ThemesExplored in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
Romeoand Juliet isa tragedy written by Shakespeare during his early career years. Theplay is about two young lovers, whose deaths at the end reconciletheir conflicting families. Romeoand Juliet remainsone of the most performed Shakespeare`s works due to its richness inthemes explored. The play mainly revolves around the topic of lovebetween the two young characters Romeo and Juliet. Additionally,Shakespeare has successfully explored other themes in this play suchas family, death, fate among others. This essay, therefore, aims atanalyzing four of the themes explored in Romeoand Julietnamely: love, fate, family, and mortality.
Shakespeare’sRomeoand Julietplay is mainly based on the theme of love. From the starting to theend, Shakespeare presents Romeo, a character who seems to believe inlove throughout the play. The kind of love explored in this play canbe described as romantic and intensive. In Act I Scene I, Romeo iscompletely obsessed with Rosaline even though Rosaline is not intohim. When Romeo is not daydreaming about Rosaline in his room, he ishanging out in a place where people sick with love often visit.However, despite the fact that Shakespeare presents an intensiveromantic love in his play, this kind of love is immature andshort-lived. The moment Romeo sets his eyes on Juliet he immediatelyfalls in love and forgets whether Rosaline ever existed.
InRomeoand Juliet, loveis a very powerful force that surpasses all other values, familyboundaries, and beliefs. In the whole play, the young lovers breakall social boundaries to be in love. In Act 2 Scene 2, Juliet says "ORomeo, Romeo! ….reject thy father and refuse thy name. Or, if thouwilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”Romeo was willing to return to Verona and even face death after beingthrown out by the Prince just for the sake of his love, Juliet. Lovein Romeoand Julietis a controlling passion that determines almost each character’sfate. In Act III, Scene I, the love between Romeo and Mercutio asfriends leads the latter to an early grave while fighting with Tybaltto protect Romeo. Later, Romeo dies while avenging his friend’sdeath.
Thetheme of love in Romeoand Julietextends behold the two young lovers. Throughout the play, manycharacters talk about love. Mercutio does not believe in love. Hethinks that, love is just a mere excuse for people to indulge insexual pleasures and makes a man weak and foolish. On the other hand,Lady Capulet thinks that love comes as a result of wealth and goodlooks. She believes that since Paris is handsome and wealthy, hisdaughter Juliet will automatically fall in love with him and agree tomarry him.
Fromthe starting of the play, one cannot fail to predict that the intenseand powerful love described by Shakespeare will end in tragedy.Shakespeare describes the two young lovers as “star-crossed lovers”meaning that their relationship will end with death. In Act, I, Sceneii, as the servant to Lord Capulet looks for someone who can read theguest list to him, Romeo and Benvolio enter. This is an incidentwhere the Capulet servant accidently meets these two characters whocan read accentuating the importance of fate in the play. Romeoclaims that, it is a fortune to read meaning "luck" has ledto meet Capulet`s servant to him, and this scene prepares the readerfor the catastrophic inescapability of the play.
Justlike love, fate in Romeo and Juliet has a significantinfluence on many of the events in the play. Fate is mostly blamed oralmost all the bad things that happen to people. In Romeo andJuliet, Romeo claims that fate led Mercutio to his death, and thesame fate has led him to kill Tybalt to avenge his best friend`sdemise. However, in a real sense, Mercutio`s death, and even that ofRomeo are as a result of wrong choice and loss of self-control andnot fate. For instance, while it may seem like fate played a crucialrole in Juliet`s death, it is instead Capulet`s loss of control andFriar`s weakness to remain committed to his course that causes herdeath.
Thejourney of the play is the cycle from love to death, and that is whatmakes Romeo and Julie so lasting and influential. In theplay Romeo and Juliet, death is everywhere. From the beginning, theplay is structured in a manner that the reader can easily tell thatthe intense, immature and short-lived love between Romeo and Julietwill end with either one or both of them dead. Shakespeare develops astrong bond between Romeo and Juliet within a short time making thereader aware that the relationship will end tragically and abruptlyjust as it grew at first sight.
AfterMercutio’s death, one cannot fail to recognize that there will bemore deaths. This is based on the premise that, Shakespeare makesseveral references suggesting that Juliet’s bridegroom is death. InAct I, scene v when the Capulet party is almost ending, Juliet sendsthe Nurse to go and find out Romeo`s name. She says "If hehappens to be married then my grave will be my wedding bed." Bythis she meant that if Romeo was married, she would remain unmarriedtill death. However, she unknowingly foreshadows her fate based onthe fact that as the play ends, the grave becomes her wedding bed.The young lovers Romeo and Juliet consider death in various ways. Forinstance, when Romeo wants to commit suicide in Act III, he considersdeath as a way of evading problems in life. On the other hand, Julietbelieves that death is equivalent to Romeo`s absence in her life.When Romeo is banished she says "………… and death, notRomeo, take my maidenhead!" (Act III, scene ii).
Inthe play, Romeoand JulietShakespeare has painted family to be a strong bond of loyalty notjust between father, mother and their children, but as the union thatexists among the members of a clan as a whole. In this play, everyperson in a family starting from the head of the household to thelowly servants is expected to be loyal and faithful to theirfamilies. Some beliefs and practices bond a family, and it is anabomination to go against them. For instance, the affair betweenRomeo and Juliet from different opposing families is considered as atotal betrayal of their family values and beliefs. Juliet as aCapulet is ready to get any punishment for betraying her family toget married to Romeo, a Montague, and the worst rivals to theCapulet`s.
Shakespearehas portrayed family in this love story, as a source of andconflicts. However, family in this play has been described to havesuch strong bond having significant influence on people`s lives. Nomatter how hard Romeo and Juliet try to escape from this strongrelationship, they do not succeed. In Act III, Scene I, Romeo curseboth the Montague`s and Capulet`s and tries overcome the rivalrybetween the two families for him to stop fighting Tybalt but hefails. In fact, the relationship between Romeo and Juliet does notlast long as the family social bonds disintegrated, an act thatleads them to an early grave.
Fromthe essay, it is clear that Shakespeare has successfully exploredvarious themes in his play, Romeo,and Juliet.From the beginning to its end, the play revolves around the topic oflove. The two primary characters Romeo and Juliet have been used inthis play to teach the audience on the issues surrounding romanticlove between young lovers. Pertaining family, Shakespeare paints thisinstitution as one that is bond by loyalty and faithfulness. Fate andmortality are the other two themes that are clearly brought out fromthe onset of the play. One cannot fail to recognize the unfortunatefate of the intense love between Romeo and Juliet that leads them toan early grave. In conclusion, Romeo and Juliet is a dramatic playthat has explored various important themes, thus leaving the audienceinformed on various issues affecting love during that era.
GibsonRex& SmithRobert. Romeoand Juliet.CambridgeUniversity Press 4 edition, 2014.