Shakespeare is said to be the most famous writer to ever walk the face of the earth and has influenced our movies, music, and books, but what is it the Shakespeare was saying. It is also said that every piece of literature and writing is an argument. Romeo and Juliet is a story that takes place in Verona where, “A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life… The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love.” (Shakespeare The Prologue) The main idea Shakespeare is trying to convey through Romeo and Juliet is love. The argument that Shakespeare is trying to get across is that love is many different things. Also, that it is is defined on a large spectrum of ideas. I agree with Shakespeare’s argument that love is many things. First, Shakespeare himself has wrote about many different types of love. Second, love is many different things because everyone has a different perspective. Third, love has a great deal to do with science. Fourth, love is a affected by culture. On the internet, love is defined simply as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” this is also true and is a key point in Shakespeare’s argument.
To begin with, Shakespeare has written a number of pieces of literature about love during his career as a writer. In the play Romeo and Juliet the love between the two characters, Romeo and Juliet, is a rather controversial topic. To sum up this play two young teenagers that fall in love, but they both ended up killing themselves after a long and tragic story. The controversial parts of this story are that they fell in love in only a few days and they killed themselves because they did not want to live without each other. Some people do not agree with the “love at first sight” and say that love takes longer than a few days to be qualify as true love. Shakespeare writes about their tragic romance that was love at first sight, but, in Sonnet 73, he wrote about love that takes a long time to grow and flourish into a beautiful romance that lives on after death. It says, “This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long.” (Shakespeare) This says that everything they have been through has made their love stronger and that even after she dies he will still love her. On the other hand, in Romeo and Juliet it says, “Ha, banishment? Be merciful say “death” For exile hath more terror in his look… ‘Tis torture and not mercy. Heaven is here, Where Juliet lives;” (Shakespeare Act III: iii) This shows that Romeo loves Juliet so much that not being able to see her, because he is banished, would be worse than having to die.
Secondly, love is a very wide subject of conversation because what love is changes based on your perception. Love is a rather complicated emotion because it changes depending on who you are. Romantic love is not subject to only scientific proof. Additionally, you cannot prove whether any individual person loves another. Romantic love does exist but not in the sense that it is just a chemical reaction in the brain or culture. It is a mixture of both of them. First of all, romantic love is not subject to scientific proof because love is different for so many people. To one person romantic love could be simple and amazing, but to another it could be an obsession. Although scientific studies may say that love is a chemical response in the brain, this is only partly true. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter said to have an impact on love; serotonin controls anxiety, happiness, and your overall mood. This shows that even though it may seem like love is caused by serotonin, it is not the only result that can occur. This leads to another question, can you prove love? No, you cannot prove what exactly someone feels for another. This is simply because people react differently to being in love and might be confused as to what love is for them. This is shown in Romeo and Juliet where it says, “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”(Shakespeare Act I:v) This is what Romeo when he first saw Juliet, and shows that he didn’t know what love was to him because earlier he was heartbroken about his “true love” Rosaline. The way you react to it is a part of your personality. A shy and more reserved person might just realize they love someone and not do anything about, but a more outgoing and social person might flirt and try to get their attention. Some say that love is a cultural thing and that people from different cultures love differently, but that is not true because everyone loves differently.
Next, is love chemical or cultural? Romantic love is neither chemical nor is it cultural, it is a combination of the both of them. Chemical reactions are part of the most important network in our body, the brain. The brain is responsible for how we act and how we feel, but this is not the only reason we love. Culture also has a play in how people love. Culture influences how we act as well.
Although some people say that love is a simple easy to understand, this statement is untrue. Love for some people may be really easy to understand and be as clear as glass, but for others this emotion is about as clear as mud.
Third of all, science plays a key role in what love and why it is many different things. Why do we fall in love, and what is love? Love has been around since forever; it is everywhere. Love is in our own personal lives, it is in the movies we watch, and the songs that we listen to. Dr. Fisher did a study on why people love and found out that love is partially a chemical reaction. This reaction starts with the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. Many people know romantic love is just the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you meet your soulmate, the person you are meant to be with. Other people, like Helen Fisher, think differently. In an excerpt from "Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love" Dr. Fisher wrote, "As you know, I have come to believe that romantic love is a universal human feeling, produced by specific chemicals and networks in the brain." She has found reason to believe that romantic love comes from the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in combination with the lack of serotonin. Based off of Fisher's research I think that romantic love partly is caused by the chemical reactions of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
Norepinephrine is a cause of those bubbly feelings of love. When someone is in love often feel exhilarated, extremely energized, unable to sleep, and have a loss of appetite. These feelings are caused by the release of norepinephrine. In "Why We Love" it explains, "Increasing levels of norepinephrine could also explain why the lover can remember the smallest details of the beloved's actions and cherished moments spent together." (Fisher) People that are in love often remember the little tiny details and actions of memories that they have shared, like a groom remembering how beautiful his wife looked the day they got married.
Decreased levels of serotonin cause lovers to become obsessed with the person that they love. Someone in love often spends hours thinking about that special someone. In a study done in Italy 1999, it was discovered that people with an Obsessive compulsive Disorder (OCD) and people that are obsessed with the one they love are very similar in the way that they both have lower levels of serotonin in their brain than the controls had. The lack of serotonin in the brain causes people to become obsessed over things they normally wouldn’t be obsessed about. This is part of what causes them to be constantly thinking about their lover.
Dopamine is a chemical that with elevated levels of it your brain can become extremely focused, goal-directed, and motivated. For someone that is in love this statement hits home. When you are in love for a period of time you can get used to the feelings you have and even become addicted. In "Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love" by Dr. Fisher she explains that if a reward is delayed then dopamine-making cells work harder until you get that reward. Everyone knows the people that are obsessed with feeling that sensation because these are the people that are trying to do something to feel that way again. In conclusion serotonin causes one to become more obsessed with this person in some degree. Dopamine causes you to be more motivated and focus on this special person in your life more. Norepinephrine can cause you to be more exhilarated, extremely energized, unable to sleep, or have a loss of appetite. Although, Helen Fisher's reasoning and evidence creates a valid argument, it doesn’t hold up all on its own.
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet", in Elements of Literature. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2005.
Fisher, Helen. Why We Love. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2004
Shakespeare, William. Sonnet 73. Canvas Sonnet 73 quiz. Jan. 30, 2019.
Shakespeare, William. Sonnet 116