Intergenerational Conflict in Shakespeare

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Intergenerational conflict has been an ongoing issue in literature, and real life. We see intergenerational conflict in Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, and even in modern literature like Annemarie MacDonald’s “Fall on Your Knees”. More specifically, in Shakespeare’s plays we are introduced to many different forms of conflict. One of the most prominent is intergenerational conflict, especially in “Romeo & Juliet”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and “I Henry IV”. Examples of intergenerational conflict in these plays include Romeo’s defiance of his parents, Juliet’s conflict with her father, Hermia’s paternal conflicts, and King Henry’s disappointment with his son, Hal.

Firstly, Romeo’s defiance and seclusion from his parents show signs of an intergenerational conflict. We can see in Act I that Romeo is very distant from his parents, especially when after the civil dispute between the Capulets and Montagues happens. Lord Montague displays his concern for Romeo’s emotional health when talking to Benvolio: “ Many a morning hath he there been seen,/ With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew,/ Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs” (I.i.124-26). This shows that Romeo is not open with his parents about his emotional status. Also, in terms of a conflict between the two rival families, one can easily suggest that Benvolio is creating a conflict with his elders through his quarrel with Tybalt and his kinsmen. Lady Montague shows her disapproval when speaking to her husband and telling him: “Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe” (I.i.73). It is suggested that by Romeo’s reclusion into depression from his rejection by Rosalind, he is thus creating intergenerational conflict between himself and his parents.

Secondly, Juliet and her father’s relationship show signs of intergenerational conflict. Lord Capulet tries to control his daughter, and the topic of her husband-to-be creates tension between the two. Firstly,...
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