Types of love in Romeo and Juliet

The
theme of love is potent throughout the entirety of Romeo and Juliet.
Many different forms of love are intertwined with one another throughout the
play and displayed through the relationships between characters and their
feelings for one another. Romantic love between Romeo and Juliet is
contradicted by the love of violence in the play, while themes of familial love
and friendship are deliberated with regards to the unrequited love Romeo possesses
for Rosaline.

 

The theme of unrequited and
superficial love is firstly discussed through Romeo’s unreturned affections for
Rosaline. In Act One Scene One, Romeo is shown to be depressed and in a state
of deep heartbreak because of the feelings he has for Rosaline. After being approached
by Benvolio to find out the cause of his grievances, Romeo reveals that he does
“love a woman” but “she will not stay the siege of loving terms” and requite
his feelings. Romeo remains dejected until he meets Juliet, and not until then
does Romeo recover from his deep heartbreak caused by Rosaline’s chastity and
her devotion to it. Another instance of unrequited love is the found within the
relationship between Paris and Juliet. Paris has intense feelings for Juliet
and asks her to marry him. His love for her is similar to Romeo’s as it is
passionate and fast. However, the difference is that Juliet does not return the
same feelings to Paris. Juliet desperately asks Friar Lawrence to think of a
way to prevent her from marrying Paris and even comments, “O, bid me leap,
rather than marry Paris”. Paris felt deep emotion towards Juliet, to the extent
of mourning for her after her apparent death and asking Romeo with his last
words saying, “Oh, I am slain! If thou be merciful, open the tomb. Lay me with
Juliet”. However, Juliet does not return his love and the feeling is not
mutual.

 

When Romeo and Juliet first meet they
fall in love at first sight. The destructive force of the infatuation that
Romeo and Juliet had developed with each other at first sight ultimately led to
the couple’s hasty marriage and premature deaths. When Romeo first notices
Juliet at the Capulet ball, he describes her as “a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s
ear” and likens her beauty to “a snowy dove trooping with crows.” Romeo also
asks himself, “Did my heart love till now?” and calls his own eyes liars in the
line, “forswear it, sight!” As well as this, in act one, scene 5, he
states, “I ne’er saw true beauty
till this night”. In other words, corresponding with his previous love
Rosaline, Romeo is equating feelings of love with lust, or an acknowledgement
of beauty, and it is these lines that portray Romeo as falling in love at first
sight. After being grasped by the dangerously misleading yet romantically
appealing hold of love at first sight,
Romeo and Juliet forget about all the consequences of their newfound and intense
love for each other. As time goes by the somewhat toxic love between the two
star-crossed lovers leads to the pair consummating their love physically.

 

Further on in the play,
Shakespeare presents romantic love as a natural force of nature. It is a force
so strong that it exceeds social normalities. The love between Romeo and Juliet
is a principle example of romantic love. During the play, the young lovers are
moved by the strong power of their love for each other to defy their social
customs and rules. For example, Juliet asks Romeo to “Deny thy father and
refuse thy name, or
if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet”. Romeo
also deserts his friends, Mercutio and Benvolio, to sneak into Juliet’s garden.
Towards the end of the play, Romeo even sneaks back into Verona after being
informed of Juliet’s apparent death despite the death sentence that the prince
had put in place if Romeo returned to Verona. The overriding feeling of
romantic love between the young lovers causes them to take drastic, and
eventually fatal, measures in order to be together. The yoke of love feels so
strong and its power appears unparalleled. The seemingly eternal bond of
romantic love between the couple was so strong that they would rather die than
live without the other. This idea is recognised in the prologue of the play
where Shakespeare writes, “A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.” This brings the idea of
ill-fated love. Perhaps Romeo and Juliet’s love is fate. Their love is
forbidden and unthinkable by both their families and the residents of “fair
Verona.”

