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Conflict in Romeo and Juliet Opening Scenes

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The opening scenes of Romeo & Juliet show a lot of conflict both between the opposing families and within each one. Perhaps Shakespeare was influenced for the tragedy by all of the conflict he had personally experienced, such as the death of his son and allegations of having an affair. This play is similar to other Shakespeare classics such as Macbeth; they both contain treachery and death. Shakespeare presents the theme of conflict when servants of the two house holds are eager to fight each other, but do not want to throw the first punch: Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir? Sampson: No sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb sir. Here the use of the word sir is ambiguous; while it is potentially a polite greeting, it is more likely to be a sarcastic comment. One might conclude that Sampson biting his thumb, but not at Abraham, is an attempt to provoke the Capulets into starting a "civil brawl" In contrast, Shakespeare shows internal friction within the Capulet household between Juliet and Lady Capulet: Lady Capulet: Marry that marry is the very theme I came to talk of. Tell me daughter Juliet, How stands your disposition to be married? Juliet: It is an honour that I dream not of. Here Lady Capulet is questioning Juliet, asking her if she wants to get married. ...read more.


Lord Capulet is not accepting Paris's proposal as he thinks his "child" is too young to get married; he thinks that she is too inexperienced, still a "stranger" to the world. However Lord Capulet does not fully deny Paris's proposal, as he says "let two more summers wither in their pride" meaning that in two years he will be happy to marry off Juliet as she should be ready. This however, is ambiguous because although Capulet may mean what he says; it is also possible that he is trying to buy time to find another groom for Juliet, as he does not like Paris. Paris replies to Capulet's point that Juliet is too young by saying "Younger than she are happy mothers made" this means that there are younger women out there who have not only been married, but have given birth, happily, also. Again Shakespeare shows conflict within a family; however this time it is the Montague family: Benvolio: At this same ancient feast of Capulet's Sups the fair Rosaline whom thou so lovest, With all the admired beauties of Verona: Go tither; and, with un attainted eye, Compare her face with some that I shall show And I will make thee think thy swan a crow. Romeo: When the devout religion of mine eye Maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fires; And these, who often drown'd could never die, Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars! ...read more.


When he discovers what Tybalt is about to do he commands him to leave Romeo alone: "let him alone" then he angers Tybalt by instructing him to stop frowning; put on a smile and mingle with the guests. Tybalt, with such a hate of the Montagues, argues with his uncle: "I'll not endure him". Capulet responds with opposite orders: "he shall be endured", this is an example of direct conflict. In conclusion, this play, written for the Elizabethan audience, is a perfect example of good overcoming evil; as Romeo, who killed Tybalt in revenge ends up dead too. Although may not be seen as morally correct in 2007 it would have been at the time of the play. All of the conflict in the opening scenes are still present in today's modern world as young women fall in love with men, who their family do not deem fit to be a groom; and are forced to make the choice of abandoning their family's with their love to start a new family or put aside their feelings and stay with their family. The massive hatred between the two families is also seen every day in all parts of the world as gangs form and create rivalry such as the bloods and the crips. When these gangs are formed innocent lives are lost; these are reflected in the form of Mercutio and Juliet. Kyle McGrath How does Shakespeare present the theme of conflict in the opening scenes of Romeo& Juliet? ...read more.

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