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Who or What Caused the Deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

WHO OR WHAT CAUSED THE DEATHS OF ROMEO AND JULIET? The catastrophic tragedy, 'Romeo and Juliet' written by Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare tells the story of two ill-fated teenagers living in the hostile city of Verona although the language used reminds us of seventeenth century England. Born as one another's foe, the two hapless strangers meet and instantly fall in love igniting a chain of events ultimately leading to calamity. Romeo and Juliet are born to families who have been feuding with each other for many years. There are many reasons which amount to cause the melancholy conclusion but some are more responsible that the others. It is perceptible that fate, puerile passion and the ferocious feud between the Montague and the Capulet families are hugely to blame for the death of the adolescent couple but there are some less apparent factors, which are equally to blame. 'Romeo and Juliet' is as play filled with characters from many different classes that made up contemporary society. These range from servants to nobles and even a prince. In order to identify social class and also to establish the individuality of each character, the playwright varies the language they use. The complexity of the words and the imagery employed will also indicate role, class, intelligence, education and status. Romeo, a Montague, is an amorously apt young man desperately in love with a lady called Rosaline to whom he has never met, until he meets Juliet and finds himself longing for her affection. His parents are very much active in the feud and do not converse or look after their son. Benvolio, Romeo's best friend is an intense and insightful young man, whose name meaning 'good will' indicates his pacifying role. Romeo's other friend Mercutio is in complete contrast to Benvolio, he is aggressive and his belligerence, which is shown in both his dialogue and his action, incites a swordfight, which has a critical and disastrous consequence affecting every character in the play. ...read more.

Middle

By line sixty, Tybalt has noticed Romeo and immediately tries to concoct a war, "Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe: A villain that is hither come in spite, To scorn at or solemnity this night." Tybalt uses the word, "Foe". It is obvious that Tybalt sees Romeo as his enemy despite the Prince's words of warning. He also call Romeo a, "Villain". This emphasises the point of Tybalt's angry and aggressive temperament. Tybalt's anger is clear and he wishes to seek revenge. Tybalt is not content with Verona and the two feuding families being at peace. He tries to kill Romeo but instead kills Mercutio. Tybalt is enraged further when his uncle and leader of the household ignores this fact and wishes to end the civil brawl which tears and divides Verona. Upon meeting one another, both Romeo and Juliet immediately fall in love. Romeo forgets about his love for Rosaline and now seems infatuated by Juliet. Unaware to whom he is talking to, Romeo professes, "If I profane with my unworthiest hand This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this, My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss." Romeo's speech is written as a sonnet using rhyme. I think Shakespeare uses this technique in order to reveal the awkwardness and irresistibility of the situation. This is far from the petrachan love we saw earlier. This type of love is in complete contrast of his love with Rosaline as he has actually spoken to his beloved. Romeo's love can be questioned as he has fallen in and out of love very easily. Juliet's immediate response to Romeo's approach, shares his image and matches the four rhyming lines of his quatrain, "Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, Which mannerly devotion shows in this, For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch, And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss." ...read more.

Conclusion

It may have been bad luck. Fortune is fickle so it may be that no one is to blame, only a series of accidents. This can be supported by the accidental meeting of Peter carrying the Capulet invitation list; the non-delivery of the Friar's letter to Romeo and Mercutio's unfortunate death. Also, adolescence and young love can be to blame. It may be that the folly of Romeo and Juliet in their youthful haste and passion is at fault. This leaves the audience wondering, is adolescent love at first sight the cause of tragedy? The deaths may have been caused by the enmity of the Montague and the Capulet's. The two families struggle for power in Verona. Their 'ancient grudge' breaks 'to new mutiny' at the start of the play. A stiff-necked code of humour makes the young men spring to violent, bloody action. Tybalt feels that the 'honour of my kin' has been insulted by Romeo's presence at the Capulet banquet. Romeo is provoked into 'fire-eyed fury' by the death of Mercutio. He embraces the revenge code that governs relationships between the two rival factions of the Verona Mafiosi. Romeo's character evolves from a friendly, shy and helpful young man to a more vicious sadistic killer who murders more than once out of revenge and anger. His evolution sparks many events to spiral out of human control leaving it up to fate to decide on the outcome. Romeo clearly changes upon meeting the second love of his life. Although he tries to be a good citizen, his lust for Juliet's lips will allow him to do anything to get what he wants. Even murder. It is apparent that the two main factors in the death of the young couple, Romeo and Juliet are the feud and fate. They helped intricate the tragedy and divide and then reunite the fair city of Verona. The feud broke up the families; fate brought them back together but at a cost. Peace comes at the expense of woe in the shape of Juliet and her Romeo. ...read more.

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