Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare incorporates the theme of conflict through many different characters, and situations.The theme of conflict is conveyed in different forms, mostly physical and violence. This reflects off the era in their generation of Renaissance where many European nations were at war. The Renaissance was derived from the French word meaning ‘rebirth’. It is used to describe this phase of European history. Conflict is a key structure in the play as it outlines I the beginning , middle, and end of play. Shakespeare chose the era he wrote about to dramatize the story and to easily characterize the politics.
The theme of conflict is first introduced in the prologue of the play. The audience have been told that two different families at same social status have an ‘ancient grudge’ suggesting the conflict that is going on. Also said the conflict will be ‘break to new mutiny’. Romeo and Juliet presented as ‘a pair of star-crossed lovers’ informing the audience that nothing would change their fate of love. However, it does not simply set the scene of Romeo and Juliet. It tells the audience what is going to exactly happen throughout the play. The two will be destroyed in an action which will ‘bury their parents’ strife’. Shakespeare shows the redemptive power of love opposed to destructive hate – and in some ways the feud seems the major cause of the tragedy. As the audience watch the prologue, they see that Romeo and Juliet will also be a tragedy. This has already told the audience the story will be about two families who have been battling for a while and their feud interacts with the pair. When the line ‘star-crossed lovers’ appears, they identify that these are Romeo and Juliet as they have been brought together by fate.In the prologue, Shakespeare uses conflict in the beginning. When “star-crossed lovers” is used, Shakespeare talks about Romeo and Juliet and how they met. “Star-crossed” referred to how they both were meant to meet by it being written in the stars. The noun ‘love’ suggests the young love couple, Romeo and Juliet. This quote show the audience that death will be involved throughout the play. Shakespeare uses a variety of oxymoron. An example of this would be ‘death-marked love”. Love is usually a gift. Shakespeare has taken this and made it into an oxymoron by adding ‘death’. The oxymoron’s can be used to show confusion towards the character. In other words, a chaotic mind. The adjectives used in the oxymoron’s show how the character does not know what to think or say. Their mind is baffled. In the prologue, he used ‘death’ and ‘love’ in different lines to grab the audience’s attention.The structure of the prologue includes a sonnet using iambic pentameter. The prologue mentions the scene is set in Verona and gives the backstory of the play. It gives the audience and readers extra information of the play and background information. For example, Shakespeare tells the audience Romeo and Juliet die in the prologue to show that the main theme is not that they died, but of what caused them to die. The love and hate between their family feud. He also mentioned it so the audience would not get carried away with their emotions and to know that the lover’s plan would never work out. The use of iambic pentameter has a metaphorical use as well as a structural one. Both structures emphasis that the theme of the play will be about love and emotions.
The beginning of Act One opens with a fight scene caused by Sampson and Gregory, Capulets. The fight is not necessary but since both families are in a feud, Sampson and Gregory decide to start a fight for some action and drama. This causes the audience some tension. Shakespeare has presented Sampson as arrogant and above his station as a servant. This is shown when he says ‘Tis all one. I will show myself as a tyrant’. The noun ‘tyrant’ suggests a powerful, opportunity ruler, an ironic and bold statement from a servant. This shows he wants to overpower the Montagues. Shakespeare presents with ideas of status, respect and civilization in the oxymoron ‘civil blood’. The behavior from the civilization is far from being far for their social status. The feud had worn itself into the society which seems fine as it is normal, but in Act 1 Scene 1, the Prince says they are ‘profaners’ and ‘enemies to peace’, when they tried to take their personal feud to the outside.
Furthermore, when Sampson says ‘tis one’ he proves that he is careless about the Montagues and feels he can create conflict with any member of the household. The use of short sentence here emphasis Sampson’s arrogance and dismissive air. Overall, Shakespeare is showing the conflict to be so strong between the families. The title Sampson and Gregory have been given seems meaningless as they act highly of themselves. Their haughtiness continues when Shakespeare presents them as individuals who render for physical act. This can be shown when they describe women as “Women being the weaker vessel are ever thrust to the wall; therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall”. Sampson and Gregory do not comprehend love as a variety of different emotional, typically strongly and a positive experience, but see women as worthless objects kept for the pleasure of men.The ending of Scene 1 ends with the Prince’s speech after he ended the fight with the Capulets and Montagues. The Prince describes the action as ‘cankered with peace’ and ‘rebellious’ shows the fight was out of control. The theme of conflict is presented by the Prince stating their consequences, which is shown in the quote ‘Your lives shall pay the forfeit of peace’. This shows the audience that there would be very big consequences if the feuds do not end. Which would force the families to make a death wish for the sake of peace.
In Act 1 Scene 2, Paris is introduced. This scene establishes how Juliet is the subject to parental influence. Romeo is also forced into fights because of his father’s enmity with the Capulets. Capulet can force Juliet to marry whomever he desired. That was the difference between being a man and a woman in Verona in the Elizabethan period. ‘My will to consent is but a part’ tells us that Juliet could choose a husband for herself. However, him forcing her into marriage felt necessary to him as she was his only daughter and the father’s had full control on their kids. In addition to this, Juliet’s arranged marriage with Paris and the traditional feud between the Capulets and Montagues will eventually lead to the death of Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time in Act 1, Scene 5. He proclaims his love to her through religious and language symbolism. He states ‘did my heart love till now? For ne’er saw true beauty till this night’. However, it shows the typical Petrarchan lover as he had been drooling over Rosaline at the beginning of the play. He had given himself the power of making Juliet his mistress. In stating this comment, the author urges the audience to feel how depressed Romeo was, due to Rosaline not requiring his love. “Did my heart love till now?” indicates how when the gaze of Romeo and Juliet locked, he realized his artificial love for Rosaline.
