Romeo and Juliet - Violence and conflict

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Romeo and Juliet

Violence and conflict

By Juliette Howe


The play, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy; it tells us about two people from feuding families who fall in love without their families’ consent. It all begins with a scene of violence in a public place. The fight is between the two rival families, the Capulets and the Montagues. The warring between these two families continues throughout the play. At the end of the play, there is a dramatic scene, which results in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. This essay will explain the violence and conflicts depicted in the play and the circumstances behind them.

        The play is set in the 14th Century in Verona, Italy. However, it was supposedly written in 1591 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The entertainment during this time included bear baiting and cockerel fighting.         The theatres back then had no roofs and were, therefore, open to the elements. The only seating available was in the balconies and the rich primarily used this as only they could afford it.  Most people had to stand. As there was no electricity, they had to rely on daylight; in the winter it would be very cold. The performances had to be very dramatic with a gripping story to hold everyone’s attention. Otherwise, owing to the uncomfortable venue, people might leave early or not attend at all.

In Act I, Scene I there is a violent scene that takes place in Verona, in a public place. The two rival families get into an argument. Samson and Gregory, from the Capulet family, squabble with Abraham and Balthasar from the Montague’s household. They are servants who hate each other with a passion. Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin and Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin come along and join in, they soon take over. Tybalt, who is always looking for a fight starts to provoke Benvolio. He does not think about the consequences. One quote that proves this point about him always looking for a fight is when he exclaims, “peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.” Benvolio takes this to heart and draws his sword; they fight. The prince arrives and tries to stop the fight. He gives a warning to them saying that if they were to disturb the peace again their lives would be taken from them.    

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        The second scene, which has violence and conflict portrayed within it, is Act 3, Scene 1. Romeo and Juliet have just got married. The same issues cause an argument to break out again. It involves Tybalt, Mercutio and Benvolio. Benvolio wants to avoid another fight with the Capulets so therefore suggests to Mercutio that they should go home. “I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire: The day is hot, the Capulets are abroad.” This illustrates that Benvolio is a pacifist. However, Mercutio is in a confrontational mood, being full of himself and ready for a fight. Tybalt turns up. ...

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