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“What is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, a quote clearly representing Juliet’s love and confusion, as during that time, Juliet was questioning her love for Romeo, and thereby portraying her inner conflict.
Along with the plot twists this is what Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is about.
However, there is also a darker side to the story, and this is the large amount of conflict and violence. This essay will show that “Romeo and Juliet” does indeed, have a lot of violence in it. As well as examine the language used, discuss the way the play is written, and aim to conclude all the given ideas. In view of my argument, there are three major scenes before the last which incorporate violence into them, act one, scene one, act three, scene one, and act three, scene five, and the last scene, act five, scene three .
In these scenes, there is an extreme amount of violence. It is through these scenes, that we will determine that Romeo and Juliet is indeed a violent play.
Conflict is embedded deep into the play, even through the introduction of it early on. “Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o’ the collar”, by Gregory saying this, it shows that he is willing to fight to the death.
This signifies that violence, during the time period the Romeo and Juliet was written, was extremely important, as it was the only way that people could defend their honour was by fighting. Honour was extremely important for these men, as this was a vital way to become influential in the society. During the next thirty four lines, Gregory and Samson argue about what they will do to the men and the women of the Montague family. “True; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall: therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall”. This quote means that Samson will take the lives of the Montague men, “push Montague’s men from the wall”, and they will violate the women, “thrust his maids to the wall”. This quote has an extreme amount of violence in it, and so this also amplifies the fact that there was a very bitter rivalry between the Capulets and the Montagues. Without this conflict, there is no reason why Romeo could not marry Juliet.
The next few lines introduce Abraham, Benvolio, and Tybalt, who then go on to start a fight. “What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: Have at thee, coward! These lines are portrayed in an extremely violent and aggressive manner. “They fight”, This particular stage direction, shows that the men used violence in order to make themselves more intimidating, this does not just happen in this one instance, during the play, many men tend to act tough and violent in order to make themselves seem as if they have more authority, such as when Gregory boasts about himself, which becomes important for Capulet as the play progresses.
The next form of Conflict that takes place is the conflict within Romeo, who wants to leave his love for Rosaline, but cannot. “Bid a sick man in sadness make his will: Ah, word ill urged to one that is so ill! In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman”. This quote shows that he is fighting his love for Rosaline, as he states “In sadness cousin”, which means that he regrets it but loves her anyway. The word sad, representing his regret. If it was not for this inner conflict of Romeo, he would never have gone to the party, meaning that he would never have met Juliet. This shows once more, that violence and conflict is a very important part of the play that has a direct affect on the plot.
In Act three: Scene one, there are many forms of violence that take place. Firstly, the inner conflict of Mercutio, as he accuses Benvolio of being a hot tempered person, “Come, come, thou art as hot a Jack in thy mood as any in Italy, and as soon moved to be moody, and as soon moody to be moved”. The word hot can be associated with fire, and anger, depicting that Benvolio is temperamental. However, what we can understand from this is that Mercutio is actually describing himself. While Benvolio mainly tries to avoid a fight, and normally will try to make peace, Mercutio is always supportive of defending his honour. If he was not, then it could never lead to his and Tybalt’s death.
The next form of violence in the play is the use of verbal fighting, in act three scene one, between Tybalt and Mercutio. “Consort! What, dost thou make us minstrels?”. This quote clearly portrays the aggression that Mercutio is showing toward Tybalt, and he takes his accusations and subverts them. If this fight had not take place, then Mercutio would never have been so aggravated as to have taken Tybalt on in a duel. Furthermore, the next issue to address is the emotional conflict that Romeo faces, which is a reflection of the verbal fighting, when Tybalt calls Romeo a villain and thereby insults his honour, Romeo is faced with an extremely difficult choice. “Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee Doth much excuse the appertaining rage? To such a greeting: villain am I none; Therefore farewell; I see thou know’st me not”. This quote shows that Romeo is caught in conflict”. If he does not answer back to Tybalt, he would be regarded as a coward, and he will bring shame upon his family and his reputation. On the other hand, if he does retaliate, he will kill Juliet’s cousin, which will anger the Capulets further and fuel the war, thereby putting pressure on his relationship with Juliet.
