“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”
William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet
We all grow up hearing the tale of Romeo and Juliet, and laughing at caricatures of Bugs Bunny calling for his “Romeo” from atop a golden balcony. The implied message is that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the greatest love story of all time – a statement many would readily agree with. In high school I couldn’t wait to read this play in literature class, but found myself greatly disappointed. In my mind, the characters acted foolishly and everybody died at the end…I couldn’t imagine what all the fuss had been about!
But now I realize that the success of this play does not completely lie in the story itself, but in the masterful way it was told. Romeo and Juliet were historical figures, and some believe that this story (or some version of it) actually happened. But we may never have heard of this fateful tale if it had not been for the careful artistry of William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare builds tension by switching from comedy to tragedy throughout the work and expands the role of the minor characters (or “little people”) until we feel like we truly know them. But his greatest achievement was giving each character a unique voice – something he did by assigning a different poetic form to each character. This has caused amateur poets and English teachers to devote many hours to studying the play in great detail. And not only does each character have a unique form of poetic expression, but their poetry matures and develops with them. As Romeo learns about the beauty – and disappointments – of true love, he begins to grow wiser. And as he does, he becomes more skilled at speaking in sonnet.
It cannot be denied that Romeo and Juliet is a timeless example of a play which makes masterful use of the English language. And hundreds have been drawn to its theme… that true love is destined for destruction, and every relationship – no matter how perfect it seems – contains its share of heartbreak.
Of course, Scripture certainly warns us that love is a serious business and is not to be trifled with. Song of Solomon 8:4 says, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” I have often heard this passage used to remind young people not to pursue serious romantic relationships until they are ready to begin thinking of marriage, and until they feel sure that the Lord has led them to a suitable romantic interest. Playing around with love is a sure path to disaster and heartache.
But what if we wait patiently on the Lord, and pursue a faithful and pure relationship? Is our chance at true love still doomed? Because relationships involve two flawed human beings, it is only natural that every relationship will contain its share of flaws. But just because something is slightly imperfect doesn’t mean it can’t be wonderful.
My conclusion is that walking in a loving relationship with Christ prepares us to love another person the way we ought to. Without Christ in the center of our home, things will naturally fall apart over time. As Psalm 127:1 reminds us, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” But if we allow the Lord to guide us in our romantic relationships and both parties keep their focus on Him, then He can draw our hearts together in a way we never would have thought possible.
Longing for true love? Christ is the answer. And once He is invited into your heart and your home, He can help you and the love of your life to avoid the great tragedy we all fear.
Photo Credit: Wherefore Art Thou, Romeo? – William Hatherill (1855-1928), Public Domain.
This post was submitted as part of the A to Z Challenge, where participants agree to write an article that corresponds to each letter of the alphabet, posting every day of the month of April (except Sundays).
Here on The Artistic Christian, my theme for the month is The Classics. Each day I’ll examine a book, film, or work of art that has become a beloved classic and discuss what has made it such a success, and what eternal themes it contains that Christian artists can use as modern illustrations.
For daily reflections from my personal travels around the world, check out my companion blog, Everyday Musings, where my theme for April is Reflections From Around the World.