Who is Responsible for the Death of Romeo and Juliet

Some people may say that anything taken to the extreme can lead to some type of tragedy. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the never ending feud between the Montagues and Capulets is the perfect example of that. It may be hard to determine who is to blame for the tragedy, because many characters influenced the plot. However the most important characters are Tybalt and Romeo. Tybalt with his fierce hate for the Montagues triggers the death of Mercutio and eventually his own, complicating the lovers chance to be together. On the other hand, Romeo feeds into the tragedy because he is immature and rushes into relationships making emotional decision that eventually seals his death as well.

Tybalt is often seen as the villain as he is the reason why Romeo gets banished from Verona and therefore why both Romeo and Juliet die. Tybalt’s hostility first influences the plot of Romeo and Juliet when he identifies Romeo at the party. “This, by his voice, should be a Montague. “Fetch me my rapier, boy. What dares the slave come hither cover’d with an antic face, to fleer and scorn at our solemnity? Now, by the stock and honour of my kin, to strike him dead, I hold it not a sin.” (TYBALT: 1.5.61-67). Tybalt’s first instinct is to get Romeo out, but Capulet puts an end to the situation and demands for him to stop. As a result, Tybalt’s fury is elevated and this incident increases the hate for the Montagues even more. This is an example of how Tybalt is a character who cannot forget about the whole feud and prefers to seek revenge instead. The contrast between the two characters is that Romeo is always in love, where as Tybalt shows violence and hate. An example of this is at the Capulet ball where Tybalt says “I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall, Now seeming sweet, convert to bitt’rest gall.” (TYBALT:1.5.102-103). This implies that although he will let it go for now, he foreshadows a future fight.

The reason for blaming Romeo is because he is too immature when Romeo falls madly in love with Juliet, his so called love for Rosaline suddenly vanishes, this shows a sign of juvenile behavior. Romeo is also impulsive, because he is so desperate to be with Juliet he rushes to organise the marriage in secret. For Romeo Juliet’s love comes first so he walks away from the first confrontation with Tybalt. When he returns and sees that his dear friend has died because he took his place. Romeo is enraged and draws his sword and kills Tybalt. Romeo, is shocked at what he has done, cries “O, I am fortune’s fool!” (ROMEO: 3.1.142) and takes off. Again this shows how he rushes to hasty decisions and because of this he does not think things through and makes detrimental mistakes.

Tybalt and Romeo are seen in extremely contrasting ways and both contribute to the tragedy. However, in a way it seems easier to blame Tybalt for the tragedy because of the manner in which Shakespeare portrays him as someone who is negative and where hate dominates his life. Tybalt’s violent nature and his anger is particularly shown, when Tybalt confronts Romeo and insults him by saying, “Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford No better term than this: thou art a villain.”(TYBALT: 3.1.61-62). This is very offensive and displays his ability of how easy Tybalt starts fights, proving that he is violent. This is a contrast to lover boy Romeo who the audience might be inclined to excuse his impulsive and immature actions because of love. Tybalt’s character cares most about his reputation as a fighter and to defend the Capulet’s honor; this is evident as he never says no to a duel. This is shown when he says, “What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee” (TYBALT: 1.1.71-72). This suggests that he hates all the Montagues and compares them to hell. This a contrast to the care free, loving character of Romeo who throughout the play is almost in cloud nine thinking of love. Due to this, the audience are more inclined to favor Romeo and blame Tybalt because of his intense hatred for the Montagues, while Romeo is a victim of circumstances and fate.

In conclusion, Tybalt’s aggression fatally wounds Mercutio and this triggers desperate emotions on Romeo. He explains that his friend’s soul is in a stand still and cannot rest until one of them dies. Tybalt responds; “Thou wretched boy, that didst consort him here, Shalt with him hence.”(TYBALT:3.1). Tybalt has no remorse and wants to kill Romeo so he can join his friend. Once again with his violent ways Tybalt has motivated Romeo to change his usual peaceful temperament, and wants to avenge his friends death. However Romeo’s hasty and impulsive attitude has blocked his common sense. If he goes through with the duel he will no longer be able to be with his beloved Juliet. Therefore he also has made up his mind so he has some fault in the outcome. In the end both character have made their choices, both characters have displayed intense emotions: Tybalt always in a state of anger, while Romeo is in a state of eternal love; and in the end both seal their fate with an act of vengeance.

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