Romeo and Juliet is one of the most well known plays ever written, and part of the works that made William Shakespeare famous. The play’s inextricable link between love and conflict is analysed by looking at the play’s characters and actions. In the play, Shakespeare entwined fact and fiction, by looking at the history of romance in a foreign country and mixing his research with his own storytelling genious. The country at matter is Italy, at around the fifteenth century. Marriage in Italy was a very male empowered topic; females would have no say in who they married and girls often married at the premature age of fourteen or fifteen.Order now
The husband was also often chosen as a suitably rich or powerful ally for the family of the female. Romeo and Juliet is also famous for its sudden twists and turns in the feeling or theme of the play. The play shares two genres, love, an intense feeling of deep affection, and conflict, a serious disagreement or argument often linked with hatred. These two feelings, love and hate, often occur side by side, and such is so in Romeo and Juliet. The characters and events that exist in the play mirror the two themes, love and conflict, and it’s upon those same characters and events which this essay is analysed.
The storyline of Romeo and Juliet is one of the most well known around. The play starts straight off with conflict, where a few servants of the two ruling families, the Montagues (Romeo’s family) and the Capulets (Juliet’s family). It is at the start where we learn Romeo is in love with a woman named Rosaline. We also learn that Juliet is arranged to be married to Paris, who is associated with the Prince of the State. Later in the first act of the play, Romeo and his compatriots learn of a ball held at the Capulet household, which they gatecrash. It is there which the two main characters, Romeo and Juliet, meet, and instantly fall in love, immediately causing conflict with the expectations of Juliet’s family.
After the ball, Romeo and Juliet continue to meet, often in dangerous situations, and eventually they decide to get married, without the knowledge of their parents. The local vicar, Friar Lawrence, is persuaded to marry the young lovers. After all of the arrangements are made, with Juliet’s Nurse acting as the babysitter, Romeo and Juliet are married secretly by the Friar.
Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, continues to rage about Romeo’s appearance at the Capulet ball, and challenges him to a fight, but Romeo refuses as he secretly knows he’s related to Tybalt, but Romeo’s friends are angry with his refusal, which results in a fight between Romeo’s friend, Mercutio, and Tybalt. The swordfight results in Mercutio’s death, which outrages Romeo to the point where he chases Tybalt and kills him. This results in the Prince of the State banishing Romeo from the city, Verona, and from his new wife, Juliet. After his banishing, Romeo despairs to Friar Lawrence and after one last night with his wife, he leaves Verona, but only after Juliet’s father arranges her to marry Paris, as still no-one knows about Romeo.
Hoping to amend the situation he caused by marrying them, Friar Lawrence comes up with a plan. He plans to use a drug that will make Juliet appear dead for a temporary period, meaning that she could not marry Paris if everyone thought she was dead. Friar Lawrence attempts to notify Romeo by letter-on-horseback, but the letter never reaches and so Juliet, who’d taken the drug the night before her proposed marriage day, appeared dead without Romeo knowing that she was still alive.
The play comes to a climax when Romeo hears news of Juliet’s death. Friar Lawrence learns that Romeo hadn’t received the letter and hurries to Juliet’s tomb, hoping Romeo hadn’t arrived first, but he was too late. Romeo had arrived before Friar Lawrence and had found Paris, in Juliet’s tomb, praying. This caused the pair to fight, which results in Paris’ death. Romeo, then resigned to death, makes an emotional speech over Juliet’s body before consuming a deadly poison he bought from an apothecary. Juliet awakens to find Romeo dead and goes on to kill herself with a sword, ending a play of tragedy, love and conflict.
The first scene of the whole play is an action-packed and enlightening scene. Act One, Scene One starts with a fight, which builds audience expectation early on, between Montague and Capulet servants, who go by the names of Gregory, Sampson and Abraham. Benvolio, of the Montague family then enters, followed by Tybalt of the Capulet family. After a lot of threats and insults, such as when Tybalt says “What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee coward!”, fighting breaks out between the pair. The battle immediately stops when Lord and Lady Montague, Lord and Lady Capulet, with some officers. Harsh words and insults are spoken between the Head-males of the two families before The Prince of the State enters and threatens all involved to banish or kill anyone who starts another fight between the Montagues and the Capulets.
Everyone leaves the market-place except for the Montagues – Benvolio and Lord and Lady Capulet. They discuss Romeo’s withdrawn behaviour, about how he stays in his room for days on end. This discussion is short, as Romeo enters, provoking his parents to leave. Benvolio then interrogates Romeo about his behaviour, to which Romeo explains is due to his love for a woman named Rosaline, encapsulating the idea of courtly love of the time. This is the end of Act One, Scene One, ending a scene of love and conflict, proving that conflict can be followed by love, and that there is even a link between the two, even in such obscure circumstances.
