In William Shakespeare’s many novels, he creates characters that often harbor traits that lead to their own downfall. This ideal is evident in one of his most famous works, “Romeo and Juliet”, in the titular character Romeo. Impulsiveness seems to be the major flaw in Romeo’s life that continuously causes negative consequences. Throughout the play, Romeo exemplifies his impulsiveness in many situations, such as his ever-changing love life, the duel with Tybalt, and his quick reaction to the news of Juliet’s supposed death.
One prominent example of Romeo’s impulsiveness is his rapid tendency to change love interests. At first, Romeo expresses how profoundly he loves Rosalind to his friend Benvolio. The play states “She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair, to merit bliss by making me despair. She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow Do I live dead than live to tell it now” (1.1.218-221). In this excerpt, Romeo confesses his love for Rosalind, who will not reciprocate his feelings. He then goes on to tell Benvolio his sadness that Rosalind will not love him back. However, after Benvolio suggests the friends go to the Capulet party to evaluate the women there, Romeo sees Juliet and immediately forgets about Rosalind. This sequence of events heavily supports Romeo’s impulsiveness.
He confesses how he could never love anyone as much as Rosalind, yet when he sees Juliet at the party, he forgets all about Rosalind and claims Juliet is the woman for him. Additionally, Romeo’s new found “love” for Juliet is merely based upon looks. His quick- to-act nature causes him to become infatuated with Juliet, even though he does not know anything about her. Another example of his impulsiveness in his love life is the marriage of the two star-crossed lovers. Romeo’s carelessness to think before he acts causes him to marry Juliet despite knowing each other for a day.
A quote from the passage says “I have been feasting with mine enemy, where on a sudden one hath wounded me that’s by me wounded. Both our remedies within thy help and holy physic lies” (2.3.53-56). This quote demonstrates how Romeo confides in Friar Laurence that he and Juliet fell in love. Romeo then suggests marriage, and that he wants the Friar to perform the ceremony in secret. He says that marriage is the remedy for the couple’s love, and possibly the feud between the families. Despite this, Romeo and Juliet rushed into their marriage. The couple have known each other little over a day, which is clearly not enough time to get to know someone and fall in love. Romeo’s impulsiveness causes him to marry his “one true love” a little too quickly, which contributes to their downfall in the end. In “Romeo and Juliet”, Romeo’s impulsiveness in his love life affects his demise in the end of the play.
Another event caused by Romeo’s impulsiveness is the confrontation between him and Tybalt. For example, the book states “Alive in triumph, and Mercutio slain? Away to heaven respective lenity, and fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!” (3.1.119-121). This quote takes place right after Mercutio is slain by Tybalt. Since Mercutio is his friend, Romeo takes action and challenges Tybalt to a sword fight. Romeo’s impulsiveness causes him to challenge Tybalt based off emotions. In fact, Romeo exclaims that rage should guide his actions, instead of thinking his actions through before completing them. This clearly demonstrates Romeo’s tendency to act before thinking. Romeo allows emotions to get in the way of his decision making and the results are disastrous. In fact, Romeo ends up killing Tybalt, which is a direct effect of his impulsiveness.
The text states “Romeo, away, be gone! The citizens are up, and Tybalt slain. Stand not amazed. The Prince will doom thee death if thou are taken. Hence, be gone, away!’ Romeo: ‘Oh, I am fortune’s fool!'” (3.1.129-133). This quote exhibits the consequences Romeo faces after he stabs Tybalt because of the rage he felt when Mercutio was slain. Anger guides his emotions, which results in Tybalt’s death. This event eventually leads to Romeo’s downfall. His killing of Tybalt causes his banishment to Mantua, which directly affects the outcome of the play.