“Romeo and Juliet” was, and still is the most famous tragedy of all time. Although written by William Shakespeare over 400 yrs ago when views of marriage, sex, age of consent and religious concerns were very different from today. In that time things were stricter, yet the age of consent was a lot younger, it was definitely more religious and sex before marriage was forbidden during the late Elizabethan time in which Shakespeare was writing. However being a wise 33 yr old man Shakespeare managed to write this wonderful play which people then, and even now seem to relate to.
But can Romeo and Juliet show us the true meaning of love? In my opinion I would say Romeo & Juliet has to be the most celebrated, romantic and beautiful story of all time. Which has gone into production with great success and has been made a very popular play.
The language used is written with beautiful poetry to communicate each one’s love felt for one another “With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls”. Here we think of angels, as the word “wings” is used. Angels are beautiful and add this magical, loving feel to everything.
On the other hand other emotions are brought upon you throughout the play. With a great feelings of hate and sadness through to deep compassion and overwhelming happiness. Giving the play great effectiveness.
It could be argued that its just a play simply for entertainment and nothing more, but if you look into the themes of the play, you will see there are many lessons we can learn from the two doomed lovers. The three major themes are – love, hate and fate.
Love is the strongest, most important role in the play. Shakespeare shows love in many ways, which together are equally as strong. He explores lustful love, which is basically loved for the purpose of sexual pleasure. The nurse and her comments to Juliet “No less, nay bigger, women grow by men” show this type. Samson and Gregory also bring up issues of love and sex, this is done for addition of light relief and comedy within the play “Tis true, and therefore women being the weaker vessels are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall”. How relevant is this to today?
He explores love secondly as infatuation. When Romeo is described as an aimless wanderer, preoccupied with thoughts of Rosaline and believing he is in love with her.
Teenage love is mainly in the head of teenagers, smitten by it all when they think they have “found the one” when really it’s that they have found an obsession. Which is exactly how we see Romeo.
The third type is shown where Paris, a rich man who is highly respected by the parents of Juliet, is introduced in the play for the planned marriage to Juliet. Due to the fact that marriages were arranged, and how the parents analyse whether the man is fit enough for their daughter. However when the parents truly like the guy and they seem perfect for their daughter, here love is seen as an image, but we shouldn’t look upon Paris as just an image, as love is expressed as much more in that it is commitment and true feelings rather than false feelings.
However when Romeo meets Juliet at first sight he knows she is different and we finally come to true, 100 % love. This love then can change people as we notice Romeo becomes a more passionate, eager person and Juliet becomes more independent.
Love goes through those hardships and is not just feelings, but something the partner is willing to do for the other partner. Whether it is fight with a friend or lose a friendship just to be with them. Or in the extreme case like in the play, even die for each other. Now this must be true love. Again love was so strong within the play that they were willing to go against years of hatred between their families and try to make things work and not just give up on it. So to put this together you should say that love is not an obsession but is shown through actions.
The role of hatred also plays an important role, as this is what ends up killing two innocent children (Romeo & Juliet) of two opposed families. All because of hatred and nastiness between the Montagues and Capulets. Juliet being a Capulet and Romeo being a Montague. However if the 2 families had stopped fighting earlier then the consequences would be much different and the lives of the 2 lovers could have been saved. The everlasting lesson that Shakespeare has obviously tried to get across is that hatred never leads to any good and it is pointless to fight and quarrel, just for the sake of it.
Fate has obviously taken place, as Romeo & Juliet were two “star crossed lovers” who had fate against them. In that time, if 2 people’s lives described as stars being crossed in the sky. People were wary, as crossed stars would never remain together.
With the play ending in them both dead then you can definitely say they didn’t live happily ever after. You can’t say it’s their fault as it was all the unfortunate happenings that led up to their death. Fate was not on their side at all. Firstly Romeo met Juliet only by chance. Only, because he got into the ball wearing a mask and the servant couldn’t read the list of guests anyhow. By unfortunate chance Romeo & Juliet fell in love at first sight before they actually realised they were from opposing families.
Romeo would not have fought Tybalt, cousin of Juliet if it wasn’t for the fact that Romeo’s best friend Mercutio being killed by Tybalt in the first place. Although Tybalt was Juliet’s cousin, Romeo just had to get revenge. Which led to things being complicated even more as Romeo was then banished and if it wasn’t for this maybe things could have worked for them.
In the meantime while Romeo was in banishment the plans for the arranged marriage of Paris to Juliet were going ahead by Juliet’s parents. The Friar who had already married Juliet to Romeo had other plans, which was to give Juliet a drug to make her appear dead, even though she would wake 42 hours later. However fate is yet again against the 2 of them. As the letter sent by the Friar never reached Romeo explaining what is going on, in return there is a bad shock as the Friar arrives too late to find Romeo has killed himself lying next to his love Juliet. Who awakes only minutes later to find him dead. All this illustrates the power of Fate in the case of Romeo & Juliet.