What are some examples of forced love in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer to this might depend on how we interpret the phrase "forced love." If we consider this phrase literally, then the most prominent example of forced love within the text would be the arranged marriage between Juliet and Paris. When Lady Capulet enters Juliet's chambers and asks her if she would like to be married, Juliet responds, "it is an honour that I dream not of." Lady Capulet immediately dismisses this, stating:

Well, think of marriage now; younger than you,

Here in Verona, ladies of esteem, 

Are made already mothers: by my count,

I was your mother much upon these years

That you are now a maid...

Juliet is not even fourteen years-old yet, and her mother is already trying to convince her to marry. This pressure only increases as the play progresses, with her mother and father moving from gentle encouragement to absolute force. When Lady Capulet informs Lord Capulet that Juliet has declined to marry Paris, Lord Capulet exclaims:

...doth she not give us thanks?

Is she not proud? doth she not count her blest,

Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought

So worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom? 

These insults escalate until Lord Capulet finally presents Juliet with an ultimatum: marry Paris on Thursday afternoon or "hang, beg, starve, die in / the streets..." Given the options, Juliet has no agency left here; she is a mere object, a pawn in her father's designs to create a profitable union. She must marry Paris in order to stay within the financial and physical safety of her family's household, despite the emotional trauma it may inflict upon herself and the inevitable dissolution of her secret marriage to Romeo.