What Is the Role of Violence in Romeo and Juliet

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The Role of Violence in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is a play which is one of the best known tragedies of all time but at the same time is referred to as the greatest love story of all time. It is about two ‘Star cross'd lovers’ (Prologue 1.6). In other words, Romeo and Juliet are governed by fate, a movement often linked with the stars.

However it has another theme, violence, which in a way blocks out the love in the play. It presents love and hate as equally potent forces of nature. The powerful nature of love can be seen in the way it is described, or more accurately, in the way descriptions consiste-ntly fail to capture it in its whole. Juliet says of love, "But my true love is grown to such excess I cannot sum up half of my wealth" (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 33-44) In other words, love is too powerful to be so easily understood by the audience in Shakespeare’s time so this play portrays the chaos of being in love.

However, the play also combines extreme images of violence and death. For instance, the Capulet and Montague families have held a long-time grudge against each other that is assumed to have existed for hundreds of years. We never learn it’s cause, it seems to have become a habit for the Capulet’s and the Montague’s to hate each other. But if we cannot know the cause of the quarrel, we cannot be warned of it’s cure. It is the motivation of what attempts to keep Romeo and Juliet away from each other though as they are from two families who mutually hate each other.

It is thought that death is a measure of violence, because death by hostility is violence in its most potent form. Throughout the play, love seems to push Romeo and Juliet closer to violence, not further away from it as Juliet often speaks in the play about committing suicide and there is a lot of converse about death, “And with this knife I’ll help it presently.” (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 54) and “Be not so long to speak, I long to die” (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 66)...
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