To what extent do you feel that 'Romeo and Juliet' is a play about love or hate?

In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Shakespeare shows how the themes of love and hate exist paradoxically; without love hate would not exist. Shakespeare’s play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ highlights how love can influence anger and violence. The Capulet’s and Montague’s are two authoritative families, in Verona. Each family cares for themselves, and hate the opposing family, this hatred has become the foundation of the vicious feud between the families.

The love Capulet has for his daughter, Juliet, in the beginning of the play, fuels his hate for Juliet when Juliet disobeys him and will not get married to Paris.

Is it love for Juliet that fuels the hate or does he not want to be seen as a weak parent in Verona’s society? During the 16th century, men were the predominant sex, and consequently in control of other family members, especially women. But, when Juliet defies Capulet she is portrayed as a strong feminist character.

Romeo and Juliet’s romantic love separates them from the rest of Verona’s violent society.

Romeo and Juliet’s love leads to the horrific way their lives ended after only knowing each other for just two days.

Throughout the 16th century, religion was very important to society; therefore Shakespeare’s audience would have seen Romeo and Juliet to be condemned to hell, as they committed suicide and ended there own life, which was against God’s natural course.

The Elizabethan audience would have taken the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as a tragedy. Where as the modern day audience regard the play to be a romantic love story.

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In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ two types of love are evident. One in Patrachan love; this is a concept of unattainable love first developed by Italian humanist and writer, Francesco Patrach. Shakespeare illustrates Romeo as a Patrachan lover, in the beginning of the play; when he is in love with Rosaline, ‘she’ll not be hit with Cupid’s arrow, and she hath Dian’s wit and in strong proof of chastity well armed’. The references to Cupid and Dian are an indication to mythological gods, which was often used in Patrachan poetry. Using elaborate conceits Romeo describes Rosaline as a goddess, this is a ridiculous comparison because she is only human and he has not met anyone else that he has fallen truly in love with yet. Romeo also uses reference to war, he says that she was ‘well armed’, suggesting that Romeo may want to win her over but has to go through her armour, protection first. Dian was the goddess of hunting; therefore Romeo may have wanted to be Rosaline’s prey and be caught by her eye.

The second type of love used in the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is romantic love; romantic love is a form of love that is often regarded as different from mere needs driven by sexual desire. Juliet influences Romeo to turn into a romantic lover; this is shown by the intense passion that springs up at first sight of each other. ‘Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night’. Shakespeare uses the contrast of love between Romeo and Juliet, compared to his love of Romeo and Rosaline, to highlight how their love was real and not driven by sexual desires.

To illustrate how strong and passionate Romeo and Juliet’s love is they share a Shakespearean sonnet, which is different when compared to a Patrachan sonnet, as it contains less hyperbole ‘good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devotion shows in this, for saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands to touch’. Shakespeare’s audience would have seen the sonnet as controversial because they were both sharing it, but in the 16th century men where suppose to be the dominant sex; so therefore if the sonnet was shared it would be seen as women were equal to men. This further emphasizes how Romeo and Juliet’s love is true as it is so equal and therefore different to the rest of Verona.

Shakespeare explores the love for friends and family and how this love can become an overpowering hate. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Romeo marries Juliet and therefore loves Tybalt as he is part of his family, Romeo also loves his friend Mercutio. But, when Romeo has to choose between family love and love for a friend Romeo chooses a friend, when Mercutio has been killed Romeo seeks revenge on Tybalt. Shakespeare demonstrates how love and hate affect each other, so therefore one cannot exist without the other. Romeo experiences love for his friend which causes him to have hate for the family.

Juliet may be viewed as a powerful female character; her strength is evident in her defiance of her father’s demand that she marry’s Paris ‘Good father, I beseech you on my knees’. Juliet being portrayed as a strong feminist character it is different to the rest of Verona’s matriarchal society. During the 16th Century Juliet would be seen as a women’s role model, because she was able to stand up to the dominating male society and speak what she believed in and wanted. For this reason the audience watching Shakespeare’s play may have believed in Juliet and what she wanted, for example that she wanted to marry Romeo and that she didn’t want to marry Paris because she was already married. Alternatively, the audience may have seen her as a disloyal daughter and that she was doing wrong. Because Capulet had given everything for her and she was prepared to just through it all away just to marry Romeo. Juliet would have looked like a strong feminist character when she was willing to fake her death for her love ‘Give me, give me! O tell not me of fear’. Juliet does not want to be told of the fear about the vial, as then she may not drink it and she wants to for her love of Romeo. Shakespeare may have also written her not wanting to know of the fears Friar Lawrence has because then she may be viewed as a weaker character. Shakespeare has written love and hate to be living alongside to each other when Juliet wants to kill her self, which could be seen as hate, for the love of Romeo. The strong comparisons being interlinked shows how they both affect each other and would not exist without the other.

Juliet had an intense hate for her family, the most important motivation for this was because of the feud with the Montague’s, ‘A dog of the house of Montague’. The argument between the two families meant that the Romeo and Juliet have to get married in secret and then from then on have to love each other and meet in furtive. ‘Come, come with me, and we will make short work, for by your leaves, you shall not stay alone’. Romeo and Juliet have to get married in secret which may make them angry because they cannot be seen together in Verona and cannot confide in their families. An example of when the audience can see how angry Juliet is with her family is when she is willing to accept Friar Lawrence’s vial, rather than to marry Paris, the man that her father, Capulet, has proposed for her to marry.

