Do you believe that real love can exist? Everyone has many opinions about love and marriage. It might have positive or negative aspects. Love In Romeo and Juliet is one of the major themes and it is visible through the various interactions of many different characters in the play. For instance, Lord Capulet feels that love and marriage are the responsibility of a child to their parents. Mercutio thinks that love does not exist and even makes fun of love. Lastly, Romeo very much believes in love and is willing to die for his true love. Therefore, in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, attitudes to love and marriage are shown in different ways through characters such as Lord Capulet, Mercutio and Romeo, but ultimately, these three men have a one dimensional view of love and marriage.
First of all, Lord Capulet thinks that love and marriage are the responsibility of a child to their parents. Juliet is supposed to listen and follow what her father says and do whatever her father wants her to do even though it is her life, not her father’s life:
“God’s bread! It makes me mad.
Day, night, hour, tide, time, work, play,
Alone, in company, still my care hath been
To have her matched. And having now provided
A gentleman of noble parentage,
Of fair demesnes, youthful, and nobly ligned,
Stuffed, as they say, with honorable parts…”
Lord Capulet is very angry and disappointed when his daughter refuses to marry Paris. He says his priority has always been to find her a husband. He spends time for finding a good husband like Paris so he forces his daughter to marry Paris. He even does not care what his daughter thinks and does not want any explanations from her:
“An you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend.
An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,
For, by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee,
Nor what is mine shall never do thee good.
Trust to ‘t, bethink you. I’ll not be forsworn.”
Capulet is ready to let Juliet beg, starve and die in the street and do nothing for her if she does not marry Paris. He just cares about his family reputation and sees his daughter’s marriage as a duty that she has. As readers can see, love and marriage from the perspective of Capulet is the responsibility of children. Children must listen to what their parents set up and not argue.
Secondly, Mercutio is an anti-romantic character, who considers love as physical. He does not believe in love so he often makes fun of love to Romeo. When Romeo complains that he is so sad because his only beloved – Rosaline, wants to be a virgin forever and not going to marry him, Mercutio mocks and encourages Romeo to get over it at the same time:
“If love be rough with you, be rough with love.
Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down…” (I,iv,28-29)
He thinks that loving just for pleasure and people should not be serious about love, just enjoy and have fun with it. Love is only a materialistic and is a fake to Romeo. Love is not the only problem with him. In addition, Mercutio is very hostile to women and sex. For instance, he lists Rosaline’s body parts rudely in a monologue and makes fun of Romeo:
I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes,
By her high forehead and her scarlet lip,
By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh,
And the demesnes that there adjacent lie,
That in thy likeness thou appear to us.” (II,i,17-21)
He takes Rosaline’s body parts as a joke to lure Romeo to appear. He also wants Romeo to stop being sad because of Rosaline. Romeo is a young, wealthy man, everyone in Verona respects him so he should not be depressed like right now, he should be happy and continue with the beautiful life. In brief, to Mercutio, love is like a joke and does not exist. Therefore, do not be sad and miserable for it.
In contrast, Romeo pretty believes in love. To him, love is very cruel and rough. He sees view of love seriously and it can make him depressed for a long time.