In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, how is Romeo ambivalent towards love?

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kcoleman2016 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before we answer this question regarding the protagonist of William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet, it's important to define the term "ambivalent."

Many people consider it interchangeable with "ambiguous", which means "open to multiple interpretations" or "difficult to define." However, "ambivalent" is not a neutral term. Instead, it means "unable to make a choice, caused by the conflicting desire to do, say, or believe two opposite things." 

With that in mind, we can now turn to Romeo's ambivalence. One side of Romeo's internal conflict regarding love is extremely negative. This side is primarily influenced by his unrequited love for Rosaline, which dictates many of Romeo's actions and choices at the beginning of the play. This experience leads Romeo to feel strongly against love and its ability to make a man feel happy. 

However, once he meets Juliet, a conflicting perspective on love is introduced to Romeo's point of view. Because his relationship with Juliet is in fact "successful" (please take that description with all of the grains of salt), he now perceives love as integral to happiness.