Juliet loved her nurse, from the beginning of the play, for many reasons. Firstly, the Nurse supported the love between Romeo and Juliet ‘you hence to Friar Lawrence’ cell, There stays a husband to make you a wife’. The Nurse gives Juliet the news that Romeo is going to marry her and gets her to go to the church, supporting her t get married. Although the Nurse and Juliet seem very close as the beginning of the play this all turns around, during the middle. When the Nurse is put in a tense situation she tells Juliet to marry Paris and forget about Romeo ‘Marry, I will, and this is wisely done’. Juliet may feel betrayed by the Nurse because she already knows about the marriage Juliet had with Romeo. Shakespeare’s audience would know of the dramatic irony that Juliet has to cope with. For this reason the audience of the 16th Century may feel apologetic for Juliet as the one person she has been confiding in now has turned against her.

When we first meet Friar Lawrence he wishes to use the marriage between Romeo and Juliet to bring peace in Verona ‘To turn your households’ rancour to pure love’. For his actions Friar Lawrence maybe seen as a dishonest and cunning schemer where as others may perceive that he was trying to do the best for the two families and Verona’s people by ending the arguing. On the other hand his good intentions caused the suicides of Romeo and Juliet. Therefore the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ would have appeared against the Ten Commandments, when Romeo and Juliet both kill themselves, for the love they have. As during the 16th Century religion was exceedingly significant to society, meaning that the Ten Commandments were taken very seriously. The 16th Century audience would perceive Romeo and Juliet to be therefore condemned to hell.

The church was a place of religion, so in Romeo and Juliet the significance of the church is this is where the plans for marriage behind the Montague’s and Capulet’s back happened and the plan for Juliet to fake her death all came about ‘Thou consent to marry us today’ and ‘thou take this vial…appear like death’. Shakespeare may have used the church for significance because he may have felt that it would make the audience react or he himself did not like church. The fact he may have not liked church could be seen because he is writing the church to be full of lies and deceit. However, Romeo and Juliet also get married in the church. The fact that lies and love both happen in the church demonstrates how love and hate, the lies, where living paradoxically side by side. The lies started of with love because Romeo and Juliet got married behind their families back for their love.

Throughout the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Capulet shows different emotions towards his daughter, Juliet. To start with he was a caring and considerate parent when Paris wants to marry Juliet. ‘My child is yet a stranger to the world’. The relevance to Capulet describing his ‘child’ as a ‘stranger’, suggesting that other than Juliet’s family she does not know very much about other people in the world and she does not know much about the world other than were she lives in Verona. Capulet also tells Paris he can only marry her if she wants to and that it’s her decision ‘woo her gentle Paris, get her heart’. Here Capulet is saying that he wants the best for his daughter and that he wants her to be happy. Using the phrase ‘get her heart’ suggests that Capulet wants Paris to make Juliet fall deeply in love with Paris before he asks her to marry him or before Capulet would be willing to arrange a wedding for the young couple. These examples of Capulet showing his an affectionate father and that he wants the best for his only child and is wiling to put her first if it would make Juliet happy.

However, after being a caring father Capulet becomes aggressive due to the fact he believes Juliet has betrayed him as she would not marry Paris. Although the real truth is that she was already married to Romeo and so therefore did not want to be untrue to him. ‘Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch’. The use of ‘disobedient’ shows how he thought she was betraying him because she would not marry Paris. In this quote it also shows how Capulet feels when he says ‘young baggage’ it is like he has been carrying her, spending all his time for her and giving her his money for what she wants, for her only to let him down, this makes Capulet angry as he is suddenly let down. In the middle of Capulet’s rage he says to Juliet ‘hang, beg, starve, die in the streets’. The malicious things Capulet says to his daughter show just how angry he was by how he wanted her to not be part of him and he did not care for her anymore, even if she died on the streets. One of the reasons that Capulet may have been getting so angry is because in the Verona men were seen as the dominant sex, therefore as he had given Paris his word that he could marry Juliet, Capulet would be seen as a weak man. ‘Wife, go you to her ere you go to bed, Acquaint her here of my son Paris’ love,’ So, it may be seen that Capulet was a good father as he was doing his best for Juliet and being caring and he also wanted her to marry the right person. Because the audience watching the play during the 16th Century and up to the modern day know of the previous wedding between Romeo and Juliet the dramatic irony Shakespeare created makes some people see Capulet as a hateful character because he was making Juliet be disloyal and marry two people, which would have been against Gods Ten Commandments.

Romeo and Juliet died whilst they were in love with each other but angry with their families and the society they lived in. I feel that Romeo and Juliet’s death was caused from a mixture of reasons. I feel that the major one was because of their families as they had to get married in secret and if they were able to just be married then it may have ended differently because Juliet would not have had to fake her death to be with Romeo. I also feel that Capulet is partly responsible because he was protective over Juliet and when she betrayed him he got angry with her. But I believe that if Capulet had let Juliet marry Romeo than the play may have turned out different.

I feel there is not a more dominant theme in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as the two are equal and without one the other could not exist because they influence each other. An example of when they influence each other is when Romeo kills Tybalt because he killed Mercutio who was Romeo’s friend, the killing of the two male characters could be seen as hate because they had hate for the other character in order to kill them. Although there are sections of the play in which love may be stronger, for example when Romeo and Juliet get married. There are also moments that hate is the more dominant theme; one illustration of this is when Capulet is wiling to force Juliet to marry Paris, against her will.

Yes, I feel the play is sill relevant because in some society’s people cannot marry who they feel, or cannot speak what they want. Although in the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ women were seen as the weaker sex, Juliet proves that she is as strong as the male characters if not stronger. This can be reflected in modern day society because in some religions, for example Islam, arranged marriages are a regular occurrence with the father planning who his daughter will marry. Also in modern day society’s women are seen as the weaker sex in some countries. So I feel overall the play is still relevant because people can relate to it about their own lives or if not their own then what is happening to the lives of people around the world.

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To what extent do you feel that 'Romeo and Juliet' is a play about love or hate?. (2018, Dec 28). Retrieved from

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