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Throughout the iconic Shakespearean play “Romeo and Juliet,” external forces, particularly those coming from the ongoing vendetta between the families of Montagues and Capulets, continuously challenge the passionate love the characters have for each other.
While these misunderstandings try to destroy Romeo and Juliet’s love, they, in fact, make it even stronger. Various scenes throughout the play show the tension between Mercutio and Tybalt, miscommunications between Juliet and her parents, and hatred between the Montagues and Capulets. All these things illustrate that outside forces serve to strengthen Romeo and Juliet’s love.
In this essay, I will elaborate on how Shakespeare created conditions that were supposed to separate the lovers but, in reality, only drove them closer together, as well as how love is portrayed in a beautiful play known to everybody, “Romeo and Juliet.”
Violence and love that lead to Romeo’s transformation
The brawl between Mercutio and Tybalt proves the love Romeo has for Juliet despite the hatred between their loved ones. As Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, approaches Mercutio, one of Romeo’s servants, a fight begins. When Romeo comes, he intrudes and insists they stop quarreling. Tybalt mocks Romeo, telling him, “No better term than this, thou art a villain!”
This interaction results in Mercutio forcing Romeo to choose his loyalties. As a Montague, he must defend his family name in front of the crows and fight Tybalt. In contrast, the conflict only drives Romeo closer to his new bride, whom he has secretly married.
Rather than using violence against Tybalt, Romeo aspires to share his love with Juliet: “Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee / Doth many excuses the appertaining rage / To such a greeting.” Romeo’s love has changed him, wiping away the lines between the Montagues and the Capulets: “And so, good Capulet–which name I tender / As dearly as my own–be satisfied.”
Even though Romeo eventually kills Tybalt, his loyalty to Juliet perseveres despite the rivalry between the two families. Through Romeo’s transformation, Shakespeare shows how love is portrayed in “Romeo and Juliet.” The audience senses that love is stronger than hate.
Testing The Love Between Juliet And Romeo
Similarly, Juliet’s parents find ways to challenge the characters’ relationship, which unexpectedly strengthens their connection. When Juliet opposes marrying Paris, Sir Capulet becomes furious and threatens to disown Juliet: “An you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend. / An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets, / For, by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee”. While the reader expects Juliet to follow her father’s will, the heroine does the opposite and turns to Friar Lawrence for help. Juliet’s father’s ultimatum drives Juliet to give up her life as a Capulet and to seek out Romeo.
Juliet complains to Friar Lawrence that it would be easier to die than live without Romeo: “O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris, / From off the battlements of yonder tower; / … And I will do it without fear or doubt, / To live an unstained wife to my sweet love”. By showing the audience that Juliet is ready to sacrifice her life not to marry someone other than Romeo, Shakespeare reveals that true love can overcome any obstacles.
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How hatred fuels love
In addition to all the challenges the couple has to conquer on the way to eternal love, the most significant one is the hatred between the two Verona families. Since they can not see each other publicly, the young lovers are forced to set secret meetings. The lack of constant contact and communication makes Romeo and Juliet, whose love for each other grows stronger daily, meet away from strangers’ eyes so that no one finds out. Shakespeare creates unforgettable Romeo monologues proclaiming the character’s love for Juliet. Romeo describes her magnificent beauty, saying Juliet “teach[es] the torches to burn bright” and “hangs upon the cheek of night / Like a rich jewel.”
One of the choruses illustrates how because of the rivalry, Romeo can’t be with Juliet as much as his soul desires: “Being held a foe, he may not have the access / To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear.” Even without constant contact, Romeo and Juliet’s relationship evolves, as seen in the words they use to express their love for each other. During their date at the quarters of Friar Lawrence, Romeo says, “Ah, Juliet, if the measure of thy joy / Be heaped like mine … / then sweeten with thy breath / This neighbor air, and let rich music’s tongue / Unfold the imagined happiness that both / Receive in either by this dear encounter.”
Shakespeare’s comparison of love to the sound of “rich music” restates how deep Romeo’s love is for Juliet. Similarly, Juliet says her feelings for Romeo deepen with every breath: “true love is grown to such excess / I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth.”
At first, the romantic hero compares Juliet to a jewel. However, as the actions in the play progress, Romeo and Juliet refer to their love as something that cannot be measured or quantified, that their connection is richer than any ornament ever created by any artist.
By showing the advancement of Romeo and Juliet’s love, despite the limited time the young people spent together, the author draws our attention to a simple detail that “passion lends them power,” and love always beats hatred.
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Romeo and Juliet’s love is tested repeatedly throughout the play, especially by outside forces, such as their families. But, rather than fading, their love evolves until they decide to take their lives rather than letting their families do everything to keep them apart.
Their neverending passion for overcoming obstacles on their way convinces the reader that love is more powerful than hatred. Ironically, although the relationship between Romeo and Juliet was never enough to end the feud and unite their families, their death enabled the Capulets and the Montagues to negotiate and find peace. It finishes with families’ vows to raise statues of Romeo and Juliet in Verona so that their love can remind everyone about the power the love bears.
- Shakespeare, W. (1993). Romeo and Juliet. Dover Publications.