William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet
Shakespeare's most famous tragedy is probably the tale of "Romeo and
Juliet". The immortal tale of two 'star-cross'd lovers' destined to an
early demise, originated in Italian folklore.
Shakespeare's prologue is possibly the most insightful piece of the
play regarding their death and the explanation of it. The "ancient
grudge" immediately sets the ominous tone of the play. This allows the
audience to understand that their "death" is the only way their
"parents strife" could end:
"But their children end nought could remove".
The recurring theme of fate and destiny, which frequents many
Shakespeare's plays, is seen also in the prologue. Shakespeare
introduces Romeo and Juliet through the prologue as "star cross'd
lovers" implying they are ill fated. The description of their love as
"death marked" assures the reader of the plays tragic genre and the
inevitability of their deaths.
The prologue informs the audience of the "ancient grudge" between the
Montague's and Capulet's and prepares them for the eventual bloodshed.
Although we never learn why there was a "grudge" it seemed to have
become a habit for the families to hate one another. Romeo and Juliet
suppress their love in order to keep it from their families, this is
all due to the 'ancient grudge'. Shakespeare suggests that without the
feud, Romeo and Juliet would not have had such a tragic demise:
'Two households, both alike in dignity'.
Without the feuds existence, Romeo and Juliet wouldn't have to "bury
their parents strife". The feud acts, as the most of fateful reasons
behind their tragic deaths, the reason Juliet wanted to run away with
Romeo is that she was in love with a 'loathed enemy'. They couldn't
'breath such vows as lovers use to swear' if they stayed in 'fair
Verona', which leads to their brief separation.
The separation of Romeo and Juliet, leads to the plot twist where
Juliet drinks the 'distilling liquor' to appear in death. While Romeo
was intended to wake her, a twist of fate means he doesn't get the
letter and does not know that the death is faked. The plan to run away
from the feud between their parents wasn't free from danger, on the
contrary it was the only way they could be together and escape the
'grudge'. The 'ancient grudge' is very important to the play because
they died in order to 'bury' the 'grudge'.
Shakespeare puts an emphasis on the fact that the feud is about their
name; Romeo feels his name is 'hateful' for he knows because of it; he
and Juliet couldn't be together. Similarly, Juliet knows if she was to
be 'sworn her love she would 'no longer be a Capulet'. The younger
generation are dragged into the feud because of the family they're
born into. Juliet questions 'what's in a name?' which shows she
doesn't understand that their...