The central focus of the play, ‘ Romeo and Juliet ‘ is love. It is set against a background darkened much by a deeply entrenched hatred.
In the opening sonnet the audience is informed about the ‘ancient grudge’ between the two most influential families in Verona who are known to be Montagues and the Capulets. The audience also learns of two ‘star crossed’ lovers who are destined for love yet by fate they are also destined for tragedy. As the audience we get our first hint that love will ironically run alongside hatred when Chorus states that the love of the two ‘star crossed lover’ is a ‘death marked’ love. Already we can conclude that in this play the theme of love will be met with the theme of hatred.Order now
From the very first scene Shakespeare concentrates on the theme of hatred. The servants of Montague and Capulet begin a full-scale brawl in which swords are drawn. At this moment the audience realises that there is so much hatred between the two families that even the slightest bit of banter can cause a full scale brawl.
As the brawl ensues Benvolio tries to make peace by putting his sword between the two fighting houses. However Tybalt walks in. Tybalt has different ideas. He says, ‘ I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.’ Tybalt illustrates the hatred inside him as well as the hatred between the two families.
The audience also learns that this was not the only brawl to take place. The prince complains of their being three civil brawls because of an, ‘airy word’. This again illustrates the hatred between the two families is like a volcano waiting to erupt.
The first time that love is introduced to the play is with the entrance of Romeo. Romeo seems to portray the conventional lover of the Courtly tradition of Elizabethan times. He is the pining lover whose love is unrequited.
Romeo also represents himself as the pining lover with the use of oxymorons. When he says, ‘ oh brawling love, oh brawling hate’ it emphasises that love shall run concurrently alongside hatred.
In scene two we come across a man named Paris who has been chosen as the suitor to take Juliet’s hand in Marriage.
In scene three we also get our first glimpse of Juliet. When we first see her she seems to come across as a very obedient and respectful young girl.
During this scene Capulet organises an annual feast to which most of the people in the town are invited except for the Montagues. Benvolio sees this as an opportunity for Romeo to see that there are other girls and to get over his unrequited love fro Rosaline. Benvolio persuades Romeo to go even though it is dangerous and he is not invited.
While at the function his love for Rosaline fizzles out as he finds his new love in Juliet. He falls in love with her at first sight, ‘ what lady’s that which don’t enrich the hand’, he says to the serving man. Ironically he has had a dream that this night would lead to an untimely death. Again the audience see the path of love cannot run its course alone, it will always run alongside hatred and tragedy.
At the feast Romeo is recognised by Tybalt. Tybalt wants to challenge Romeo immediately however he is stopped by Capulet. Romeo is not aware of this and goes across to Juliet. They both indulge in a conversation, which sees them talk in the language of love in the form of a sonnet. Both are besotted with each other and seem to have fallen in love. Things do not stay too rosy for long though. As Juliet finds out that Romeo is a Monatgue she does not know what to think.
She says, ‘ my only love sprung from my only hate!’ again we see that love is running concurrently alongside hatred in the play.
It also very ironic that she states, ‘ if he be married my grave is like to be my wedding bed. Here Shakespeare uses dramatic irony, as the audience know that love of these two lovers will end in tragedy.
After the feast Romeo sneaks out into Capulet’s orchard where he hears Juliet talking about him she says, ‘ what’s in name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell so sweet;’ again Shakespeare reminds us that there us such hatred between the two families that not even the power of love can make one forget about the hatred.
While Romeo is talking to Juliet she warns him that if he is seen then he would be killed, ‘ if they see thee they will murder thee’. Shakespeare keeps giving us constant reminders about the deeply entrenched hatred between the two families.
As this hatred runs in the background the two young teenagers decide to get married. Romeo is overwhelmed with joy and runs straight to Friar Lawrence to arrange the marriage. At first the friar is annoyed is annoyed that Romeo tends to fall in love with one woman to another at great ease, however then he agrees to the marriage hoping that it will end the feud between the two families,’ for this alliance may so happy prove to turn your household rancour to pure love.’
I believe this is another example of love and hatred running side by side however this time I believe that love is trying to cure hatred instead of running beside it.
As the play enters act 3 the whole pace of the action escalates. The theme of hatred now comes to the forefront.
