The more accepted conception of love is usually found in Romeo & Juliet. Many people refer to it as love at first sight, in French, “le coup de foudre”, as if you had just been struck by a lightning bolt. This interpretation dates back to the courtly love tradition which manifested during the late Middle Ages, first through chivalry and then more openly among the nobility. In fact, many references to the courtly love tradition are found in the play, for example, Juliet's famous line: “I'll prove more true than those that have more cunning to be strange.” Here, Juliet is obviously talking about the other women, those who know to be coy.
The courtly love tradition is, however, best expressed in all the works I have chosen by “The Miller's Tale”, Chaucer's recalling of tales supposedly told in his time period. In this story, we witness the amorous liaison between Alyson, the carpenter John's wife, and Nicholas, a student of astronomy and courtly love. The lovers engineer a stratagem which will allow them to consume their passion without fear of retribution, but only after much insistence on the part of Nicholas.
“Then Nicholas began to plead his cause
And spoke so fair in proffering what he could
That in the end she promised him she would.”
It seems strange that, in both stories, there seems to be some resistance to the tradition of courtly love. Both stories were written during the Middle Ages, two hundred years apart. We can ...
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Everyone always thinks they hold the truth. The Word of God can be a convincing argument for those who rely on faith to survive. The word of man, however, makes a stronger point, as it demonstrates how foolish and artificial our beliefs can sometimes be, and how they can change and evolve with time.
Who is to say what love will be a hundred years from now? What will they write when they speak of us, of our own courtship rituals, of the looseness of morals we sometimes manifest? Will they see our behaviours as evil or good? Or will they see us as people who acted according to the values set in the culture in which we lived?
Or is it better not to think of the future, and just love each other, as we always have, regardless of everything else ?
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. London: Cambridge University Press, 1959.
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