How does Shakespeare present strong feelings about love in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘The Merchant of Venice’ In Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice There are many examples of strong love. The two most prominent examples of strong love are romantic love and unrequited love. In Romeo and Juliet, there appears to be more examples of unrequited love than that of romantic love, despite the main theme of the play being the romantic love between Romeo and Juliet.
The unrequited love between Romeo and Rosaline is significant, as it opens the debate of whether or not Romeo’s love for Juliet is sincere. At the beginning of the play, Romeo claims to be in love with Rosaline, saying to Benvolio “In sadness cousin, I do love a woman,” in Act 1 scene 1. The love he feels for her is a sad and longing love, for she does not feel the same. The likeliness of Romeo’s love being just infatuation is high, as he loses his love for Rosaline quickly after merely laying eyes upon Juliet at the Capulet’s ball, “O she doth teach the torches to burn bright! In this quote and the continuation of the speech, he explains how she is a “rich jewel”, burns brighter than the torches and beauty is not a strong enough word to describe her looks. As he finds his new love in Juliet so quickly, you could argue that it is only infatuation as he sees her at the party for only her looks, as he did with Rosaline earlier on. Another notable example of unrequited love is Paris and Juliet. In act 1 scene 3, Lady Capulet and Nurse are talking to Juliet about Paris’ love for her. They are trying to convince her to want to marry him as she does not have a choice over whether she actually does or not.
They continuously say what a great man he is “He’s a man of wax” (possibly meaning that Paris is so perfect, he could be made of wax) and “Read o’er the volume of young Paris’ face, and find delight writ there with beauty’s pen. ” They imply that Paris does in fact love her from the line “Speak briefly, can you like of Paris’ love? ” In the part of the scene where they are describing Paris to her, Shakespeare uses a lot of reference to books, possibly implying he is a man of intellect, so he is not just looks.
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In the time that Romeo and Juliet was set, books would’ve been owned only by the rich and educated, a lot of books were also handwritten with beautiful handwriting, so with use of metaphors of books, Lady Capulet and Nurse were comparing him to something of privilege, wealth, and beauty. Despite their efforts, Juliet does not warm up to the idea of marriage as she does not know Paris, saying “It is an honour that I dream not of,” and “I’ll look to like, if looking liking move. But no more deep will I endart mine eye than your consent gives strength to make it fly. The romantic love between Romeo and Juliet is considered to be true love. It appears to be love at first sight when they see each other at Capulet’s ball, and after their first kiss, they find out they are each from the feuding families. They are shocked and devastated when they find that out as they realise they cannot be together, showing deep feelings and devotion from the start. Throughout the play, they find ways to see each other and get married. Juliet seems to truly love Juliet, as she still trusts him even after he has killed her cousin, Tybalt.
Also, at the beginning of the play, Juliet appears shy and reluctant to speaking much, but when she meets Romeo, she speaks as much to him as he is to her and in the same style. She has very complex thoughts about him, showing her love is sincere and well thought out. And when she finds out he is a Montague, he thoughts are for his safety. She trusts Romeo a great deal, as she asks only for his word of love, needing no proof. This differs particularly from the romantic love between Portia and Bassanio because not only does she give him the ring as proof of her love, she feels she has to test his loyalty with it.
But Juliet does not doubt Romeo. In order for the two of them to get together, she very bravely, goes through with Friar Lawrence’s plan, meaning she disobeys her parent’s wishes. When she awakes from her sleep, she finds Romeo dead beside her. She kills herself as she cannot imagine living her life without Romeo, which is the same reason Romeo killed himself. They loved each other so strongly they were willing to give their lives for each other. Throughout the play, Romeo and Juliet show devotion, loyalty, and love.
In The Merchant of Venice, there are more examples of romantic love than that of unrequited love, although it is arguable that not all examples of romantic love are genuine. The first example of romantic love is that of Jessica and Lorenzo. In the play, Jessica is Jewish and Lorenzo is a Christian, meaning that there love is forbidden. Jessica gives up her faith and becomes a Christian so her and Lorenzo could be together. The love of these 2 is much like the love between Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet both give up their lives as they could not be together, and Jessica betrays er father by becoming a Christian, much like Juliet betrays he parents by marrying Romeo. Both of these are examples of forbidden love. The romantic love between Portia and Bassanio is one that can be debated. When Bassanio first talks of marrying Portia he says “In Belmont is a lady richly left/and she is fair. ” From this quote you could presume he is only interested in Portia for her money, as he is in great need of it at that moment. But when he has to pick between caskets he says that he is “tortured not knowing if he can marry her or not”, but he could just be putting on an act.
He leaves Portia almost immediately to return to Venice and help Antonio, he says he will not sleep until he sees her again, which, again, could be an act, though he appears to act more sincere at this point. Before he leaves, Portia gives him a ring as a token of her love. Later on, he is very reluctant to giving the ring up to Balthazar when he asks for it as payment at first, but when Antonio tells him to he gives it up immediately. At the end of the play, he apologizes and says he’ll spend the rest of his life devoted to Portia. Portia’s love to Bassanio appears to differ greatly from that of Bassanio to Portia.
When Bassanio chooses the right casket, she is delighted, and is very worried that she would not live up to his expectations. “I might in virtues, beauties, livings/ exceed account” When first speaking to him, she also seems to give herself to him. “Myself and what is mine, to you and yours/ is now converted. ” She does not seem to be as independent as before. She could’ve been suspicious of the legitimacy of Bassanio’s love from the start, she could’ve already been planning to test him before she gave him the ring. She also offers to pay Antonios debt twice over, just because he is a friend of Bassanios.
An example of unrequited love is Antonio’s strong feelings towards Bassanio. Antonio is very happy to lend Bassanio money even though he is already in Antonios debt and Antonio would have to borrow money from somewhere else to do so. When Solario describes their friendship, he says “I think he only loves the world for him” “Him” being Bassanio. When Antonio believes he is going to die, he tells Bassanio “say how I loved you” and seems glad that he is paying for Bassanio’s debt with his life, instead of Bassanio having to do so himself. The last example of unrequited love is the love between Nerissa and Gratanio.
When Gratanio marries Nerissa, the marriage also depended on whether or not Bassanio chose the correct casket, so his love may not be sincere, and more forced. For if the incorrect casket had been chosen, would he still have loved her so dearly? Would he have even still loved her at all? In conclusion, Shakespeare puts many aspects of strong feelings in the form of love into these two plays, and presents each of them in a unique and individual way, leaving much room for interpretation. He uses expressive language, many great examples of tone and exchange of speech to emphasize these facts.
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