Theme of Love in Romeo and Juliet Essay
The main theme in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet is that of love - Theme of Love in Romeo and Juliet Essay introduction. Shakespeare uses various ways to display the theme of love, notably in the characters varied attitudes towards love and also the different language devices in the play. Characters attitudes towards love are sometimes developed and changed throughout the play, allowing for Shakespeare to show more opinions of love that may have been common in his day. From the play it is noticeable that actions and attitudes towards love have changed since the time of Shakespeare. One example of this is courtly love.
This is a style of love that is little known nowadays but is evident from the play that was a common idea in the days of Shakespeare. Courtly love was an accepted fact of life, it was love from a distance, usually from a male to a female that was unobtainable, usually from marriage or a higher socio-economic class. This still happens today but it is not normally displayed publicly, whereas in Elizabethan times the accepted thing to do was make a big fuss and sulk around a lot, making a lot of noise and letting a lot of people know about it.
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Courtly love does not lead to marriage normally. Shakespeare displays courtly love from the very start of the play through the character Romeo and his courtly love for Rosaline. The audience at the time of Shakespeare would be able to empathise with Romeo but nowadays most of the audience would only see Romeo as a whinging idiot. This highlights one of the changes in attitudes between Elizabethan times and today. We know that Rosaline was outside of Romeo’s grasp as he says: “Out of her favour where I am in love” A 1 Sc 1 L167
This means that Romeo sees Rosaline as unobtainable and so as was the accepted action he complains out loud. Courtly love happens today for example in the caste system in Hinduism, but also in our society, although not as strongly or publicly. Arranged marriage is another example of changes in attitudes towards love form Elizabethan times to nowadays as this is now thought of a terrible idea and a violation of our freedom of choice in modern society. In the time of Shakespeare arranged marriage was a fact of life, much like courtly love.
Children respected their parents so much as to trust them to choose a suitable partner. Arranged marriage was not for love, but to unite families, strengthen political bonds, and increase power and wealth. The average age for girls to get married would have been about fourteen or fifteen years old as at this time it was legal to get married at any age that your parents thought you were mature enough. In the play the Capulets wanted Juliet to get married at the age of thirteen. Shakespeare’s audience would have accepted these ideas and practices as Italian culture.