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Love baffles definition. Each one sees the new horizon. Love is a bird with colorful wings that remains in the cage of the human heart; it moves there relentlessly with tantalizing speed and turns one a bard, if it is true love. If it were that easy to bear the pangs of love why millions of flies/glowworms should throw their lives at the altar of light, where they find their love? It is the same old story through the ages-the love between Him and Her! Suddenly someone plants the seed of love in one’s heart, and the tender sapling grows; when one thinks that it is full of fragrant flowers, he/she cuts it and throws and the love ends in tragedy.

This is another dimension of love. True love goes on multiplying and passion diminishes with time! Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ deals with the central theme of love and conflict, through all the characters. The manifestation of love in the play is both great and grim. How Shakespeare  depicts the theme of love between Romeo and Juliet as their direct experiences, both benevolent and violent ?–and also how he  reflects it in the theme of parenthood which is the oases of love?

     “Friar Lawrence occupies a strange position territory in Romeo and Juliet. He is a kindhearted cleric who helps Romeo and Juliet throughout the play. He performs their marriage and gives generally good advice, especially in regard to the need for moderation.”(Spark….) He is the only religious figure in the play. But in those days, Church influenced politics to a great extent, and direct/indirect participation of clerics in the matters of state/administration was not uncommon. As a cleric he has many interests related to the society. According to his political reading the marriage between Romeo and Juliet, would help to end the civil strife in Verona.

To achieve this objective, he employs strange tactics, by spiriting Romeo into Juliet’s room and then he is led out of Verona. For reuniting them, he takes recourse to the deceptive ruse of a sleeping potion. This is the result of the mystic knowledge he possesses. Friar works for a plan and his plan fructifies and no malicious intentions are seen, but in the end the destined tragedy of the play happens. Friar is an important subject to the fate that strongly influences the play- and on more than one count he is the designer of the fate.

     Lovers at the crucial juncture of their lives share private information with their confidantes, which they are unable to reveal to their parents.  This was the position in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Therefore, at important turns in the play, the role of the supporting characters, like the Nurse, becomes more important than that of the main characters. “Juliet’s nurse, the woman who breast-fed her when she was a baby and cared for Juliet her entire life. A vulgar, long-winded, and sentimental character, the Nurse provides comic relief with her frequently inappropriate remarks and speeches.”(Spark…) The disagreement at the end of the play mars their fair relationship; otherwise the Nurse owes total allegiance to Juliet, and takes care of the affair between her and Romeo. But they are poles apart as for the connotations of the subject of love. She is sexual, and down to earth as for love, whereas Juliet is intensely romantic, and her love is tempered with idealism. The Nurse wants a handsome husband for Juliet, but Juliet is willing to do sacrifice for the sake of her love. The Nurse is not willing to appreciate the stand taken by Juliet.

     Lady Capulet’s role as mother of Juliet is interesting as well as intriguing. One perhaps never hears about a discussion or symposium on the topic, “Men—their role in the society. The discussion is always about women. Men have perhaps, no role! The never-ending talks of giving equal rights to women goes on .All the Acts of Parliaments in the world will not bring equality for women. Why it is so? One important section of the society that tramples the rights of women is women! This is true of Lady Capulet’s attitude towards her daughter, Juliet.  At the beginning of the play Juliet is less than fourteen and is on the threshold of maturity and immaturity. Many girls of her age are married. She is an obedient, yours faithfully, child and quite innocent.    The love of parents for the children is a two-way traffic. They love children and they deal with them strictly as well. Parents love children to the extent of dominating them. On the other hand, the parents are always ready to sacrifice, to any extent, to secure the happiness of their children, for in their happiness lies in the happiness of parents. They feel fulfilled and rewarded even upon the act of self-sacrifice, for it makes the parents graciously happy. In between the two, mother’s love for the children is more equal, as compared to the father. God has created her, given her the status of more equal. Nobody can take that right away. It is the mother, who gives protection for the initial nine months to the divine creative force of the future-male or female! And the same mother, wishes to boss over the children in important issues relating to their personal life. It is in this context that Lady Capulet’s strong interest in Paris for marrying Juliet has to be understood. Juliet’s response indicates her maturity in the aspect of love and marriage, as she gives the veiled reply, which could mean anything. Acceptance or refusal!  As a matter of dutiful and obedient child, she says that she will try whether she can love him. But this should not be construed as her implicit obedience for the wishes of her mother. She is ‘ready’ to give the marriage proposal the due consideration, but she will not go out of her way to accede to her request straightaway.

