When you hear the words “Romeo and Juliet”, what comes to your mind? For most people, the mention of these names brings about images of young people declaring their love from balconies and defying fate to be together. Romeo and Juliet is certainly a story of youthful romance. However, the first-time reader will often miss the underlying ideas that the writer only hints at over the course of this play. To fail to realize the subtle political and social themes within the plot is to fail to understand the author’s full intentions. Shakespeare uses complex characterization and pervasive symbols to describe life during the Victorian era.
Romeo and Juliet, which was written in 1597 by William Shakespeare, tells the story of two young people, Romeo and Juliet, who fall in love despite social restrictions in sixteenth century Verona (New York University Libraries). An unknown feud has caused discord between the Capulets and Montagues, two prominent families, and the servants and family members engage in a public fight, broken up only when the prince of Verona threatens death to anyone who disturbs the city’s peace. Shakespeare then introduces us to the two title characters. Romeo Montague is lovesick because the woman he loves, Rosaline, has vowed never to marry. Romeo’s friends convince him to go to a party that night to look at other girls. Juliet Capulet’s parents want her to marry Count Paris, even though she is only thirteen years old. At the party that night, Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love immediately.
After the party, Romeo leaves his friends to seek out Juliet. He finds her balcony, and the two exchange words of love and express their desire to be married as soon as possible. Romeo goes to his mentor, Friar Lawrence, to convince the Friar to wed himself and Juliet. Since no one can know about the secret engagement, he manages to relay the information to Juliet’s nurse. Juliet is ecstatic when she hears of her impending marriage, and decides to tell her parents that she is going to confession as an excuse to go to the church, when Friar Lawrence performs the ceremony.
However, Romeo and Juliet’s sweet love story takes a tragic turn that afternoon. Romeo’s closest friend, Mercutio, is killed by Juliet’s cousin Tybalt in a street fight. In retaliation, Romeo stabs Tybalt and is sentenced to exile in Mantua. Juliet is distraught over both the death of her cousin and the exile of her husband. She tells the nurse her plan to sneak Romeo into her room before he leaves. Romeo is so upset at his separation from Juliet that he tries to kill himself, but the nurse and Friar Lawrence convince him that they will find a way to reunite him and Juliet. However, that evening Juliet’s father tells Count Paris that Juliet will marry him in three days. After Romeo departs for Mantua the following morning, Juliet learns that she is expected to marry Paris, and screams in objection at her father, who responds by declaring that she will be married in only...