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Romeo and Juliet | Shakespeare and love | Birmingham City Council

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Romeo and Juliet

One cannot talk about love without immediately recalling the story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a story unsurpassed in world literature as a celebration of young love – innocent and pure, love at first sight, strong and passionate. Although Shakespeare rarely invents the plots of his plays, he has created here an exceptionally powerful image of young love.

Love is a smoke rais’d with the fume of sighs;
Being purg’d , a fire sparkling in lover’s eyes;
Being vex’d, a sea raging with lover’s tears;
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet.

Romeo’s love is pure emotion, thoughtless and driven by the spirit of feud and revenge. Juliet is the younger one, more practical and determined that they should be joined in marriage;

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have,for both are infinite.

The beauty of Shakespeare’s language and understanding of the young lovers emotions is what makes the play timeless. However, the destiny of Romeo and Juliet’s love is doomed due to a conflict between their families – Montague’s and Capulets. The lover’s sacrifice brings the reconciliation of the two families and the healing of the social wound. However, the question lingers as to whether pure love is possible in society bound by norms and rules of behaviour that suppress true feelings. It is not surprising that Shakespeare sees love as only possible in a dream (A midsummer night’s dream).