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Is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet a tale of love or infatuation?

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monkeyluver14 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 15, 2008 at 2:53 PM via web

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Is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet a tale of love or infatuation?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 11, 2013 at 6:36 AM (Answer #5)

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There are many differences between love and infatuation. Infatuation is an intense, "all-absorbing passion" (Random House Dictionary). It especially lacks all sense of reason and can be very short lived, leading to fickleness. Love, on the other hand, is more of a choice. It's a decision to continue to trust, admire, and stay committed to a person. It's a feeling that deepens through time due to choice rather than ends suddenly. Since the couple died an untimely death, we don't really know what their feelings would or would not have developed into, but we do know that Romeo's feelings for Juliet, as well as for Rosaline, were more of an infatuation. We also know that, while Juliet's feelings began as infatuation, her love for Romeo matured into real love.

We know that Romeo's feelings are more akin to infatuation due to the intensity of his feelings plus the suddenness with which he switched from loving Rosaline to Juliet. His feelings for Rosaline and his hurt over her rejection were so intense and all-consuming that he worried his father due to the fact that he had been seen staying out all night, night after night, and been seen crying each morning at dawn. This all-consuming intensity alone and any rejection of reasonable advice is evidence alone that Romeo feels infatuation rather than real love. In addition, Romeo confesses to confusing real love with mere physical attraction, another symptom of infatuation, when he first sees Juliet in his lines, "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! / For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night" (I.v.54-55). Even Friar Laurence believes Romeo has confused real love with infatuation, as shown when he declares that "young men's love then lies / Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes" (II.iii.68-69). Even just before he marries them, Friar Laurence expresses the belief that all they feel for each other is mere infatuation by warning their love is likely to die just as soon as it has begun, "like fire and powder" (II.vi.10).

While Juliet's love at first is also all about physical attraction, the moment Romeo kills her cousin Tybalt gives her a chance to make choices and for her love to mature. At first, she feels she has been deceived by Romeo and that his beautiful exterior really houses a devilish soul. But then she decides that she should not speak dishonorably of her husband, simply because he is her husband. She then makes the reasoned conclusion that Romeo must have killed Tybalt out of self-defense and further decides to continue loving and trusting Romeo. This one moment of choice is real love, but Romeo never has a moment to make a similar choice. Therefore, only Juliet's love for Romeo is mature enough to be considered real love rather than infatuation.

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jadzia | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 15, 2008 at 6:04 PM (Answer #2)

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Tale of love, some people might say infatuation but I think Shakespeare meant it to be for love he just wrote dratically within the play.

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theresa-diaz | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted April 17, 2008 at 10:33 AM (Answer #3)

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William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is more of a tale of disobedience of tradition rather than a tragedy of  love.  However to answer the question, after evaluating the timespan of which the events occured and the fact that Romeo seemed to be using Juliet as a rebound for Roseline, the play is a tale of infatuation.

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lrlettis | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted May 8, 2008 at 10:42 AM (Answer #4)

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Romeo and Juliet is a story of "star-crossed lovers." It is a demonstration of love at first sight, of obsession and passion.  Remember, they are approximately 14 years of age, an age where all young people start to become self-aware and ready to explore all the world has to offer.

Even though Romeo is on the rebound from Rosaline, he is in love with Juliet from the moment he lays eyes upon her. She sees him watching her, and when her eyes take him as he touches her hand, they are lost in a love that is completely unreasonable by today's standards.

Young people got married at about the age of fourteen during that time. Juliet was instructed to assess Paris at the party and report to her mother as to her interest in marrying him. Instead she fell in love with a stranger. They were in love before they even knew each other's name. Their love was immediate and almost to the point of obsessive since they did get married the very next day. 

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