Furthermore in this scene, there is also a large amount of physical violence that takes place. “Forbidden bandying in Verona streets: Hold, Tybalt! good Mercutio! TYBALT under ROMEO’s arm stabs MERCUTIO, and flies with his followers”. If Mercutio had never been stabbed, Romeo would never have been banished for avenging Mercutio’s death. This point shows that violence and conflict is relevant to the play, and without it, then Romeo would never have been banished by the prince.
The final form of conflict in this scene is between Lady Capulet, the Prince and Benvolio. This is mainly verbal conflict, however it leads to the banishment of Romeo. “I beg for justice, which thou, prince, must give; Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live”. As Lady Capulet demands that Romeo be killed, the prince is put under a lot of pressure, and eventually manages to come to a compromise. However, without this argument, the Prince would have to let Romeo go, as Romeo only did what the prince had threatened earlier, to kill any Capulet or Montague that quarrelled, and therefore, Romeo had only carried out the punishment.
The last scene that will be discussed is act, scene five. It starts with Romeo in Juliet’s room, where he is spending his last few hours with her. The first form of conflict in this part of the play is Juliet’s inner conflict. She is wondering whether she made the right choice by marrying Romeo. “Indeed, I never shall be satisfied with Romeo, till I behold him-dead-“. In this quote she is using a double meaning, portraying to her mother that he is a villain, while secretly meaning, that she will not be satisfied until she holds Romeo in her hands. This quote also foreshadows the ultimate act of violence that is yet to come, their death. Moreover, this also proves that violence is embedded in the plot line, and is also portrayed in the tone of the language.
The next and most important conflict in this scene is between Capulet, and Juliet. Here, he is angered by the fact that Juliet refuses to marry Paris, and threatens to hit her, and quite violently pushes her away, while he screams at her. “Hang thee, young baggage! disobedient wretch! I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thursday”. This quote really express the anger in Capulet’s voice, as the words “baggage” and “wretch” show that he is irritated as he is using an extremely violent tone to . This also illustrates how violent Capulet is, and this is proven by the fact that he talks to his daughter using extremely negative language. If this scene never happened, and Capulet only forced her to marry Paris, and did not use any form of violence, then the play would not portray the amount of emotion that Shakespeare had intended to. The reader would not feel Juliet’s loss or trauma. Furthermore, if he did not force Juliet to marry Paris, then it would be fairly simple for Juliet to run away with Romeo, as the haste of the plan created by Juliet and the Friar, caused the fatal events to unfold, and for Romeo to miss the letter.
Ergo, the last scene is where the ultimate act of violence takes place, the death of Romeo and Juliet. Without this scene, then the play would have a completely different ending, and would have been a comedy. “For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo”, this quote portrays the tragedy that had just happened, especially the word “woe”, as it is associated with tragedy and sadness. As conflict was the reason that caused the violence in the first place, it was only fitting that violence ended the play, with the death of Juliet.
On the other hand, critics may argue that violence and conflict is not at all a major part in the play. This is because Shakespeare intended Romeo and Juliet to be a love story in the first place, and since this is a huge theme and the genre, it could make the violence in the play not very important at all. The violence could also become unimportant, as there are also many other themes within the play, such as, status, power, challenging authority, and the love triangle between Paris, Juliet and Romeo. However, without violence and conflict to create and highlight these factors, Romeo and Juliet would lose all of its originality.
In conclusion, I think that violence and conflict is an extremely important part of Romeo and Juliet. If there was no violence and conflict, then the final events would never have unfolded. Violence and conflict are the two things that help the events in the play to link together, for example, if Romeo’s inner conflict had not made him go to Rosaline’s party, he never would have angered Tybalt, and Tybalt would never have had a reason to go looking for Romeo, and Mercutio would never have died. The violence and conflict acts as links in the chain of events throughout the play. .Ultimately, without these two factors, Romeo and Juliet would never exist!