Love in Romeo and Juliet is not some pretty, idealized emotion. Yes, the love Romeo andJuliet share is beautiful and passionate. It is pure, exhilarating, and transformative, and they are willing to give everything to it. But it is also chaotic and destructive, bringing death to friends, family, and to themselves. Over and over in the play, Romeo and Juliet's love is mentioned in connection with death and violence, and finds it's greatest expression in their suicide.
The theme of love in Romeo and Juliet also extends beyond the love that Romeo and Juliet feel for each other. All the characters in the play constantly talk about love. Mercutiothinks love is little more than an excuse to pursue sexual pleasure and that it makes a man weak and dumb. Lady Capulet thinks love is based on material things: Paris is handsome and wealthy; therefore Lady Capulet believes Juliet will love him. Lord Capulet sees love as obedience and duty. Friar Laurence knows that love may be passionate, but argues that it's also a responsibility. Paris seems to think that love is at his command, since he tells Juliet that she loves him. In short, love is everywhere inRomeo and Juliet, and everyone sees it differently.
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•Look for the to see analysis of this theme in: Prologue, Act 1, scene 1, Act 1, scene 2, Act 1, scene 3, Act 1, scene 4, Act 1, scene 5, Act 2, prologue, Act 2, scene 1, Act 2, scene 2, Act 2, scene 3, Act 2, scene 4, Act 2, scene 5, Act 3, scene 1, Act 3, scene 2, Act 3, scene 3, Act 3, scene 4, Act 3, scene 5, Act 4, scene 1, Act 4, scene 3, Act 5, scene 1, Act 5, scene 3
From the opening prologue when the Chorus summarizes Romeo and Juliet and says that the "star-crossed lovers" will die, Romeo and Juliet are trapped by fate. No matter what the lovers do, what plans they make, or how much they love each other, their struggles against fate only help fulfill it. But defeating or escaping fate is not the point. No one escapes fate. It is Romeo and Juliet's determination to struggle against fate in order to be together, whether in life or death, that shows the fiery passion of their love, and which makes that love eternal.
Fate is not just a force felt by the characters in Romeo and Juliet. The audience also senses it through Shakespeare's use of foreshadowing. Time and again, both Romeo and Juliet unknowingly reference their imminent deaths, as when Juliet says after first meeting Romeo: "If he be married / My grave is like to be my wedding bed." She means that if Romeo is already married she'll be miserable. But the audience knows that Juliet's grave actually will be her wedding bed. In Romeo and Juliet, fate is a force that neither the characters nor the audience can escape, and so every word and gesture gains in power, becomes fateful.
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•Look for the to see analysis of this theme in: Prologue, Act 1, scene 1, Act 1, scene 2, Act 1, scene 4, Act 1, scene 5, Act 2, scene 1, Act 2, scene 2, Act 2, scene 5, Act 3, scene 1, Act 3, scene 2, Act 3, scene 3, Act 3, scene 4, Act 3, scene 5, Act 4, scene 1, Act 4, scene 2, Act 4, scene 3, Act 5, scene 1, Act 5, scene 2, Act 5, scene 3