FATE - There are forces in life over which people have no control. •
Shakespeare portrays Romeo and Juliet as "star-crossed lovers," doomed by fate to a tragic end. •
Bad luck and unfortunate coincidences abound: (1) Of all the people the illiterate Capulet servant could have asked to read the invitation list in Act I, scene 2, he chooses Benvolio, Mercutio, and Romeo; (2) Of all the hotties at the Capulet party, Romeo spots Juliet first; (3) It just so happens that the County Paris decides he wants to marry Juliet the same day Romeo meets her; (4) Friar John is detained and unable to deliver an important letter to Romeo in Mantua; (5) If Romeo would have waited one more minute, Juliet would have awaken and the two could have fled together. •
Bad choices and stupid decisions rule the day: (1) The two marry too quickly; (2) Romeo chooses to attend the enemy's party; (3) Friar Lawrence gives some of the worst advice in the history of Literature; (3) Friar Lawrence abandons Juliet in the tomb; (4) They both choose to take their own lives. •
SECRECY - Even well-intended deceptions and secrets can be destructive. REVENGE - Revenge can destroy both avenger and victim.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT - At times, young people have more passion than wisdom, while older people forget the power of love. Love
Romeo and Juliet are two of the most famous lovers in history, but some people doubt that their historic love lives up to its reputation. Romeo starts the play infatuated with Rosaline, a gorgeous girl with no interest in him. His "true-love-at-first-sight" encounter with Juliet seems like it could be just another case of puppy love. The two lovers come from warring families, but their love overcomes their families' hatred. Their whirlwind romance, however, ends in tragedy when each thinks the other is dead and chooses to commit suicide rather than live alone. While Romeo and Juliet never doubt the power of love, other characters criticize love and reject is as simply infatuation or lust. Some people interpret the play as a cautionary tale on the dangers of young love. Others argue that Romeo and Juliet's love develops throughout the play from a giddy flirtation to something deeper, and that the play charts the path of a relationship from infatuation to real love.
Love and hate are usually thought of as opposites, but in Romeo and Juliet, love and hate are two sides of the same coin, as two children from warring families (the Capulets and the Montagues) turn their hatred of each other into an insatiable passion. Ultimately, the hatred between their two families propels the lovers towards their tragic deaths. When their parents discover Romeo and Juliet dead in each others' arms, they vow to end the feud between their two families. At last, love triumphs over hatred – but the cost of two young lives is too heavy to bear.
Art and Culture
Romeo and Juliet is chock full of poetry, especially love poetry. The first time the couple meets, their dialogue forms a perfect Shakespearean sonnet. The famous balcony scene? Well, it's full of great lines that have since made their way into Hallmark cards and pop music lyrics. Shakespeare's not just showing off his skills – the play takes a pretty self-conscious look at the conventions of popular sixteenth-century poetry even as it participates in the art form. The clearest example of this is Romeo's role (at the play's beginning) as the kind of cliché lover that frequently appears in Petrarchan sonnets (love poetry inspired by fourteenth-century writer, Francesco Petrarch), which was all the rage when Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet
"Youth in this play is a separate nation," writes literary critic Frank Kermode. In the play, Romeo and Juliet's youthful passion conflicts with the values of their feuding parents and their more mature advisors. Juliet ignores her Nurse, who advises her to marry Paris after Romeo is banished. Romeo and Juliet ignore Friar Laurence's warning...
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