 

Another type of love in Romeo and Juliet is the love of revenge and violence. A major
example of this type of love is between the Capulets and the Montagues. In act
one, scene one Lord Capulet and Lord Montague meet in the streets of Verona and
would have fought each other if their wives, Lady Capulet and Lady Montague,
hadn’t stopped them. “Capulet: My sword, I say! Old Montague is come, and flourishes his blade in spite of me.
Montague: Thou villain Capulet! Hold me not. Let me go.” However, the most
obvious example of violence and revenge in the play is the fight between
Mercutio, Tybalt and Romeo. At the start of the brawl, Mercutio and Tybalt just
wanted an excuse to fight each other. This suggests that they may even enjoy fighting
no despite the great dangers involved. However, after Tybalt kills Mercutio,
Romeo in filled with anger and wants revenge. This sudden urge for revenge
causes Romeo to chase and kill Tybalt for what he had done. This example of the
abrupt desire for revenge may encourage
the reader to feel empathetic towards Romeo. Perhaps the rapidity of Romeo’s
feelings may have led him to make
misjudged decisions, ultimately leading to Tybalt’s death and his own
banishment from Verona.

The love to fight between
the two families is a force that has even gripped their servants. They, the
servants, cannot wait for their enemies to bait them toward violence. An
example of this can be found in act one, scene one of the play where Sampson
and Gregory, who are Capulet servants, pick a fight with Abram, a Montague
servant. The love of violence between both households has engulfed everyone that
is part of the family as well as those that are strongly bound to the family.
Even when Benvolio tries to stop the servants from fighting, Tybalt shows up
and starts to fight with Benvolio. Even though Benvolio is only a friend of the
Montagues, he is still entangled in their dispute with the Capulets.

 

Parental love in Romeo
and Juliet found in many forms between many different characters. An
example of this is the love Lord and Lady Capulet share for their daughter Juliet. They love their child because of
the parental instincts that all parents have. This is also magnified because
Juliet is the last remaining child of the Capulets and Lord Capulet would want
his family name to carry on in the generations to come. The love for Juliet is
shown by Lord Capulet when he refuses to marry away Juliet because he believes
that it would make her unhappy. He makes this decision even though he would
want Juliet to carry on the family name. A similar type of parental love is
practised by Lord and Lady Montague for Romeo. Lady Montague shows her parental
love for Romeo when she is worried about the presence of Romeo and relieved
when she finds that he was not in the families’ feud. In the play, Juliet’s
nurse also seems to have a parent-like relationship with Juliet. Despite not
being her parent, the nurse has loved Juliet from her birth and has taken care
of her for all of her life. The nurse wants to protect Juliet in the same way a
parent would want to protect their child.

 

Romeo and Mercutio have a
close platonic relationship. They are always very playful and constantly joking
with each other. Throughout the play, Mercutio frequently jokes with Romeo
about his love and love-sickness. Although he often mocks Romeo, Mercutio still
manages to give him some advice on his problems. For example, “Prick love for
pricking, and love beat you down.” Towards the beginning of the play, Mercutio
urges Romeo to be rough with love when it is rough with him. Mercutio is considered
a neutral in the Montague and Capulet feud, this is because he is a kinsman for
Prince Escalus. However, this does not affect his relationship with Romeo,
shown by the way he steps in to fight Tybalt. When he is stabbed by Tybalt in
Act 3, Scene 1, Mercutio blames the two houses of Montague and Capulet for his
death calling a “plague o’both your
houses!” Although in his dying speech, he still manages to keep his humour and
always look on the positive side of things.

 

In conclusion, there are
numerous types of love in Romeo and
Juliet and there are many different examples of love throughout the play.
Shakespeare uses the feeling of love to highlight the traits of certain
characters as well as the feelings between pairs and groups of characters. The
types of love a character in the play possesses seem
to reflect their character and personality. Perhaps this is one of the
techniques Shakespeare uses to portray the characters’ traits to the audience. Romeo and Juliet is arguably the most famous English love story
and the use of different types of love between almost every character is highly
effective and very captivating.