Discuss the various ideas of love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

There are many ideas of love expressed in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and each of them shown through a different character. The plays enduring popularity stems from the fact that its main theme is love and the way it is used to comment upon society, culture and the ways of love at the time.The first kind of love addressed is Petrarchan, or Courtly love, a stylised, conventional view of love, as shown by our first meeting with Romeo.Ay me, sad hours seem long.Was that my father that went hence so fast?(I.1.155-56)Romeo is bound to Rosaline his non-existent love interest and he shows all the Petrarchan-style emotions, such as a dreamy look upon his face and a melancholy demeanour.She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,To merit bliss by making me despair.She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow Do I live dead, that live to tell it now(I.1.215-219)Romeo’s descriptions of Rosaline show how he idolises her and this is typical of Petrarchan lovers.Romeo conveys his state of mind with such oxymorons as brawling love, and loving hate as well as heavy lightness and serious vanity. This shows how Romeo is almost fighting against himself to control his mad passion for Rosaline. Romeo admires Rosaline not only for who she is, but also as an object of desire, which could include a sexual lust for her. The fact that Rosaline is never introduced to the audience shows Shakespeare’s view on Petrarchan love. This could also symbolise that she is unattainable and that Romeo’s love, like Rosaline, is absent or lacking. Shakespeare believed that it was a false type of love and should be ridiculed or disregarded. Shakespeare uses Mercutio to mock Romeos love for Rosaline and through Mercutio he shows his distain for Romeo’s Petrarchan ways:You are a lover, borrow cupid’s wings,And soar with them above a common bond.(I, 4, 17-18)Here, Mercutio is being sarcastic and making fun of Petrachan love and the objects that symbolise it such as Cupid, a common Petrarchan image which shows the fatal power of attraction.In contrast to the innocence of sexuality that Romeo and Juliet show, the other characters in the play treat sex as a joke, something to make fun of in an obscene and derogatory manner. Mercutio is one character who does this a lot during the play, and his lines are full of witty, sexual innuendo, especially in the Queen Mab speech (I.4), where he speaks of sexual love and its imagery: O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream (I.4, 74). This is sexual, as Mercutio is talking about women’s bodies in a bawdy way.Many critics, such as Evelyn Gajowski, say that Shakespeare is suggesting that it is to this that `love’ can come if it is not based on true passion, as opposed to the pursuit of mere beauty and sexuality. Therefore she is saying that Shakespeare does not agree that sexual or bawdy love is not the real type of love and is not enough to be solely the basis for true love.Sex is also seen as something that has to be ‘endured’ at an early age, as both the Nurse and Lady Capulet make clear. Sex is for having children – Women grow by men (I. 3. 96) – says the Nurse, and Lady Capulet tells that she had her first child when she was the same age as Juliet is in the play. Shakespeare use the Nurse and Mercutio to make bawdy and sexual jokes to make it clear that the sexual side of a relationship is not the most important part.Shakespeare views the earthy and sexual love as insufficient for a true love. He also believes that it is not deep enough for love and more is required to merit true love.Sexuality is presented as a threat in the play. Juliet is to be married to Paris without her consent, and her Father arranges everything for her. Juliet is already married to Romeo (even if her parents do not know this) yet she is faced with the prospect of having to take up the role of wife and, potentially mother, with a man she does not love. Faced with this added complication it is not surprising that Juliet chooses death over life, O happy dagger…let me die. (V .3. 169-71). This shows that sexuality can become almost fatal and drive people to their deaths. The sexual triangle of Romeo, Juliet and Paris all collapses as each of them die by the end of the play.The bawdy world of sex is very much a part of life on the streets of Verona and in private conversations of the Capulets. Against this is placed the unrivalled sexual ‘awakening’ of the inexperienced Romeo and Juliet- a relationship shrouded in innocence and intensity. Romeo and Juliet’s relationship represents the third type of love: True love.True love is the type of love that Shakespeare uses to describe Romeo and Juliet’s love. It is not as superficial as Petrarchan love, whilst it does have some of the concepts associated with it. Juliet plays along with this way of love, which was socially accepted, when she playfully resists Romeos kisses at the Capulet ball: Then have my lips the sin that they have took. (I.5.107)Up until Romeo meets Juliet, he has been in love with Rosaline, and portrays the Petrarchan type of love. This all changes at the Capulet ball when he meets the love of his life and the only daughter of his gravest enemy- Juliet. Once he meets her, his idyllic view of love changes and he completely forgets Rosaline; showing Romeos immature, irrational behaviour. Now, for the first time, he is aware of the depth and passion that goes to make up true love. He is in love with Juliet, the person, rather than that of the idea of what love should be. He confronts the reality of true love during the course of the play, maturing and gaining new independence. By the end of the play he is prepared to sacrifice his life rather than live without Juliet.Juliet also makes an early commitment to Romeo when she proposes marriage during the balcony scene. Once she has pledged herself to Romeo this is the only way to go for her, and as Friar Lawrence says Holy Church incorporates two in one (III. 5. 37)This could show that Romeo and Juliet’s love is also holy. This is shown when they first meet and compare each other to pilgrims and saints.Shakespeare makes Romeo and Juliet’s relationship a fusion of True and Holy love in a marriage that will withstand all the tribulations of time, and sex is the natural outcome of their love, which could also show their commitment to one another. Critics have said that this idea is one to do with being forever bound together in love and death, and that is how the play ends.It has been said that Paris is connected with this romantic love, but I would argue that he shows all the signs of ‘arranged’ love, and therefore he does not really love her as deeply as Romeo. Paris deals with Juliet and the coming marriage with the utmost formality and correctness, observing all the ceremony necessary at the time for an engaged man. His behaviour in his brief meeting with Juliet outside Friar Lawrence’s cell shows this when he starts his speech with the formal greeting: Happily met, my lady and my wife. (IV. 1.18)Paris’ formality does not match Romeos passionate words.Later in the play, when faced with Juliet’s untimely death, Paris mourns in his formal stylised and far too ‘romantic’ manner: Beguiled, divorced, wronged, spited, and slain. (IV. 5. 55)Compared to Romeos outpouring of true and unselfish grief with this to see that Romeo has greater emotions for Juliet. Formality does not compare with the raw emotions of a man driven to suicide by the death of his beloved wife.As with so much else in this ‘play of contrasts’, Paris’ formal and romantic love is placed in sharp opposition with the reality of Romeo and Juliet’s true love. The point that Shakespeare is trying to make is that it is true love that gives Romeo and Juliet a special and almost magical relationship, and in the end it is their intense longing to be together that makes them united in death.I feel the best kind of love is true love. As Romeo and Juliet’s relationship shows, it is the only ‘real’ kind of love: Paris’ formal and romantic love is the most false and the Sexual love, as shown by the Nurse and Mercutio, is too shallow. Friar Lawrence, showing it is holy, blesses Romeo and Juliet’s relationship. Their relationship also shows that it should not matter who the person is or where they come from. The fact that the two lovers are meant to be enemies is irrelevant in their eyes, and this is how all love should be. They defy social constraints and the feud of their two families to be together: Juliet refuses to marry a man she does not love and Romeo chooses to marry his mortal enemy. The fact that both Romeo and Juliet were willing to give up their lives for one another symbolizes the pureness and deepness of their loveI will kiss thy lips; Haply some poison yet doth hang on them, to make me die with a restorative. (V. 3. 164-66)