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Passion vs Reason

By evanvictoria17 Sep 04, 2013 1083 Words
Passion vs. Reason
Human emotions are one of the most powerful factors in the world. Whether it is love, lust, hate, or even greed, everyone is selfish and everyone bases their choices from their compelling emotions. A person's emotions blind them from seeing the overall effect of their choices. This can be seen especially in Romeo and Juliet, a tragic play by William Shakespeare. This play is the first to involve the idea of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, who act on their emotions in a way that will lead to their ultimate deaths. Moreover, fate, choices, passion, and reason are themes that are very prevalent in the play, and William Shakespeare creates the twist on the play that everyone should take responsibility for their actions. Although there may have been reason placed into the choices of the characters in the play, their passionate emotions ultimately provoked each decision that led the lovers to their ultimate demise.

One passionate emotion that is partially responsible for Romeo and Juliet's death includes hate, and this includes the infamous feud between the Montagues and the Capulets, that indirectly dooms Romeo and Juliet's love. When Tylbalt stated the night after the Capulet party, "Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford. No better term than this: thou art a villain" (3.1. 31-32), he is expressing a great deal of hatred toward Romeo by calling him a villain. The hateful feud caused Tybalt to hate Romeo, without truly knowing him. Tybalt is portraying hatred so strong that he would fight Romeo over attending a Capulet party. Also, the hate involved in the feud caused the lovers to hide their love and get married behind the families' backs. If there was less emotion in the feud or between Romeo and Tybalt, Tybalt would not have killed Mercutio, and then Romeo never would have killed Tybalt. Romeo would not then have been banished and the lovers would not have been separated from Verona.

A selfish emotion, known as greed, is one that compels several characters in the play, especially the Capulets, to want more, and this also helps lead to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. When Lord Capulet angrily says to Juliet talking about County Paris, "A gentleman of noble parentage, of fair demesnes, youthful, and nobly trained, stuffed, as they say, with honorable parts, proportioned as one’s thought would wish a man—" (3.5. 180-183), all he wants is for Juliet to marry him. This is because, the Capulets want a higher rank to get into the royal family, and thinking Juliet should want this too, they force her into marrying Paris, without knowing she is already married to Romeo. This unfortunate event of Juliet's parents' greed causes her to need a plan to not marry Paris, which will eventually lead to the fake death of Juliet and the real death of Romeo. If Juliet's parents were not so selfish and listened to their daughter, they would have seen that she cannot marry Paris because she is already in love with Romeo.

Love, which is always known as a happy emotion is very compelling, and can cloud judgment just like it did in Romeo and Juliet, contributing to their eventual deaths. In the quote from Romeo right before his death, "Here’s to my love! (drinks the poison) O true apothecary, Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die" (5.3. 129-131), Romeo is acting on his passionate love of Juliet. Romeo and Juliet have only just married, and they have acted so quickly to marry and make other hasty decisions that separated them, and now they are willing to go to the extreme to be together. However, if Romeo were not so extreme with his emotions, Juliet would have woken front her sleeping potion, and they would not have had to die to be together.

Another emotion that influences the actions of the characters within this play, and leads to the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet is lust. As soon as Romeo and Juliet catch a glimpse of each other, they have to be together, and without even knowing one another. As Juliet says in one of the early scenes of the play, “If he be married my grave is like to be my wedding bed” (1.5.9.), Juliet says she has to be married to Romeo or she would die, and she has not even met him yet. Juliet is acting on lust since she has only just seen Romeo, and immediately she knows she wants to be with him. This is seen several times in the early scenes of the play with Romeo and Juliet. They often are so impassioned with the thought of one another that they rush the relationship and marry only the day after they meet. If the lovers had not been so quick to lust for each other they would have realized it would have been smarter to take it slower and involve their parents in order to end the feud and be together in the long run. The characters may have believed that they were acting reasonably throughout these events, but, since the play takes place over a course of four days, one can see that some hasty decisions must have been taken to compel the play that quickly. Moreover, if the characters had acted upon reason versus passion, the play would not end tragically. If at any point in the play a character would have taken the time to think logically, the characters could have worked out their differences in a civil matter. For example, when Juliet went to Friar Laurence after Juliet realized she could not marry Paris, the Friar Laurence should have told the truth of Romeo and Juliet's love to the families. Instead, they are too quick to think that Juliet must fake death to be with Romeo. If they would have acted out of reason at this time, the two families should be able to see that they were blinded by each others hate to realize that their children just wanted to be together.

If the characters in the play were not so emotional, or did not act on their emotions so early in the play, the play could have ended happier without so many tragic deaths. However, when strong human passion so thoroughly clouds reason, the inevitable outcome, as Shakespeare so poetically depicted in the story of Romeo and Juliet is likely to be tragic.

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