In Romeo and Juliet, when Shakespeare wrote the play, he created a lot of conflict. He did this for a number of reasons, one of which was to create tension within the characters, adding to the emotive attraction of the play. He also did it purposefully to contradict the other theme of the play, love, to add morals to the storyline, such as ‘Conflict can lead to love’ or vice versa. Maybe the most logical reason he added conflict to the play was to make the play successful and tragic. Without conflict, Tybalt couldn’t have started the fight which led to Romeo being banished, which would ruin the storyline, as without conflict the play either wouldn’t work or wouldn’t be as effective and well known as it is to this day. The same goes for love. No-one knows how Shakespeare planned the play to be, but if he planned it without the theme of love, then it certainly wouldn’t be as effective as it is with the genre of love involved in the play. There are also different types of love involved in the play, and the way people think about love differently.
For example, when Romeo is declaring his love for Juliet in the Balcony Scene (Act Two, Scene Two), he tries to tell his lover how he feels about her by comparing his love to other things. He told her “Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear, That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops”. By this he’s telling her he loves her as much as fruit-trees love the moon, but Juliet tries to get Romeo not to compare his love to another object, but to swear his love by himself. She replies to the previous quote “O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon”. This shows that Shakespeare intended to link love and conflict, even down to the different types love involved, with the conflict in this scene being that Romeo would face death if he was caught. This makes the audience expect that as soon as one genre occurred in the storyline; the other wouldn’t be too far behind, so if there was a love scene, a battle or conflict scene would more than likely be coming very soon, in the audience’s opinion.
As this essay is based on the link between love and conflict, this section will focus on the link between the two within a specific character, the character being Romeo. Romeo is the subject of a lot of love and conflict in the play, but not only normal love and conflict, but undying love for Juliet, his friends and his family, as well as courtly love for Rosaline at the beginning of the play, and conflict between others and also himself, self-conflict.
Romeo’s love is clear throughout the play. Although he does not declare it during the play, it is obvious he has a loving respect for his parents, such as when, in Act 1, Scene 1, he approaches Benvolio and asks “Was that my father that went hence so fast?” With this quote he obviously respects his father enough to recognise his position and with that position comes love. His love for his friends is undeniable. This is proved when his friend, Mercutio, is killed by the Capulet, Tybalt, in Act 3, Scene 1. His love for Mercutio is so great that when he realises his friend is dead, he is willing to die for him. This is shown in the quote “Mercutio’s soul is but a little way above our heads,…Either thou or I, or both, must go with him”. This quote shows Romeo describing Mercutio’s soul as “a little way above our heads”, from which he means he has only just died or only just on his way up to heaven. Also, from the second part of that quote, “Either thou or I, or both, must go with him”, means that one or both of the pair must also die to make up for Mercutio’s death and join him in death.
This is an example of how love and conflict are linked, as his love for Mercutio leads to his conflict with Tybalt. His love for Juliet is clear throughout the play, but moreso at the end of they play, when he believes she is dead. Not only is he saddened at the loss of his lover, but he feels he must die with her because he can’t live without her. The point of death shows us this. As Romeo stands above Juliet’s body, he proclaims “Here’s to my love!…Thus with a kiss I die”. Also, linking back to the introductory paragraph, it was fashionable for young men to be seen as ‘in love’ with a woman who is out of his league and possibly married. This is called courtly love. This was the case for Romeo, right at the beginning of the play, when he felt he was in love with a woman called Rosaline, even though she wasn’t interested in him. He tells Benvolio this in Act 1, Scene 1 with the quote “Out of her favour where I am in love”. By this quote he means that he’s in love with Rosaline, but her feelings aren’t mutual.
Conflict also plays a big part in the play for Romeo. Most of this conflict is with others, but this conflict seems to be just and is linked with his love for his friends and Juliet. There is conflict between himself and Tybalt, after Tybalt kills Mercutio, which seems to be warranted considering what Tybalt had done to his friend. Also, at the end of the play in Juliet’s tomb, Romeo fights with Paris as Romeo thinks Paris is an intruder trying to harm the body, and Paris probably thinks the same of Romeo. For this reason, a mistaken identity, they fight, and Paris becomes the second person on the list of people killed by Romeo. This mistaken identity is proved by Paris’ quote “This is that banished haughty Montague…And here is come to do some villainous shame to the dead bodies”.
This proves that Paris thinks that Romeo is in the tomb to try and vandalise the bodies within, but I feel that Romeo has no clue who Paris is and probably thinks the same of him when he first sees him. As well as armed conflict between himself and others, there is also another type of conflict for Romeo to deal with – self-conflict. This occurs on numerous occasions but the most recognisable in the play is when Romeo has spent his last night with Juliet, at the Capulet mansion, and his heart and mind are conflicting into whether to leave and be safe, or to stay (which he wants to do) and face death as a result of not leaving the city after being banished. This self conflict is found in the quote “I must be gone and live, or stay and die”. This is soon followed with “Let me be ta’en, let me be put to death; I am content”. This shows that he is fighting a battle between his heart and mind, about what he knows he should do and what he wants to do. In the end, his mind prevails and he leaves Juliet to leave the State of Verona.
