Of the two most often used words in Shakespeare’s plays, the word love appears almost twice as often as the word hate. Love appears 63,162 times, according to the data on the OpenSourceShakespeare site, while hate is seen 37,971. In addition, the past tense of the verb to love – or loved– appears 13,425 times.
Love is one of the earliest words in the English language, coming from the Old English lufu means”love, affection, friendliness.”
Yet there was little love and affection in Shakespeare’s most produced plays: Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth. If anything, many of the characters would have to sit on the hate side of the aisle.
Shakespeare portrayed all different forms of love in relationships. He captured each of the Greek ideas of love, and provided examples of each in his plays and sonnets:
- Eros, or sexual passion of Romeo for Juliet,
- Philia, or deep friendship of Horatio to Hamlet,
- Ludus, or playful love of Bottom and Titania,
- Agape, or love for everyone of King Lear’s daughter Cordelia, and
- Pragma, or longstanding love of Calpurnia for Julius Caesar.
There are a number of conclusions to draw, but the immediate take-away is that the evidence suggests that Shakespeare was a “not a hater…”