Old vs Young - Tragedy

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The older generation of people in the play can be contrasted with the two young lovers. The lovers portray themselves as rash and impulsive who are filled deeply with emotions. Their elders, on the other hand, have experienced more in life and are probably wiser, thus they see things from a different angle. This leads to the elders not understanding the feelings of Romeo and Juliet, hence causing conflicts, misunderstandings and pain to arise. The older generation in this play refer to Romeo and Juliet's parents, the Nurse and Friar Lawrence.

I do agree that the older generation did play a major role in their children's destiny through their foolishness and good intentions, but not all blame is credited to them because Romeo and Juliet did contribute to their own tragedy. Fate also 'thwarted our intents'.

Montague and his wife show themselves to be caring and loving parents. After the fight on the streets of Verona, Benvolio is conversing with Montague and his wife about Romeo. Lady Montague knows her son has been troubled lately so she is glad 'he was not at this fray'. Montague has observed his son's distress, 'deep sighs', 'heavy son' and wants to relieve his despair, 'as willingly give cure as know'. From here, we can detect the good intentions of Romeo's parents, thus we know that whatever choice Romeo makes, they would have rendered their utmost support to him.

Older people are often thought to be wiser. Capulet admits that it is easy for 'men so old as we to keep the peace' which shows that the feud between their families can be resolved. However, it is clear that no effort has been put into ending their quarrel. This highlights the idiocy of the two men which leads to the tragedy because the young lovers could be happily married when the feud ended.

Capulet has good intentions when he finds a suitable match for his daughter. Paris is a handsome and gracious gentleman. It can be said though, that Capulet is acting out of pure selfishness because he knows Paris is a relative of the Prince which is why he, later in the play, insists that Juliet marry Paris. Lady Capulet is absurd in her description of Paris, 'a flower', 'to beautify him only lacks a cover'. Her attitude towards marriage and love is so artificial and she seems more interested in the wealth and nobility of Paris.

At Capulet's ball, we can contrast pure and innocent love with the violence and hatred of Tybalt. Capulet, as a gracious host, praises Romeo 'virtuous and well-governed youth' and asks Tybalt to 'endure' him. This is a well-intentioned act by Capulet but it arouses the anger of Tybalt 'convert to bitterest gall'. Tybalt later issues a challenge to Romeo and it results in the death of Mercutio, Tybalt and the banishment of Romeo.

When Romeo informs Friar Lawrence of his love for Juliet, the latter is wise and says that 'young men's love.. lies not in their hearts, but in their eyes'. He knows Romeo was merely infatuated with Rosaline 'she knew well thy love did read by rote, that could not spell'. However, he agrees to conduct the marriage rituals for Romeo and Juliet. He is contradicting himself. He has his doubts that Romeo had genuine love for Juliet but because he thought the feud between the Montagues and Capulets could be resolved through this match 'this alliance may... turn your households' rancour to pure love', he went ahead with it. He knows the risk that is involved and even has premonitions 'they stumble that run fast'. This is a rather silly act of the Friar. Given his knowledge and wisdom, we would have expected him to urge Romeo to wait and hope the feud would end soon than to carry out this plan which was devised by two young lovers who probably do not know the consequences of this grave act.

On the day of the wedding, the Friar and Romeo share a conversation which is ominously prophetic while they are waiting for Juliet to arrive. Friar Lawrence hopes that...
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