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Discuss the role of parents and parent substitutes in Romeo and Juliet

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Introduction

Discuss the role of parents and parent substitutes in Romeo and Juliet. How responsible are these adults for the tragedy? I prefer to think of Romeo and Juliet as a love story with a tragic ending rather than a classic tragedy, because the love Romeo and Juliet find and share is beautiful and inspiring: there is nothing tragic about it. Juliet My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep. The more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite. [Act 2, Scene 2, 133-35] Their heart-rending deaths are of course tragic, resulting as they do from an unforeseeable flaw in Friar Laurence's well-intentioned but unlikely plan. Their lives, however, serve to prove that young love is viable, that young people know what they want and will go to extreme lengths to find it. The fair (ie beautiful) city of Verona is a city of promise, one where young love can flourish; it is also a city where swords are drawn in an instant and where life can perish on a sword-point. ...read more.

Middle

The Nurse carries out the necessary role of go-between in the early stages of the relationship and the Friar marries them. In the crisis caused by Tybalt's death and Romeo's banishment, the Nurse fails Juliet completely by taking the easy way out. Nurse I think it best you married with the County. O, he's a lovely gentleman! Romeo's a dishclout to him. [Act 3, Scene 5, 218-220] The Friar is better intentioned than the Nurse but his plans still go astray because of ill chance or fate. Fr Laurence Romeo! O, pale! Who else? What, Paris too? And steeped in blood? Ah, what an unkind hour Is guilty of this lamentable chance! [Act 5, Scene 3, 144-46] It is significant that the two young people rely on people outside of their own families. In seeking love they must avoid the hatred that has become enshrined in their families' feuding. Where Romeo's parents are concerned but indulgent, Juliet's parents are domineering and dictatorial. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, their fate is in the hands of others, all adults. They themselves are virtually powerless to change circumstances to their advantage; so, when Romeo acts impulsively on misinformation Romeo Is it e'en so? Then I defy you, stars! [Act 5, Scene 1, l 24] we wish him the best but fear the worst. In an inflexible world ruled by adults, the chances of teenagers succeeding against the odds are slim. We cannot lay the blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet exclusively at the doors of their parents, real or surrogate. It is as the Prince gravely states - all are punished. The feuding families have to bear the guilt equally for their lingering enmity. A tale of young love, with all its promise, has become a catalogue of death. In the end the city has lost five young citizens, cut down before their time. Society is the poorer for the losses. Those who survive share the blame for what has happened, since the whole city has had a hand, directly or indirectly, in the deaths. All are indeed punished. ...read more.

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