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Conflict in Romeo and Juliet

By hafsa231 Feb 14, 2009 1990 Words
How important is the theme of conflict to the play Romeo & Juliet?

Conflict exists at all levels of society in all sorts of situations. We experience conflict every day in our lives. A conflict starts due to people not agreeing with an issue. It is a state of opposition used in good dramas e.g. Man verses Man or Man vs. Himself. It is important to have conflict in a drama to make it interesting and engaging for the audience to wonder what will happen next. The play Romeo and Juliet is about two families Montague’s and Capulet’s who are hostile to each other, but their children fall in love, Romeo and Juliet, who are constantly interrupted by and entwined with conflict. It is set in five days from Romeo Juliet meeting to them dying. The speed continuously keeps the audience involved in the play. Shakespeare uses allot of opposites to show conflict e.g. prejudice, fate, free will, love and hate. Romeo and Juliet is the story written, with allot of conflict, this is shown throughout the play with a tragic ending. The main conflict is family conflict, the disagreement in the two families. There are many other conflicts in this play such as, society conflicts and generation conflicts. This “ancient grudge” between the two families has been going on for years. When lady Capulet wants Juliet to marry Paris but Juliet wants to marry Romeo there appears to be a conflict between them. The prologue, act one scene one and act three scene five are very important in the theme of conflict. The prologue has a major affect on the whole play since it gives the audience a brief idea on what will happen in the play which then makes the audience want to know the story.

The prologue is written at the first section in the play. It is very important since it introduces fatalism to the audience. It has a large impact on the readers since it tells the readers a brief idea where the play takes place, and gives some background information about its characters which then engages the readers. This play is set in Verona, this creates dramatic irony that there’s such violence in such a beautiful city. It mentions the different types of conflict e.g. a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life. The word “Star-crossed” at Shakespeare’s time meant that stars were to control people’s destiny. "A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life," At this moment of time Shakespeare shows his audience that the death of these lovers was preordained. "Where misadventured piteous overthrows, both with their death bury their parents' strife." Shakespeare then makes it difficult to understand by adding the destiny of Romeo and Juliet was an accident and should have not happened. The more they try to control their destiny, the quicker they reach their destiny. “The fearful passage of their death-marked love”. It is also made clear that violence is the main theme throughout the play. Feud between the two families is the main form of conflict in this play. This sentence raises questions in the readers mind and makes them think. “From ancient grudge break to new mutiny”. This is a reference to conflict within the play. The first sentence “two households, both alike in dignity” has a huge affect. The word “alike” gives it more of a powerful touch, which means both families, are wealthy and have power so this then wants the readers want to know more. Further on it says “Both with their death bury their parent’s strife” this means that when the two lovers die the two families will forget about there hatred for one another. The prologue is similar to a trailer but written instead, it tells the audience a brief summary of what is going to happen. This also shows the different types of conflict going to be shown. The word “foes”, “blood”, “fearful”, “death”, “civil”, “grudge” and rage are very effective. They sound harsh, aggressive and violent which gives the prologue a strong and deadly touch. While watching the play the audience are expecting that it must fulfil all the terms set in the Prologue.

At the start of the play in Act 1 Scene 1 the audience are expecting to know the baseline of the story. The play starts with Sampson and Gregory two serving men of Capulet’s and Abraham and Balthasar (Montague’s) which lead to a brawl of the two feuding families in the street. Sampson and Gregory servants insult the Montague servants, which then leads to a fight, which involves the Lord of both families and the prince. The prince comes along and warns the two households and the public that he doesn’t want to see no more fighting. We see that Romeo at this time is lovesick with Benvolio his friend telling him to look at other girls. Conflict makes the audience excited, and want to know more and makes the story come real.
Sampson says at the start “A dog of the house of Capulet moves me” this is a big insult stating that all Montague’s are dogs and that makes him want to fight. Gregory then says how that could make him weak and then Sampson talks about killing the men and raping the women which was not appropriate to say at that moment of time. ” drag thy tool, here comes of the house of Montague.” This gives us the strong feeling of hate between the two families. Sampson deliberately provokes Abram by starting it from “biting the thumb”.

During the fight Benvolio whose name means “goodwill “pulls out his sword and tries to act as a peacemaker by dividing the servants. “Part fools! Put up your swords. You know what you do”. He tells them that they do not know what they are doing. This shows Benvolios personality that he’s not a fighter and he only trying to “keep the peace” as he mentions later on.

