What is love? ” That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” That by which we call a feeling of deep affection driven by our stereotypical perception or is it a multi-dimensional paradigm that corresponds with the play; whether it be wrapped in hate, directed by the impetuosity or surrounded by death. Love is undeniably encompassed throughout the play but it is merely a conceptual route that opens up the themes of hate, impetuosity and death. It is the passionate, all-consuming love between Romeo and Juliet that propels the theme of impetuosity. Romeo and Juliet’s consuming love is oftentimes violent and brutal, forsaking all others in loyalty and emotion. It is also a play of Hatred, overcome by love. Old hatred of past feuds between the Montagues and the Capulets verses the young love of R &J which takes no thought of the past or future. It is this love that ends in a fateful ‘love- devouring death.’
Love VS Hate
During the course of the play, the notation of love ultimately causes the two lovers to defy their social norms, families and societal conventions. The most stereotyped love extracted is the palpable and clear romantic love between Romeo and Juliet which is weaved throughout the play. Within the connotations of love, hate and conflict continuously reappear and create an opposing frontier for their love to flourish as you cannot have love without hate. The structure and language in which Shakespeare has presented their love informs the reader the extent Romeo and Juliet are willing to go to even if it means forsaking all others in loyalty to ensure their own pilgrimage of love has been fulfilled. Without the two protagonists trying to break the hatred bond between the two waring families for the prospect of love, there would be no dramatic tension and impetuous actions that tragically leads to the violent end in death.
The complication of their love is introduced through the words of Juliet ““What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” where the ideology of previous conflict and identity has disabled the birth of their love. The questioning tone of “what’s in a name” implies that the formative name of Montague does not affect the feelings Juliet possesses for Romeo and that the societal conventions of pass conflict between the two opposing houses should not interfere nor chart their love. Even though Juliet knows the pass blood feuds between the Capulets and Montagues poses a threat to further animosity, her soliloquy contradicts the idea that your name does not define you and that their love is impediment because of the burden their name brings to their identity and reputation. By objectifying love as a rose, Juliet is further showing her reasoning behind the concept that love will always prevail and being labelled as a Montague is a meaningless artificial convention. Even if his name were different she would still desire his love and affection.
Romeo’s perception of love VS hate is returned in “My name dear saint is hateful to myself, because it is an enemy to me, had I written it I would tear the word” which further exemplifies the restrictions the two houses ongoing hate has caused for the reputation of Romeo’s name which prevents him from being with Juliet. The connotations of hate illustrates how the feelings of animosity, pride and social restrictions are resented by both Romeo and Juliet regardless of their families strong desire to uphold their pride and honour. The emphasis on the possessive adjective of “I” in “had I written it I would tear the word” further symbolises the lack of choice Romeo has when posed with the conception of who to love and who not to love. The ambiguity of their love in both quotes expresses the notation that love and hate are intertwined and will always meet. Thus brining the theme of impetuosity which conveys the urgent, desperate attempt for Romeo and Juliet’s love to be confirmed.
We can recollect that without their love there would be no routes leading to the themes of impetuosity and haste. The language used to show Romeo and Juliet’s affection is what creates a sense of urgency and tension within the reader. Romeo’s character moving from a courteous Petrarchan lover with a one sided infatuate relationship compared to an impulsive, fickle lover further exemplifies the shift in character and how haste heavily influences the choices made. Impetuosity is discussed with Friar Lawrence conveyed through “ As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine and all combined, save what thou must combine by holy marriage” which further emphasises the haste to get married regardless of the fact that they have known each other for a day and it is mostly comprised of physical attraction. “Save what thou must combine” exemplifies the idea of desperation because of their desire to be together but also because of the lingering fear that if they are revealed to their families that they will be separated forever. The rhyming couplets of “mine” and “combine” demonstrate a sense of possession, ownership and commitment as both Romeo and Juliet are willing to combine their love permanently regardless of the risks so that their possessive love can be bound in holy matrimony. Impetuosity is shown through Juliet’s character development stated through “I long to die, if thou speak’st speak not of remedy” where she possesses a resolute in her decision to die rather than marry Paris whom her heart does not belong to. Through this time of isolation the impetuousness of Juliet’s decision epitomizes how she has matured from a baby once “weaned” to a women who’s loyally and devotion belongs solely to Romeo who she is willing to sacrifice everything for. This further shows the power of their love but also the ideology that with love one can forsake all others in loyalty and emotion.
Death is a repeated theme throughout the play that adds to the tension built but it also helps to move the play along whether it be through premonitions and foreshadowing, real deaths occurring like Tybalt and Mercutio and to finally put an end to the everlasting feud sealed with Romeo and Juliet’s death. “My life were better ended by their hate than death prorogued wanting of thy love” extends on the idea that the binary of love simply cannot exist together at the same time as it only leads to the downfall of death. For both Romeo and Juliet it has been made clear that they’d rather death than being a victim to forbidden love and not being able to requite each other’s love. The dramatic foreshadowing and apprehension used in “wanting of thy love” personifies death and creates dramatic tension in the reader. “Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death……….. Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open, and in despite ill cram with more food” reveals the different dynamics of death while symbolising the extent at which death has been involved in Romeo and Juliet. The paradox of “thou womb of death” symbolises the passing of time throughout the play and that all must eventually come to an end. The “womb” has connotation of bringing life which can relate to both the existence of Romeo and Juliet but also the birth of their love that ties into their tragic fateful death. Death is a prevalent image that in this context is the result of Romeo and Juliet’s love. Death having metaphorically consumed Juliet only causes Romeo to pursue and challenge death to take him to for love is the one source of his happiness. The theme of death creates the connections between love, hate and impetuosity but it also serves as the tragic resolution to both internal and external conflicts that leads to the inevitable ending of Romeo and Juliet.
Thus Romeo and Juliet is not only a love story. Love is more than just a name we associate signs of affection or romance. It is the foundation to which hate, impetuosity and death are formed. We cannot have love without hate, we cannot have hate without impetuosity without all three of these aspects there is no death which is what creates the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Love is a lesson that we learn from. It informs us of the dangers it poses as well as the wonders it brings for “never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.