Shakespeare & True Love

romeo & juliet

So for my first post as an official blogger, I have decided to tackle a big question, in the context of a well-known and famous play. My question: Is there such a thing as true love? The play: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, of course.

This semester I am taking a class called Shakespeare’s Drama. In class, we were watching clips from a few different movie director’s versions of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet including Baz Luhrman and Franco Zeffirelli. Specifically, we were looking at the balcony scene, and after we watched the clips, the class began a conversation about how young Romeo & Juliet are in the play. We began to discuss whether or not Romeo & Juliet were truly in love, or if it was just young lust. My classmates were saying that Romeo was very shallow for jumping so quickly from Rosaline to Juliet. The argument was made that this showed he was not truly in love with Juliet, he was just a lustful teenage boy, and Juliet just a naive fourteen year old girl.

As I listened to my classmate’s comments, I was extremely surprised. It seemed that every single person in the room besides myself was in agreement that Romeo and Juliet were simply immature, young, lustful teenagers. Which, I will admit to a point, they were. But, I was surprised by this conversation because I think they missed part of the whole point Shakespeare was trying to make in the play. The big lesson was about Romeo and Juliet’s tragic death that “buried their parents’ strife.” But we cannot forget the other lesson in this play about true love. Their love is, in fact, what ended the feud. Romeo and Juliet’s declarations of love in this play are some of the most eloquent and romantic lines of literature in history that are still quoted to this day. I know, a big statement to make about a writer, but well-deserved. I mean, it’s Shakespeare we are talking about here.

I mean no offence by any of what I am about to say, but why is it when we read this play, we are so critical and cynical? Is it because of some widespread epiphany that has happened sometime over the last four-hundred years? Has everyone suddenly decided that true love does not exist? Then why do we even bother going out on dates? Why do we bother having a significant other in our life? Or for those who do have a significant other, is it only because you don’t want to be alone, or are you just in it for the sex? Or are you in a relationship simply because society has ingrained in your mind that you need to be in a relationship to be happy? Again, I mean no offence, I am simply trying to make a point.

Hopefully your response to that paragraph of questions was, “No, love does exist!” If this was not your answer, then I am very sorry and saddened that you will miss out on one of the most fulfilling things life has to offer. Yes, love can hurt. And yes, sometimes you have to try over and over again to get it right. But it is worth it in the end if you can find it. In the words of Shakespeare himself, love is, “A madness most discreet, a choking gall, a preserving sweet.” There is a good reason why his work has been read over and over again throughout the years, and why he is still famous today. He would not have written such beautiful things about love if he did not believe in it himself, and if he did not want his audience to believe in it as well. If all he was writing about was teenage lust, his work would have been swept aside and forgotten long ago.

So I ask you, do you believe in true love?

That is my spiel for the week. I hope I have provided something for you to mull over, or at least something entertaining to read by a girl who thinks way too much about Shakespeare. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, so please feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to respond! Also, feel free to take the true love poll!

Until next week!