What are different characters' experiences with love in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?  

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare relays quite a few different experiences with love in Romeo and Juliet. Below are a couple of ideas to help get you started.

One experience is heartbreak, which is relayed through Romeo's experience with Rosaline. We learn in the very opening scene that Romeo has been rejected by Rosaline and as a result has been staying out all night long and been seen at dawn, standing under a grove of trees in a certain part of town, and "with tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew," meaning crying (I.i.127). Romeo further relays his experience with love by referring to love by a string of oxymora in which he likens love to a feeling of hatred and other tortures, as we see in the lines, "Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate! ... This love feel I, that feel no love in this" (174-80).

A second experience with love that Romeo has is an experience of fickleness as he quickly forgets about Rosaline and all the pain she's caused him and switches to being in love with Juliet. This new experience with love is more of an infatuation as the feelings come on so strong and are so intense. We also know this experience is an infatuation due to the fact that his feelings are guided merely by an intense physical attraction. We especially see him relaying his feelings of physical attraction the moment he lays eyes on her through his praise of her beauty. He even clearly associates his feelings of love with physical attraction in his lines, "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! / For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night" (I.v.54-55).