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Romeo and Juliet: Tragedy Analysis

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  Shakespeare uses intense language, style, and tone in each characters dialogue to create a heart-breaking play which mirrors the disputes during the 16th century. The relationships between parents and children were very distant and the parents were controlling of their children’s lives. Act 3 Scene 5 is the pinnacle for understanding the true relationship between Lord Capulet and Juliet, which was found out to be a very poor and distant relationship. In a particular point in the scene, Capulet says, “I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thursday, Or never after look me in the face. Speak not; reply not; do not answer me.” This quote was said moments after Juliet finds out she is forced to marry Paris; a marriage arranged by Paris and Capulet themselves. 

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After a massive dispute between the parents and the child, Capulet angrily breaks Juliet with a hard decision to make; either to follow the unfair customs set in the 16th century where the children, especially the girls, never had a choice in what to do in their lives, or to disobey their orders, which would lead to her never allowed to visit them ever again. Being left with a dilemma like this, it was no doubt that it was one of the many reasons that led to the tragic death of both Romeo and Juliet. In this precise quote, Capulet’s tone and voice varies greatly. In the beginning, Capulet creates a more calm approach as he believes the better choice for Juliet is to show up for the wedding and marry Paris. This is seen in the beginning, when he says “I tell thee what:” in which the use the colon creates a large stop where Capulet can calm down and think about what to say. As Capulet then moves on to mention the consequences if Juliet refuses to follow his order, Capulet takes a more angry, annoyed approach. We see this in the use of the words “Or never after” and in the sudden stops as he lists the actions, “speak not; reply not; do not answer me”. This shows that Lord Capulet is one who is tyrannical and oppressive when it comes to his daughter as he demands Juliet to follow her orders, and believes his choices are always correct. Shockingly however, arranged marriages were very common throughout the world up until the 18th century.

 Typically, marriages were arranged by parents or other relatives where it was very common when the children never met each other until the wedding day. Many of the viewers could easily relate with the feud between Capulet and Juliet, which sparked lots of controversy when Shakespeare first introduced this play to the live audience. In addition, during the same scene Act 3 Scene 5, Lord Capulet says, “Wife, we scare thought us blest That God had lent us but this only child, But now I see this one is one too much, And that we have a curse in having her.” After threatening her to accept his marriage plans, Capulet then goes on to say that she was a curse to him and to Lady Capulet, and claiming that she is unwanted. Capulet mentions god as if it was his fault for giving birth to only one child, and for it to be “too much”. Throughout the entire scene, Shakespeare presents the relationship between Capulet and Juliet as aggressive and disrespectful, which mirrors Capulets tone as well. This quote is greatly linked to historical context as back then, as mentioned before the parents had total control of their children’s lives, and the children had no freedom to speak up. Juliet challenges her parents, making her unique from other children, which Capulet then proceeds call her a “curse in having her”. Having said this, Shakespeare saw this around the world and wanted to tackle this horrifying custom by creating this tragic love story in which the audience would relate and reflect upon their lives. 

Finally, Act 2 Scene 2, is an important scene as well as it proves the awful relationship between the children and their parents. In this scene, we hear Juliet say, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.” In arguably one of the most famous lines in the play, this quote helps us understand Juliet’s inner identity and her willingness to leave behind her family name just to be with Romeo, someone she fell in love with in first sight. In this quote, we find out Juliet is deeply in love with Romeo as she is asking herself where he is, and this is greatly seen in the beginning of the quote, with the use of anaphora in “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”.

Juliet then asks Romeo to deny his family name, Montague, in a way to bring them closer together in love, “Deny thy father, and refuse thy name”. Juliet’s voice then raises as she then thinks maybe he doesn’t have to side with his father, but instead she would oppose Capulet and end up siding with Romeo either way. Juliet’s desire proves the appalling relationship between Lord Capulet and Juliet, as she proudly believes that Romeo will treat her better than anyone else, especially Lord and Lady Capulet have been far from being good parents. We later find out that Romeo feels the same way when he says, “I take thee word; Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized; Henceforth I never will be Romeo”. Romeo confesses his love and desire to be with her forever as he says that he is willing to change his name only to be with her. The hyperbole used in the poem reflects his relationship with Juliet, suggesting that he would sacrifice his family’s name, or anything for the love of Juliet; he also uses the example that he will be newly baptized and he “never will be Romeo”. Both these quotes are very important as it brings large sympathy from the audience to both Romeo and Juliet who fight for love against their own families, and it was very uncommon for the children during the 16th century, to challenge disobey their parents orders for love.

 In conclusion, Shakespeare showcases the rough and complicated relationship between the children and the parents, especially with Juliet and Lord Capulet where throughout the entirety of the play Capulet seems very controlling of Juliet, so much that he decides that she marries Paris forcefully, and in the other side Juliet who is in love with Romeo, a member of the opposition family Montague and cares for Romeo above anyone else so much so to die tragically to end up with him. Shakespeare mirrors disputes back then through the great use of dramatic language, and powerful tone and style in every dialogue to create one of the greatest plays of all time. 

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