In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the theme of love is the most contrasting and contradicting of all the issues raised. In the play, each character has a different perspective of love. Some characters feel that love is simply a contractual aspect of life, whereas others feel that it is a strong bond of emotion.
From the moment Romeo lays eyes upon Juliet, he seems to be head over heels in love. “Did my heart love till now? For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” These are the words that he murmurs as he sees her. William Shakespeare immediately creates intimacy between the pair and shows that Juliet could be falling for Romeo as well, for within speaking ten lines to the Montague, they kiss. It is extremely hard to believe that after knowing each other for a matter of minutes, you can be as in love as they were. During the latter stages of this scene, Romeo repeatedly asks Juliet for her to “repeat the sin,” referring to the kiss. This is followed by a plea; “O wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?” This is a quotation which forces the reader to immediately believe that Romeo craves for some sexual pleasure and satisfaction. A reader would also argue that if you were truly in love with someone, you would not need satisfaction. When Romeo comes to the friar for advice and to ask him to marry them, Friar Lawrence says, “Young men’s love lies, then, not truly in their hearts but in their eyes.” This is a good quotation to argue that Romeo’s love is not as real as it seems. The friar, a wise man, does not believe that Romeo can possibly be in love with Juliet at this stage.Order now
Mercutio is Romeo’s supposed best friend. In Act II Scene IV when young Romeo returns to his friends, Mercutio says that he is “dead already: stabbed with a white wench’s black eye…with a love song.” This portrays the image that Mercutio sees that Romeo has actually fallen in love with Juliet. As they are best friends, one could come to believe that this is true. However, halfway through the same scene, on line thirty-five, Mercutio guesses that Romeo has had sex, and tells him “how, like a dried herring, art thou fishified.” This is an extremely sexual allusion, and contradict Mercutio’s previous phrase, for this quotation shows the reader that Mercutio could be bringing out the truth, and Romeo’s true self.
Both of the Capulets see marriage as a financial opportunity, containing no love. Lady Capulet mentions that “gold clasps lock in the golden story, so that you shall share all that he doth possesses,” referring to the idea that Juliet should marry and is expecting to fall for Count Paris. Her parents see the situation as an opportunity to become allies with Paris’ family, and to receive money out of, what is simply a matrimonial transaction.
Throughout the play, death is mentioned when talking about love. The love is portrayed as being so strong, that both principal characters would die and kill because of it. One interpretation of this idea is that Romeo and Juliet are both afraid of love, and that they are merely looking for an easy way out, of something that quickly escalated out of control. In Act II Scene II Romeo tells Juliet that his love is immensely strong, that “stony limits cannot hold love out.” He also says, “My life were better ended by their hate.” These two emotive quotations show that he is willing, as is indeed risking his life simply to spend time with Juliet. In Act I Scene V, Juliet tells the Nurse that “If he be married, My grave is like to be my wedding bed.” This is extremely potent and evocating, as Juliet is willing to die an untouched virgin for someone whom she does not know.
When good Balthazar tells Romeo about Juliet’s ‘death’ in Act V Scene I, Romeo’s immediate reaction is to kill himself. This theme of wanting death intertwines with the theme of impulsiveness and rash decisions. This, again raises the issue of the play’s real-life credibility, or whether it is a farcical fairytale. Juliet has doubts in the play. The phrase, “My father will hate it so, and I am nothing slow to slack his hate,” combined with, “Deny thy father and deny thy name,” signifies that she wants Romeo to be wit her, but not as a Montague, nor does she want to disobey her father. This makes the play slightly more realistic, as it shows a teenage girl being obedient and following her parent’s aspirations. However, later on in the play this idea becomes extremely duplicitous. Capulet, her father, on hearing the news of her refusal to marry, screams, “Hang, beg, die on the streets,” after she stands up to him and does not do as he wants. Capulet cares more about his pride, and this is a total shock to him. Again, the play could seem more realistic because of this; a parent will generally be disappointed and upset if their child is disobedient. However, seeing as this spirals out of control into an incredibly horrific row in such a short period time, it raises the question of credibility within the play.
Continuing on the theme of hot-headedness, at the very beginning of the play, in Act I Scene I, Sampson bites his thumb at Abraham. From playful mockery and teasing banter, the situation quickly soars into a volatile scene, and a fight is almost seen. Romeo’s change of love from Rosaline toward Juliet is also very sudden. In the first scene, after his entrance, he wallows in grief and sadness as he speaks to Benvolio. “Out of her favour where I am in love,” refers to Rosaline, as does, “this love feel I that feel no love in this;” a quotation describing his anguish at the fact he is not loved by Rosaline.
“Thy drugs are quick.” This is an extremely powerful quotation, taken from Act V Scene III, and it describes Romeo’s quick death. This is an excellent quotation to relate to the theme of rashness and spontaneous moments within the play. Again, the reader can interpret this as being totally unrealistic, as no drug would kill immediately.
During Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ many characters repeatedly change their minds and attitudes in the play. Firstly, the nurse is portrayed throughout the majority of the text as being caring a subtly in agreement with Juliet. At first, she somewhat doubts Romeo. “What’s this? What’s this?” describes her shock at the news of Juliet’s apparent love for “the only son of the enemy.” In Act II Scene V, she speaks in private to the naï¿½ve Montague and threatens him, letting him know that there will be trouble if he mistreats Juliet. She calls him a “scurvy knave!” and mentions that “if ye should lead her into a fool’s paradise… it were a very gross kind of behavior.” Going on with the idea of changing minds, the Nurse changes her perceptions again towards the end of the play. After Juliet and her father’s row, the Nurse discreetly talks to Juliet about her choices and about Paris. Quotations and phrases used such as, “lay hand on heart,” “I think it best if you married with the County” and “Romeo’s a dischclout to him,” are not only extremely rude and unadvised, yet totally unpredictable, and again, impulsive and precipitate. Romeo also changes his views in the poem in a major way, altering the play’s course. Romeo tells Tybalt that he loves thee, and that “love thee better than thou canst devise.”
Romeo has to love Tybalt because of Juliet, and this shows that he could possibly be in love, as he is making an alliance with his counterpart of the enemy. However, when Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend is so undeservedly slain by the Capulet, he reacts recklessly, immediately following Tybalt and slays him. An eye for an eye is the idea produced.
There are many aspects and views in this play which are arguably realistic or not. I personally do not believe that, under normal circumstances, it is possible to fall so far in love with someone that you would kill for them, die for them and do anything to meet their needs and requirements. William Shakespeare has used evocating techniques and language to create a play which attacks the audience. I do however; think that certain issues in this provocative play are indeed credible and somewhat realistic today.
Firstly, parents do tend to make a lot of decisions for their children in life, and that will never change. Whether things were different in the late 1500s when the play was written or not, things would have been different. At the time it was written and produced, people would have been married earlier and reached puberty and an earlier stage. Therefore, on the aspect of age, I find it a credible sequence of ideas. But the idea and viewpoint of falling in love at first sight is too clichï¿½d and unreal to be credible or even believable. There will be people who meet someone at a young age and get married, but there number of people likely to meet someone and then risk their lives, kill and then want and be willing to take their own life because of them is next to nothing. Also, many people make instinctive decisions without thinking, as that is nature and always will be.
I think that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a powerful, dramatical story, using excellent vocabulary and with a good structure, but I do not believe, overall, that it can easily be linked with today’s society and life. The play is controversial and adaptive, and is one of Shakespeare’s greatest.