Portrayal Of Love And Hate In Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet
Shakespeare’s exploration of themes through tragic conventions make the play, Romeo and Juliet, of enduring relevance to modern audiences. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1595) captures audiences through the thrill of lovers from feuding families racing together to their tragic demises. This play explores themes understood by audiences throughout time by employing tragic conventions to heighten the continual relevance of these universal issues. The play highlights through the protagonist’s downfall, the risks human flaws place on an individual and their potentially dangerous outcomes. Present day audiences are shown the immense extent conflict and chaos can cause fatal consequences. This play captures the importance of achieving a resolution in order to heal and forgive.
It is basic human nature to act according to our faults. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet strongly conveys the influence of a common fatal flaw upon an individual. For Romeo, his hamartia is that he acts impulsively towards what occurs around him with little consideration of the consequences. This in turn leads him to be blinded by love, easily aggravated and ultimately die. Acting on impulses can be as equally detrimental in the modern society; this is seen by the sadly common outcome of risk taking by young men when behind the wheel of a car. Romeo’s impulsivity is evident from the play’s beginning; initially he over declares his unrequited love for Rosaline, “Oh, she is rich in beauty,” before shifting seamlessly in the same Act to a new love interest, Juliet whom he had just set eyes upon. Romeo uses similar hyperbolic language in a comparison of Juliet to light; “Oh she doth teach the torches to bum bright!” Romeo’s impulsiveness is again apparent when upon first seeing Juliet he requests her kiss. “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand,” in this segment of a sonnet a comparison of Juliet to a ‘sacred place’ is stated as if faithful pilgrims were journeying to her. The most irreversible decision made by Romeo occurs when he rashly takes his life after the mistaken belief that Juliet was dead, “Thus with a kiss, I die.” The play reveals through its tragic ending the results of an individual’s hamartia; demonstrating the dangers of being unaware of human faults and not reflecting on decisions before taking action.
The Montagues and the Capulets feud senselessly as if they were fan clubs from opposing football teams or competing media moguls. Shakespeare’s use of conflict and chaos, shows present day audiences the potentially lethal impacts of common human disputes. It is apparent from the first scene that the families are feuding, “O me! What fray was here?” is a rhetorical question stated after seeing the presence of blood on Benvolio which indirectly suggests that violence has occurred recently between the enemies. Brutal conflict results in chaos and distress for the characters throughout the play. After being stabbed, Mercutio’s final dying words are a curse he places on both quarrelling families, “A plague o’ both your houses,” uses foreshadowing to warn the loss both families will soon experience due to the unforeseen consequences of their fighting. Montague Romeo continues this cycle of violence and chaos when in a distressed state he kills Tybalt, his beloved’s cousin. Tybalt’s expresses his external hatred, “I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee,” repetition is used to emphasize his eternal negativity to his enemies. When star cross lovers from opposing families fall in love it leads to chaos and further conflict between the feuding oppositions; highlighting to modern audiences the futility of long standing rivalry.
In history, the Great Wars were resolved with a peace treaty; alike in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet the premature deaths of the lovers end their proud families’ gratuitous chaos and replaces it with forgiveness. This play uses an anagnorisis moment to lead to the restoration of respect between the powerful Verona families; providing the audience with the moral of relinquishing resentments. In the prologue it is described that the lovers’ unfortunate deaths will put an end to their parents’ raging, this foreshadows the play’s fateful ending. “The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head,” is a personification of the sun used by the Prince in the final scene to describe the profound effect the suicides had upon all in Verona and the metaphorical darkness cast over the land. “Poor sacrifices of our enmity,” is the defining cathartic moment which signifies the realisation and recognition of the fatal effects placed on their children by their families’ rivalry throughout the play. The first restoration of order occurs; “O brother Montague, give me thy hand.” Capulet pronounces this peace gesture as a means to resolve the families’ conflict and set aside their grudges, followed by honoured statues to symbolise everlasting order. Romeo and Juliet is of enduring relevance as it demonstrates the significance of resolving conflict through forgiveness in order to rest ignorance and pride.
This everlasting play displays the dangers of human flaws, external conflict and emphasises the importance of forgiveness. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is relevant to societies across time as it explores universally understood themes and endless tragedy.
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