Shakespeares Views on Love





Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare’s sixteenth century tragedy, remains one of the most famous, timeless pieces of literature yet created. This bittersweet tale documents the forbidden attraction between two impulsive children, and their tragic suicides. The story’s incidents, saturated with Shakespeare’s views and opinions, reveal the playwright’s philosophies on love. Many consider Romeo and Juliet the greatest love story of all time, yet when the “love” between the two main characters is analyzed, it cannot truly be considered love. Instead Shakespeare wrote this play as a testament of the harsh consequences of reckless lust and attraction, and endeavored to send an admonition. Shakespeare meant not for Romeo and Juliet to define true love, rather, to define what true love is not.
The balcony scene of Act II, pulsating with the passionate current existing between the Romeo and Juliet, contains some of the richest, most beautiful poetry ever written. However, from a more critical aspect, this scene also contains some of the most impetuous, melodramatic reactions of two attracted individuals ever chronicled. Though they have only known each other for a few hours, and have not yet shared “ a hundred words of [each other’s] utterance (II. ii. 64-65), they immediately devote themselves to each other. Both Romeo and Juliet display a dangerously impulsive nature, as well as an inability to control their emotions, characteristic of their age.
The reckless actions of Romeo seem especially thoughtless, considering the danger he faces on the territory of his mortal enemies, the Capulets. Yet he insists in stealing alone in the dark night to see his “love” Juliet. Romeo’s remarkably recent and compelling obsession over Rosaline, his “old desire[,] doth in his deathbed lie, an young affection gapes to be his heir. / That fair for which love groaned for and would die, / With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.” ( Prolougue Act II, 1-4 ). Thus, Rosaline is swiftly replaced. Mightn’t Juliet be replaced that quickly?
In an elaborate monologue Romeo worshipfully compares his lady to brilliant, heavenly bodies and beings, such as “bright angel” (II. ii. 28) with eyes as “the fairest stars in all the heaven” (II. ii. 15). Romeo’s departure from the darkness in which he has been hiding and his venture to the light of Juliet, his “fair sun” (II. ii. 4), symbolizes the dawning of a new age in his life, after the dark night of Rosaline’s rejection. Romeo appears guilty of desperation; his ecstasy in finding a beautiful girl sharing his attractions blinds common sense.
Juliet’s impulsive behavior proves similar to Romeo’s. They see each other, exchange a few romantic words, and she allows him to kiss her. Then alone on the balcony she pines for him, swearing to renounce her own family and “no longer be a Capulet ” (II. ii. 38), pledging herself to a boy she has just hardly met. She ignores the impulse to fear this sudden and intense attraction, “ . . . too rash, to unadvised, too sudden, / Too like the lightning which doth cease to be / ere one can say ‘It lightens.’ ” (II. ii. 129-130). Juliet does not realize the wisdom in and significance of her own words, the foreshadowing of her own fate.
These theoretical mortal enemies, oblivious of the danger and obstacles that impede their future, transform in a single night to mortal lovers who cannot live without each other. They exchange vows on the moonlit balcony, beneath the heavens, vibrant and volatile, symbolizing the explosive nature of the situation.
The situation does swiftly explode in Act III, Scene I, the point at which the play rapidly spirals downward. Mercutio, Romeo’s comical (and often obnoxious) friend, and Tybalt, Juliet’s fiery, hot-blooded cousin, clash as a result of reckless insults and the thirst for revenge. When Mercutio falls, Romeo in his fury flies after Tybalt, and in turn kills him. Two beloved lives snuffed out because of visceral rage, emotions let wild and unrestrained.
Had this play ended happily, it easily could easily be considered a comical masterpiece. However, the tragic end causes viewers to think about the cause of the play’s disastrous events: the deaths of Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, and Tybalt. The deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt were undoubtedly caused by the powerful impulses of hate, much like