Aside from the romantic love between Romeo and Juliet what other types of love does Shakespeare explore in this play?
I need to describe three types of love from the play and show how Shakepeare develops this theme through his characters and literary style.
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Central to understanding the conflict in this play is recognising the way in which the romantic love between Romeo and Juliet is placed in conflict with the other major kind of love in the play: a love of one's family and background. This is of course the crux of the matter, and the other massive kind of love that is presented in this play. It is a love of one's family and one's identity that leads to the ceaseless feud between the Capulets and Montagues, and it is this love that places Romeo and Juliet in such an impossible position. Note the way that Romeo comments, very astutely, on the brawl that opens the play, saying:
Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.
Along similar lines, Juliet, when she finds out the identity of Romeo after she has fallen in love with him, says:
My only love sprung from my only hate!
These two quotes therefore show the way in which love for one's family and loyalty is directly brought into conflict with our own personal emotions and loves. Romeo recognises explicitly that it is "love" that is the real cause of the conflict, as the various members of the two families love their family and therefore what their family has committed themselves to. Love is therefore at the heart of the feud, as both sides love family honour too much to be able to put aside the conflict. This is another vital type of love that you need to analyse alongside the romantic love of Romeo and Juliet.
Several types of love are displayed by characters in the play other than “eros”, the type of romantic love between the protagonists.
First, there is the love between friends, a sort of love sometimes known by the Greek term “philia”, which is a type of non-sexual affection. Mercutio and Benvolio are both friends of Romeo who display philia towards Romeo.
The next type of love is the love of parents to children. As well as the parents of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s Nurse is the main character embodying this sort of love.
A third type of love is spiritual, a type referred to by the Greek term “agape” and used to describe the love of human for God. Charity (“caritas”) is also a type of spiritual love by which humans emulate divine love. This is practised by Friar Laurence in the play, for whom charity towards humans is part of a spiritual vocation.
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