What was Romeo's view of love in act 1, scenes 1–3 of Romeo and Juliet?

In act 1, scenes 1–3, Romeo's feelings of love are associated with pain and rejection. He also places a great emphasis on physical beauty in these early scenes and believes himself in love with Rosaline because he is incredibly attracted to her.

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When the play opens, Romeo is tortured by a woman whom he believes he loves because his feelings are not reciprocated.

Although the play is known as the great romance of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo truly believes himself in love with Rosaline as the play begins. He's heartbroken because she has sworn to live as a virgin rather than become romantically involved with Romeo. This certainly is a blow to his ego, and Romeo mopes around his friends, telling them that he is "whipped and tormented" (I.ii.59) by Rosaline's beauty. His friends try to convince him to notice the beauty of other girls around him, but Romeo is convinced that this would just make him "call [Rosaline] exquisite" (I.i.233). His feelings of love and grief are all convoluted into one raw emotion:

Here’s much to do with hate but more with love.
Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,
O anything of nothing first created!
O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! (I.i.175-179)

The juxtaposition of the emotions in these lines reflects the chaos of Romeo's heart. He is convinced of this love almost exclusively because of Rosaline's beauty:

One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun
Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun. (I.ii.97-98)

It doesn't appear that Rosaline has given Romeo any indication that she has similar feelings for him, and Romeo is defeated by this rejection. It will be a few scenes before he finds a true and reciprocated love in Juliet and will question, "Did my heart love till now?" (I.v.55). Romeo is able to appreciate Juliet's heart because he was first denied Rosaline's.

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Romeo Montague begins Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet already completely smitten . . . but with a woman who is not Juliet! In act I, scene i, Benvolio and the audience both learn that Romeo is pining over a woman named Rosaline, who will not accept his advances, as she has sworn to "live chaste" (i.e., never have sex). Romeo is lovesick and heartbroken and refuses to let Benvolio "teach him to forget," as he believes it will be impossible for him to move on. It is clear from their exchange that Romeo is a romantic, in that when he loves he gives himself over to it completely, but his position on love at the start of the play is a negative one, as so far in his life all love has done is hurt him.

In scene ii, Romeo and Benvolio intercept an invitation to the Capulet's ball. Benvolio thinks this will be a great opportunity for Romeo to find someone else, but Romeo disagrees and says he will only go because he knows Rosaline will be there, still singing his same tune from scene i.

Scene iii actually shifts focus to depict the actions of Juliet, so there is no change in Romeo's position. Indeed, there won't be until he first catches sight of his true love, Juliet.

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In Act I, scenes 1-3, Romeo finds love powerfully evil and painful. He says in Act I, "Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still, / Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will!" (lines 161-162). In other words, Romeo finds it cruel that love, which is blind, can still control his heart. He feels cursed by the power that love has to control him and the pain that unrequited love can cause him. He feels totally within the painful grasp of love and unable to fight its cruelty.

Romeo also considers love a kind of madness and refers to it as "a madness most discreet," or a wise kind of madness (line 184). In Act II, he says of himself that he is "not mad, but bound more than a madman is" (line 55). In other words, he is more constrained than a person who is tied up in a straightjacket. He feels that love has driven him to the point of insanity, and he feels less free to move than a man who has been tied up. 

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Romeo considers love cruel and fleeting in Act 1, Scene 1-3 of Romeo and Juliet.

When the play begins, Romeo is moping.  His parents and friends are worried about him, because he does not seem to leave the house.  Romeo says that “sad hours seem long.” Benvolio asks him what makes them long.

Not having that, which, having, makes them short. (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 5)

Romeo’s problem is that his girlfriend has dumped him.  He thinks there are too many hours in a day when he does not have love.  He suggests that love is madness, and fleeting.

Love is a smoke rais'd with the fume of sighs;(190)

Being purg'd, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;

Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with lovers’ tears. (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 6)

Poor Romeo suffers because he thought he was in love, but his girl decided she wanted to be chaste.  To him, love is fickle and changeable.

In a way, Romeo's complaints foreshadow what is about to happen.  He is about to change his mind, and fall instantly in love with Juliet.  Once he lays eyes on her, he seems to not care about Rosaline any more.  So love is quickly changing, but this time it works in Romeo’s favor.


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