With an understanding of Romeo's definition of Love in Romeo and Juliet, what is your definition of Love?
(Please provide examples from outside sources including other literature, science, pop culture, etc.)
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Initially, Romeo perceives love in the terms of courtly love. His love for Rosaline is one of emotional feeling for her, but she shows disinterest. Romeo tells Benvolio that he is "Out of her favor where I am in love." In Elizabethan courtly love the lady often feigns such disinterest in order to generate a seductive but playful discourse that hides the carnal desire behind it; however, Romeo learns that Rosaline has not been pretending disinterest at all; she really does not love him. Instead, she chooses to enter a nunnery.
In his efforts to console his good friend Romeo, Benvolio suggests that he, Romeo, and Mercutio all go along to the Capulet ball. There, Benvolio counsels Romeo that he can "examine other beauties." Once there, Romeo's languorous eyes fall upon a young, beautiful maiden, and instantly he is smitten. His reaction is sudden, hormonal, intensely physical, erotic. Quickly he approaches her and in one of the most beautiful passages in all Shakespeare's plays, Romeo and Juliet speak together in a sonnet that expresses the physicality of their attraction. This physical attraction develops into intense eroticism--a "violent delight," as Friar Lawrence describes it--passionate and reckless and deadly.
Because their love only endures four days--a Sunday night through Thursday morning--Romeo and Juliet's love never develops past the narcissistic stage described in Dr. Erich Fromm's The Art of Loving: An Enquiry Into the Nature of Love:
The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one's narcissism. The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one.
In his book, Dr. Fromm calls the Western world's concept of love égoïsme à deux, a mutual focus of two people upon each other to the detriment of others around them, a concept of love not unlike the love of Romeo and Juliet. Further, however, Dr. Fromm defines real love as a concept developed within oneself without any attachment to the object of love. Love, he contends, is an activity, a power of the soul. Truly, love is an art. Fromm writes,
If I can say to somebody else, "I love you," I must be able to say, "I love in you everybody, I love through you the world, I love in you also myself."
In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul offers a beautiful and accurate definition of love:
Love is always patient; love is always kind; love is never envious or arrogant with pride. Nor is it conceited. (International Standard Version)
Certainly, love is unselfish and involves the elevation of a person beyond carnal desires and earthly needs. Above all, it is charitable. Much as the ideal mother's love for her child, it is a spiritual love that is concerned with the welfare of the other more than that of the self.
John !5:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (King James Version)
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