William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Sonnet #18’ and Caroline Duffy’s ‘Valetine’ all address love and death hand in hand. Caroline Duffy’s ‘Valetine’ addresses love as a temporary, yet possesive love and death as an emotional death in which love turns to hate. Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ addresses love as a youthful, consuming and almost possesive love and death as an emotional and physical death in which without the ‘love of their lives’ they have no reason to be alive. Shakespeares ‘Sonnet #18’ addresses love as an eternal and unconditional love which holds a place above all things, and addresses death as the only means to an end to that irrevocable love.
Caroline Duffy writes ‘I give you an onion. Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips, possessive and faithful as we are, for as long as we are.’ This implies that her ‘fierce kiss’ is an experience that will stay with her lover as long as they both remain faithful and as loving as they have been, for as long as they are faithful and loving. This means that the death that is hand in hand with love is a death of the relationship and not the person himself. Duffy writes ‘Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife.’ This conveys that the one to destroy the relationship will be her lover, as the ‘knife’ is usually a symbol of anger, violence and potentionally death as it is her lover whom the knife belongs to.
However, the connection between the onion and the knife, in which the smell of the onion will cling to the knife, could represent the love clinging to her lover even when he is violent or cruel as a knife can be. Caroline Duffy addressed love and death hand in hand in ‘Valentine’ to show that love has a beginning and an end, whether or not is it a physical death or emotional death or both. Duffy depicts that the destruction of a relationship would be in a knife that is in her words ‘lethal’, again depending on the knife being symbolic or real, it will end in violence and anger which leads to hate being the end of love.
‘Romeo and Juliet’ is first and foremost seen as a tragedy, this is forshadowed in the prologue, Shakespeare writes ‘A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life’. This implies that the ‘star-crossed lovers’, or Romeo and Juliet, will take their own lives in a double-suicide. This occurs once Romeo assumes Juliet is dead, and takes his own life to join her, and she does the same. This conveys a message of undying love, as they believed that even in death they shall be together and their love will go on, no matter if their hearts are beating or not. They both believed that without the other, they have no point in living. Shakespeare writes ‘These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triump die, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss, consume’ This implies the ‘violent delights’ are Romeo and Juliet falling in love, even if they are sworn enemies from birth. The ‘violent ends’ are Romeo and Juliet’s double-suicide. The fire and powder imply that Romeo is the fire and Juliet the powder, together they cause a greater flame, and the two coming together burn, or in Romeo and Juliet’s case; die.
‘And in their truimph die’ illustrates that the flame is spectacular, but the spectacle is entirely due to the destructive force. This is a tragic element as the powder can only truimph through its own destruction in flame. Romeo and Juliet’s passion only burns so brightly because it, too, is self-destructive and will quickly consume them. Shakespeare addressed love and death hand in hand in Romeo and Juliet to convey the message that love doesn’t have to end, because love not only a feeling or an emotion, but it is life itself. Ergo, without love, there is no life. Shakespeare implied that your love will be put into one particular person; this may be a lover just as Juliet was to Romeo, and without that one person whom your heart belongs to and your love is placed in, and you have lost your love and therefore your life.
Sonnet #18 addresses love as a visual love which can overcome all things in beauty and pureness. Shakespear writes ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate’ This illustrates that this person is more beautiful than what most persieve to be the most beautiful sight in the world (a summer’s day), that this person is more ‘lovely’ and more ‘temperate’. The writer questions comparing his lover to a summers day because the summer is short and doesn’t last, and sometimes has bad weather, while on the other hand, his love will remain the same without the negative aspects.
Shakespeare also depicts that his love for her will last all eternity, if not in an afterlife, then with either children they produce or in the words of this sonnet itself that will be read for years afterwards. Shakespeare addressed love and death hand in hand in Sonnet #18 to show that it doesn’t matter whether or not love is eternal in the afterlife or in the words of a sonnet, if the love for this person is there, there is always a way for it to be everlasting and so there doesn’t have to be an end to their love. This immortalizes the sonnet and with it, his love. Shakespeare believed that by writing this poem, his love would become one with time and would be saved from the obliviation that is death.
In conclusion, all three of the pieces address love and death hand in hand to connote that love is not always easy and may end violently, however, there is always a point to love, whether it may be the experience, the belief that love is life or an immortal love by the words of a sonnet. Caroline Duffy and William Shakespeare use the notion of death to create a more dramatic and stirring idea of love, this may be to educate people or to ease their worries that love doesn’t last, however, if there is a will there is a way for an immortal, eternal and irrevocable love.