Love at first sight, hate at first site. These are commonplace in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. There are countless themes throughout Romeo and Juliet. One of the most prevalent themes is “Love and Hate”. Love and Hate can be seen all throughout the book, from the Montague vs. Capulet war to Tybalt’s unnecessary hatred, to the terminal thought and act of suicide between the lovers. Love can also be seen everywhere in the story, from Romeo’s love for Rosaline to Romeo and Juliet’s burning love for each other, and to Romeo’s amicable love for his cousins. Love and Hate is a universal theme, as it appears in multitudes of other stories. It is fitting that one theme of Romeo and Juliet is Love and Hate, as it is the most famous English love story. Love and Hate is a felicitous theme for Romeo and Juliet, as it presses consistently throughout the tragedy.
The theme of the Love and Hate is evident at the beginning of the tragedy. In the story, the prologue clearly exemplifies the theme from a very early standpoint. From the prologue, “two star-crossed lovers,” it can be concluded that there will be two lovers in the story, presumably, Romeo and Juliet. Additionally, the prologue also states, “Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” (Prologue). This quote is direct foreshadowing, telling us the future of the fight between something or someone. “From ancient grudge break to new mutiny” is another quote stemming from the prologue of Romeo and Juliet; it exemplifies how the two families are going to fight again, due to an ancient grudge (Prologue). The theme of Romeo and Juliet was introduced with haste. Love and Hate can be seen very early from the prologue. The events of the tragedy cannot yet be foreseen, but the theme is evident from the start.
The first major development of the theme of Love and Hate can be observed in the very beginning, and it quickly develops into a conflict. Fighting breaks out very early among the two families, “Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down! Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!” (Act I, Scene I). It can be observed very early on that there is a lot of hatred between the two families. It would seem as if families are fighting for no reason, as the fight started from a scuttle between servants of the families. The fighting then stemmed and broke out into the streets and was a frenzied mash of bodies, weapons, screaming, and blood. Love is also evident early on in the story. When Romeo wants to be with Rosaline, he is turned away: “She will not be hit with Cupid’s arrow” (Act I, Scene I). Rosaline is committed to being a nun, but it is clear that Romeo is in love with her. It shows Romeo’s vulnerability and quickness to fall in love. This is part of the reason he has such a youthful love for Juliet. It can be observed that Love and Hate is a clear theme to this story.
Romeo and Juliet’s love is one of the most important parts of the play, as is Tybalt’s hate. Without their twisted love and Tybalt’s unrelenting hate, the play would not unfold so tragically. “My bounty is as endless as the sea, My love is deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have for both are infinite” (Act II, Scene II). This quote expresses Juliet’s love for Romeo and shows that the two are endearing in youthful love. Here, we see that Juliet believes in never-ending love, and the more she gives, the more she receives, which makes it a self-perpetuating cycle. We may worry that this love cycle ends as soon as one of the lovers find another interest. But for now, the young couple is in love and is happy about their feelings for each other. Still, we have an uneasy feeling because Juliet mentions the sea and the depth, leading us to believe that their love is frail, like a small boat in a deep ocean.
Tybalt is a significant proponent of hate throughout the story. He despises things so much, that his own hatred brings his own demise. “Now stock and honor of my kin To strike him dead I hold it not a sin” (Act I, Scene V). Tybalt, who is so angered by Romeo showing up to a party uninvited, sets out to kill Romeo. This perpetuates the existing cycle of hatred between two families. Tybalt kills Mercutio, and to avenge his death, Romeo slays Tybalt. Therefore, Romeo and Juliet’s love and Tybalt’s hate further develop the theme of the tragedy.
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the theme of love and hate proceeds throughout the play. Romeo and Juliet’s love for each other is so strong that they stand together against the whole world. At the same time, their hate for each other’s families and for the rejection that they experience is so strong that they choose death over life. We feel hopeful when Friar Lawerence comes up with the plan to keep the couple together but we are shocked by the quick unraveling of the tragedy. If only Romeo had more love for life itself, he would not sacrifice himself in the name of love for Juliet. But his hate for the world results in death and brings the rivaling families to their knees.
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