The Theme of Love Presented in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Love, or a lack of it, is a very central theme in Romeo and Juliet and
often is the root of many arguments in the play. It is very difficult
to group love as just one thing as there are many versions of it.
A love which the capulets particularly, seem to possess is a love of
material possessions and power. For example, the Capulet ball (and
subsequent plans for the marriage) is an indication of wealth and the
ability to entertain on a lavish scale. Thus Shakespeare creates an
atmosphere of ease and opulence.
At the end of the play Shakespeare makes the point that no amount of
wealth and power, no statues erected in pure gold, can replace the
lives that are lost. By pursuing wealth and status, the Capulets
sacrifice the irreplaceable life of their only daughter.
Closely allied to the theme of love and of material possessions is the
love of parents for their children - and the manner in which,
specifically, the two main characters respond to such care and
In the early scenes of the play Juliet is obedient to her parents'
wishes, prepared to go along with their suggestions. There is a
naivety about her answer: "I'll look to like, if looking move. / But
no more deep will I endart mine eye / Than your
consent gives strength to make it fly".
However, once she has discovered true love, Juliet changes and
matures. No longer is she the obedient and willing daughter. Instead
she chooses to side with her husband, as opposed to her family - even
in the face of loosing Tybalt who she speaks of as 'the best friend I
ever had' she still refers to Romeo as "my dearer lord". Juliet has
grown up and is prepared to accept responsibility for her choices and
decisions. From familial love Juliet has moved to romantic, but true,
A love of friendship plays an important part in the story and is
allied to the idea of loyalty. Shakespeare uses Benvolio and Mercutio
as representative of the Montague 'gang'. We assume there are more
young men involved, as specified in the stage directions: 'Enter
Mercutio [and his Page], Benvolio and Men'. Emphasis on the Montague's
being a 'gang' leaves a macho impression. However the gentle nature of
Benvolio shows that not all of them are macho, all the time.
The Capulet 'gang' is represented in the same way, but Shakespeare
needs only concentrate on Tybalt as the leader. The idea of close
friendship is established early on when Benvolio takes it upon himself
to counsel and help Romeo with regard to his love for Rosaline. It is
Benvolio who suggests they go to the masked party where the main
action of the play really starts. Throughout the play Benvolio retains
the characteristics of loyalty and honesty. He serves as the
peacemaker, supporting not only his...