Introduction – Thesis Statement
On the edge of discovering life, two youngsters from Verona fall in love for each other. The act of love that unites them generates various difficulties that determine the resistance of their families and friends to their relationship. Too young to know how to handle or control the difficulties of life, Rome and Juliet devoted to one another with love and passion, forgetting about everything, being solely concerned about their loving feelings. Love and passion are two strong themes that reside from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, two strong and intense feelings that initiate the tragic act of the double suicide in the play.
Love finds the two teenagers in Verona unprepared to understand that it comes with various challenges. Juliet was meant to marry Paris, whom she did not love. Romeo was a member of Montague family, while Juliet was daughter to Capulet. The two families were rivals and none of them could accept the marriage of Romeo and Juliet. Despite their families plan to break up their relationship, the two lovers continued to love each other. It is probably precisely because of their families’ resistance that the love for each other grew and become so intense.
When talking about love and passion in Romeo and Juliet, one must not forget the early age of the two lovers from Verona. It was the first time they had this feeling, although Romeo thought he was previously in loved with Rosaline, a very beautiful girl who was not interested in him. The feelings he had for Juliet were different. They were shared, pure and sincere.
“That fair for which love groaned for and would die/With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair./ Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,/ Alike bewitched by the charm of looks” (Shakespeare 41).
Critics say that the feelings that Romeo had for Rosaline versus the ones he had for Juliet makes the difference between false love (for Rosaline) and true love (for Juliet). The two teenagers fell deeply in love with one another, so that nothing else, except their love, counted for them. They gave themselves away to the uncontrolled passion of love, suppressing any judgment or value such as loyalty towards friends or respect for the family. They were prepared to die, rather than renounce the love that bounded them, emotionally, spiritually and sexually (“William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet” 29).
For the sake of love, Juliet proposed to Romeo to “Deny thy father and refuse thy name () And I’ll no longer be a Capulet” (Shakespeare 46).
Although the two young lovers break the boundaries of their social values, Shakespeare’s play does not seem to be focused on revealing the social Moravians of sixteenth century Verona, rather it seeks to understand the early psychology of love. In “Romeo and Juliet” the psychology of love is crude, brute, asking for all or nothing. It is absorbing, violent, selfish, overwhelming and chaotic (McRoberts 34).
In 19th Century, Ulrici perceived the love between Romeo and Juliet as a personal gratification, sensual enjoyment and satisfaction of lust and because of their reckless passion in which they drawn from the first moment they sat eyes on each other, they are the only ones to be blamed for their tragic end (in Waters 123).
Indeed, it may seem reckless their entire act of love. Romeo and Juliet lost their heads, became blinded with passion and with desire, becoming a religion for each other. There is a power that exceeds their knowledge and understanding that surround them, inexplicable and capturing, wrapping them together. It seems more the effect of a spell than something natural that guided Romeo and Juliet towards love.
“Alike, bewitched by the charm of looks” (Shakespeare 41).
In the multitude of shapes in which love dominates the play “Romeo and Juliet”, it appears also in the form of courtesy and of romance. Courtly love is believed to be the “marriage of two minds”, being representative for the aristocratic societies, springing from the early fourteenth century to present. It is entrenched in the social conventions, capturing emotion and excitement in the boundaries of the social morals (Wollock 223).
Romeo and Juliet were experiencing courtly love, as they both belonged to Verona’s aristocratic circles and they loved each other with passion and conquered each other’s hearts, but also their minds.
Unlike courtly love, romantic love was more subversive of the social conventions, was more oriented towards the erotic nature of love (Wollock 223). On the other hand, other documentations on romantic love suggest that it appeared in the French courts, and it had strict rules, according to which the women had to be unobtainable: either married or on the dead bed, or even dead. Romantic love imposed chastity from both lovers (“William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet” 29).
Although this idea of romantic love seems to be entrenched in social conventions, Romeo and Juliet do experience a romantic love, because they have to face the barriers of their families’ hatred, which stays in the way of their love. In addition, Juliet is promised to Paris in marriage, which makes her even more unobtainable. Moreover, in the end both Romeo and Juliet die. These are all the ingredients of the romantic love, as it was defined by social standards.
In the time when Romeo and Juliet was written and in the society portrayed by Shakespeare, passion was considered a dangerous feeling. People who reached in the hands of passion were regarded as eager in temper, having a high possibility to get out of control and let themselves fall into rushed acts and into evil ways (McRoberts 13).
Romeo and Juliet were driven by their passion for each other and indeed they were reckless and judging things irrationally and rashly, so that they were willing to renounce everything: their families, their names, their friends, and their past, just for being together. Passion also drove them to irrational thoughts, such as contemplating with the thought of suicide, considering that they would be better off their lives if they could not share it together in love.
“But passion lends them power, time means, to meet,/Tempering extremities with extreme sweet.” (Shakespeare 41).
These lines indicate the essence of their passion. They feel strong together, as though nothing can break them apart. The passion that they share creates a hyperbolized version of the power that they think they have. Indeed, they are bounded by the power of love, but because of their extreme temper they cannot control their love.
Therefore, their passion and their love are the feelings that drive them to committing irrational acts. Romeo and Juliet experience love at first sight, developing into courtly love, into romantic love, into passionate and irrational love and finally, into eternal love, which unites them in death. Their passion gives them power to neglect everything around them. What may seem as two teenagers’ stubborn acts of defying their parents and their friends who resist their love, it is a lyrical representation of the desire and of fighting for their love with the weapons of passion and reckless youth. Romeo and Juliet jump in the arms of desperation without thinking and they consider that one’s life is useless without the other. This is how they end up committing the most tragic double suicide from the English literature, in the name of passion and love.
McRoberts, Valerie. A Wizard Lit Master to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Liverpool: Curriculum Corportion. 1998. Print.
Shakespeare, William in Milton, John. Romeo and Juliet. United States: ReadHowYouWant. 2008. Print.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Baron’s Book Notes. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 1984. Print.
Wollock, Jennifer, G. Rethinking Chivalry and Courtly Love. California: Library of Congress Cataloging – in – Publication Data. 2011. Print.