Act 2 is focused on Romeo and Juliet confessing their love to each other and starting to arrange their marriage. Conflict is shown in the balcony scene. They vow to marry and make a commitment to their marriage and they are aware of the implications of death. Romeo has succeeded into sneaking and hiding beneath Juliet’s balcony. He wants to be positive that the love he feels towards Juliet is equal to his feelings. The baptism sign shows the commitment from the both of them to their relationship. This links in with imagery referring to religion as Romeo describes Juliet as ‘an angel’ mentioning the ‘idolatry’.
Eventually, she appears not seeing Romeo and states ‘Oh Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo?”. Here she wishes his name was not Romeo as so they were not enemies and could love without having any consequences. The name Romeo symbolises the Montague name, which is what is preventing the pair from being together. Juliet does not see the importance of her last name (‘Capulet’) like her father does, or Romeo’s last name (‘Montague’) and, wishes to put the feud behind the two families. She doesn’t see the significance of not being able to love for another because of a conflict in the past. The authors point is directed to emotional conflict where Juliet determines to swear on her love that she will no longer be a Capulet if she had to be forced into marriage with another than Romeo. This is shown in her statement ‘but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet’. Juliet says she no longer wants to be a Capulet if that means not marrying or being with Romeo, as she feels that Romeo’s last name is the only problem with them not being able to get married. however, it’s much more to her father as he sees the family as a threat to his people. She dedicates to swear on her love. When they vow to marry and make a commitment to their marriage as they are aware of the significances, conflict is taken place.
There is further conflict between violence and peace in Act 3, Scene 1 to show the tragedy of the story and situations linking to physical, emotional conflict. Benvolio states ‘when the day is hot’ and shows pathetic fallacy, which shows that he is predicting what will happen next. Tybalt tries calling out Mercutio and Benvolio to act tough in front of the two creating a tense atmosphere. Mercutio had replied with ‘And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something, make it a word and a blow.’ This tells the audience that Mercutio doesn’t care about Tybalt and is making Tybalt look like a fool by twisting his words. This is because he is trying to start a fight with him creating a dramatic effect. The repetition of ‘quarrel’ in Mercutio’s speech is ominous, as a tangled prose. He is not content with a ‘word’, he demands also a ‘blow’. Mercutio is not a member of either family, and loves violence for its own sake. Physical conflict follows Mercutio when he dies later on. The audience realize that the story has now turned from a comedy to a tragedy after Mercutio’s death. His death was caused by hatred from the Capulets. “A plague on both your houses!” emphasis his death also foreshadows the conflict between the Montagues and Capulets. The conflict between Capulet and Juliet is visible throughout the story.
In Act 3, Scene 5 Capulet threatens Juliet in if she had refused to marry the man who her father picked for her. He uses baleful and ominous imagery. “Hang, beg, starve, and die in the streets.” He also uses physical conflict ‘my fingers itch’, which shows Capulet is disgusted by her for not wanting to marry Paris. ”How, how, how, how, chopp’d logic! What is this? ‘Proud’ and ‘I thank you’ and ‘I thank you not’; and yet ‘not proud.’ Capulet refers to Juliet as a ‘minion,’ which means spoilt child. Capulet had put his actions in that way because they live in a society where the fathers decide the husband for their daughter. As a father, Capulet is allowed to choose a husband for Juliet as he is the father and has the right to. His desire was Paris but Juliet has neglected his offering which has caused this scene conflict. Capulet threatens Juliet with saying ‘hang thee, young baggage. Disobedient wretch!’ ‘young thee’ suggests Capulet wants Juliet dead- to hang herself. He calls her a ‘baggage’ which is meant as an accessory and means nothing to him. Capulet is ashamed and calls Juliet disobedient for rebelling against him. When Juliet had dishonored the family, Capulet stated “Go to church on Thursday or never look me in the face”. This shows that Capulet is ashamed of Juliet’s actions and wants her to go to church to remove her sins. If she has not done that, she shall never look him in the face.
In Act 4, Juliet drank a poison to make her sound asleep. However, that is not what everyone else thinks. Conflict was shown in the scene where Friar gave Juliet a potion that will effectively kill her for forty-eight hours. This links to emotional conflict because of Juliet not wanting to get married to Paris where it comes to the point of her willing to trick everyone into thinking she is dead. “Walk in thievish ways, or bid me lurk, Where serpents are. Chain me with roaring bears, Or shut me nightly in a charnel house,” Juliet lists all of her fears and doesn’t care about them as she thinks they’re not as important as her marrying another man and betraying Romeo.When Paris walks in and asks Friar to marry him and Juliet, he is indecisive because he’s aware of Romeo and Juliet’s marriage. The conflict in this scene is that Capulet tells Juliet that she is getting married to Paris on Thursday. This is when she decides to drink the potion that the Friar gave her. “God joined my heart and Romeo’s, thou our hands” shows the power Juliet has that she said her marriage for Romeo was ‘approved’ by God. Act 5 has finished off the story and has ended in a tragic way. The lovers sacrifice themselves to be together in death. “O happy dagger” was stated by Juliet when she has awoken to see Romeo has died. A dagger is meant to hurt people and cause people pain. In Juliet’s case, stabbing herself with the dagger would make her happy as Romeo has died and she would want to die with him to be together in death. Further conflict was shown before the lovers died. The specific conflict is when Friar’s letter was not able to reach Romeo about the plan, therefore leaving Romeo into thinking Juliet is dead. This leads to internal conflict towards Friar because he had to make a quick decision about whether to leave the wedding or catch up and stop Romeo from coming to the tomb.
When Romeo caught up to Juliet’s tomb, he sees that she is dead. He decides whether to kill himself or not which plays a major conflict in the story because it shows the hatred between the two families and how Romeo and Juliet had to hide their love from their parents, which led to their deaths.