The Various Perceptions of Love in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is about two lovers who get caught up in a feud
between their separate families, the Montagues and the Capulets, and
their fight to let love conquer all.
The play was written by one of the best English writers, William
Shakespeare in about 1595. During the Elizabethan period, women were
seen as objects which could be passed from father to respectable
suitors for marriage. This aspect of life is a major part to the play.
Although the play is known for its love story, it is as much about
love as it is about hate between the two rival families. Therefore
there are many contrasts within the play, for instance Romeo uses
oxymorons which Juliet echoes later,
' Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.' Act 1 scene 1.
Within the play there are many different characters who have different
perceptions of love, which is what I will be analysing in this essay.
The first reference to love in the play occurs in the first scene when
the audience meet Sampson and Gregory who perceive woman in a crude,
vulgar and misogynistic way.
'Tis true and therefore woman being the weaker vessel are ever thrust
to the wall.' Act 1 scene 1
This shows their characters to have no respect for woman and the
audience can presume that they have never experienced true love, which
is a major contrast to Romeo and Juliet's love.
Another character who is extremely bawdy is the nurse,
'Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wilt.' Act 1 scene 3.
Although we learn that she is widowed, her marriage was based around
sex and not around love, therefore the nurse does not understand the
desperation Juliet feels for Romeo.
At the beginning of the play, Romeo's parents, Lord and Lady Montague,
appear very worried about him,
'Many a morning hath he there been seen, with tears augmenting the
fresh dewâ€¦and private in his chamber pens himself, shuts up his
windows, locks fair daylight out.' Montague, Act 1 scene 1.
We learn later that he is pining for Rosaline because she has rejected
him. The audience may begin to see that his love for Rosaline is not
genuine and that he is just entrapped in the emotions and feelings of
love . When describing his love to Benvolio, Romeo never makes any
direct comments towards Rosaline and could be talking about any girl.
When Romeo talks about Juliet, the feelings are more real because of
the language he uses and his behaviour. When he first sees Juliet, he
uses figurative language,
' As a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear' Act 1 scene 5.
When flirting with each other, Romeo and Juliet share a sonnet which
conveys their immediate love for each other as sonnets are usually
about love and said by one person.
They both use words relating to religion,