The nature of true love, under its wonderous facade, is neither beautiful nor sweet, but often catastrophic and vexatious. In The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's rich lyric poetry illustrates a forbidden love at first sight. His prolific use of light and dark symbolism throughout the play helps express the idea of their young love. However, their absence of knowledge caused the untimely death of the two star-crossed lovers. Departure, initiation, and return are the three reoccurring phases of Joseph Campbell's hero's journey in which Shakespeare's play follows a very similar path.
In the city of Verona lies a prolonged family rivalry between the Capulets and Montagues. The first scene of the play begins with two servants from the house of Capulet taunting servants of Lord Montague, resulting in a brawl. Prince Escalis soon arrives and declares 'If ever you disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace' . In the next scene, we are introduced to Paris, the kinsman of Prince Escalis, who wishes to marry Juliet. Lord Capulet, at first, isn't too fond of his thirteen-year-old daughter getting married, but he does invite Paris to their traditional masquerade feast to which he can win over her love. 'But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart, my will to her consent is but a part' . Lord Capulet gives the invitation list to one of his servants. The illiterate servant sees Romeo Montague roaming the streets of Verona and requests help. Romeo gets a glance at the guest list and notices his love Rosaline will be there. These first three scenes represent Campbell's 'call to adventure' where Romeo decided to go forth willingly after being confronted with a challenge.
Scene five begins with Romeo and his friends sneaking into Lord Capulet's feast. After entering the party, Romeo notices Juliets and is immediately love-struck by her beauty. 'O, she doth teach the torch to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night, like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear' . Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, sees Romeo and immediately wants to kill him. 'This, by his voice, should be a Montague. Fetch me my rapier boy'. Romeo and Juliet meet and instantly fall in love with each other. They then share a kiss but are interrupted by Juliet's nurse. The nurse tells Juliet that Romeo is a Montague. 'His name is Romeo and is a Montague; The only son of your great enemy.' Juliet replies, 'My only love sprung from my only hate' . This scene is the 'crossing of the first threshold' because Romeo is now ready and committed to the journey.