In this essay I am going to examine the different types of love and analyse the language that Shakespeare uses to describe them.
Shakespeare shows ‘Courtly Love’ through Romeo’s ‘love’ for Rosaline (act 1 scene 1 lines 167-172, 208-215) and Paris’ ‘love’ for Juliet (act 5 scene 3 lines 12-17).Courtly Love was a European tradition dating from the Middle Ages. It was a set of rules and expectations about the way ‘lovers’ from the aristocratic classes should behave.’The man should fall in love with a lady of a higher social class’.’She would probably be married, and therefore unobtainable’.’He can neither eat nor sleep thinking of his lady’.These are a few rules of courtly love.
Romeo’s ‘love’ for Rosaline was strong, even though that Romeo had never seen Rosaline. The audience find out later that Romeo is in love with the idea of being in love, I know this because:’This love feel I, that feel no love in this’ meaning he was in love with the conventions of love rather than actual love. The courtly love is written like a poem to make the reader realise this is not real love, I know this has when Romeo speaks the words are written as a poem. Shakespeare uses personification in act 1 scene 1 line 169 where ‘love’ is in capital and it is referred to as Cupid and not as a feeling.
‘Alas that Love, whose view is still muffled’Oxymoron (a combination of contrasting words), ‘loving hate’, ‘heavy lightness’ these are here to once again show the falseness of Romeo’s love for Rosaline. Rosaline is also a Capulet and Romeo is treading dangerously.’There’s much to do with hate, but more with love’ meaning some to hating the Capulet’s but more to do with loving Rosaline. Romeo’s speech is hyperbolic (exaggerated) to show Romeo’s view of his love for Rosaline.
Negotiations between Paris and Juliet’s arranged marriage did not surprise the audience, as this was the age when girls got married. The negotiations did not go well, as Juliet refused and Lord Capulet said that if she didn’t get married she would be banished.Paris’ love for Juliet is also strong and wants Juliet because he thinks she is dead (act 5 scene 3 lines 12-17).’Or, wanting that, with tears distilled by moans’ meaning if he doesn’t get Juliet he will cry and moan. This seems that he had very strong feelings for Juliet.Shakespeare shows ‘Family Love’ between the Capulet’s household in act 3 scene 5 lines 137-203.
Lord Capulet is very angry towards Juliet for not agreeing to marry Paris. There are words of conflict,’My fingers itch’ showing he wants to hit Juliet.’Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!’ Showing feelings of violence.The Capulet’s wanted Juliet to get married to Paris as this was the age of getting married and that Paris was a good catch as he was wealthy and a high status. Husbands were chosen by wealth, riches rather than love. Women had no say in his.
Earlier in the play Lord Capulet shows love to his daughter Juliet (act 1 scene 2 lines 25).’Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light’ meaning ladies (Juliet) bright as stars, yet walking on earth. Lord Capulet then treats Juliet, as he doesn’t know her by insulting her for not agreeing to marry Paris.Lady Capulet is with Lord Capulet in this argument rather than trying to side with Juliet. The nurse on the other hand is very angry at Lord Capulet for arguing with Juliet and blames him.’You are to blame, my lord, to rate her so’. The nurse shows much love for Juliet as she has cared for Juliet more than Lady Capulet.Juliet goes to consult Friar Laurence to hear his plan to try and solve her problem.
Juliet goes to Friar Laurence as she sees him as a father figure (act 4 scene 1 lines 126).’Farewell, dear father!’ Juliet sees him as a priest but on this occasion he’s more like a father to her.Shakespeare expresses ‘Sexual Love’ through Sampson and Gregory (act 1 scene 1) and Mercutio and Benvolio (act 2 scene 1 lines 17-40).
Sampson and Gregory make puns (act 1 scene 1 line 32) and rude jokes (act 1 scene 1 lines 22-25).’I will cut off their heads… the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads’, meaning take women’s virginity (a rude joke).’My naked weapon is out’, meaning his sword but this also means a men’s genitals is out (a rude pun).
In the start of the argument between Sampson and Gregory they both say collier, choler and collar (these three words all sound alike).Mercutio and Benvolio make jokes and puns about Romeo’s love (act 2 scene 1 lines 17-40).’If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark’ meaning if there’s no love then love cannot achieve its aim. Shakespeare uses such language and includes such scenes to show that ‘sexual love’ is natural.
When Romeo and Juliet meet and kiss each other for the first time, Shakespeare has written the words in a form of a sonnet (a fourteen line poem with the last word rhyming). The sonnet contains an argument and a way working through that argument. The sonnet also includes such religious words as ‘Pilgrim’, ‘Profane’, ‘Shrine’, ‘Saint’, ‘Holy’, etc (act 1 scene 5). These words are to show Romeo and Juliet’s love as a religion.
‘This holy shrine’ meaning Juliet’s hand (act 1 scene 5 line 93). When Romeo spoke about Rosaline he used a lot of oxymoron’s ‘loving hate’, ‘bright smoke’ to indicate the falseness of his love for Rosaline.In the balcony scene (act 2 scene 2) Romeo has climbed over the wall into the Capulet’s orchard to speak to his love Juliet (who is on her balcony of her bedroom hence the name ‘the balcony scene’). Romeo and Juliet refer to each other as words such as the sun, the moon and the stars (act 2 scene 2 lines 3, 4, and 15).’Two of the fairest stars in all heaven’ referring to Romeo and Juliet.
‘And Juliet is the sun!’ referring to Juliet. Romeo then swears his love for Juliet by the moon, but Juliet disagrees because the moon is inconstant and she wants their love to last long. Juliet then gives Romeo the idea of getting married.’I have no joy of this contract to-night’. Romeo promises to see her the next day.