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The Theme Of Love In William Shakespear

Essay, Research Paper Shakespeare and Love The theme of love runs rampant throughout William Shakespeare s classic romantic writing. He has been labeled one of the greatest poets of all time. Whether he was writing a play or portraying a semi-biographical story it was all expressed through his poetic language.

Essay, Research Paper

Shakespeare and Love

The theme of love runs rampant throughout William Shakespeare s classic romantic writing. He has been labeled one of the greatest poets of all time. Whether he was writing a play or portraying a semi-biographical story it was all expressed through his poetic language. Shakespeare is known for his drama in his writing, and there is no more important factor to drama than love. Poetic language used throughout Shakespeare s work adds to the romance and expresses the common theme of love like no other writer could. Some of the works illustrating his romance are The Passionate Pilgrim and Phoenix and the Turtle . Judging the poems by their names may immediately suggest the theme of love. But in reading these works, the in depth meaning and feeling of the poems come alive. These are not all stories of true, fairy-tale love though. Shakespeare illustrates the reality of love through tales of betrayal, unrequited love, and the loss of love as well as the traditional theme of true love. All these aspects of love are made clear in his works through the author s writing tools. The theme of Love in William Shakespeare s poetry is illustrated through characters, symbolism and diction.

The theme of Love in William Shakespeare s poetry is illustrated through characters. In the first verse of the poem, The Passionate Pilgrim , the characters are not named but given an identity through plot,

When my love swears that she is made of truth,

I do believe her; though I know she lies,

That she might think me some untutor d youth,

Unskilful in the world s false forgeries.

Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,

Although I know my years be past the best,

I smiling credit her false-speaking tongue

Therefore I ll lie with love, and love with me,

Since that our faults in love thus smother d be.

This poem speaks of a man in love with a woman that is lying to him and thinks he is naive enough not to notice. The real truth is that he is blinded by such unconditional love that he has learned to pay no mind to her lies. This may be a case of unrequited love on the man s part because it sounds as though she doesn t love him as much as he does her. A real, true story of love would be of blind love for each other until death parts them. That tale of loss of love occurs in the poem Phoenix and the Turtle . The love between them is most eloquently expressed in the lines:

Love and constancy is dead,

Phoenix and the Turtle fled

In a mutual flame from hence.

These lines speak to the heart of the reader and explain the impact of the loss of a true love when the turtle passes. The line, Love and constancy is dead says that everything they had come to know as everyday life with each other will now change as a result of this tragedy. The Phoenix, now left behind, feels dead without the love and support they shared. Memories of their early days together, of what once was, will now invade its mind forever. Young love thrives in the sixth verse of The Passionate Pilgrim . The two characters that Shakespeare speaks of are Cytherea and Adonis. Cytherea is another name for the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. Adonis is the handsome god of fertility and plenty. The story unfolds as this verse reads:

When Cytherea, all in love forlorn,

A longing tarriance for Adonis made

Under an osier growing by a brook,

A brook where Adon used to cool his spleen:

Hot was the day: she hotter that did look

For his approach, that often there had been.

Anon he comes, and throws his mantle by,

And stood stark naked on the brook s green brim:

The sun look d on the world with glorious eye,

Yet not so wistly as this queen on him

He, spying her, bounced in, whereas he stood:

O Jove, quoth she, why as not I a flood!

The story is that Aphrodite was walking by when she spotted Adonis in a brook cooling off during a hot day in the sun. Aphrodite was then struck with love at the sight of this handsome god. The last line shows how deep her love at first sight indeed was; O Jove, quoth she, why was I not a flood! She was wishing she were a flood so she could surround the man in the water he was already in. The love she felt was so passionate that she just wanted to be all over him all at once. Shakespeare effectively used characterization to illustrate the theme of love throughout his poetry.

The theme of love in William Shakespeare s poetry is illustrated through symbolism. The different kinds of love are very colorfully introduced through Shakespeare s use of symbolism. In the seventh verse of The Passionate Pilgrim it reads:

Mild as a dove, but neither true not trusty;

Brighter than glass, and yet, as glass is, brittle;

Softer than wax, and yet, as iron, rusty:

These lines describe one man s love for a two-faced or complicated woman. The symbolism is describing a tough, strong woman that can be sweet at times. She can be full of life one second, but then something will make her mood break. The rest of that verse says:

She burn d with love, as straw with fire flameth;

She burn d out love, as soon as straw outburneth;

She framed the love, and yet she foil d the framing;

She bade love last, and yet she fell a-turning.

Was this a lover, or a lecher whether?

Bad in the best, though excellent in neither.

Her side of the love affair is told in this section. He knows in his heart that she loved but it was love that rapidly came and went. These phrases evoke a story of love betrayed and promises broken. When examining the title of the poem, after reading, Phoenix and the Turtle one may wonder, symbolically, why Shakespeare would pair such unlikely animals together. It is this unlikely pairing that brings a depth to the piece. A phoenix is a bird that spends half of its time in the air and the turtle, being an amphibian, spends half its life in water. The other half of their lives is spent together on land. The animals differences symbolize the lengths they go to for love and togetherness. It is almost like the story of Romeo and Juliet. They were from two different families or worlds and they re love was like bridge between them. Shakespeare creates this bridge through symbolism. It shows the passion and true love between this unlikely couple.

The theme of love throughout William Shakespeare s poetry is illustrated through diction. Shakespeare made his writing period famous with his language and eloquent word use. This poetic language is the backbone of my proof because it makes the theme of love so intense throughout his writing. Take for example, the last two lines of the first verse in The Passionate Pilgrim , Therefore I ll lie with love, and love with me, since that our faults in love thus smother d be. His use of words sound carefully thought out and painstakingly placed within the verse, but this writing was all just an extension of his self. This line explains that love can be blinding and can make any and all faults invisible. Diction really shows the attitude of the poem in this next piece. The seventh verse of The Passionate Pilgrim reads:

Fair is my love, but not so fair as fickle;

Mild as a dove, but neither true nor trusty;

Brighter than glass, and yet, as glass is, brittle;

Softer than wax, and yet, as iron, rusty:

A lily pale, with damask dye to grace her,

None fairer, nor none falser to deface her.

This verse is a series of contradictions within the explanation of a lover. This shows confusion in the relationship and yet tells of the love he feels for her by ending with a description of perfection. One of the most touching love stories within Shakespeare s collection is told in Phoenix and the Turtle . The love these characters shared for each other is best told in these lines:

Hearts remote, yet not asunder;

Distance and no space was seen

Twixt this Turtle and his queen:

But in them it were a wonder.

So between them love did shine

That the Turtle saw his right

Flaming in the Pheonix sight:

Either was the other s mine.

These lines speak of a love that would span through the death of the Turtle. When someone dies it leaves you feeling numb inside but through this numbness their love endures. The joining of these two very different characters was a wonder to everyone around them and the lasting love they shared made that even more poignant. They belonged to each other; they saw their selves in the other s eyes. The others around them Saw division grow together They were divided by their differences but love brought them together.

The theme of love in William Shakespeare s poetry is illustrated through characters, symbolism, and diction. These three very important elements express the feelings of Shakespeare himself and the feelings his characters are portraying. They paint a beautiful picture for the reader and tell of a love some desire, some dread, and some have to call their own. This theme of love is probably what makes most of Shakespeare s work so popular. It s like he has reached to our souls and pulled out the most poignant emotion the human race feels. That is exactly what captures the reader s attention and heart.

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