Developing and Changing Love: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Clare’s First Love, Auden’s Stop All the Clocks

Published: 2021-09-16 04:20:09
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Love can be seen as an emotion of contrasts: it can be seem as everything from simple to confusing, unifying to dividing. It is a multifaceted emotion that can be displayed in infinite unique versions. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and these three poems by john Clare, William Shakespeare and W.H Auden you see this key theme of love developing and changing. Throughout ‘Romeo and Juliet’ this key theme develops from confusing to dangerous to end with unifying.
Romeo is a Petrarchan lover and only cares about Rosaline’s physicality also he never mentions Rosaline by her name leading the reader to believe the love is confusing. The location of this scene is in Sycamore Grove which is wordplay meaning sick with love. Shakespeare shows that love is artificial though his use of oxymoron, ’Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire’. ‘Bright smoke’ shows that love is not real as smoke is trapping and disorientating. The ‘bright’ can have multiple interpretations as brightness in ‘smoke’ can signify fire which is either life giving, deadly or a sign of passion and love. ‘Bright smoke’ could also mean that it is blinding you so that you cannot see. This means that Romeo‘s love muffled by the ‘smoke’ or he has only cares about her looks as she is ‘bright’. This means his love depends on her looks Romeo also describes his love as a ‘feather of lead’ this could mean that it is deceiving and not as good as it originally looks. This can lead to Romeo being a Petrarchan lover which the Elizabethan audience would recognise automatically. ‘Feathers’ are seen to be delicate fragile and light items. They are from wings meaning they are seen to light you up. ‘Lead’ is one of the heaviest metals in the world so it can weigh you down and used to be used in the production of weapons. A ‘feather of lead’ is may mean that love is meant to lift you up but it actually holds you back. Romeo also describes love as ’cold fire’. ‘Cold’ can be used to signify deadly as when it is very cold it is freezing and you can get hyperthermia, which is life-threatening. It can also means cold after something to hot so relief from the heat. ‘Fire’ can be used to signify the fire that is life giving and needed for a source of heat or it can be used to signify death as fire can take lives and trap you. It is also one of the most painful ways to die. ‘Cold fire’ can also mean that you may turn to it for warmth but it is the opposite of what you expect or want. It could also show how Romeo feels and how he wants to feel. This shows that love is sometimes confusing as there are two sides. ‘Sonnet 130’ by William Shakespeare is a parody of Petrarch’s idea of idealised beauty. Petrarch’s view on love said to be beautiful, woman had to be pale, red lips and bright eyes. This was then believed in sonnets and by Elizabethan people. In ‘Sonnet 130’ love is presented as true and simple as it is not based on beauty with the use of celestial imagery, ‘I grant I never saw a goddess go;/ My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:’ the use ‘goddess’ suggests blessed by God by saying that he ‘never saw a goddess go’ means that he does not need to describe her as an angel or use romantic motifs to suggest that the love is pure and simple. This is a contrast to Romeo as he sees love in oxymora so it is very confusing. A possessive pronoun of ‘my’ has been used to claim that as she is his and always will be. ‘Treads on the ground’ suggests that she is a normal human being and not above everyone else. This is the opposite of Petrarch’s interpretation of love who thought that his love was an angel on the ground, which means that it is the opposite to Romeos show of love as this love is very clear and absolute. ’treads on the ground’ can also show how simple the love is as it does not need all the typical romantic motifs, which proves in this poem love is simple but true.
In act 1 scene 5 Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time. This first meeting displays love as divine and equal through an extended religious metaphor in a sonnet, ‘saint’ ‘pilgrim’ ‘shrine’. This use of religious imagery shows that Romeo is moving away from the exaggerated description of love. The word ‘shrine’ shows love as divine as shrines are the places closest to God However Juliet a ‘shrine’ can also be blasphemous as in the eyes of the Anglican church Romeo would be seen as worshiping a fake idol. This may also show the true devotion Romeo feels towards Juliet. This shows how divine their love is as God has allowed them to fall in love or it shows that their love is being foreshadowed. Describing Juliet as a ‘saint’ can lead to believe that she has been chosen by God so the love is approved and divine. This can also show that their love is approved by God as they are draw together. Romeo being described as a ‘pilgrim’ can show that love is a guide and a path to follow. This can show that love is equal as in the Elizabethan time the man would be in charge and the women were expected to do everything he says and worship him. Love can also be show as equal through the use of a sonnet. In this sonnet Romeo has 8 lines and Juliet has 6 lines, which means that love is equal and split between the relationships.
