Compare the love that Romeo feels for Juliet with the love he felt for Rosaline.

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the play, Romeo is lovesick over Rosaline.  Benvolio says he is full of sorrow.  Romeo says that he is in love with Rosaline, but out of her favor.  She has obviously not requited his love, and he is very depressed.  When Romeo sees Juliet at the Capulet's party, he forgets about Rosaline, so his "love" for Rosaline was more like infatuation, puppy love.

Romeo's love for Juliet is more than infatuation.  Romeo woos her with religious imagery:

If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.


O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do; They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

It's one of the great pickup lines of all-time.  Although it's love-at-first sight, Romeo does commit to marry her the next day.  He also gives up his identity (name) to be with her, which is usually what the wife does for her husband.  Whereas his infatuation with Rosaline was not expressed verbally (only emotionally), Romeo's love for Juliet is poetic--full of fire, imagery, and metaphysical conceits--suggesting it will last.


coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Actually, to be totally frank, there is one school of thought that says we never really find out if Romeo and Juliet had 'true love' for each other. The tragedy of the play 'Romeo and Juliet'by William Shakespeare is, of course, that they both die so young that they (and we) never get to find out if it was lasting love or infatuation. Romeo, though, knows what infatuative 'love' is. It is more like 'love of self' and often people are in love with the way the other special person makes them feel, rather than experiencing a 'giving' kind of love which relies more on caring for the other person and their needs. Many readers like to believe that Romeo has already experienced this kind of infatuative love and so would recognise it if turned up again - if his love for Juliet feels different, then we can hope he realises it is not the same as the superficial feelings he had for Rosaline.

bleurangers | Student


jwarb1984 | Student

Romeo and Juliet is full of little indications about the love and the validity of the love that Romeo and Juliet feels for one another.  The main question really is if this situation was to happen today would what is percieved as love then, be love in the eyes of today's society.  Here are my thoughts from the question you have posed. 

Romeo at the begining of the play is pining for the love of a woman called Rosaline. Or is he? As mentioned above, Shakespeare gives many indications as to what the feelings are between the characters within this play.  I believe that Romeo has more of an infatuation with Rosaline and because of his lack of maturity fails to actually love her but instead insults her by offering to pay her money for sex - this is in actual fact prostitution in a modern day society.  At this stage in the play he is knew to the idea of love and instead of feeling love for Rosaline he feels lust.  Honestly mistaking it for real love-  “won’t ope her lap for saint seducing gold”

The contrast between his feelings is vast - it could be seen that Romeo is still too immature to know the difference between love and lust as he falls in and out of love so easily.  He falls for Juliet so quickly.  In contrast to this he does explain how juliet completes his soul and she is his Sun and  “he hasn’t seen true beauty til this night”.  This appears to be the real deal for him - he is willing to lose everything for juliet as opposed to some gold for Rosaline.

Elizabethan audiences probably would have believed this love between the two.  Today, in my opinion it wouldn't be as believable.  I guess you have to look at the social, cultural, historical and political aspects of the time and ask if this is something that was done then?  Did people fall for each other like that or was it the romantic ideology that we try to hold now within fictional books such as Twilight with Bella and Edward?  Is anything possible and do you believe in Love? 

It is all questionable - but Shakespeare does give a lot away as to whether is it supposed to be believed as genuine or not.  Maybe have a closer look into the symbolism of his language with Juliet compared to Rosaline.  Do you forget someone you love so easily for another?

The love that Romeo feels is not comparable as in my opinion he does not love Rosaline.


bookkeeper11107 | Student

Romeo's feeling for Rosaline is romantic infatuation, without the passion and immediate conviction of his feeling for Juliet.  He woos Juliet in a very straightforward manner, and she reciprocates whole heartedly.  Rosaline put Romeo off, by comparison.