Love and Death vs. Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous work of literature. The classic tale of love is about two families, the Montague family and Capulet family, torn apart by and old rivalry, and a boy and girl in love. Both teens are a member of the two different families. In the midst of the ongoing feud between the families, the two main characters, Romeo and Juliet, share a sacred love affair. Multiple motifs are brought about again and again up until the final page. Of these motifs, Love and Death are highly illuminated; they ultimately show that love can be surrounded by death and hatred.
Love is, of course, the more positive idea brought to mind when compared to death in Romeo and Juliet. One of the very first moments where love is truly sought into is in the first scene of the book. Romeo is talking to Benvolio about love after Benvolo questions him about why he is sulking and depressed. This quote is one that the reader should analyze highly when reading. It sets off a chain of motifs that appear in Act I. “This love that thou hast shown/ doth add more grief to too much of mine own. /Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs…’ (I. i.195-197). Shakespeare uses simile in this passage to give Romeo’s insight about how he sees love. In translation, Romeo is saying that love is bringing him to grief, adding more to his own personal issues.
One other example of Roemo and Juliet’s love, which will ultimately lead to their dramatic deaths, also takes place in Act I. After Roemo and Juliet meet face to face at the Capulet affair, and the nurse responds, telling her that it is a Montague. “My only love sprung from my only hate! /Too early seen unknown, and known too late! /Prodigious birth of love it is to me/ that I must love a loathed enemy” (I.v.152-155). Juliet immediately realizes that her encounter with Romeo will lead to a terrible fate.
In Romeo and Juliet, love surprisingly causes more chaos than death in the entire book. In both Romeo and Juliet’s eyes, it is clear that love has the ability to bring them to their knees. Romeo is taken under loves spell twice in the story; first when he falls for Rosaline, then Juliet. Much grief is brought upon Romeo when he finds that the feelings he has for Rosaline aren’t mutual between them. Juliet is in awe when she discovers that Romeo is of the Montagues. She also is distraught after the nurse gives her news of Romeo’s exile out of Verona. The two quotes reflect the conflict surrounding their love throughout the book. Romeo and Juliet are blinded by love, and they soon realize how much it truly affects themselves and their surroundings. The topic of death is a very strong, deep motif shown in Romeo and Juliet. As stated before, there are many examples in the book highlighting death. As the recent events of Act III settle in, Romeo discusses his banishment with Friar Lawrence. He is so caught up in the web of love, he would give his life away than to be taken away from Juliet.
Romeo goes on to express how he sees banishment over death. “Hence ‘banished’ is ‘banished from the world,’ /And world’s exile is death. Then ‘banished,’ /Thou cutt’st my head off with a golden ax/And smilest upon the stroke that murders me” (III.iii.20-24). In other words, banishment from Juliet, and his life, is far worse than death to Romeo. The deep feeling in the statements of Romeo compare to those of Juliet later in Act III, when Lady Capulet notifies Juliet that she will marry Paris the next Thursday. “I pray to you, tell my lord and father, madam, /I will not marry yet, and when I do I swear/ It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, /Rather than Paris-” (III.v.125-128). In her mother’s eyes, she sees this as Juliet would marry Romeo(her supposed enemy for the death of Tybalt) over Paris. Juliet means this literally because ironically, she is, in fact already married to Romeo rather than Paris.
Death comes up very often in the story, each time with a different meaning or message. In Act III of the book, Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is tested greatly. They are married, the Montague and Capulet family are together in one unit; yet the families’ long-lasting rivalry still wages on. Romeo kills Tybalt in a violent encounter on the street, and Benvolio is also killed in the quarrel. Romeo’s punishment enlisted by the Prince is banishment from the city. He spends one more night with his beloved Juliet before he faces his ruling. One of the most memorable, symbolic moments in this act is the morning Romeo is bound to be away from Verona, facing his banishment. As Romeo and Juliet are saying goodbye he makes his descent from Juliet’s quarters. Juliet notices something and makes a thoughtful remark. “Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low, /As one dead in the bottom of a tomb /Either my eyesight fails or thou lookest pale” (III.v.55-57). The tragic fate of Romeo and Juliet is foreshadowed. This quote is very symbolic because Romeo and Juliet are never to see each other alive again. It is ironic that Juliet says that Romeo appears to look pale, and he says the same about her because they actually die together inside the tomb in the end.
The dramatic conclusion to Romeo and Juliet is again, brought up and foreshadowed in multiple sections of the book. It is unfortunate that the unconditional love of the couple turns out to be the death of them. When they mention to each other that they look pale, it highlights the fact that it is “written in the stars” that Romeo and Juliet take their lives for their love. It slowly becomes more clear that death is inevitable to Romeo and Juliet.
The ideas of Love and Death are two key motifs in this story. In conclusion, the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is cursed with tragedy. The immense amount of love and affection between the star struck lovers is shown in full throughout the good and bad events that occur. Romeo and Juliet are willing to die for each other, despite their parents’ disagreements and hate toward one another. The rivalry of the Montagues and the Capulets played a large factor in the violence and tradgey involved. It is safe to say that death ultimately surrounds love in the sad story of Romeo and Juliet.
Shakespeare, William, Barbara A. Mowat, and Paul Werstine. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. New York: Washington Square, 1992. Print.