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Failure Of Good Intentions To Produce Good Consequences In Romeo And Juliet

1026 words - 4 pages

Dante Alighieri, an illustrious 13th century Italian poet, once said, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" (72). Indeed, many examples throughout history, society, and literature serve to typify this axiom. William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is the quintessential example of this adage. The play demonstrates that good intentions can result in negative consequences. Romeo's designs, honorable as they are, lead to demise for both him and other characters. In addition, the Nurse's desire for Juliet's happiness unintentionally alienates Juliet. Finally, Friar Lawrence's union of Romeo and Juliet and Capulet's arranged marriage of Juliet and Paris exemplify that laudable objectives can lead to chagrin.
The theme that the best designs can go awry is evident in many societies throughout the ages. In Romeo and Juliet, the Nurse's actions exemplify this aphorism. She is cognizant of the draconian penalties that would befall the lovers if their forbidden love is uncovered. Because she loves Juliet and wants her to be happy, the Nurse decides to keep Romeo and Juliet's relationship a secret. By not informing Juliet's parents, the Nurse shows more fidelity to Juliet than to Lord and Lady Capulet. The Nurse’s assistance advances the lovers' relationship from an infatuation to a marriage, “I am the grudge, and toil in your delight;” (II. v. 75). Romeo and Juliet’s feelings for each other burgeon until the two become inseparable. Following Romeo's banishment and the announcement of Juliet and Paris's arranged marriage, Juliet seeks counsel from the Nurse as to what her next course of action should be. Benighted of the intensity of Juliet's feelings for Romeo, the Nurse tries to nullify Juliet's sadness by attempting to divert her emotions from Romeo to Paris, "I think it best you married with the County.../I think you are happy in this second match," (III. v. 217-222). Unbeknownst to the Nurse, this ostracizes Juliet. Hereafter, Juliet keeps her thoughts to herself and discloses nothing to her previous confidant, “Thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain” (III. v. 240). In critical moments, such as Juliet's decision to fake her own death, guidance from an older figure would have benefitted her. Despite that the Nurse means well, her potential reprise because of this collusion epitomizes the truth in Aldous Huxley's wry maxim, "Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions; it's walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too" (151). The Nurse's disclosure of the forbidden love and her recommendation of Paris to Juliet exemplify the theme that the best aims can result in unforeseen consequences.
Romeo’s perseverance of civility and vengeance of Mercutio’s death also illustrate that good intentions do not always lead to good consequences. Immediately following Romeo's marriage to Juliet, Romeo is approached in the streets by the belligerent Tybalt. When Tybalt and Mercutio begin to fight, Romeo tries to maintain the peace by positioning...

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