Is Romeo and Juliet More about Love or More About Hate?

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Is Romeo and Juliet More about Love or More About Hate?

Romeo and Juliet I is not a typical ‘tragedy’. It does contain many of the usual components such love and death. It also includes other elements that are rarely found in a tragedy: the saucy conversations between Romeo and his friends, Juliet’s Nurse being a fairly funny character, there are also some scenes between Romeo and Juliet that are romantic and optimistic.

The prologue is 14 lines written in the form of a sonnet, it provides a summary of the play. It explains to the audience that Romeo and Juliet will fall in love but their fate is death, ‘two star-crossed lovers take their life’. The feuding of their families is at fault, ‘And the continuance of their parents rage’. Only the deaths of their children will bring peace, ‘Which but their children’s end could nought remove’.

Act 1 Scene 1 starts off with a good natured tease between two of the Capulet servants Sampson and Gregory, but when two Montague servants Abram and Balthasar an argument brews. The servants are cowards, so they don’t actually fight at first; they insult each other to show loyalty to their masters. The Montague servants are given a boost of confidence when Benvolio arrives. The servants continue to insult each other until Sampson issues the first challenge ‘draw if you be men’ Benvolio, a Montague, tries stop the fight between the servants ‘I do not keep the peace put up thy sword, or manage it to part these men with me’, when Tybalt, a Capulet arrives on the scene, he threatens Benvolio by saying ‘What! Drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montague’s, and thee. Have at thee coward’. The audience are immediately shown in the Act 1 Scene 1 how violent the feud is. When the Prince of Verona, witnesses the fight he says if anymore fighting goes on in the streets the participant’s punishment will be death.

Romeo shows love toward Juliet’s cousin Rosaline but she does not love him back ‘out of her favour I am in love’, her coldness inflames his passion. He is consumed with melancholy; this is an example of courtly love. The idea of ‘courtly love’ was a European tradition, dating back from the Middle Ages but still well known to the Elizabethans. It was really a set of rules and expectations about the way lovers from aristocratic classes should behave but typically they only really existed in poems and plays.  

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In Act 1 Scene 5 Romeo and Juliet meet at a party thrown by Juliet’s parents. Romeo and his friend Mercutio have disguised themselves so they are able to sneak into the masquerade ball. From lines 44 – 53 Romeo tells the audience what he thinks of Juliet. ‘As a rich as a jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’ Romeo compares her to rich and wonderful things ‘Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!’ she is too amazing for every day use. ‘Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till ...

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