Back in 1597, the classic William Shakespeare play, Romeo & Juliet, was published. The play’s focus and emphasis based around the sensation and theory of “love at first sight”, the romantic side and the dangerous side. The two main characters, Romeo and Juliet, fall in love but are both heirs of feuding families, the Montague’s (Romeo) and the Capulet’s (Juliet).
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“Deny thy father and refuse thy name, or wilt not be sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet,” (2.2 37-39). In these lines, Juliet is contemplating the feelings he has for Romeo, with the feelings of her father if he found out she was involved with the rival family. Exhibiting there is much danger and risk involved with romantics. Shakespeare creates drama throughout the entire theatrical performance, the drama portrayed her is a tragedy. A tragedy in theatre is when the main character(s) in the play experience extreme sorrow because of flaw, moral weakness, or the inability to handle adverse circumstances; Romeo & Juliet is a prime example of a traditional tragedy.
Romeo & Juliet is full of dramatic purposes, scenes or dialogue that serve specific purpose to the plot. The opening dialogue of the play exhibits the relationship between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s, “Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean,” (1.1 1-4). The quote explains that the two families are alike in many ways, but because of an old feud they will never see eye to eye, setting the mood for the entire tragedy. The type of dramatic purpose best fitting for Romeo & Juliet is the link of characters, conflict and irony.
There is emphasis on the connection the main characters have with each other, but due to the conflict of the feuding families the story ends in irony and the death of the lead characters. To get better understand the dramatic purpose of Romeo & Juliet, one might want to know the structure in which the play was written. A play can be structured one of two types of ways, climatic or episodic. The structure that fits this play the best is the climatic structure because there is a clear exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and catastrophe.
The plot of the play makes it easy to spot; Feud between two families (Montague’s and Capulet’s) makes it hard for two lovers. Romeo is still in-love with Rosaline, but two of his peers convince him to sneak into a party at the forbidden Capulet house to get his mind off Rosaline and meet someone new. Low and behold, Romeo meets someone new and it is “love at first sight”, both Romeo and his new love are head over heels for each other, but there is one problem. The girl who he falls in-love with is Juliet Capulet. Secretly, Romeo and Juliet are married by the Friar who thought this marriage would end the feud between the two families. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes as Romeo is banished by the prince for killing Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin. Juliet is now arranged to marry Paris, but her parents do not know she is already wed to Romeo. With help of the Friar, Juliet fakes her death to get out of her arranged marriage. Poor communication tells Romeo his love is dead, so he sneaks into Verona to see her one last time.
Romeo drinks poison to join his wife in death, but upon this event, Juliet wakes. When she is unable to ingest enough poison from the lips of Romeo, Juliet takes his dagger and stabs herself, reuniting the forbidden lovers in death. Throughout the entire play, there is central conflict, both internal and external. Two internal central conflicts are the running conflict between the Capulet and Montague families, the heirs on both sides were raised to hate the other because of the butter feud, but this also had a negative effect on the entire city of Verona as citizens were killed in fights between the two families, and this filters into the second external central conflict, a Montague and a Capulet falling in-love with each other and making their love even more forbidden. One internal central conflict involves Juliet after the death of Tybalt. She has to decide the best way to move on with her life, mourning the loss of her family member or have joy her husband is alive and safe. These conflicts filter back to the emphasis of the play, the romantic and dangerous sides to love at first sight. An abundance of internal and external conflict makes it impossible for the two lovers to formally be together, although forbidden, their burning love for each other makes them break the rules and experience sacrifice.
An opposing force in Romeo and Juliet is an individual against society. Throughout the play, it is noticeable the main characters, Romeo and Juliet, as individuals, are fighting with society to be together, society says no but themselves say yes. “Not proud you have, but thankful that you have. Proud can I never be of what I hate, but thankful even for hate that is meant,” (3.5 146-148). In this scene, Juliet has informed her parents she does not want to marry Paris, but she is thankful her parents have her best interest in finding her a life mate. She is fighting with society because she is already married to Romeo although her parents do not know, and it is forbidden. The key conflict of the play was the feuding families, shown all throughout the play, they are introduced at the beginning with the prologue and they run through until the ending scene, however this conflict was resolved.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after the death of Romeo and Juliet, the two mourning families rose statues to honor each other’s lost child, “As rich shall Romeo’s by his lady’s lie, poor sacrifices of our enmity,” (5.3 319-320). The balance forces throughout the entire theatrical performance is the feud of the families and the two young lovers. They both are acting in opposite direction, but they also carry the same significance. The two families have had an ongoing rivalry for many years and each family has raised their young to dislike the other family, but once the two meet at the Capulet party, the feud between the two families children is broken. With the feud and the love happening at the same time, the balance force is able to happen.
When Tybalt is killed by Romeo, it is easily seen the two forces are balanced through the eyes of Juliet. She is unable to decipher if she should be thankful her newlywed husband is alive and safe, or if she should have hatred toward the Montague’s because her cousin was killed by one. When evaluating the characters of Romeo & Juliet, the feud between the families decides the fate of the two leads. The two meets and marry in secret because if they were to tell their families, they would both be disowned. But, one-character particularly, the Friar, plays an interestingly important role in the play. He agrees to wed the two forbidden lovers in hopes of settling the family rivalry, but his plan more than backfires.
Had the friar not wed Romeo and Juliet, Juliet would not have faked her own death to be reunited with banished her love. Ending the play in the tragedy of them both killing themselves to be together, thus settling the feud. Foil characters, or characters who share opposite interests than the lead, are also scene throughout the play Starting at the beginning, Rosaline is a foil character for Juliet because she has no interest in sharing a future with him, whereas Juliet is willing to risk everything to be with Romeo. A second foil character in the play in Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend. Oddly enough, he is a foil to Romeo himself, whereas Romeo is a romantic and is always on the prowl for love, Mercutio shows less concern with the idea of love.
Mercutio is realistic in his ways of thinking and refuses to be a victim of love, as Romeo has with Rosaline and later Juliet. In act 1 scene 4, Romeo and Mercutio are discussing dreams, and Mercutio happens to state, “True, I talk of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain. Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,” (1.4 97-99). By using the words “dreams” and “fantasy” in the same context, it can be implied that Mercutio does not believe in dreams being a reality, just false reality made up by your mind as what one wants to happen. Romeo is so wrapped up in the idea of love that he wants his dreams a reality, and pounces on any act similar to this.
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