Romeo and Juliet is a play based mainly around the theme of love. This theme is good for building a play around because if there is love then you can have hate to contrast it, and many other emotions can be brought in. Love also makes the story interesting to an audience of Shakespeare’s time; also to audiences of more modern times as people are still enjoying his work to this day. This shows his ability as a playwright was very good. Love is particularly important in this play though as it runs all the way through; this allows many different aspects of love to be explored such as, the relationship between Romeo and Juliet which is an exciting new love relationship.
On the other hand Shakespeare also shows that love can be cruel when Juliet’s parents are trying to get her to marry Paris against her will, they want her to marry for security. An audience in Shakespeare’s time would of been able to relate to this more than a more modern one, because in those days arranged marriages were much more common. Parent’s married their children off for security and money – not everyone was able to marry for love. At the beginning of the play in the prologue Shakespeare gives a short synopsis telling the audience what is going to happen in the play, this creates dramatic irony that runs all the way through the play, because the audience have heard that Romeo and Juliet are going to die; but they don’t know when they will, this creates tension and suspense. Having two people die to bring their families together allows Shakespeare to explore many different types of love. For example the love of the children who have died or the love between the feuding families that their deaths created.
Early on in the play the audience is shown that Romeo is young and full of love, when he is infatuated with Rosaline. He is love sick and very hormonal, you can see this when he says “She’ll not be hit with Cupid’s arrow,” He is talking to Benvolio about how he loves Rosaline but she doesn’t feel the same way about him, which is why he feels love sick. However his feelings completely change Rosaline instantly leaves his mind when he sees Juliet at a party. “For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” Romeo says to himself Juliet is the most beautiful person he has ever seen, it is love at first sight. This shows That Romeo is fast to fall into love he has only just met her and he loves her more than anyone he has ever loved.
On the other hand Juliet seems more cautious when falling in love she doesn’t jump into things, she takes her time, “Go ask his name,” Juliet asks the nurse to ask Romeo his name as he is leaving the party. This might mean that as she wants to know his name she also wants to know more about him before she makes any long term decisions. This shows the audience that she is more careful than Romeo and isn’t controlled by her emotions. Juliet’s Relations ship with her nurse shows another form of love because the she cares for Juliet as the daughter she never had.
Shakespeare creates many different relationships that make it easy to explore the Theme of love because he has many emotions flying round. One of these relationships is Romeo and friar Lawrence’s. Romeo doesn’t seem to be able to talk to his parents and relies on the friar for advise and as someone to confide in, almost like a father figure. When Romeo and Juliet decide to get married the friar helps them do it secretly. Shakespeare could be showing the audience that the friar cares for both the families and the people of the town, because if he managed to marry Romeo and Juliet the families might be brought closer together. The friar could of been trying to mend their strife.
During the play a feeling of fate is put into the audiences mind, this could be because they know what is going to happen as the prologue has already told them. They might try to think in their heads what might happen to make the things the prologue talks about, happen. Fate ties in with hate and violence because your fate could be violent or full of hatred, these two things continue all the way through the play and juxtapose the theme of love that also runs through all the play. An example of this is Romeo and Juliet getting married on the day that Romeo killed Juliet’s Cousin, Tybalt.
Throughout the play Shakespeare uses imagery created by techniques like: similes, extended metaphors and personification. An example of an extended metaphor is when Lady Capulet is describing Paris to Juliet and she says, “Read o’er the volume of young Paris’ face,” in a short passage she talks about Paris as a book and says he’s unmarried (“unbound lover”) trying to persuade her to marry him. Using these metaphors creates clearer images in the audiences minds of what is happening.
Personification is used in the prologue in Act two, “Desire doth in his death-bed lie” describing desire as if it were a person, that has died, emphasises that Romeo’s desire for Rosaline has died. It is also a more powerful way of writing Romeo doesn’t like Rosaline anymore, it shows that his love for her is completely gone.
The different types of love Shakespeare explores in this play are: Love between two lovers, like Romeo and Juliet; love between enemies, like Romeo and Tybalt and love between family members, like Juliet and Lord Capulet. The theme of love makes the play have antithesis all the way through because, the tragedy is mixed with the love story throughout all the play. I think the play has become a classic love story known across the world because, Shakespeare wrote it in a way that people can enjoy it in their own individual way. Each different person can interpret the images Shakespeare created, in their own minds and everyone could get different images. I think Shakespeare is trying to say that love is unpredictable and very complicated and can’t be controlled, also that it can be good and bad.