Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Romeo and Juliet - Requited Love

Romeo. Then plainly know my heart's dear love is set
On the fair daughter of rich Capulet:
As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine;
And all combined, save what thou must combine

By holy marriage...

Romeo and Juliet is really very different from most love stories. My own impression of romance/chick flick "formula" is that boy and girl meet and either 1) dislike each other heartily; 2) one likes the other but the beloved does not reciprocate. Either way, the couple has to learn to love each other. Shakespeare himself follows this format himself a lot - where would Twelfth Night or Much Ado About Nothing be without unrequited love and "frenemies"? Romeo and Juliet, however, is different. No doubts or delays for our young lovers - they see each other and zowie! Requited love! Of course, there's the whole problem of their families being deadly enemies...but emotionally, that hurdle is easy to overcome. (Practically, of course, it's another matter - that's where the conflict comes in!)

I think that this eager, easy mutuality of Romeo and Juliet's feelings is highlighted by that awkward character, Rosaline - the girl that Romeo had been swooning over before he met Juliet. Romeo was eager to love someone, and he thought Rosaline was the one. The problem? She didn't like him back! Rosaline is mentioned A LOT in the play, and she doesn't really fit in that well with a reading where Romeo and Juliet are like these amazing, fated, once-in-a-thousand-years type of lovers. Rosaline gives the lie to that: Romeo could have been quite happy with someone else, and if Juliet had given him the cold shoulder, I'm sure he would have kept on looking. The difference between Juliet and Rosaline?
... she whom I love now
Doth grace for grace and love for love allow;
The other did not so.


1 comment:

  1. Totally agree. This is not a play about finding the magical one other person in the world - "the soulmate," if you will. I think Romeo and Juliet is about trying to find one's spot in the world, and a look at what happens when authority structures leave no room for people to find a human place.