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What is Love?

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Can you imagine how much love is in the world? You may not realize it, but there is more than one kind of love. Love is like an inexplicable creature, flying over the heads of thousands in different forms. It can tear people apart or unite themselves together with others. It is the thing that makes out lives true. It is the thing that helps us survive troubles that we cannot do on our own.

Love is a strong and complicated emotion, only understood by those who experienced it, not learned it. Eros, Greek for passionate love, is expressed in many works of literature, some of which are: William Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet” and Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. Philia is another Greek word for love, only this time love for a friend, like in Siddhartha, Mitch Albom‘s Tuesdays with Morrie, and “Romeo and Juliet”. Finally, storge is another Greek version of love. It is applied to Hesse’s Siddhartha, Shakespeare’s, “Romeo and Juliet”, and Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, because they all involve love in their family relationships.

Eros is interpreted as someone you love passionately, someone you love more than a friend. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse are some examples of eros. In “Romeo and Juliet”, Romeo and Juliet have a sensual and longing desire to be with each other, so they get married despite their parent’s enmity. In Siddhartha, Kamala teaches Siddhartha the art of love and soon she has a son with him. These two romantic couples both have passionate love for their partner.

In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Romeo and Juliet have a sensual and longing desire to be with each other. Romeo loves Juliet as much as she loves him. They know that there own families, the Capulet‘s (Juliet’s family) and the Montague’s (Romeo‘s family), would hate to see them together, but they don’t let that stop them. Romeo explains, “Then love-devouring death do what he dare;” (Act 2, scene 6, line 7). This depicts that if he is not scared of death, he is not scared of his parents, and what they may do to him. Therefore, the two star crossed-lovers go to Friar Lawrence and he willingly agrees to perform the holy sacrament of matrimony for them. Marriage tends to be a result of eros.

In Siddhartha, Kamala teaches Siddhartha the art of love and they produce an offspring. Kamala is portrayed as a beautiful courtesan and Siddhartha as a poor Samana. However, when Siddhartha gets involved in one of her love plays, he fortuitously leaves her pregnant. Kamala tells Siddhartha right after one of their love plays that, “In the art of love, you are the best I‘ve ever seen,” (Hesse 1923:63). She has taken pleasure whenever she sees Siddhartha. Offspring is another result of eros.

Eros-passionate love- is experienced in Romeo and Juliet get married, after their longing desire to be with each other. "My only love sprung from my only hate; too early unknown and known too late," (Act 1, scene 5, line 139). Siddhartha and Kamala experience eros as well, when they produced an offspring. Eros is usually is an appreciation of one’s beauty, within themselves as well as outside.

Love for a friend is known as philia in Greek. In Shakespeare‘s “Romeo and Juliet” Romeo’s and Mercutio’s love for each other can be defined as philia. Mercutio dies for his friend, when Tybalt (Juliet‘s cousin) taunts and attacks Romeo. In Hesse’s Siddhartha, Siddhartha and Govinda set off on a journey by themselves to find enlightenment. In Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, Morrie and Mitch share a strong link in their lives. Visiting Morrie once a week makes Mitch feel like he is Morrie‘s trustworthy friend, especially since he lives in Detroit and has to take a plan to get to Morrie’s house. Love for a friend lets you have faith that that friend is always there for you.

In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Romeo and Mercutio are true friends. The concept of philia is applied to this play when Mercutio risks his life for Romeo. After Romeo’s secret marriage, Tybalt starts hitting and calling Romeo a villain, but Romeo does not do anything because he knows that Tybalt is his family now. Mercutio, on the other hand, cannot stand watching his friend being attacked. Therefore, Mercutio gets involved in the fight in order to save Romeo and ends up dying. Romeo, staggered by Mercutio’s death, takes revenge and kills Tybalt. The love in these two friends is that they risk their live to save each other.

In Hesse’s Siddhartha, Siddhartha and Govinda set off on a journey by themselves to find enlightenment. They start off young and enter the world of a Samana. Then when they meet Gautama, the Sublime One, Govinda decides to take part in his teaching. Siddhartha, on the other hand, does not want to join Gautama’s group so he sets off the journey again, but by himself this time. They are later united when Siddhartha becomes a ferryman. Govinda is stunned at how Siddhartha had found enlightenment by listening to the river, and he too decides to listen to the river and learn from it. Philia can be portrayed in this event, because Siddhartha does not get mad when his friend ditched him a few years back. Philia is love of understanding that your friend does not get mad at you, but comforts you when they see you.

