Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Consider the difference in Romeo’s love for Rosalind and for Juliet.

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Romeo does a great deal of pining for Rosaline, and it all seems very dramatic and angsty. He says things like, "Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs" (1.1.197). He cries and mopes around, and even worries his parents with his moods. He describes love as though it were something painful and madness-inducing. However, Romeo also talks about her "chastity" being "well armed," and he commends that she will not "ope her lap to saint-seducing gold" (1.1.218, 222). In other words, then, it seems that Romeo may be less concerned with the concept or feeling of love than he is with having sex with Rosaline. It is evident that he may be driven by lust rather than love in his pursuit of her, and this is, perhaps, why she continues to deny him. Later, when Romeo runs off after the Capulets' party, Mercutio assumes that he is still mad for Rosaline, and he makes some lewd comments regarding Romeo's lustiness.

After he meets Juliet, however, Romeo appears to feel legitimately more than lust. For example, when they speak in the balcony scene, he asks her if she is going to leave him "so unsatisfied," a question that seems to have a sexual meaning (2.2.132). Juliet asks what satisfaction he would expect tonight, and he explains that he wants "Th' exchange of thy love's faithful vow for mine" (2.2.134). He wants her to say that she loves him as he has confessed his love to her. Romeo is not simply lusting after her and trying to get into her bedroom; he actually wants to marry her. When she suggests it, he does go to Friar Lawrence's right away to see if he will sanctify the marriage.

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