How do Mercutio's and Romeo's perspectives on the nature of love compare and contrast in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We can best see Romeo's and Mercutio's different perspectives on love in Act 1, Scene 4, the scene in which both Mercutio and Benvolio try to persuade Romeo to crash the Capulets' ball. Here we can see that Romeo takes love very seriously, while Mercutio treats love as a joke. Even though Romeo's feelings of love are guided by physical attraction, his love is an emotion rather than just physical desire. Mercutio we can see, on the other hand, only sees love as sexual activity.

We see just how seriously Romeo views love when we learn just how brokenhearted he has let himself become due to Rosaline's rejection. In the first scene, we even learn that he has been seen crying each morning at dawn. In Act 1, Scene 4, Romeo continues to reflect on his heartbroken state by saying things like, "I am too sore enpierced with [Cupid's] shaft," meaning that he feels a great deal of pain due to being manipulated by Cupid into falling in love (I.iv.20). Since Romeo has painful feelings of love, we know that Romeo believes love is a deep-rooted, genuine emotion, rather than just a sexual desire.

Mercutio, on the hand, does not take love seriously at all. He treats love like a joke, as we see in his many witticisms, such as, "You are a lover. Borrow Cupid's wings / And soar with them above a common bound" (18-19). More importantly, Mercutio's jokes are full of sexual innuendo's showing us that he really doesn't separate love from sexual desire. In fact, he merely equates love with sexual desire rather than seeing it as a greater, deeper sentiment, like Romeo does. One example of Mercutio's sexual innuendos can be seen in the lines, "If love be rough with you, be rough with love. / Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down" (28-29).

greenshamrock | Student

Mercutio has a more comedic and playful view of love. he is not serious and his remedy to falling in love would be to just move on and play the field. in otherwords, to just find another girl. Romeo is more of a romantic idiot who takes love way to seriously. making dramatic metaphors and similarities.