Essay about Love in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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Love. In all its facets and colors, love is understood and accepted as a concept by even the most primitive cultures. But what is love? Many writers have debated this subject. Many works have been produced detailing the understanding individuals had of the concept of love.

The more accepted conception of love is usually found in Romeo & Juliet. Many people refer to it as love at first sight, in French, “le coup de foudre”, as if you had just been struck by a lightning bolt. This interpretation dates back to the courtly love tradition which manifested during the late Middle Ages, first through chivalry and then more openly among the nobility. In fact, many references to the courtly love tradition are found in the play, for example,
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“That's how the carpenter's young wife was plumbed For all the tricks his jealousy could try And Absalon has kissed her nether eye And Nicholas is branded on the bum.”

Somehow, Chaucer is mocking the behaviours of the characters in this story, he does not condone their actions, in fact, he punishes them for behaving in such a fashion. One can wonder if Chaucer is expressing the idea of a majority of people from his time, or if his voice was singled out among his countrymen. Now, a similar conclusion can be reached upon analysing Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliette. The most convincing argument is the ending of the story itself. While it is true that Romeo and Juliette do not comply with the courtly love tradition in all its particularities, the lovers do fall under the “love at first sight” category. Romeo's words upon seeing Juliette seem to corroborate my assumption.

“Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.”

Only Juliette's lack of experience in matters of love and her confession on the balcony of her house somehow breaks with tradition. She can hardly tell Romeo she is not interested or resist him after he has heard her profess her love for him. Her only recourse is to go along with him, which she does, and they marry. However, we soon realize that their hasty decision leads into a spiralling twist of fate which can only end, as
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