In Romeo and Juliet is there another reason why Rosaline doesn't want to be with Romeo?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout most of Act I of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Romeo is depressed over his unrequited love for Rosaline. Though she never actually appears in the play she is an important factor in establishing Romeo as a passionate and emotional character. Apparently she has spurned his affection, sending him into the doldrums, so much so that his father describes how he comes home and draws the shades in his room to block out the light of day. In Scene 1 he explains to Benvolio he is "out of her favor where I am in love" and that no matter what he does she has "forsworn to love." At one point Romeo alludes to mythology when he explains Rosaline's coldness toward his affection:

Well in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit
With Cupid’s arrow. She hath Dian’s wit,
And, in strong proof of chastity well armed,
From love’s weak childish bow she lives uncharmed.
She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
Nor bide th’ encounter of assailing eyes,
Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold.
O, she is rich in beauty, only poor
That, when she dies, with beauty dies her store.

First, Romeo invokes Cupid to claim that Rosaline will not fall in love. Second, he alludes to the Roman goddess of chastity (as well as hunting and the moon) Diana who, along with Minerva and Vesta, swore never to marry. Third, he speaks of "saint seducing gold" referring to Zeus who turned himself into a shower of gold in order to go through a keyhole and make love to the beautiful Danae whose father had locked her up because it was prophesied that her son would eventually kill him. Finally, he says that it is a terrible shame that she will never pass on her beauty to her children. Therefore, it could be assumed that Rosaline may have had no particular aversion to Romeo but simply had chosen to "live chaste." More likely, she is simply a vehicle used to establish Romeo as a young man who is very much interested in being in love.