Romeo is unaware if the challenge sent by Tybalt for a fight. In the public place of Verona Mercutio and Tybalt are spitting insults to each other and both are up for a fight. A happily in love Romeo appears on the scene. Unaware of any challenge by Tybalt he refuses to fight him. Romeo being married to Juliet knows he must know love him as Tybalt is Julliets cousin, ‘ Tybalt the reason I have to love thee doth much excuse the appertaining rage’ yet Tyblat thinks this is an insult while Mercutio thinks Romeo is being a coward. Mecutio draws and fights with Tybalt. Love given by Romeo is again followed by the hatred in Tybalt and Mercutio.
While they fight Romeo tries to keep the peace but fails to do and instead inadvertently provided Tybalt with an opportunity to stab him. Mercutio knowing he is in his last hour blames is premature death on the hatred the two houses have. ‘ a plague on both your houses.’
Angered by the death of his friend Romeo is filled with hatred for Tybalt , Romeo runs after Tybalt and both men fight in which Tybalt is later slain. It is very ironic that in a matter of minutes that Romeo’s love Tybalt changes into such hatred that he is driven to kill him. Again we see love running concurrently alongside hate. For Romeo it is such a mess and he calls himself, ‘ fortunes fool’ Romeo is banished from Verona as a consequence by the prince.
It is ironic that Romeo tried to make all the trouble stop when he inadvertently was the main cause of the problem.
When Juliet finds out about the death of her cousin she is confused and is torn between love and hate. Juliet accuses Romeo of being beautiful yet acting vividly, ‘ beautiful, tyrant, fiend angelical dove feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb.’ The nurse also attacks Romeo however Juliet changes her tone and stands up for him. She realises that if Tybalt had live then Romeo would have dies. She is distraught that Romeo has been banished.
Juliet being distraught over Romeos banishment led to her father coming up with a solution. Capulet thinks that if she were to marry Paris it would cheer her up however she refuses. This leads to Capulet becoming angry. He insults her many times with very strong hatred; ‘ out you green sickness carrion!’ at this moment the audience see how hatred can be ignited so quickly. From Capulet loving his daughter he changes in a flash and no longer seems to want to know her until she obeys him.
It is dramatically ironic because the audience know the real reason she is not doing it however for her there is no way out. Friar Lawrence comes up with a cunning plan. He suggests that Juliet should take a potion so she can be assumed to be dead. This would the lead to her being put in the tomb this giving the opportunity for Romeo to break in and run away with her.
At times Juliet has doubts about such a plan. She believes the friar may be suggesting such a plan to save himself in addition she is also scared that the potion may kill her and she may never way wake up. However her love for Romeo helps her over comes her doubts and fears to got through with the plan. At his moment it is possible to suggest that Juliet’s love can conquer all doubts and fears yet it has proved impossible to conquer hate.
As Juliet takes the potion the plan seems to be going well as Juliet has been submitted into the tomb and everyone is thinking she is dead. Friar Lawrence sent another letter Vai another friar to tell Romeo of his cunning plan so that he can save her. However Romeos servant gets there before him and gives Romeo a message thinking that Juliet is dead. Romeo horrified that the love of his love is dead. In fact he is so grieved by the fact he purchases poison. When he sees Juliet in the tomb he takes the poison while the audience know she is not really dead. Romeo had killed Paris in the meantime, as he would not let him enter the tomb.
Juliet then wakes up to find Romeo dead and thus in a consequence of her grief she takes her life ending her love affair with Romeo on earth
One would have thought these happenings would have led to such great anger between the families it would be unbearable to watch unfold. However the audience witnesses the opposite. The prince tries to make them see what their hate has caused, ‘ see what scourge is laid upon your hate.’ For once their hatred is put aside and they begin to see the folly. Capulet gesture to Montague proves it this, ‘ o brother Montague, give me thy hand.’ Montague in return offers to build a statue of Juliet in gold.
In this play the audience saw how love ran concurrently alongside hatred through out the whole of the play. Wherever there was love for someone there was hatred for someone else. In the end we saw what many had tried to do in their life to bring peace to the house of Montague and Capulet but never succeeded. Neither the church nor the state could bring peace. It would appear that the power of love is stronger than both. Romeo and Juliet managed to bring peace by their death while many were unsuccessful when they were alive