The poem ‘First Love’ by John Clare conveys how powerful and suddenly love can affect a person. This poem shows love as permanent through the use of natural imagery, ‘my life and all seemed turned to clay’. The word seemed means in the eyes of the looker, which shows that to him life had stopped but to everyone else life kept on going. The use of ‘clay’ says that the love is set to never change. ‘Clay’ is very malleable in the beginning till it sets in one position. This similarly links to Romeos love as is changes from Rosaline to Juliet very quickly before it sets on Juliet. Describing love as ‘clay’ can also show that it is fragile and easily broken. It also connects with the belief that all human came from the ground and will then return. This means that with the love a new person has been formed, which can be similar to Romeo as his love transferred in one second. A fourth interpretation is that ‘clay’ can link to the story of creation where Adam was created from the ‘clay’ in the ground by God, which shows that God has given this love so it is true and permanent.
In act 2 scene 6 Romeo and Juliet get married, before this Romeo talks to Friar Lawrence. Friar Lawrence gives Romeo advice that bad events will follow. This conversation leads people to believe that love is dangerous yet euphoric through the use of negative imagery and oxymoron, ‘these violent delights have violent ends’. This line allows the audience to understand how soon this wedding has happened. In Elizabethan England you marry for life so to say that it will have a ‘violent end’ takes into account that Juliet’s father has not agreed with this. They would not be able to get a divorce either so if Juliet’s family found out she would have been disowned. The repetition of ‘violent’ allows the reader to see that their love is not all wonderful but there may be some bad sides. ‘Violent’ is also a very negative word meaning that something dangerous will happen meaning that love has side effects. The oxymora ‘violent delights’ can show that the love is rushed yet wanted. This can mean that the love may be what they want but it will rebound back on them. ‘violent delights’ canna los show that the love has to end and is only for a moment in time, which is true as their families do not know and Juliet will be made to marry Paris.
In the end scene of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Romeo and Juliet kill themselves. Romeo drinks a poison when he thinks Juliet is dead, which leads Juliet to stab herself. This quotation is from where Romeo is already dead and Juliet is about to kill herself. This leads you to believe that love is unifying yet divisive through the use of personification, ‘o happy dagger/ This is thy sheath; / there rust, and let me die’. The ‘dagger’ has been personified to be a ‘happy dagger’ to tell the reader that Juliet’s opinion of the dagger if not the normal one. A ‘dagger’ can be described as a weapon that reaps lives and takes people from their loved ones. To describe it as a ‘happy dagger’ would means that she wants the dagger to kill her and do its purpose and bring her to Romeo. This shows that love is so unifying they will be together even if they are dead. The use of ‘rust’ tells you that the dagger will not be removed, which means that she will not heal. That means she will die with the dagger inside her. ‘Sheath’ in its literal term means a covering so can be Juliet’s skin. This means that she is talking to the ‘dagger’ and introducing it to her skin.
The poem ‘stop all the clocks’ was written by W.H. Auden who was a 1940s homosexual. This poem can link to Romeo and Juliet’s final act of love. This final poem allows love to be presented as overpowering and mournful through the use of assonance, ‘for nothing now can ever come to any good’. The imperative of ‘nothing’ shows that Auden has given up and there is absolutely ‘nothing’ that can change it. This is similar to Romeo and Juliet as they see no point in living without each other and they would prefer to die. The simplicity of the words in the poem allow the audience to understand the sincerity in his words and how without his love he is hopeless and empty, proving that love is overpowering as it has left a immense gap. Assonance is also used with the ‘o’ in most of the words. This gives this line a solemn, mournful pace. This contrasts to Romeo and Juliet as when each other died they rushed to kill themselves, whereas Auden makes you think that everyone should die, which proves that love is an overpowering emotion. This line slows pace makes the audience think it is slow anger about his love’s death ‘nothing now can ever’, which means that he is morning the loss of his love. This is the opposite of Romeo after Juliet’s supposed death where he is furious at the world and how everyone let it happen.
To conclude love is a very multifaceted emotion with it changing from person to person and being shown in different ways.

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