How important is the theme of conflict in the play of Romeo and Juliet?

Authors Avatar

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

‘How important is the theme of conflict in the play of Romeo and Juliet?’

The play Romeo and Juliet is based on a love–hate theme which forms an ideal setting for intriguing and violent conflicts. Conflicts have wider ramification in personal, political, community and social lives. As this pertains to our lives the audience try to find similarities and follow the unravelling of consummate interest. Many successful dramas like BenHur, Cleopatra, and Where Eagles Dare, etc. use conflict as the main theme. Conflict is important in Romeo and Juliet because it makes their relationship exceptionally special and establishes victory of love over hate. The story revolves around conflicts between two feuding families, ‘The Capulet’ and ‘The Montague’. The skirmishes lead to unwanted killing of Tybalt by the hands of Romeo, which made him a sworn enemy of the Capulet. This hatred and enmity becomes deeply rooted and entwined as the story unfolds. In the follow up I am going to discuss the conflict in the Prologue, Act I Scene I and Act III Scene V.  

   The prologue in Romeo and Juliet is an introductory speech in a sonnet form calling for the attention of the audience to the theme of the play. Written mainly for the theme of love, sonnet form is best for this play. It also precedes the first act of the play. The sonnet is a form of poetry written in blank verse which contains ten syllables called the Iambic pentameter. Each verse allowed the actors to give their own rhythm and find their own interpretation of the meaning.

   Prologues were often used to give an outline of a plot because in Shakespeare’s day and age the vast majority of the audience were illiterate and reactive who would spoil a play if they failed to understand it. So the prologue built them up for a good story which they could understand better and be excited for. Although the modern audiences might find it contrary to their interest if a prologue gives away the ending of a story.

   The idea of conflict occurs in the prologue. The quotation “From ancient grudge breaks to new mutiny” refers to a long–standing ill–feeling and grudge between two families which leads to new conflicts and confrontations. It relates to fresh outbreak of fights that resulted in death to members from both families. It mentions “Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” meaning two families of good standing and equal status engage in heinous brawls and fights. They drag their reputations through the mud.

   Then the prologue mentions about the climax of the play saying “A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life”. This quote refers to the ill–fated children Romeo and Juliet from the two feuding families who become lovers and chain of unfortunate events lead there to commit suicide. This draws a tragic end to the play.

   “Do with the death bury their parents’ strife” tells the audience how the unfortunate and sad death of Romeo and Juliet brought an end to their parents’ quarrels. The shadow of painful early demise of their children left the two families so aggrieved and confounded that they were able to overcome their differences. They came to their senses and realisation that it was pointless and insensible to hate and fight each other.

   Finally near the end of the prologue the quotation “And the continuance of their parents’ rage” emphasises the long drawn out anger and rage of the elders from the two families. However prolong and intense this rivalry and hatred was, it was finally defeated by the overwhelming power of love shown by Romeo and Juliet. Through sacrificing their lives managed to put an end to the continuance of their parents’ anger.

Join now!

   The prologue relates to the audience, the main theme and events that will unfold in the play. It generates interest and curiosity in the audience by creating contrasting views between the beautiful city of Verona and the violence that erupts between two long–standing feuding families. This mood gets poignant when the pair of ‘star–crossed lovers take their life’. Initially the mood of audience is of excitement and expectation on hoping to see the affluence of a beautiful city and its people. In the middle past the mood is one of suspense, thrill and confusion as they are told of ...

This is a preview of the whole essay