How does Shakespeare show different attitudes towards love in Romeo and Juliet ? If you were to ask people what the greatest “Love Story” of all time was, you can bet that, most of them would say Romeo and Juliet. However, it is not actually a love story, more a play with excessive, contrasting passions, including the most obvious. Love. This is where people get the idea that it is a love story. In this essay I will be exploring the way in which, along with the reasons why, Shakespeare showed different attitudes towards love in the play.
In this tragedy, many characters are in love, claim to be in love or have been in love at some stage. I am going to start my essay by looking at the way Romeo feels for Rosaline. “Benvolio: In love? Romeo: Out- Benvolio: Of love ? Romeo: Out of he favour, where I am in love.” This conversation between the characters Romeo and Benvolio shows that Romeo understands Rosaline does not feel the way about him, as he does about her, he knows he is experiencing unrequited love. The language Romeo is using when talking about his “love” for Rosaline is depressing which contrasts compared to the happiness and enjoyment usually associated with love.
“Romeo: Alas, that love whose view is muffled still” The use of the word muffled suggests that Romeos outlook on love is becoming unclear, and we are starting to see evidence of his uncertainties. On the other hand, this quote could be related to the metaphor “love is blind”, with Romeo not actually realising he needs to forget about Rosaline, and becoming more infatuated with her. When Romeo is discussing his feelings for Rosaline further with Benvolio, it becomes clear to the audience that Romeo is not in love with Rosaline, just in love with the idea of being in love with her. He is besotted with her, and the fact that she does not feel the same about him only makes him long for her even more.
“Romeo: Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!” With Romeo combing two seemingly contradictory ideas to describe what his love feels like, it is becoming even more apparent that Romeo is confused and unsure of his feelings for Rosaline. The next attitude to love is where the Capulet’s demonstrate their love for their daughter, Juliet. “Capulet: My child is yet a stranger to the world; She hath not seen the change of fourteen years, Let two more summers with in their pride, Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.”
The discussion between Capulet and Paris, about Juliet shows that he is more than just the “Doting Dad”. It is evident that he is willing to bend the rules of society for his daughter, and allow her to stay unmarried for two more years, which shows that he has her best interests at heart. “The earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she, She is the hopeful lady of my earth.” This strong form of unconditional love Capulet has for his daughter is proven in both quotes. The word “hopeful” is important because it can be interpreted in two ways. The first being that he holds high hopes for Juliet, and wishes her to go far in life, and other being that when ever anything bad has happened, Juliet has always bought hope back into his life.
Despite the evidence that Capulet dearly loves Juliet, there is confirmation that Lady Capulet shows little maternal instinct towards her daughter. “Lady Capulet: Nurse, where’s my daughter? Call her forth to me. [ . . . ] Juliet: Madam, I am here. What is your will?” The way Lady Capulet asks Nurse to call her daughter shows that she is not interested in being a mother. The formal way Juliet responds to her mothers’ commands, by calling her “Madam” indicates that they do not spend much, if any, time together, and their mother/daughter relationship is non existent.
Nurse, on the other hand, is very caring and motherly towards Juliet, and it appears to the audience she actually cares more than Lady Capulet. “Thou wast the prettiest babe that I e’er nursed” This further reveals my previous point, that Nurse cares more for Juliet than her own mother does. The fact that, although Nurse once had a daughter, she said Juliet was “prettiest babe I e’er nursed” meaning she loved her more than any other baby she ever cared for.