Romeo and Juliet: Themes 2 Year English nd

Romeo and Juliet: Themes
2nd Year English
Theme One: Love
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Romeo and Juliet has
become forever associated
with love.
The play has become an
iconic story of love and
passion, and the name
“Romeo” is still used to
describe young lovers.
Shakespeare’s treatment of
love in the play is complex.
He uses love in its many
guises to thread together the
key relationships in the play.
Fickle Love
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Some characters fall in and out
of love very quickly in Romeo
and Juliet.
For example, Romeo is in love
with Rosaline at the start of the
play, which is presented as an
immature infatuation.
Today, we might use the term
“puppy love” to describe this.
Romeo’s love for Rosaline is
shallow and nobody really
believes that it will last,
including Friar Laurence:
Fickle Love
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Romeo. Thou chid'st
me oft for loving
Rosaline.
Friar Laurence. For
doting, not for loving,
pupil mine.
Paris and Juliet
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Similarly, Paris’ love for Juliet is
borne out of tradition, not
passion. He has identified her as a
good candidate for a wife and
approaches her father to arrange
the marriage.
Although this was the tradition at
the time, it also says something
about Paris’ staid attitude towards
love.
He even admits to Friar Laurence
that in his haste to rush the
wedding through he hasn’t
discussed it with his bride-to-be:
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Friar Laurence. On Thursday, sir?
the time is very short.
Paris. My father Capulet will have
it so;
And I am nothing slow to slack his
haste.
Friar Laurence. You say you do
not know the lady's mind:
Uneven is the course, I like it not.
Paris. Immoderately she weeps for
Tybalt's death,
And therefore have I little talked
of love;
Romantic Love
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Our classic idea of romantic
love is embodied in Romeo
and Juliet. Shakespeare
presents this as a force of
nature, so strong that it
transcends societal
conventions.
This idea is established in the
play’s prologue with the line
“a pair of star-cross'd lovers
take their life.”
Romantic Love
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Perhaps Romeo and Juliet's
love is fate - there love is
given cosmic significance
which can therefore overturn
the social boundaries of “fair
Verona.”
Their love is disallowed by
the Capulet and Montague
households, and Juliet is to
marry Paris – Yet, they
inevitably find themselves
drawn together.
Other Types of Love
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Many of the friendships in
the play are as sincere as
Romeo and Juliet’s love for
one another.
The close relationships
between Juliet and her Nurse,
and between Romeo,
Mercutio and Benvolio are
meaningful and heartfelt.
They care deeply for another
and protect each others
honor – this ultimately costs
Mercutio his life.
Theme Two: Hate
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The Capulet’s hate the Montagues
and vice versa.
We don’t know why though the
Prince says their grudge was the
result of an “airy word” (an insult)
 The Younger generation
of both families continue
this feud.
 It is this hatred that leads
to tension and conflict in
the play
Tybalt’s Hate
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Tybalt is unreasonably hateful.
The mere sight of Romeo at the
Capulet party angers him to the
point of murder
It is Ironic that the party which
brings the two lovers together sows
the seeds that destroy their lives.
Perhaps Shakespeare is showing the
paradoxical relationship between
the two emotions.
Just as Romeo chooses Juliet as the
object of his romantic desire, Tybalt
chooses Romeo as the object of his
murderous desire.
Does Love or Hate triumph?
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Does love or hate conquer in the play?
Romeo’s love for Juliet and hopes for
happiness are destroyed by Tybalt’s hatred
of Romeo, Mercutio’s hatred of Tybalt
and Romeo’s failure to make amends
through love (Act 3 Scene 1)
The families hatred forces the two to end
their lives.
The love that prompted their rash actions
however brings an end to the families
hatred.
Once again Shakespeare shows us that
Love and Hate are intertwined.
Theme Three: Fate
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In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare explores the theme
of fate by allowing the audience to be party to his
characters’ destiny.
In the opening lines of the play the audience is
told what is going to happen to the lovers: “a pair
of star-cross'd lovers take their life.”
Throughout the story, the audience is put in an
omnipotent, god-like position from the start
encouraging them to think about fate and to what
extent our actions are free.
Because we know Romeo and Juliet’s fate from the
outset we are constantly hoping that they will take
a different course – perhaps that Romeo will arrive
just after Juliet has woken.
However, their fate is sealed and we are forced to
question our own destiny and ability to make free
choices.
Theme Three: Fate
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When Mercutio shouts “a plague on both your
houses” in Act 3, Scene 1, we are reminded of
the protagonists’ fate.
This bloody scene in which characters are killed
gives us a glimpse of what fate has in store,
marking the beginning of Romeo and Juliet’s
tragic downfall.
Is it fate that Friar Lawrence’s plan to inform
Romeo of Juliet’s faked death is not realized due
to unforeseen circumstances?
Is it fate that Romeo kills himself when he
does?
Romeo and Juliet see omens throughout the
play, continually reminding the audience of their
fate.
Their death is a catalyst for change in Verona:
the dueling families are united in their grief
creating a political shift in the city.
Perhaps Romeo and Juliet were fated to love and
die for the greater good of Verona.
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