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Sexuality in Literature: Romeo and Juliet & Tristan and Iseult - Essay Example

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Summary
Through literature can be made understood elements of sexuality in life such as: women's lives, sex roles, marriage, domesticity, power relationships, hierarchies, inequalities, resistance, and social statement and protest. The art of literature can present and discuss sexuality in a variety of different terms, and in an array of different styles and methods…
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Sexuality in Literature: Romeo and Juliet & Tristan and Iseult

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The taboo subject is a consistent theme throughout all of Shakespeare's play, but is however more explicit somewhat and much more prominent especially in his work Romeo and Juliet. The taboo and desire themes are extremely evident in this work, and continue from the beginning to the very end. The first showing of desire takes place during the immediate beginning of the story, when Romeo first sees Juliet at the Capulet's party and falls in love with her on sight. "The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand, And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand. Did my heart love till now Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." (Act I, Scene 5). There is a long running feud between Romeo and Juliet's families, which is the primary form of taboo that takes place in this story. Romeo and Juliet fall so deeply in love immediately however, and they ignore the dangers and decide to get married.
The sexual punning truly begins in II 25-35 and continues throughout the play. The love of Romeo and Juliet, although idealized, is rooted in passionate sexuality. In this play there are crude allusions to sex and exalted ones, but the erotic is never very far under the surface. When compared to that of The Romance of Tristan and Iseult (by Joseph Bedier, Hilaire Belloc - translator), the taboo and desire - although extremely evident in both works - are comparably different between the two. Whereas in Romeo and Juliet the two lovers kill themselves because they cannot be together, in The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, the two lovers die although their love was allowed. There are remarkable similarities as well as differences when comparing these two works; both of which must be understood knowledgeably.
The Romance of Tristan and Iseult is a tale of chivalry and doomed, transcendent love. It is easily one of the most resonant works of Western literature, as well as the core basis for our enduring idea of romance. The Romance of Tristan and Iseult is "The story of the Cornish knight and the Irish princess who meet by deception, fall in love by magic, and pursue that love in defiance of heavenly and earthly law" (Amazon, 2006).
In The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, the two lovers are drawn together by the introduction of magic wine; in Romeo and Juliet the two lovers are drawn together by their 'love at first sight'. In The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, the two lovers fall in love basically by mistake, whereas in Romeo and Juliet their love is decided by themselves. A similarity between the two is the fact that both tales focus a lot of attention on the concept of a medieval courtly love. "In such a relationship, one partner usually worships the other from a distance, typically doing grandiose acts to receive attention and respect their lover." (Pointask, 2006).
Romeo and Juliet's first meeting is completely due to fate. The families' hate for one another would have made it impossible for them ever to meet unless there was another force at work. Romeo was originally infatuated with Rosaline, a woman who did not belong to either the Capulet or Montague family, and who would have nothing to do with Romeo. The string of events and coincidences that take place in this story could not occur in a situation without fate, which sets ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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