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'Discuss the role of parents and parent substitutes in Romeo and Juliet. How responsible are these adults in the tragedy?'

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet: A study of the play Jaffar Al-Rikabi 11E 'Discuss the role of parents and parent substitutes in Romeo and Juliet. How responsible are these adults in the tragedy?' Through Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare presented society a drama that touched on many aspects concerning human condition. The drama, when studied closely, deals with many universal truths including young love, the family unit, the role of fate and destiny, isolation and the effect of society on every individual. For one to judge how responsible the role of parents and parent substitutes in this tragedy, other important characters and issues must also be taken into consideration. Shakespeare established Romeo and Juliet's love as the main focus in this tragic drama. Two young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, cannot understand the hatred of the older generation that keeps them apart, and choose to end their lives themselves rather than live without each other. The couple fall in love with each other at first sight, and not even the deaths of their relatives and friends put an end to the deep affections they have for each other. Through the drama, Shakespeare expressed sympathy to young lovers. Romeo and Juliet are the innocent victims of greed, macho behaviour, pride and prejudice of their parents and of society as a whole. Shakespeare wants society to be more tender when treating young lovers, to listen and to understand their points of view - even if it means forgetting about one's pride or an ancient family feud: "Deny thy father and refuse thy name...And I'll no longer be a Capulet". It is this point that the Capulet's family, the Montague's family or the Friar failed to do, and as a result of this Romeo and Juliet's love became their downfall. The Montague family appears early in the play. Although Lord Montague is as keen to fight as is his counterpart, Lord Capulet, there is also a seeming gentleness and caring about the parents. ...read more.

Middle

Theirs is an adult vision, somewhat sullied by time and experience. Both families thus present obstacles to the smooth course of love anticipated by their children. The very feud in which they are involved creates a barrier between all the citizens of Verona - and this includes their own children. For one, Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, is a classic example of a character that comes across as defiant and antagonistic. He is a hot-headed and fiery character, and instead of helping ease the feud, he embodies the very spirit of it and is totally devoted to the violence that keeps it alive. His fiery temper could be seen in his reaction in Act 1, scene 5, as on seeing Romeo, he declares: 'Now by the stock and honour of my kin, To strike him dead I hold it not a sin.' After being held by Capulet, who seemed concerned only to preserve his self-respect by ensuring the party is a success, Tybalt replies: '...this is a Montague, our foe', and ends the argument with Capulet with a statement that he shall not endure Romeo once the party is over: 'I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall/ Now seeming sweet, convert to bitt'rest gall'. There is no character development here: from the moment Tybalt appears to the time of his death, we are confronted by a young man whose life revolves around violence, fighting and action. There is a reckless bravado to Tybalt, a loyalty only to family and fighting. He prompts Romeo to violence, creating the circumstances that lead to Romeo's banishment - and thus he too shares a great proportion of the responsibility of Romeo and Juliet's death and is a man well deserving of the title, 'Prince of Cats' in Act 2, scene 4, and later, 'King of Cats' in Act 3, scene 1. The role played by Mercutio in the fatal duel which ultimately resulted in the Friar's plan and then Romeo and Juliet's death is a noteworthy one, and must also be taken into account. ...read more.

Conclusion

Juliet is left to ponder her fate, alone in her bedroom, while Romeo, alone in Mantua, awaits a letter from the Friar. For this, the two families are partly to blame. However, Shakespeare, through Romeo and Juliet, feels that isolation is not only due to the lack of support by one's family but also by society as a whole. He urges every individual to play a more active role in ensuring that every person in his/her society does not feel alone, and that he/she has a sense of belonging to that particular society. The ancient feud between the Capulet and Montague households which, led to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, could have been prevented from escalating and even dissolved had society played a more active role. On the whole, the role of parents or parent substitutes is an important factor in the happiness of their children. In Romeo and Juliet, the mistakes made by the Montague and Capulet households were partly to blame for the tragic ending of the play, but many other factors also contributed. For one, the role of fate and destiny, the other, the effects isolation has on an individual. Society as a whole is also to blame, as for example, the feelings of isolation and desperation that both Romeo and Juliet experienced towards the end of the play could have both been avoided had individuals in their society played a more active role in bringing the two families together and in ensuring its youth is not lost as a consequence of this ancient feud. Through this tragic play, Shakespeare wants his audience to be aware that although destiny and fate play a major role in every person's life, tragedies like the death of Romeo and Juliet can be prevented if the older generation's greed, desire for wealth, self-pride and prejudice are forgotten during situations of immense importance and complexity. It is the fact that Romeo and Juliet's death could have been so easily avoidable, that makes this drama the tragedy it is: "For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo" ...read more.

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