to her father for every statement he makes about her. "I beseech you on my knees". This would be perceived as rare in Elizabethan times as the child is not expected to answer or speak when a parent of elder is talking. This is clearly expressed with the common proverb "children should be seen and not heard" which was commonly used in Elizabethan times.
Capulet lack the empathy and understanding for his child which begs the question of his fitness to be a father. However it was quite normal for him to have such expectations given the customs of the time. It also signifies the position of girls in society was very beneath that of the parents, hence leaving little to no power for them. This helps to explain the lack of power children and particularly girls had in Elizabethan times which was a main cause for suicide in history. Shakespeare, again reinforces this by imposing a similar attitude into the character of the Nurse.
In Lines 215-225, we see the dialogue between the Nurse and Juliet. Up to this point in the play we have seen the Nurse as a very empathetic character who tries to understand Juliet"s emotions and thoughts. However, this all changes as the Nurse urges Juliet to marry Paris. "your first is dead", "I think it is best you married with the County". This helps us to understand the character of the Nurse more deeply. These lines show us how although seemingly empathetic at first, the Nurse chose the opt for Paris because of the various obstacles Juliet face with Romeo.
The Nurse mentions that Romeo has been evicted "Romeo is banished" and therefore advised Juliet to forget about him. However she decides not to understand the emotional trauma Juliet is currently facing even though Juliet has told the Nurse how serous she is about her love. This shows the Nurse"s lack of understanding of romantic love, which again reinforces that notion of love was not considered as a priority in marriage. Up to now, we have seen many attitudes towards love and marriage covered in the play. Now I will examine the reasons for Romeo and Juliet"s death.
Why was is that Shakespeare chose to end the lives of the two lovers? Could the deaths be fate? Were the deaths foretold in the stars? There have been many suggestions in the play that the deaths were determined by fate "the yoke of inauspicious stars" Act 5 Scene 3. "Star crossed" is an example from the Prologue shows that Shakespeare had already considered the reasons for the deaths to be fate. Was is chance? Many people in Elizabethan times relied on fate and chance as their philosophy for events that were unavoidable. We see examples of events that contributed to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.
One of these was the non-delivery of Friar Lawrence"s the local priest letter, which resulted in the suicide of Romeo. Could the deaths have been a result of adolescent passion? Romeo and Juliet were a very conspicuous couple who chose to pursue their passions in spite of the customs and traditions imposed on them by their society. The fact that they did not adhere to the expectations of their society may have been what caused the tragic ending of two lives. Was it feud? Montague"s and the Capulet"s had been struggling for power for many years.
Their "ancient grudge" breaks "new mutiny" at the start of the play. A stiff-necked code of honour makes the young men spring to violent, bloody action. Tybalt feels that "the honour of his kin had been insulted by Romeo"s presence at Capulet"s feast. Romeo is provoked into "fire-eyed fury" by the death of Mercutio. He embraces the revenge code that governs relationships between the two rival factions of the Verona Mafiosi. These examples suggest different conflicts that may have contributed to the two deaths. Was it fathers?
Verona was a patriarchal city where fathers held virtually absolute sway over their daughters. They could choose to dictate their daughters lives without any expectance of rebellion and feel deeply insulted if their daughters choose otherwise. Likewise this is evident in Act 3 Scene 5, lines 154-155 where Juliet rebels and incurs the unmitigated wrath of Capulet. "go with Paris to Saint Peter"s Church, or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither". Together with patriarchy goes all the machismo of young men. They relish crude sexual joking, see love as brutal conquest, and have no understanding of gentler, equal relations etween sexes. This topple of pressure may have contributed to the deaths Other causes could have been love itself, which could have made Romeo and Juliet feel that meeting in death was the only worthwhile ending. This is shown is Act 5 Scene 1, line 34 where Romeo expresses love in death: "Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight". Maybe Friar Lawrence"s motives could have cost the two lovers their lives. Friar Lawrence married the lovers in secret, then devised dangerous plans that would ensure his own part in the affair was concealed. Finally the deaths may have been caused by the "rude will" of human nature.
The Friar saw such self-centredness resulting in evil if it gains the upper hand over "grace". Act 2 Scene 3, lines 27-30. Throughout this essay I have discussed the various attitudes to love and marriage conveyed in the play; for some characters like Lord and Lady Capulet, marriage was more about financial and security considerations than romantic attractions. Characters like Mercutio showed that youth culture in Elizabethan times has not changed and is still evident today as youth still continue to make crude gestures about love and relationships.
Characters like the Nurse have portrayed the negative experiences they faced with love and men, encouraging weak characters like Juliet to loose priority for love. Throughout the play, Shakespeare has skillfully cast a critical eye over some of the expectations of his society in a tragic drama of a love made impossible by the folly of men and their wars. Perhaps Shakespeare was imposing his own indictments into a play which he hoped may change the perceptions of Elizabethan society. One thing that is for certain, Shakespeare was one of the most skillful and empathetic writers in world history.