"Star-crossed lovers- is perhaps the most memorable phrase from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - and perhaps the subject of the most debate. Were the young characters the masters of their own destinies or were they victims of fate? Few readers question, though, the second part of the two-word phrase. Though star-crossed is debatable, certainly lovers is not. Or is it? The Oxford English Dictionary offers, among many definitions, two definitions for lover that could apply to this tragedy: first, "One who is in love with, or who is enamoured of a person of the opposite sex (sic);- and second, "One who loves illicitly; a gallant, paramour."" Superficially, it seems that both youths are lovers of the first type. Some readers may concede the opposite, that the love is rushed and ill considered, thus doomed from its beginning. Yet, there is another interpretation, which arises from the soliloquies of both Romeo and Juliet, considering each love independently - that Romeo is a lover of the first definition, enamored, and that Juliet and her love for Romeo are best described by the baser classification. .
Defense for this thesis occurs on several levels. One of the less obvious but most profound supporting findings comes from the use of the word love. Many as shockingly sexual as she awaits Romeo on their wedding night, have viewed Juliet's speech in Act III, Scene II. She speaks of her own "unmanned blood- and her unpossessed mansion. Her every mentioning of love seems to be a synonym for sex. To her, the night is "love-performing;- lovers "do amorous acts;- "[blind] love agrees with night;- she is unseeing until her love has "grown bold;- and the night comes "loving, black-browed."" In contrast, Romeo's love is much different. In Act II, Scene II, Romeo equates love with Juliet. Beginning with "It is my lady, O, it is my love,"" he uses language similar to Juliet's - referring to the night and the stars - to declare his deep affection.