Rome and Juliet

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In any play by the well-known William Shakespeare, there is bound to be plenty of meat on the bone in regards to the script. Underneath the concrete elements of character, plot and theme there are very complex and unique ideas and images. Throughout one of Shakespeare's more established plays, Romeo and Juliet, many images are evoked through the playwright's mastery--one of the key ones being the violence that envelopes the world of Verona. Shakespeare produces fantastic visions of violence in the world, through what happens in the play. A few main violent images brought about by the work is that it is unfair, universal, and overpowering, yet it also ultimately serves as a sense of hope and rebirth. In Verona, the feud between the Capulets and Montagues reigns supreme, and rules seemingly over love, over justice, in an almost unfair manner, as "civil blood makes civil hands unclean" (prologue). The image of violence being so unfair exists prominently in the deaths of so many of the cast. We see the two obvious images of the tragic death brought on by violence, in the two lovers Romeo and Juliet. Their young, pure lives are brought to a despicable end through the violence around them. Had this whole bloody feud between the Capulets and Montagues never of been so great, then they would have been able to marry in peace and happiness, instead of doing all that they could, but only to end up dead together in Juliet's tomb. Quite an unfair notion. This image along with the death of Romeo's friend Mercutio helps to convey the idea that violence is an unfair, powerful aspect of their world. When Romeo convinces Mercutio to not confront Tybalt, then Mercutio pays the price with his death--an ambush from his sly opponent. Therefore, what seemed as a positive outcome turns into a great loss for both sides of the feud, which comes across as unfair to whomever looks upon the situation. Then to take revenge upon Tybalt, Romeo runs him through and slays him--to only avenge his friend. Afterward, he is banished from the city for that deed, even though it was Tybalt who had started the whole quarrel. What's done is done, yet Romeo has suffered greatly from something that was not entirely his fault. These instances all show how violence is shown as a very unfair image, and a very rotten one at that. Aside from that idea, violence is also portrayed as universal. In the very first scene of the play, there is a barroom brawl type of event, in which lowly peasants and soldiers get into a quarrel. This whole fight starts from a mere mentioning of a few words, which sets off a large reaction between the characters, ending in a large collision. As said by Samson, "a dog of the house of Montague moves me" (I, i, 8). To portray the image of violence in the characters, Shakespeare has Prince Escalus recite a monologue to the brawlers... “...You men, you beasts,

That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
With purple fountains issuing from your veins,
On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground
And hear the sentence of your moved prince.
Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,
By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets
And made Verona’s ancient citizens
Cast by their grave-beseeming ornaments
To wield old partisans, in hands as old,
Cankered with peace, to part your cankered hate.”
(I, i, 83-95)
The pure visual interpretation of the violent nature here shows exactly how the lower classmen, although not directly, truly involved in the Capulet/Montague rivalry are drawn into the violence among everyone else in the families. The contrasting side of society which higher level, somewhat noble characters such as Paris, Romeo and Tybalt represent also take part in this aggressive violence. This completes the universal image. In this world, we therefore learn that every person can be affected by their violent nature no matter whom they are....
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