Violence and Conflict in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet, a story set in Verona Italy, tells the story of “two
star crossed lovers” from two feuding families, the Capulets and
Montagues. There is much violence and conflict in the play and this in
the main, stems from the feud. The plays themes are punishment,
revenge, supernatural fate, lies, deceit, and conflict. After a while,
Romeo and Juliet secretly marry behind their parents backs, perhaps
hoping that their true love would end the feud. But it only gets
There is a lot more violence, including the deaths of Mercutio, the
‘joker’, and Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin. Then finally in the last scenes,
the deaths of Paris, then Romeo and Juliet themselves.
The first reference to the violence and conflict is in the opening
scene, Act 1 scene 1. An argument between a few low rank family
members occurs. Soon other family members get involved and the once
petty squabble, that started when a Montague servant bites his thumb;
“Do you bite your thumb at us sir?”
“I do bite my thumb sir”
spirals out of control and the two families fill the streets and start
to sword fight. More and more family members join in, until the law of
the town, represented by the Prince, rides in to break everything up.
The Prince then threatens the penalty of death on anyone who disturbs
the streets again.
“By thee old Capulet and Montague have thrice disturbed the quiet of
our streets” … “once more, on pain of death.”
This first scene is important because it introduces us to the
families, but more importantly, the feud.
I think that the biggest violence and conflict scene is Act 3 Scene 1.
In this scene there is a variety of ways that Shakespeare portrays
violence and conflict. The most obvious way is in the actual physical
fighting, which results in two deaths.
The scene starts off with Mercutio and Benvolio being confronted by
Tybalt, who is prejudice against the Montagues. Benvolio is a friend
of Romeo. Mercutio is also a friend of Romeo, and is the town comedian
and he jokes till his death. Mercutio and Tybalt quarrel between each
other and begin to fight. Romeo then arrives and tries to stop the
argument. Tybalt draws his sword on Romeo and challenges him. Romeo
refuses to fight, as he knows that the violence will not solve
anything, so Mercutio steps in to meet Tybalt’s challenge. Romeo tries
to break up the fight but is unsuccessful. Romeo again steps in to
stop the fight, but Tybalt thrusts the sword at Romeo, which stabs
Mercutio under Romeo’s arm. Tybalt and the Capulet’s flee, but the
Montagues do not realise how bad Mercutio is wounded because he is
still making jokes.
“They have made worms meat out of me,”
The Montagues just laugh, not realising that Mercutio meant he is
going to die,...