When quick tempered fiery Tybalt is then introduced as a tough and mean guy buy him saying to Benvolio “What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word peace”. He says to Benvolio that you take out your sword and then talk about peace. This shows the total opposite of Benvolio. When the atmosphere changes from harmony to hatred within a few lines.

When the hot tempered Capulet calls for his sword, Lady Capulet says “a crutch, a crutch!” reminding him of his age that he’s not old enough to hold a sword. Both patriarchs are chastised by their wives for such behaviour.

When the prince comes shouting “Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace!” This shows the audience the conflict between the families has even interrupted the public. “Three civil brawls” Its not let anyone stay in peace. He says all he can to the two families. “that quench the fire of your precious rage with purple fountains issuing from your veins.” He tells them that the two families are not satisfied until they both don’t see fountains of blood. He warns them “once more, on pain of death, all men depart”. At this moment the audience are serious they are aware of the “ancient grudge”. They know how serious it is but still do not know the reason behind it all since hearing it all after prince.

The conflict that occurs in Act 3 Scene 5 is different to the conflict in Act 1 Scene 1 because the first ones violent aggressiveness and severe fighting but the second ones just an argument between father and daughter a family issue. At the time of Shakespeare, daughters were meant to accept what there parents had decided for them but unfortunately Juliet had found herself a life partner. When Lady Capulet comes to Juliet’s bedroom to give her the news of her marriage Juliet is surprised to see her mum in the morning and sarcastically mention “who is’t that calls? Is it my lady mother? Is she not down so late or up so early”, because it was something different for her, normally her mother wouldn’t pay much attention to her, if she was up or not.

Lady Capulet tells Juliet about her wedding when she refuses and Lord Capulet comes. They have an argument, Juliet gives her views, but Capulet still disagrees. Capulet tells her that he’s done her a favour by finding her a great match and she should feel blessed. “How will she none? Doth she not give us thanks?” he calls her names “mistress minion you, young baggy! ,disobedient wretch ” when Juliet answers back he shows how angry he is by saying “speak not, reply not, my fingers itch.” And then tries to emotionally blackmail her saying how god gave them one child and how they were cursed. “That god had lent us; we have a curse in having her.” The language used by Capulet is full of conflict and hatred towards Juliet.

The nurse takes Juliet’s side by telling Capulet that he’s wrong and he shouldn’t call her names “you are to blame, my lord, to rate her”. At Shakespeare’s times slaves didn’t have no position or right to say a word to there masters or in society, but Juliet’s nanny speaks up but is told to shut up. Capulet doesn’t give her any importance “utter your gravity o’er a gossip bowl ”, and tells her “for here we need it not”. He leaves by warning her “Graze where you will, you shall not house with me” telling her if she doesn’t listen to her she wont have a roof on top of her head. All Capulet’s anger is gradually built up due to Juliet having an opportunity to answer him back and shows that she’s not happy of what he’s done for her. At the end when Capulet leaves she feels sorry for herself “is there no pity sitting in the clouds”. She says that so her mother can help her, she also tells her mother not to throw her out but when there’s no reply she threatens her mother by saying “if you do not, make the bridal bed, in that dim monument where Tybalt lies.” That she will commit suicide. Lady Capulet doesn’t say anything until the end “talk not to me, for I have done thee”. She says this after Juliet threatens her. At Shakespeare’s time wives were meant to what they were told by their husbands, so she didn’t bother interrupting or discussing anything. Shakespeare’s audience would have found this conflict shocking because they wouldn’t want to see a female speaking up so much. They would have found this play different to their times because it wasn’t what they saw as a normal thing. Modern audience wouldn’t have found this so shocking or different as much as Shakespeare’s audience would because now girls and wives do speak up and ask for their right.

I feel that the theme of conflict is very important it has a major affect on the audience. If there was no conflict the play would have not been so interesting and appealing to the audience. Both Love and hatred is equally important in the play because it has the same type of role. If there was no love the hatred would have never finished and if there was no love the story would have not had such a interesting story. I don’t feel that the conflict would appeal to a modern audience because now a day’s people don’t have such hatred and grudges against people. There are not many severe conflicts between people in the U.K but it would be shocking and motivating to the audience knows.

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