Romeo and Juliet: theme of love, hate, loyalty, parental authority and youth

Discuss how, in Romeo and Juliet, the theme of love is interconnected with the themes of hate, loyalty, parental authority and youth.

Romeo and Juliet: theme of love, hate, loyalty, parental authority and youth
Discuss how, in Romeo and Juliet, the theme of love is interconnected with the themes of hate, loyalty, parental authority and youth.

Given that Romeo and Juliet represents one of the world’s most famous and enduring love stories, it seems obvious that the play should spotlight the theme of love. However, the play tends to focus more on the barriers that obstruct love than it does on love itself. Obviously, the Capulet and Montague families represent the lovers’ largest obstacle. But the lovers are also their own obstacles, in the sense that they have divergent understandings of love.

Romeo, for instance, begins the play speaking of love in worn clichés that make his friends cringe. Although the language he uses with Juliet showcases a more mature and original verse, he retains a fundamentally abstract conception of love. Juliet, by contrast, tends to remain more firmly grounded in the practical matters related to love, such as marriage and sex. This contrast between the lovers appears clearly in the famous balcony scene. Whereas Romeo speaks of Juliet poetically, using an extended metaphor that likens her to the sun, Juliet laments the social constraints that prevent their marriage: “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? / Deny thy father and refuse thy name” (II.ii.33–34).

Another obstacle in Romeo and Juliet is time—or, more precisely, timing.
Everything related to love in this play moves too quickly. The theme of accelerated love first appears early in the play, regarding the question of whether Juliet is old enough for marriage. Whereas Lady Capulet contends that Juliet is of a “pretty age” and hence eligible for marriage, Lord Capulet maintains that it’s too soon for her to marry. When Lord Capulet changes his mind later in the play, he accelerates the timeline for Juliet’s marriage to Paris. Forced to act quickly in response, Juliet fakes her own death. Everything about Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is sped up as well. Not only do they fall in love at first sight, but they also get married the next day.

The lovers’ haste may raise questions about the legitimacy of their affection for one another.
Do they truly love each other, or have they doomed themselves out of mere sexual desire? The theme of accelerated love returns at the play’s end, when Romeo arrives at Juliet’s tomb, believing himself to be too late. In fact, he arrives too early, just before Juliet wakes up. His bad timing results in both their deaths.

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