No, this is not one of those cheesy questions being used to discover people’s personal opinions on others. This is one to make you actually think for a while:
Would you rather live for a long time, have an established life and be financially stable and comfortable, but not experience ‘true love’ or be truly in love with anyone?
OR (big fat ‘or’ in the middle for you and I, Je Suis!)
Would you rather experience an intense, passionate love (‘true love’, call it whatever you like) but die after a year?
Hmmm… Well, interesting enough, everybody I asked said they would rather the second choice; for some reason, the appeal of having a very intense – but indeed short – love was stronger than the idea of having a long successful life. And what I’m trying to figure out is why? (Please do not assume I am some ‘anti-love’ person, success is great, but love is great too!)
When I think of the phrase ‘short, intense and passionate love’, the first thing that really springs to mind is Romeo and Juliet. (Thank you Shakespeare!) Not only is this possibly THE most famous love story ever written, but it is also possibly the most tragic love story ever written. (If we’re not counting the story of Helen of Troy…) Anyway, you all know the story. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl’s families are sworn enemies. Boy and girl fall in love against all odds and marry in secret. Boy and girl try to run away together but the plot goes wrong and they end up dead.
You know, just your average love story.
What is most fasincating about this story (I’m reading it right now actually, I’m about halfway through it) is the intense emotions felt throughout the entire thing. No character, even minor ones, does anything without 100% emotion behind every action. But of course, since we’re looking at the idea of passionate love, we gotta look at the lovers.
Romeo… (how do I put this nicely) acts like an pubescent teenage boy who doesn’t know what he wants. From the beginning of the play, it’s not even Juliet he’s supposedly in love with; it’s a girl called Rosaline. And the reason he is so ‘lovesick’ as you will see in the beginning, is not because she doesn’t love him back, but is because his advances are being rejected since she is celibate. Basically, all he wanted was a decent lay. Nice, Romes. He moves on PDQ (that’s ‘pretty damn quick’ for you textlexics out there…) from Rosaline and straight on to Jules though.
Juliet seems to be quite a ditsy girl. Her head is always in the clouds and she seems to live in her own dream world, even when everything comes crashing down around her. One minute she doesn’t want to get married, the next she is whispering to the dark of night (where our gallant Romeo hides) that she loves this dude who she met at a masked party… and KISSED. Like sheesh, sorry, did nobody see them kissing on the dance floor?! She thinks it romantic to die in her lover’s arms, to kill herself to be with him ‘after death’ so to speak, and romanticises the whole concept of suicide. Not that Romeo exactly helped but…
And go for it. Tell me that Juliet sat on the grass with her head in Romeo’s lap, and just talked about utter nonsense. About the way she felt when she lost a shoe, or telling him a story which entertained her. I’m not saying that these things are definitive declarations or presentations of love, but what I am saying is that they hardly got to know each other. Especially since I think it was more of a ‘lust at first sight’ than anything else, all I can say is they rushed into everything together pretty quickly.
Don’t get me wrong. Shakespeare is a literary genius. If I could write like Shakespeare, WHEW. What I would do. But I feel like this play is a very extreme presentation of the intensity and passion of ‘love’; in fact, so much so that it ends in death. I don’t even think what Romeo and Juliet experienced for each other was love; I just think it was lust. And no, of course I don’t assume that I am a love expert, but I can deduce from basic experience and knowledge that MOST long-standing love doesn’t end in an unspoken suicide pact. Love is supposed to last a long time, right?
So what’s the obsession with having a lot for a little? A year is quite a short amount of time, if you think about it. A year to not only have to get to know somebody, but also have a very personal, intimate relationship with them; more than likely there are going to be things that you hide from each other, things that you will never know and just a general overview of lots of minor details – but things I still believe are as important as the big things too. I know obviously that the ‘would you rather’ had very few choices, but why do we want to have so much heat but only for a year?
And also, why do we feel like we HAVE to experience love to be happy, so to speak?
Yes, I know that we have to be loved. But notice, in the original first point, you would “have an established life and be financially stable and comfortable” and I never said that other people would never love you. I said that YOU would never experience it or personally be in love with anyone.
Maybe it’s the buzz of love, the rush of emotions that we like to feel. When that person smiles at you and your tummy feels all warm and fuzzy, or when they hug you and you kind of want to stay in that hug for the rest of your life. Is that an experience of love? Or is it just our minds fabricating the emotions, in ORDER for us to experience it? I do, 100% believe that love exists. I’m not a skeptic and I do not doubt it for a moment. I just wonder if true love exists for us in real life in the same way that it exists for us in our minds.
So – for me – no, Romeo and Juliet were not in love. I think they were in love with the idea of love. And yes, perhaps their relationship (can I even call it that?) could have developed into a more… stable sort of love, if they hadn’t committed suicide and stuck around a bit longer to actually get to know each other. (Nobody can tell me they actually think Romeo and Juliet spent time getting to know each other; he practically proposed to her after a day!)
At any rate, who am I to be talking about true love and whatnot? I’m only 15.
Oh yeah, that reminds me! Do you think that age defines the ability to experience ‘love’? Because I feel personally that love comes with maturity, and maturity is usually synonymous with age. But let me know what you think about this all as well!
Thanks Shakespeare. Even now, your literature forms the basis for educational content, discussions and – occasional – blog posts.
ANON (Shakespearean term, meaning: In a short time)