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In Romeo and Juliet there are lots of opposing themes. Explore how the themes of life and death are presented throughout the play.

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Introduction

Kelly Ide 10G 10/04/2003 In Romeo and Juliet there are lots of opposing themes. Explore how the themes of life and death are presented throughout the play. From the beginning of Romeo and Juliet we are introduced to the themes of life and death, death in particular. In the prologue we are told that the play will result in two deaths, those of the "star-crossed lovers". We are also told that "ancient grudge break to new mutiny", which again informs the audience of the fate the play is bound to. The "new mutiny" is shown in Act 1 Scene 1 when Abram, Sampson, Gregory and Tybalt fight, the reason being that they are from the opposing houses, which bear the "ancient grudge" that the prologue described to the audience. Tybalt, from the Capulet house challenges Benvolio of the Montague house. Tybalt is described as "fiery" and he says to Benvolio "Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death", believing Benvolio to be involved when he in fact was attempting to cease the fighting. This scene is used to great affect, as it is shows the conflict between the houses at the beginning of the play to ensure the audience know of the conflict, and will later comprehend that it is the cause of all the deaths throughout the play. Prince Escales of Verona eventually stops the fight, and informs Lords Capulet and Montague that, should there be another brawl, "Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace". ...read more.

Middle

They fight, and Romeo parts them, but Mercutio is stabbed under Romeo's arm. Mercutio plagues both the houses, as it is due to their grudge that he lost his life. Having witnessed the death of his friend, Romeo abandons his maturity and attacks Tybalt, resulting in Tybalt's death. He runs, scared of the punishment the law commands - death. This is in comparison to the beginning of the play when he was unaware of the fear death can bring. At the end of the scene Benvolio, having told the Prince what happened, proclaims, "This is the truth, or let Benvolio die". This is the second time he has used his life as a guarantee, for at the beginning of the play he vowed to die if he could not persuade Romeo to love another women. Prince Escales decides the punishments, and is persuaded by Lord Montague that, "His fault concludes but what the law should end/ The life of Tybalt". He reduces Romeo's punishment to banishment, but vows that in future he will be "deaf to pleading and excuses", as he has lost his kinsman, Mercutio. In scene 2 Juliet is told by the nurse, "he's dead, he's dead, he's dead!" and she believes it to be Romeo. She asks "Can heaven be so envious?", but the nurse replies, "Romeo can, though heaven cannot". When Juliet discovers that Tybalt is dead and Romeo banished, she says it is worse than her mother, father, Tybalt, herself and Romeo being dead. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is showing how life is trapped and bound to death. In scene 3, death is personified again, this time by Romeo. It is compared to a dirty mouth, eating all that is good, and it is shown how death leads to more death. Paris believes that Romeo killed Tybalt, which in turn led to Juliet's death. However it is shown how there are different types of death. By being arrested and killed or by your own free will, which is how Romeo wants to die. On entering the tomb, the connection is shown again between life and death, when Romeo says how Juliet looks alive when he believes she is dead. Death is personified again, and then Romeo dies for his love, unaware she is to wake up only minutes later. Meanwhile, outside, Balthasar is scared of death, in comparison with Romeo who wanted to die. Juliet awakes to find Romeo dead, and chooses to take her life too. She is only 13 and has her whole life ahead of her, but chooses to die for love. This shows again the great relationship between love and death in the play. Another example is that throughout the play there is a love triangle between Romeo, Juliet and Paris; and in the end all three die for love. However love is also linked to life, as the deaths draw the families together and they vow to honour Romeo and Juliet's lives. Throughout the play Shakespeare shows obvious empathy, and clearly shows the links between life, love and death. They are very strongly related, and many links are shown throughout Romeo and Juliet. ...read more.

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