*WINNER* Making the Way to Marriage: Language and Love in Shakespeare's Plays


  • Rebecca Franey


The language in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing turns love into a game through opposing sentiments of adoration and cynicism between Romeo and Juliet and Beatrice and Benedick, while differing dictions show adverse interpretations of Elizabethan age courtship practices. This paper takes a deeper look into the plays’ language, especially the style and vocabulary of each character, to trace the success and failure of each relationship.
Romeo and Juliet exemplify youthfulness and urgency while racing through societal practices, catering to their need for marriage by omitting courtship steps that are integral to communal acceptance. The focus is only on their love, shown through flowery poetry with exaggerated metaphors.
Beatrice and Benedick present a contrasting attitude with cynicism that precedes secret vows, which are prompted by emotions exposed by their family and friends. Community approval permits the couple to pursue their love with less hesitation and openly commit to a courtship, but they continue to use word games that express their complicated relationship.
In each play, urgency, maturity, love, and loathing contribute to an engagement, but community involvement plays the largest role in determining the success or failure of the marriage. Each couple employs various literary devices in their language to add new interpretations of words while progressing through the stages of courtship, showing their love in contrasting ways.
I wrote this paper for my Shakespeare class.