Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet: Under the Guise of Love

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet explains love through the use of three different kinds of love: unrequited love between Romeo and Rosaline, true love between Romeo and Juliet, and cynical love from Mercutio and the Nurse. The use of common, era specific ideas on love helps to convey the message that it can take on many forms. Because Romeo and Juliet's sincere romance changes their views on love, the play suggests that true love is found beyond superficial attraction.

Unrequited love can be described as a situation in which a pretty girl does not return the favor of her admirer, a convention typical of chivalric love. In Romeo and Juliet, Rosaline does not return Romeo's love. This is conveyed through traditional Petrarchan sonnets spoken by Romeo, that drip with conceits:

For beauty, starved with her severity,

Cuts beauty off from all posterity.

She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,

To merit bliss by making me despair.

She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow

Do I live dead that live to tell it now. (1.1.22-27)

In these lines, Romeo illustrates the Petrarchan conceit of the melancholy tortured lover. He describes Rosaline as beautiful, yet, severe, noting first her fairness and second, her intelligence. He then puns...

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