Taking Responsibility for the Tragedy in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
'Romeo and Juliet' is one of the most famous plays written by William
Shakespeare, it is set in Verona, Italy. At the time it was common for
parents to arrange their daughter's marriage it was very unusual for
the daughter to argue or refuse the marriage. In the play a young
couple unfortunately fell passionately in love with each other, the
end result was tragic as it resulted in the death of Romeo Montague
and Juliet Capulet. They belonged to families who were bitter enemies.
Who is responsible for their deaths? It is very easy to come to a
conclusion and blame the parents, but every character needs to be
considered before making a decision.
Benvolio is a great friend to Romeo. Throughout the play Shakespeare
gives him the role as a peacemaker, who is always honest and reliable,
but there is a hint of weakness, early in the play because he
persuades Romeo to gatecrash the Capulet Ball, even though he has the
best interests of Romeo at heart, it is were he meets Juliet which is
fate working against them.
The role of peacemaker is reflected in the type of language Benvolio
uses, not fiery like Tybalt or as eloquent as the Friar, but he is
well spoken and uses his language to great effect because he tries to
look for the positives in every situation and is very diplomatic. He
is persuasive and clearly indicates to Mercutio that trouble will soon
appear 'I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire;
The day is hot, the Capels are abroad.'
This shows that he knows Mercutio very well and has his best interests
at heart he is also very sensible. So could Benvolio take some
responsibility for the deaths?
Prince Escalus is the prince of Verona, and passes judgement on laws
affecting the citizens of Verona. He is determined to put an end to
the fighting on the Verona streets whatever happens. He gives a
proclamation and states:
' If ever you disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the
forfeit of the peace'
Which is aimed at the Montagues and the Capulets. Later on in the play
he compromises and is fair in his judgement but he does banish Romeo,
he uses his figure of authority well and tries to solve most
situations, he listens to both sides of the story (i.e. Tybalt and
Mercutio) before jumping to conclusions. He just wants peace on the
streets of Verona. The type of language he uses is strong, emotive and
direct. An example of this is:
'For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.'
Paris is a young and nobleman and kinsman to the Prince; in the play
he is always courteous and well mannered towards others, which is
apparent in his language. He offers to marry Juliet and the
proposition forces Romeo and Juliet to take drastic action. He can be