Conflict in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Conflict in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragic play about the love relationship between the young Romeo and Juliet, who belong to 2 ancient family names that hold a grudge against each other, the Montagues and the Capulets. There are also many other conflicts which ultimately stop Romeo and Juliet form being together. The story was written by the famous play writer, William Shakespeare, and originated the poem, ?the Tragicalle Historye? of Romeo and Juliet written in 1452. Throughout the play conflict is a very important issue and was the main reason the relationship ended in tragedy. In Romeo and Juliet, conflict is the focal point of the play as most of the story is based around this. The conflict in the play is introduced through nature, social and personal levels of feud. The first major conflict that is essential to the play, and is the backbone of the whole story is the feud between the families, the Montague?s and the Capulet?s is very important as it is introduced in the prologue, ?From ancient grudge break to new mutiny? showing that the conflict has existed for many generations and once again the feud has arisen to boiling point. The next line, ?where civil blood makes civil hands unclean?, gives us the impression that the conflict between the Montagues also involves many other people, which helps to show the extent of the conflict. This is reinforced by the fact that even the servants of the families are quarrelling during the beginning of the play, just before the big fight that involves the whole of Verona. Shakespeare shows this by making the servant use insults that were used at the time, ?Do you bite your thumb at me.? The feud is mainly to do with the pride the family name holds, although no-one really knows what the feud is originated from. However the pride each family holds has turned into rivalry for control, power and fighting for the family name. The feud also runs in the background through the whole play and is branched off into other smaller feuds such as Romeo and Tybalt and Juliet and her father. We can already see that the conflict is already a major driving force of the play and helps to fuel the tragedy. The effect the feud has on the play is that we can already see that the relationship between Romeo and Juliet would be fairly prohibiting and would be seen in the eyes of Montague and Capulet as deceitful and dishonourable. Already there is a major issue that will always prevent Romeo and Juliet having a stable relationship and helps to leas to the tragic and unfortunate deaths of the lovers. Another major effect it has on the play is that it helps to create all the other feuds and creates an unwelcome hostility between the two families. The idea of the relationship ending in tragedy through this conflict is shown by fate, referring to Romeos dreams and the stars, ?star crossed lovers?. Another conflict that is important in the play is Romeos inner conflict about his ?love? for Rosaline, his first lover. However Benvolio believes that his love for Rosaline is merely lust. Romeo tries to fight this idea by using flowery language to describe Rosaline, ?O, she is rich in beauty, only poor?. From this line we can see that Romeo is making himself believe that he is in love with Rosaline, but the truth is he is blinded by lust and passion, making him feel love sick. This is also shown by the conflicting words together (oxymorons) to show that his lust for Rosaline makes him happy but also sad at the same time. This feud within himself makes him go to the party leading him to see Juliet, he immediately falls in love with her and forgets about Rosaline, further causing confliction in himself. We can learn form this that Romeo is very fickle, instantly using flowery language when he sees Juliet ?Did my heart love till now? For swear it, sight for I ne?er saw true beauty till this night? and the love he sees is with his eyes and not his heart. Friar Lawrence tries to show him this, ?So soon forsaken? Young men?s love then lies not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.? From this we can see that Romeo does not know that he wants as he is very insecure and unsure about his feelings. This can also be seen through his dreams, ?I dreamt a dream tonight?, referring to fate he sees problems and misgivings further adding to his inner conflict Once again this conflict has a major effect over the course of the play as it leads and triggers the relationship between Romeo and Juliet. We also have the first insight into Romeos character and we learn that he is fickle and headstrong, mainly due to the reason that he rushes into believing that he is in love with Juliet, also rushing into decisions without letting his feelings grow. This is shown by the fact that Romeo decides to marry Juliet within a week of seeing her. Maybe if Romeo had let his feelings grow he would have thought rationally and takes things step at a time, stopping any major problems from arising. It also helps to cause further feuds between Juliet, her father and the death of Mercutio through Tybalt which he could have easily stopped if he wasn?t blinded by the sense of responsibility and love. The third conflict that appears to be important is the fight between Juliet and her father. The conflict arose as Capulet was not aware about Juliet?s marriage to Romeo and believes that Juliet is grieving over the death of Tybalt, not knowing that she is really saddened by the banishing of her secret husband Romeo. Thinking that to solver her troubles he would arrange the marriage between her and Paris. However this further complicates Juliet?s problems as she has no intention of following her father?s plans causing a tense argument between her and Capulet. Capulet is angered by Juliet?s refusal and uses abusive language to describe Juliet such as, ?out you green-sickness carrion! Out you baggage!?, we can learn from this that Capulet is so ashamed and enraged that he resorts into using a wide range of insults and threatens to throw Juliet out if she does not comply with her wishes. In return Juliet argues and says she would rather die then marry Paris leading Lady Capulet to tell Capulet this ?I would fool were married to her grave?. From this feud we can learn that Capulet believes him-self to be the head of the household and is ruthless in trying to make Juliet obey his wishes. This feud has a major effect on the play as this is the driving force that leads to Juliet going to Friar Lawrence, threatening o commit suicide. This speed s up the course of the play and helps to lead to the major catastrophe that occurs at the end. The fourth feud that has a major effect on the play takes place between Romeo and Tybalt. The feud originates from the long held conflict and rivalry between Capulets and Montagues and is sparked off by Tybalt seeing Romeo at the party, he is deeply angered by this and his rage is for everyone to see, ?Now by the stock and honour of my kin, To strike him dead I hold it not a sin? However Capulet does not want anymore trouble and stops Tybalt form doing anything rash. However this creates more rage inside Tybalt who vows to get his vengeance on Romeo. At a later stage of the play Tybalt renews his rivalry with Romeo and challenges him to a duel, but Romeo declines as he is now related to Tybalt and wants to squash any conflict between the two of them. In frustration and anger Tybalt seizes the opportunity to kill Mercutio, filling Romeo?s insides with hate and a sense of betrayal to Mercutio. Tybalt further taunts Romeo, ?Again, in triumph, and Mercutio slain?? This leaves Romeo fuming and wanting vengeance, ?Fire-eyed fury be my conduct now?. This leads into an all-mighty duel and Romeo takes the life of Tybalt. Romeo does not foresee the consequences his actions as he is blinded by passion and vehemence for the death of Mercutio. This feud has a huge effect on the play as the catalyst and helps to speed the play up due to the fact it was one of the main climaxes in the story. It also meant that Romeo was banished form Verona. This affects the relationship with Juliet as if he did not kill Tybalt he would not have been banished from Verona. Capulet would not have accepted the marriage proposal form Paris, and Juliet would not have taken the potion which tricked Romeo into his death, leading to the deaths of both of them, showing that once again conflict was the main driving force of the tragedy. In conclusion I believe that conflict plays a major role in the success of Romeo and Juliet as a tragic production. This is because without conflict the story would not carry the message of how people should put their quarrels to bed before they have disastrous effects and make you realise that people should live together in peace and harmony. Conflict is the backbone of the play with one major feud branching off into many other smaller feuds between various characters. Romeo and Juliet would be meaningless with out feuds as it helps to keep the play moving by adding an extra dimension, this can be seen in any story as without feuds no story would be successful. This is specifically shown in Romeo and Juliet wit the play being built around the feud between the two families grudges over each other, causing the relationship between Romeo and Juliet to be kept secret and further tearing them apart.

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