Romeo and Juliet, the world renowned love story that has captured every heart and lingered in every mind, is one of Shakespeare’s best known and best written dramas. The tale wraps around two young star struck lovers, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, the children of two of the most powerful families in Verona, vicious enemies since long ago. As the tale unfolds, the core story is that the two lovers fall deeply in inseparable love with each other, haste into a secret marriage and tragically lose both their lives in untimely and coincidental tragic situations, as sacrifices of their passion and love to each other, which is denied and restricted by their families.
Although stated by many to be the most romantic love story ever written ( or in this aspect, ever to be staged),the tale of Romeo and Juliet is one with a famous theme and an almost non surprising story line, compared with the many romances we read and see today. One can say it to be almost immature and unrealistic, however, these minor facts and opinions will never hinder the magic and the magnitude of love’s intensity and power which is, in my point of view, the main theme of this play.
This universally benchmarked ‘ideal love story’ has many aspects; the status core of the Montagues and Capulets from which straying was impossible, unaccepted and (until Romeo and Juliet) never attempted; the tragic coincidences which seem to be so unfair to the most vulnerable parties; the justice not granted to both parties(parents and children) who in their own views are playing fair; the differences and power of the then social structure, compared to that of today(where in real life, Romeo and Juliet would not have been a tragedy but a situation occurring often and ending in marriage and family); the innocence and immatureness of young love; etc.
Out of these many aspects found all throughout the play, I would like to state my opinions and view points on the aspect- the innocence and immatureness of young love, and how real this Love really could have been.
As the tale begins, we find young and dreamy Romeo head over heels for the fair and unattainable Rosaline. He finds it seemingly impossible to even lay eyes on any other maiden except his idol goddess Rosaline (“One fairer than my love! The all-seeing sun ne’er saw her match since first the world begun”). Yet, the moment he catches a glimpse of Juliet at the party held at the Capulets (for which he was initially practically dragged to), he falls madly and deeply in love with her, just as fast as that. He says “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty til this night”, when he sees her. So we can safely comment that it was Juliet’s fair skin and dazzling beauty that won Romeo’s heart as quick as lightning. Juliet too, coincidentally falls desperately in love with the young heart throb the minute she lays her eyes on him, helped may be by the flirtatious words he used to mesmerize her, comparing him to a mere pilgrim and her to a saint. Beauty, they say, is but skin deep, yet it was the outer appearance of both of them that wound them close together in love. One may say that they were meant to find each other and meant to love one another and that this unplanned meeting at this random party was a magical coincidence to bring together two hearts that were destined for each other. Yet a more realistic comment would be that they merely fell to the passion aroused by the pleasant appearance that met their eyes and the appealing conversation that heightened the aura of desire around them.
Romeo does not woo the lady with mere looks and words; he succeeds to maneuver the conversation in such a way that he kisses Juliet then and there on their first meeting with no reluctance from her part. It may have been his skill with conversing all about the sinful pilgrim having his sins washed away by a kiss from the saint, it may have been his charismatic power over whelming her or quite reasonable to say, it may have been that both of them were mere willful slaves of instant passion that was ensnaring them-he who was desperate for Rosaline’s fine beauty and she who was desperate for love at her young age. This shows the immaturity of both of them, to plunge into waters without knowing its depth or how you’ll survive it.
For Romeo and Juliet it was, without a doubt, love at first sight. However the learned and the experienced knows that love at first sight is not true love at all, it is merely a strong desire for each other nourished by mutual physical attraction, sexual desire and magnified passion without reasoning all bonded together and disguised as love. Love is almost defined by Romeo in the early parts of the play, while still in love with the beautiful Rosaline, as “Love is a smoke rais’d with the fumes of sighs; Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in lover’s eyes; Being vex’d, a sea nourish’d with lovers’ tears; What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall, and a preserving sweet.” This is to a vast extent proved true in his later romance with the young Juliet.
The innocence and immatureness of these two lovers can again be seen when Romeo (first falling, madly and without thinking, in love with Juliet, without knowing her origin) risks everything, including his parents’ pride and his own dear life, to catch a glimpse of Juliet by climbing the Capulet’s high orchard walls. Fortunately for him he climbed the right side of the house for he wastes no time in searching for Juliet’s room because he stumbles no where else but her balcony at the precise moment when she comes out talking to her self about her newly erupted and blossoming love for her only known enemy.
The two lovers pay neither heed nor caution to the dangers so near them as they spend half the night talking to each other about their love and its future. “With love’s light wings did I o’er perch these walls; For stony limits cannot hold love out: and what love can do, that dares love attempt; Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me” says Romeo and it could be said that their love could be strong enough to break the enmity generating without reduction from their fore fathers. Yet another more realistic approach to their new sprung love would be not to start what you know you aren’t allowed to see finished. However, be it their will, strength of heart or the power they believe their love held, the two lovers vow to each other to hold on forever and Juliet bids god bye to Romeo saying, “If that thy bent of love be honourable, thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow”. Here we are again shown the degree of their juvenile behavior, where they talk of marriage, the most holy and important bond of a life time of commitment and dedication, with seeming lightness and pettiness.
It is safe and to a great level correct to say that although the word love is used many times in the dialogues of the entire drama, whenever the relationship of Romeo and Juliet is concerned or referred to, it would have been more truthful and accurate to have used lust, passion, desire, obsession or infatuation. For it is immensely clear to all that what the lovers shared together, what they named love, has no depth, no clear mutual understanding, no room for any other spiritual bond except that of blind passion.
Leaving aside the childishness of their love in its inaugural stage (keeping in mind that this was one single night), even after the couple so rashly enter Holy Matrimony in haste, Romeo risks the lives of both of them by re-entering Juliet’s chamber in the middle of the same night of their marriage and of his unfortunate and unplanned murder of Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, to celebrate their marital union. It is a crucial night for everyone; the House of Capulet, the House of Montague, Romeo and Juliet, yet the young lovers risk everything, and even a chance for Romeo to safely run away to Mantua until they think of a further plan, merely for their lack of patience to give in to each other’s physical attraction and mutual sensual desire.
It is an often asked question regarding this fleeing of Romeo, as to why he doesn’t completely elope with his newly wedded wife when she is more than willing to go to any length just to be able to be with him. Not only would a duo elope have proven to be easy and effective but it could also have prevent the many deaths that took place after their wedding night. For it can be unmistakably said that neither Romeo nor Juliet paid any heed to their families’ hurt or angry feelings as a result of their offensive marriage.
Least of all their activities displaying their naïveté, what in my opinion is most upsettingly silly is the poor communication and very hasty actions that Romeo and Juliet take in the pretence-turned-true deaths of the couple. Firstly, it is most disappointing that Friar Lawrence takes the consequences of the sleeping potion and the message to Romeo rather lightly than would have been expected of him. It is of course a tragic twist of fate that the messenger Friar John fails to perform his duty, which turns out to be the most important duty of all, and which would have been the one to have been regarded as the highest priority.
Also, it is a shocking misfortune that Romeo seemed to have taken the lifeless body of Juliet as it is, without even trying a desperate attempt to shake her awake, for if he had done a simple action as such, she would have woken up, given the fact that his arrival is almost nearly simultaneous to her awakening as the power of the potion declines.
Yet that is the way William Shakespeare has plotted down this story of the unfortunate star struck lovers, which is said to have been based on a true story that took place in Verona. It can be argued that the story lacks the touch of real life, where this story would have had a better ending, yet it cannot be criticized as such for the tale of the immaturely innocent and naïve, passion-bound Romeo and Juliet have proven through the ages to be the best love story ever to be written.