Throughout the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet various types of “love” are
displayed . Benvolio believes women are interchangeable, while, at the
beginning Romeo bel ieves love is pain. At the beginning Juliet does not
even have a definition of love. Paris’s and Lady Capulet’s definition of
love is in appearance. It is obvio us that Shakespeare wants the audience
to believe that the only “true” or “real” love is the love that exists
between Romeo and Juliet. The first type of love the audience is introduced
to is the “interchangeable” lo ve of Benvolio. According to Benvolio, a man
should “love” a woman for only the duration of their relationship. If their
relationship should end, the man should feel no grief. If the woman rejects
the man initially, he should still feel no grief. In either situation, the
man should simply start a relationship with anot her woman. Benvolio’s
definition of love shows the audience two things about Ben volio: he is a
womanizer and he has never before experienced “true love.” The next
definition of love comes from Romeo, but before the time he met Juliet.
According to his definition, love (or, rather, not returned love) is pain.
He h ides from the sun due to the “love” he feels, and does not act like
“himself.” I believe Romeo is both right and wrong: not returned love is
pain, but Romeo doe s not truly love, as he is merely infatuated by a
woman. The next definition of love comes from Juliet, who, before meeting
Romeo, did no t even have a definition of love. She appears not to know
what love is, and, for that matter, does not seem to care. She remains
ignorant until she meets Romeo.
Another type of “love” we are exposed to during the same scene is the love of Lady
Capulet. Lady Capulet believes love comes from appearance, both physical and
political, and has nothing to do with emotion. She shows this when she speaks
favorably of Paris’s looks and his nobility. She also shows that she does not love
Capulet when she publicly denounces him. The Nurse’s opinion of love coincides
with that of Lady Capulet.
Paris has a similar view of love. His “love” for Juliet appears to be pure, but
his reason does not. He loves Juliet for her appearance and nothing else. He
regards her more as property than as an individual. He is also selfish in his “love.”
When he believes Juliet is dead (in Act IV) he seems sorrier for his own loss
than Juliet’s apparent loss. He “loves” Juliet as much as he can love anyone, but
his love cannot be considered “true love” because of his selfishness.
Finally, in Act II, the audience sees what is defined as “true love” in our society.
This “love” is the love that grows between Romeo and Juliet. The definition
of “true love” Shakespeare provides the audience with states that all the other
characters’ definitions of love are wrong. It also states that when two people
are in true love, there is no pain unless they are permanently separated. It
shows that lovers are not interchangeable, and that love transcends appearance.
It proves all except one other “love” in the play wrong. It also shows that real
love is not affected by distance or convenience. When two people are in “true love”
they are not selfish to one another, do not care about appearances, and cannot
live without one another. I agree with this definition of love (all except that
without one another the lovers cannot survive).
Romeo and Juliet’s love for one another also goes beyond one other thing: names.
It shows that names do not matter. In our society the difference in names would
be equal to two people of different races. The people would come from racist
families in a modern day remake of the play.
The last example of love in the play is parental love. This is shown in Act V
scene iii. Lady Montague dies due to separation from her son. Capulet, Montague,
Lady Capulet, and even the Nurse shows that they love either Romeo or Juliet in t
In the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet many types of love are shown. None of them
are wrong, as the word “love” is subject to interpretation, but it is obvious that
Shakespeare did not have this in mind when he wrote the play. Shakespeare shows
us that the only type of love worth being in is “true love.” He also shows us
that, with all types of love, there is pain. If his goal was to influence the
audience to believe that the only real love is the type of love that existed
between Romeo and Juliet, I believe he accomplished it.