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Violence and conflict are central to Romeo and Juliet. Explore Shakespeares presentation of this theme with reference to at least three scenes in the play.

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Introduction

Alice Swetenham 'Violence and conflict are central to Romeo and Juliet. Explore Shakespeare's presentation of this theme with reference to at least three scenes in the play.' In Romeo and Juliet there are two families; the Montagues and the Capulets. These two families have a rivalry against each other. There are a lot of ways that Shakespeare expresses these rivalries and conflicts. I aim to discuss these points by looking at a number of scenes in detail. The play begins with a fight between the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo is depressed that someone he loves will not recognize him. So he goes to a party to forget about her. There he meets Juliet and they fall in love straight away. He finds out that she is a Capulet and he is a Montague. He decides that he loves her anyway and shows it in the famous "balcony scene" in which they agree to secretly marry each other. Juliet's father has already planned for her to marry Paris. The Friar marries them hoping that the union will help to stop the two families fighting. Unfortunately the fighting gets worse and Mercutio, Romeo's best friend, is killed by Tybalt, a Capulet. Romeo seeks revenge and kills Juliet's cousin. ...read more.

Middle

They are so riled up they too want to start fighting, but their wives won't let them. At this point the prince of Verona enters and tells them to stop fighting, talking to everyone involved, tells the two families that their ancient hate has caused the previously peaceful citizens of Verona to resort to picking up weapons to try and cease the hatred. "If ever you disturb our streets again, your lives will pay the forfeit of the peace", he explains to the families that if they are caught fighting again, they will be punished with death. The first scene prepares us for the rest of the play, giving us the idea that it might be full of conflict and violence. We see right from the start how strong the two families' hatred for each other is so we expect to see more conflict and violence throughout the rest of the play. This first scene also gives us some background on the city of Verona and its citizens. The speech that the prince gives to everyone tells us that before the Montague's and Capulet's rivalry began the citizens of Verona were peaceful and less violent. The only reason they have started fighting is to try and put an end to all the arguments. ...read more.

Conclusion

Paris accuses Romeo for being the reason of Juliet's death. Paris says Romeo should die, Romeo agrees but not to be punished, only to be with Juliet. He tells Paris to leave so that he can kill himself, but Paris keeps on provoking him, this causes them to fight. "Wilt thou provoke me? Then have at thee, boy!" In Romeo's last speech he displays how distraught he is and how much he loved Juliet, and then tragically drinks the poison and kills himself. The deaths of Paris and Romeo seem so unnecessary and sad to the audience because we know that Juliet isn't actually dead. Shakespeare makes Juliet's death more violent and gruesome then Romeo's to really shock the audience. Although the play has a fair amount of comedy optimism and romance, it ends in a heartbreaking catastrophe. It leaves the audience feeling incredibly frustrated as they can see that all the deaths could have been avoided. However, Shakespeare manages to lift the mood ever so slightly at the end by showing that the rival families learnt from the tragedy, finally putting their differences aside. Shakespeare was effective in what he was trying to achieve which was to show that minor feuds can turn into much bigger ones and ultimately led to deaths and tragedies. Although the play is enjoyable to read or watch, it ends shockingly. ...read more.

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