How does Shakespeare present conflict at the start of Romeo and Juliet

Authors Avatar by bigzam786gmailcom (student)

Explain how Shakespeare presents the theme of violence in this part of the play.

The first thing to note about this scene is that it takes place right at the start of the play. I think that this scene exists to set up and highlight one of the key conflicts in the play as a whole. It takes place after a serious fight between the Montagues and Capulets. This fight’s prime instigator is Tybalt who when asked by Benvollio to help him keep the peace says:

“What drawn and talk of peace. I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: Have at thee, coward!”

Clearly then this is a deep seated conflict that is responsible for disturbing the peace in Verona and it is the Prince’s job to restore order in this scene. Therefore right at the start of the scene he calls them ‘profaners’. This is very emotive language and helps to underline the Prince’s contempt for both of the families and their conflict. The audience when they hear language like this will then associate both families as being not being very religious and being opposed to God and His purposes. The contempt that the Prince and the audience is supposed to feel for both of the fighting families is further emphasised in the description of their swords as ‘neighbor-stained steel’. Clearly what the Prince is trying to highlight here is that both families are behaving in a very selfish immature way and are showing an unchristian regard for their neighbours. Therefore violence is shown in this scene as being something that is pointless, stupid and going against God.

Join now!

Following on from this the theme of violence is further emphasised through the Prince’s use of a rhetorical question:

“Will they not hear?”

I think that Shakespeare deliberately uses this technique here to demonstrate how unthinking both families are in their hatred for each other. It is clear that the hatred between them runs so deep that they cannot and will not listen to people who are trying to mediate between them and trying to keep the peace. This is further emphasised later on in the line by the Prince describing them as ‘beasts’. I think that Shakespeare deliberately uses ...

This is a preview of the whole essay