April 29, 2014
AP English 12
Is Suicide the Solution?
Throughout time, death has been viewed in a negative light. In general, it is an event to be mourned and is seen by some as the end to existence. People do not usually seek death as an answer to their problems. In various pieces of literature, however, suicide is contemplated by the characters as the only solution to the pain and grief that they experience.
The National Library of Medicine’s website states that most people who commit suicide do so because they are “trying to get away from a life situation that seems impossible to deal with” (“Suicide”). This idea is prevalent in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The main characters, Romeo and Juliet, fall deeply in love at their first meeting. Unfortunately, it is not meant to be, due to the fact that they are from feuding families. They disregard the feud, however, and secretly marry just two days after meeting one another. After the wedding, Romeo runs into Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, who hates him. They engage in a duel and Romeo kills Tybalt. He flees the scene of the crime. Later, he discovers from Friar Lawrence that rather than executing him for murder, the Prince of Verona has declared that he be banished forever. Instead of being relieved and grateful, Romeo laments his fate and claims that he would rather be dead than be separated from his dear Juliet. “There is no world without Verona walls but purgatory, torture, and hell itself” (3.3.17-18).
The two lovers spend their wedding night together. The next day, Romeo leaves for Mantua to begin his banishment. Juliet discovers that her father has arranged a marriage for her and the ceremony will take place in three days. She runs to Friar Lawrence for help. She is desperate to find any way to stay united with her Romeo. The two concoct a plan in which Juliet will drink a sleeping potion on the eve of her wedding. She will appear to be dead. After she is laid to rest in her family’s ancient crypt, the Friar and Romeo will rescue her and take her away from Verona forever.
When Juliet returns home, she discovers that her father has moved the wedding up. She will be married the next day. That night, she drinks the potion and falls into a sleep so deep that she appears dead when the nurse comes to wake her in the morning. The entombment carries on as was planned. Friar Lawrence pens a letter explaining everything and sends it to Romeo in Mantua. Tragically, the letter never reaches him. The only word he receives is that his fair Juliet is dead and laid to rest. He promptly decides that there is no way to live without his love and that he must kill himself. He goes to the apothecary and bribes the old man to sell him his strongest poison. He then rushes to Verona to take his life at Juliet’s tomb. When he arrives, Paris is outside the crypt. Romeo begs him to stand down and leave, but Paris will not. The two engage in a duel and Paris is killed. Romeo...