In Tuesdays with Morrie, philia can be portrayed in the relationship Morrie has with Mitch. Since Morrie is about to die from Lou Gehrig’s disease, Mitch flies over to his house to meet him every Tuesday for a brief lesson on life. When Morrie’s illness gets worse, he refuses to see anyone but Mitch. To Morrie, Mitch is more than a student that attended his classes in college; he is a friend that will listen to every detail that comes out of his mouth. When the disease progresses, Morrie loses his privacy. He cannot dress himself, feed himself, or even go to the bathroom by himself. Mitch offers to help Morrie most of time, like lifting him up and getting him in his chair. Nevertheless, Morrie does not get embarrassed when Mitch is right there and these awkward moments fly by, because he knows that Mitch is his friend, and friends love each other no matter what. Mitch and Morrie both know that “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in,” (Albom 1997: 52).

Philia-love for a friend- is experienced when Mercutio risks his life to save Romeo from the taunting Tybalt. At the end, Mercutio’s death causes Romeo to take revenge, so he kills Tybalt. Siddhartha and Govinda experience philia when Govinda finds Siddhartha, whom he has not seen for years. Love filled their hearts as Siddhartha comforts him and teaches Govinda the ways of the river. The moment they had together beside the river, untied their friendship. Morrie and Mitch’s love for each other includes loyalty. Mitch meets with Morrie every Tuesday because he learns that he needs to reconsider his life, and to value love instead of money, and happiness instead of success.

Love within the family is the translated meaning of the Greek word storge. In “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet both have to deal with there families abhorrence for their lover’s family, but they still love the ones who cared for them their whole life. In Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, Siddhartha and his own father, a Brahman, have a family love for each other even though Siddhartha left him. In Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch has not seen his little brother, Peter, for years. The fact that he is always trying to keep in contact with his brother, represents that Mitch loves him so much that he is worried what Peter is going through. Family love is when you trust and support one another, through the bad and hard times.

“Romeo and Juliet” exemplifies storge. Romeo’s family, the Montague’s, were worried, in the very beginning of the play, to where their son was. Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin, tries to cheer Romeo up, when he is saddened by the fact that Rosaline, Romeo’s first love, has vowed to chastity. He feels his sorrow and tells him not to worry. Juliet’s family, the Capulet’s, express love for her as well. The nurse, who is like her family, gave up her own child to breastfeed Juliet. The love that Romeo and Juliet get from their families is pure.

In Siddhartha, Siddhartha asks his father if he could leave to join the Samanas. When his father says “no”, Siddhartha just stays in the same position all day until his father cannot take it any longer. He loves his son so much, that in order to extract it, he cannot have Siddhartha as a possession; he must let him be free. Siddhartha’s happiness toward his father represents the love bond between them.

In Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch's younger brother, Peter, lives in Spain. Peter flies to numerous European cities in order to find a treatment for his pancreatic cancer. He refuses any help from his family. He is unwilling when Mitch first tries to restore the relationship that had years back, but eventually he warms up to him and gives him a call. Storge appears here because Mitch felt that it is his fault that Peter got pancreatic cancer. Mitch believed that the cancer was supposed to pass down to him, but instead it hit his brother. He calls his brother because he has a tender affection to at least hear his voice.

Storge- family love-is experienced when the Montague’s and Capulet’s care for their offspring, Juliet and Romeo. At the end of the play, when both Romeo and Juliet are dead, Sir Montague and Sir Capulet agree not to fight anymore. Their enmity has caused grief within their own families. In Siddhartha, Siddhartha’s father loves him because he lets go of Siddhartha. The Brahman did what made his son happy because he loved his son. In Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch has not seen his little brother, Peter, for years. The pain of not seeing him turns into love when he finally hears his voice.

Love is a strong, complicated emotion only understood by those who share it. It cannot be taught, but it is an experience that you will receive greatly throughout life. Eros, philia, and storge are just some of the branches of love. Eros is active between Siddhartha, Kamala, Romeo, and Juliet. Philia is involved in the lives of Mercutio and Romeo, Siddhartha and Govinda, and Morrie and Mitch. Storge is lively in the family relationships of Romeo and the Montague’s, Juliet and the Capulet’s, Siddhartha and his father, the Brahman, and finally Mitch and his younger brother, Peter. Love is taught in many ways, but the real way is when you experience it for yourself.



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