In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, what are Romeo's views on love and marriage?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In the beginning of the play, we see that Romeo feels he is a slave to love, who bends people "to his will" (Act I, Scene 1). He also feels that love has a contradictory nature; it is composed of complete opposites. We see this in his line "feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, still-waking sleep." We also see in this first scene that Romeo does not think very much of marriage. Romeo is brokenhearted because fair Rosaline has vowed to remain chaste and will not let Romeo come to her bed. Romeo is mistaking feelings of unrequited lust for feelings of love.

However, when he meets Juliet, we see a change in him. In Capulet's orchard he asks Juliet, "O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?," which can be interpreted as a sexual innuendo. However, when Juliet wisely responds, "What satisfaction canst thou have to-night?," meaning to deny him access to her bedroom just like Rosaline, Romeo replies with the sincere line, "The exchange of thy love's faithful vow for mine" (Act II, Scene 2). Suddenly, because Romeo's affection is finally being returned, he is no longer thinking just of lust, but of solid vows.

Hence, at first Romeo mistakes his feelings of lust for true love, but when his love is finally returned, he thinks not just of bedrooms, but of marriage.


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