Romeo & Juliet - a Play of Opposites

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  • Topic: Romeo and Juliet, Characters in Romeo and Juliet, Romeo Montague
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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In the play Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare utilizes opposites in both the thoughts and actions of the characters in Romeo and Juliet. Outlined are contrasts of crime and violence versus peace and law, love versus hate, and young versus old.

The uses of crime & violence versus peace and law are demonstrated in Act 3, Scene 1. Tybalt and Mercutio exchange remarks back and forth, when Benvolio steps in and encourages them to stop.

Mercutio: Consort? What, dost thou make us minstrels?
And thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords. Here's my fiddlestick, here's that shall make you dance. Zounds, consort!
Benvolio: We talk here in the public haunt of men.
Either withdraw unto some private place,
Or reason coldly of your grievances,
Or else depart. Here all eyes gaze on us.
Mercutio: Men's eyes were made to look, and let them gaze. I will not budge for no man's pleasure, I.

This is just a small sampling of crime and violence versus peace and law. Later in this scene, Mercutio challenges Tybalt in a duel, then when Mercutio is slain, Romeo goes on to challenge Tybalt, killing him. If Mercutio, Tybalt and Romeo would have listened to Benvolio, the fights would have not occurred, and the outcome of the play would be changed.

An example of love versus hate occurs through the relationship Romeo and Juliet and the hate between their families. The love that Romeo and Juliet share completely opposes the deep roots of anger and hate between their parents. The quote from the Chorus best states this.

Chorus: Two houses, both alike in dignity … From ancient grudge break to new mutiny … A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life: Whose misadventured piteous overthrows, Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.

The sincere and strong love of Romeo and Juliet contrasts with the extreme, petty grudges held by their parents. The love between Romeo...
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