     “After the street brawl of the opening scene, Benvolio stays behind to talk with Romeo’s parents. Lady Montague (who in the earliest version of the play is designated only as “wife”) shows a motherly concern for her son. She asks, “O, where is Romeo? Saw you him to-day? / Right glad I am he was not at this fray” (1.1.116-117)…..Montague, however, is worried about his son and doesn’t believe that Romeo should be left alone.” (Themes…) He feels that Romeo has some secret worry that he is not willing to share with anyone. He has often tried to elicit the information from him, but Romeo is silent about it. Romeo’s deep silence adds to the worries of his father. “Montague is comparing his son to a flower bud being eaten away from the inside by a worm, so that he will be ruined before he has a chance to bloom. We don’t use such fancy language, but we have the same kind of worries as Montague; any dad would be worried to see his beautiful child eaten alive by depression.”(Themes…) “As his father is worriedly talking about him, Romeo appears. Benvolio asks Romeo’s parents to step aside so that he can find out what’s wrong with Romeo. Benvolio promises that if he doesn’t discover what Romeo’s problem is, it won’t be for lack of trying; he says, “I’ll know his grievance, or be much denied” (1.1.157). Romeo’s parents are glad their son is going to get some peer counseling, and they leave. As it turns out, though Romeo hasn’t been talking with his parents, he immediately tells all of his problems to his friend, Benvolio.” (Romeo…)

     Juliet’s first meting with Romeo is like the flashflood. Her love is instant and profound. His  serious shortcomings and rash decisions  and his tendency to romanticize  notwithstanding, she still loves him She cuts off her previous close contacts, familial and social bonds, like her Nurse, parents and her social standing, all for the sake of love for Romeo. When Romeo kills Tybalt, he is banished. She thinks before she acts, unlike Romeo, who acts first and then where is the scope to think? Whereas Romeo swallows poison to die, she stabs herself by piercing the dagger through the heart. In Romeo Juliet, love is an important theme, but it is overshadowed by   some other stronger, not so benevolent qualities; it is depicted as ecstatic, violent and overpowering force. Pure love is a divine quality. Romeo and Juliet are not divine, and for achieving love, they cast aside many other loyalties. This would have been termed as the act of heroism and appreciated if the end results were good. But all such fond hopes are dashed to the ground, and finally their labor of love is lost in utter futility, and they make the ultimate commitment–their life itself, and leave their well-wishers grieving. “In the course of the play, the young lovers are driven to defy their entire social world: families (“Deny thy father and refuse thy name,” Juliet asks, “Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, / And I’ll no longer be a Capulet”); friends (Romeo abandons Mercutio and Benvolio after the feast in order to go to Juliet’s garden); and ruler (Romeo returns to Verona for Juliet’s sake after being exiled by the Prince on pain of death in II.i.76–78).”(Romeo….) In the play, even the minor characters contribute much to the overall dynamics of the play. The web of family relationships, marriage and parenthood, the contradictory stands between the church fathers and the householders are effectively elucidated by Shakespeare.

     The word fate demands the attention of every individual and one thinks about one’s fate in one way or the other, throughout life. In Romeo Juliet, Shakespeare has cashed upon this theme, with telling effect, right from the beginning of the play. The chorus refers to as “a pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.”—In fine, chorus says everything about Romeo Juliet.

“Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean,

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;

Whose misadventured piteous overthrows

Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.

The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,

And the continuance of their parents’ rage,

Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove,

Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;

The which if you with patient ears attend,

What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.” (Prologue 6)

The travel-path of the stars has emphatic influence on the fate of human beings. Shakespeare’s characters are aware of it and expect it. The omens they see, corroborates their beliefs. Suffice it is to say that without the play of fate, the play of Romeo Juliet doesn’t exist. At every turn, the plays prove the fate right, both Romeo and Juliet are prepared to die and in fact they embrace death.  Their life and death are designed to test fate! Almost all the incidents related to every character of the play are linked to fate. From the transcendental point of view, every ‘accident’ in one’s life is in reality is not an accident; it is the pre-planned incident by fate.


Prof. Leon Harold Craig writes: “Shakespeare is the poet of Nature, of human nature especially but necessarily also of the whole natural order in which we find ourselves. As part of this breadth of vision, Shakespeare put what we today call romantic love on the tragic as well as the comic stage. (The Claremont…..) In the circumstance of the tragic type of love practiced both by Romeo and Juliet, parental influence or intervention would not achieve much. Even the Nurse and Friar failed to prevent them from the path of love which they so adamantly chose to tread.


                                                 References Cited:

SparkNotes: Romeo and Juliet Home: English: Shakespeare Study Guides: Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet. – 33k – Cached – Retrieved on August 2, 2008

Themes: Parenthood Romeo and Juliet Navigator Home · Theme Index…. As it turns out, the Friar doesn’t agree to marry Romeo and Juliet until Romeo reassures him that this… – 23k – Retrieved on August 2, 2008

Romeo and Juliet Criticism (Vol. 87) Romeo and Juliet Criticism and Essays: … characters than on the interactions between them, specifically the family dynamics of marriage and parenthood. . – 22k – Cached – Retrieved on August 2, 2008

The Claremont Institute – Civil Blood

Romeo and Juliet are the perfect pair of lovers. … Now the lovers are front-and-center, but so too is the theme of destiny. …,Rettieved on August 2, 2008


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