Love and conflict appear everywhere in the play, and within almost everyone. Romeo’s actions often link the two, which is what makes him such an interesting character, as the audience believe that there is always likely to be love or conflict occurring whenever Romeo takes the stage.
Friar Lawrence is a key character in the play, Romeo and Juliet, because of his decisions or the consequences of his decisions. The first decision he is forced to make by Romeo, should he marry the two young lovers without the knowledge of their parents? He decides to marry them because he feels that it may stop the feud between their two families, which was famous around the city of Verona, if the young couple are brought together in holy matrimony. He gives this reason to Romeo in the quote “In one respect I’ll thy assistant be; For this alliance may so happy prove, To turn your households’ rancour to pure love”. What Friar Lawrence didn’t know was that Juliet’s father, Lord Capulet, was arranging for Juliet to marry Paris. This brought another problem – Juliet can’t get married twice.
Even though Romeo’s banishment from the city didn’t help, it shouldn’t have caused the tragedy it did, when the two young lovers both eventually killed themselves. The Friar’s solution to the Juliet marriage problem was to give her a potion which made her appear dead, and so if evereyone thought she was dead, she couldn’t marry Paris. The potion would wear off a few days after consumption and Juliet would wake up, but the Friar had a problem. He wrote a letter to Romeo, who was banished from the city, telling him of his actions, but the important letter never reached Romeo who, when he heard the news of Juliet’s death took serious actions, which led to him commit suicide at Juliet’s tomb. The moment when Friar Lawrence found out about the undelivered letter was about three hours before Juliet’s awakening. He heard it from Friar John, the man who was supposed to deliver the letter. After Friar Lawrence asked “Who bare my letter then to Romeo?”, Friar John replied “I could not send it, here it is again- Nor get a messenger to bring it thee, So fearful were they of infection”. This spelled disaster for Friar Lawrence, but he had one last solution to save the youngsters and cover up his tracks.
Friar Lawrence went to Juliet’s tomb to try to get her sleeping body and bring it back to his cell before anyone arrived at the tomb and before Juliet woke up to find no Romeo. He talked of his action to Friar John, saying “Now must I to the monument alone; Within this three hours will fair Juliet wake”. It was probably the most logical decision he made thoughout the play, but he never had time to carry out his plan as by the time he had reached the tomb, he found the bodies of Paris, Romeo and Juliet – all dead, a true tragedy created by the mixture of love and conflict.
The irony of the play exists on Friar Lawrence’s part when, in his first decision to marry the two young lovers, all he wanted was to end the conflict between the Montagues and Capulets. After all of the tragic events, this is exactly what happened. Lord Mantague and Lord Capulet found their feud was foolish and so the two families became allies, even in the face of tragedy. Friar Lawrence’s descisions created love in the play, such as when he married Romeo and Juliet, but they also caused tragedy, such as when Romeo didn’t receive the Friar’s letter which led to three needless and tragic deaths. This shows that love and conflict are linked throughout the play and that they are linked in different ways. For example, love can lead to conflict, conflict can lead to love, love can lead to love and conflict can lead to conflict, all of which are reflected in Friar Lawrence’s actions.
Shakespeare’s use of love and conflict within Romeo and Juliet causes different impressions on different people. I feel the use of the two is linked to ‘fate’ and ‘free will’. Fate is events out of a person’s control and predetermined. Free will is acting at your own discretion, making your own decisions. I believe that love is fate and conflict is free will. Romeo and Juliet is based a lot on fate and free will and this is a pattern in some of Shakespeare’s most famous works.
When reading Romeo or Juliet, or watching it as a play, the audience probably wouldn’t recognise the fate and free will aspect of the play, but the aspects of love and conflict in the play would be picked up and the audience’s emotions would reflect this. The audience would empathise with the characters throughout the play, living every tragic moment, but also every romantic moment. They would also begin to expect what was going to come next, as they’d think after a love scene there’d be a conflict scene, but would often be surprised, as the play isn’t repetitive and there is a mixture of love and conflict scenes all the way through the play.
The combination of love and conflict in Romeo and Juliet is a successful combination for tragedy, but not only that. Love can cause conflict and conflict can cause love, but also love can cause love and conflict can cause conflict and there’s so many different types of love and conflict that a whole essay could be written on just that topic. Love and conflict do cause tragedy, but they also cause so many different emotions and events – which is what makes Romeo and Juliet such an exquisite play, and why people are still reading and watching film adaptations of it to this day.