How Does Romeo & Juliet Critique the Petrarchan Discourse of Desire?

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HOW DOES ROMEO & JULIET CRITIQUE THE PETRARCHAN DISCOURSE OF DESIRE? Shakespeare utilises a variety of techniques in Romeo and Juliet in order to critique the conventions of the Petrarchan discourse of desire. Through his construction of the sonnets that are found in the play and the characters that are found in Verona he manages to reinvent the discourse of desire both critiquing the Petrarchan view and providing a new view on what it means to desire and to love. Through these techniques Shakespeare constantly challenges his audience but never lays out a clear or concise answer to the themes of his play but instead encourages his audience to take on their own view. Shakespeare quite obviously plays with the conventions of Petrarchan characters and their views of desire throughout the play but most significantly towards the beginning. Romeo is introduced as a character that seems to be blinded by love, his desire for Rosaline is over powering, shallow and foolish – “He that is strucken blind cannot forget / The precious treasure of his eyesight lost” (1.1.225-226). Shakespeare has created Romeo to resemble the typical ‘Petrarchan lover’ speakers that are found in Petrarch’s sonnets, we hear Romeo obsessing over Rosaline whom like ‘Laura’ from Petrarch’s sonnets is unattainable to Romeo, as she is choosing to remain celibate - "She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow / Do I live dead that live to tell it now” (1.1.216-217) Shakespeare has purposefully created Romeo and Rosaline with these similarities to Petrarchan conventions in mind as he is able to successfully critique the discourse of desire through the growth of Romeo in the play and the introduction of Juliet. Shakespeare also relies on the fact that his audience are aware of ‘what’s in store’ for Romeo, allowing him to create a clichéd and conventional character - “The theatre audience knows that
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