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Throughout the play, love was constantly referred to through celestial imagery. To Romeo and Juliet, time itself slowed when out of each other’s presence: “I will not fail; ‘tis twenty years till then” (2.1.170). Shakespeare shows that love, in its purest form, is akin to religion. Being allowed to be with one another was heaven–time apart, hell. Romeo makes innumerable references to Juliet being an angel. Their love was the purpose of being, the light in their lives: “Heaven is here,/Where Juliet lives; and every cat and dog/And little mouse, every unworthy thing,/Live here in heaven and may look on her;/But Romeo may not” (3.1.29-33). Their love was so blissful, so spiritual that nothing mattered, save it.
Yet, despite this heavenly appearance, all was not peaceful in their love. A sort of insanity overtook them both–every waking moment was spent thinking of one another. This “discrete madness” simply added to the flood of their emotions–slowly taking every dream and entwining them until they were inseparable. Shakespeare used this angle to show their depth of feelings for one another. Romeo would prefer death to being without his Juliet.
From these lovers, from their every word and sigh, one understands that, to them, love of each other is everything. In the end, they sacrifice all on the altar of passion–even their lives. Both offer up their names as payment for their love: “Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,/And I’ll no longer be a Capulet” (2.2.35-36) and “Art thou not Romeo and a Montague? /Neither, fair maid, if either thee dislike” (2.2.60-61). They willingly abandon the long years of enmity that their families cherished at the first declaration of love; hatred that lasted lifetimes, swept away in the flood of teenage feelings. Juliet decides to desert her family and the lifestyle she has always known–knowingly causing her loved ones anguish they need naught to have suffered–to follow her beloved into banishment: “Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again” (3.
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Shakespeare, William. Romeo & Juliet. Toronto: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987.