A Comparison of the Theme of Love in Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew, Two Plays by William Shakespeare

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In many of Shakespeare’s plays the topic of love is often discussed in great detail, however the way that these emotions are often portrayed varies with the type of play. In many of Shakespeare’s tragedies, such as Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare depicts the love as passionate and usually has it end in a very dramatic fashion, whereas in his comedies, such as The Taming of The Shrew, characters are often portrayed as unflattering and only marrying for money. These significant differences create two vastly different tones for the depictions of love throughout these plays. The major differences between love can be illustrated in the scenes where the lovers first meet, the wedding scenes of the main characters, and in the soliloquies that the two lead male characters, Romeo and Petruccio, give about their lovers when they are not around. In many stories that involve people falling in love, the first meeting between the two lovers is often a very significant moment.

This is clearly defined in Romeo and juliet, when the two young romantics meet in the middle of a masquerade dance. As soon as they meet, the two know that they are in love, which Romeo demonstrates by saying, ”The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,/ And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand. Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight, For ne’er saw true beauty till this night”. Juliet feels the same emotion, for after they part and she learns who he was she states, “My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me. That I must love a loathed enemy”. The love that these two people feel for each other is demonstrated in a manner in which the audience has no confusion about the feelings that they possess and demonstrates that they have honestly fallen in love at first sight.

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However, in Taming of The Shrew, the first interaction between Petruccio and Kate offers quite the contradiction to this true love. When Petruccio first interacts with Kate, he refuses to accept her wish to call her Katherine, which immediately angers her. He explains to her how he is “moved to woo thee for [his] wife” to which she replies, “Moved?” In good time. Let him that moved you hither/ Re- move you hence. I knew you at the first/ You were a movable”. The two of them then interact with a series of puns, in most of which Katherine is mocking Petruccio and in return he makes a sexual innuendo. Katherine’s father then enters asking how the two of them are doing, to which Petruccio responds, “And to conclude, we have ‘greed so well together/ That upon Sunday is the wedding day” (21289-290). Katherine, having not agreed to this at all and being rather uninterested in Petruccio responds by claiming “I’ll see thee hanged on Sunday first”.

As depicted in these two scenes there is quite a dramatic difference between these two first interactions. The use of true love in Romeo and Juliet and the exposure of how they are enemies foreshadows a dramatic conclusion to their forbidden love, whereas in Taming of the Shrew the use of puns and clear exposure that Katherine is not interested in Petruccio creates a comedic situation that allows the audience to be entertained by all of their interactions. While the first introduction scenes of both of these plays create a large contrast between the theme of love in Shakespeare’s comedies and dramas, the wedding scenes that occur in both plays helps expose even more variation. The wedding scenes of these plays are drastically different and open up an even larger contrast when it comes to the theme of love in these two plays. Beginning with Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers decide that they must be wed, even if it goes against the desires of their parents.

They secretly meet with Friar Laurence, and Friar Laurence gives an introduction to their ceremony by saying, “Come. come with me, and we will make short work. For, by your leaves, you shall not stay alone Till Holy Church Incorporate two in one”. These lines signify that the two lovers are off to be wed in private, and though the wedding scene is not actually show or written in the script of the play, it is implied that the two become wed offstage. Prior to the Friar’s lines however, Romeo and Juliet confess their love for each other, and Romeo even states, “But come what sorrow can, it cannot countervail the exchange of joy. That one short minute gives me in her sight. Do thou but close our hands with holy words. Then love devouring death do what he dare. It is enough I may but call her mine. These lines show how honest the love that the two have for each other is, and expresses how significant this marriage is in terms of their relationship.

While the wedding is vew significant to the two young lovers of this play, the wedding scene in Taming of the Shrew offers a more comic and bizarre approach to its wedding scene. The wedding scene, similar to that in Romeo and Juliet, is not actually shown in the script, but is later described by Gremio in great detail. He explains, “When the priest/ Should ask if Katherine should be his wife,/ ‘Ay, by Gog’s woun’s ,’ quouth he, and swore so loud/ That all amazed the priest let fall the book”. The wedding scene was so horrific that Petruceio even ended up hitting the priest, making Gremio claim that, “Such a mad marriage never was before”. This depiction of the strange wedding represents how bizarre the topic of love is in this Shakespearean comedy. While the wedding in Romeo and Juliet proved how much the two loved each other and was a very significant moment for the two lovers, the wedding in Taming of The Shrew creates a very comedic scene in which neither of the lovers seem excited about the wedding and exposes it as a situation that is not to be taken seriously at all.

The contrasting elements of love in these two plays are further more exposed by the wedding sequences, however, the soliloquies that the male characters give in the two different plays provide further understanding of their intentions with the love they possess, and create an even broader distinction between comedic love and dramatic love. The soliloquy is a type of monologue that is often used in many of Shakespeare’s plays. In both of the plays being compared, the main male characters give soliloquies to express their feelings and intentions with the women they are “enamored with”. Starting with Petruccio’s monologue in Act 4 scene 1, he expresses his intent with Katherine. He states, “Thus have I politicly begun my reign, And ’tis my hope to end successfully”. He continues to explain how he is preventing Katherine from eating and sleeping in order to make her respect him and obey his every order. He claims, “This is a way to kill a wife with kindness,/ And thus I’il curb her mad and headstrong humour. He that knows better how to tame a shrew Now let him speak”.

Petruccio, in his soliloquy, explains how his main objective of this marriage, besides the fact that he is marrying her for her father’s wealth, is that he is twing to tame her and turn her into a better human being. In doing this, not only will he be obtaining her money, but he will turn a terrible woman into a tolerable wife. Meanwhile, in the story that consists of real love, Romeo delivers one of the most significant and famous monologues in all of Shakespeare’s plays. In act 2 scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo sneaks over to the house of the Capulets and begins to proclaim his love forJuIiet. He states, ” But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun./ Arise, fiar sun, and kill the envious moon.

Who is already sick and pale with grief/ That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she”. In these lines, Romeo is discussing how Juliet has now become the center of his world and he will do anything to be with her. This serves as a direct contrast to Petruccio’s monologue in many ways, the most significant of which is the fact that Romeo feels and confesses his true and passionate love forJuliet, whereas in the more comedic play it is clear to see that Petruccio is only trying to make Katherine a better person. While the theme of love is often used in many forms of entertainment, the contrast created between the love in Shakespeare’s drama Romeo and Juliet and his comedic play The Taming of The Shrew shows how love is different in every type of relationship.

Although Petruccio and Katherine’s relationship is full of disaster and comedic situations that make their love seem fake and unrealistic, in the end the two of them are happy to be together and the shrew has been tamed. Along with this, it is clear that the love in Romeo and Juliet is full of passion and desire, but this ultimately ends in tragedy. The differing examples of love that are created in these two vastly different plays is not meant to say that one love is better than the other, but to expose that love comes in many different forms. Whether the love of two characters is silly and crude, or passionate and romantic, the theme of love will always be present in entertainment due to the fact that it can be portrayed in so many unique ways.

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A Comparison of the Theme of Love in Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew, Two Plays by William Shakespeare. (2023, May 19). Retrieved from


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